Inside Mumbai’s most unique homes
A machaan in the living room, flats with DIY furniture, moving walls and hidden rooms in your own house – apartments are getting personalised in ways that boggle the mind.
If Raghunath Pandit ever invites you home, don’t refuse. The 54-year-old ship captain’s flat in Kandivli, is truly unusual. It has a machaan, a bamboo thatched roof, a part of Mahindra jeep parked under a tree a a fence to ward off animals – and that’s just the living room.
“We wanted a forest inside the home and we were sure about it,” says Pandit, so interior designer Shilpa Govekar had to get especially creative with the decor. “I imagined a real forest through the design process,” says Govekar. “I put a fence with old wood all over walls just like a sanctuary border, I stuck a tree and part of a jeep to a wall. It’s where they placed their TV.”
The jungle-themed home comes with some very urban comforts. A bar is fitted into one wall. “It has a thatched roof and hay because we are particular about our theme,” says Pandit’s wife, Anita, a yoga therapist. “Niches are made of bamboo, so are doors and windows, the flooring has tiles with the texture of old wood and there is an elephant table in the centre of the room.”
Guests are unanimously floored when they visit. They tell the Pandits they’ve never seen anything like it. It’s probably the world’s only safari for which you need to take the elevator to the sixth floor.
ROOMS THAT MELT AWAY
Nishit and Deepa Shah, technology entrepreneurs, did not want their 6,500 square feet home in Pune to be labelled as 3BHK or 4BHK. “We didn’t want a conventional house with a living room, a kitchen and bedrooms, so we got the walls smashed,” says Deepa.
Architects Ayaz and Zameer Basrai from The Busride Design Studio were given just a twoword brief: “Make mistakes” and given the space to experiment. “We defined the home by objects, not spaces,” says Ayaz Basrai. It resulted in a continuous area with collapsible, movable cubes, partitions, seating, storage and other articles. These can be used in combination or by themselves to create living, working, entertaining, play and cooking areas.
“The living area, for instance, has a sofa for seven, a sitting bed and a TV set,” Basrai explains. Walls fold out to form partitions and create intimate temporary rooms. Even the furniture was custom-made – all curved and flowing to break from tradition.
There’s even a cave-like space for kids to play inside. “Nothing is what it seems. A cube could be anything, a living space or a kitchen space,” says Shah.
Other people put their vacations and hobbies on Facebook. Interior designer Sejal Parikh, 59, does it through her 2BHK home in Worli. “We travelled to Turkey, got the tiles; we went to Japan and designed our living room floor as they do with pebble stones,” she says. “Most of the artefacts are made by us, collected during our travels or we have played a part in making it.”
The interiors keep changing. “We paint and repaint the walls directly instead of hanging paintings on them,” says Chaitali, 31, her daughter. “We turned windows we never opened to a bookshelf, and now have a huge handmade three-dimensional mural. We love change!”
The house has hand-beaten glass on windows. They also have relatives who paint and draw, and contribute to the décor with their art pieces.
“Our guests are so surprised seeing the amount of customisation in our home,” says Parikh.
A HANDMADE HOME
A home is where pieces of yourself are found, believes Promita Jadhav, 45, owner of an advertising agency from Andheri. “Our 2BHK home did not have much place to sit and relax. It looked cluttered,” says Jadhav. “We wanted the house to have elements that talked about us.”
She hired Nivedita S, from Udaan Studio that specialises in handmade and sustainable home décor to revamp her space. “I made everything for the house sitting with a carpenter and a metallurgy man. The swing is made from logs of wood suspended from with ceiling with a rope. A raw steel door knob forms a heart when closed. The TV cabinet is ply-painted white,” says Nivedita. Jadhav offered her inputs through the entire process to ensure a personal touch to every detail.
The home does not have ceiling lights, only table lamps and wall washer lights.
“We had a dining table, a TV unit and a trophy wall that had over 60 trophies won by my husband, who is a Marathi film director, on display in the living room for over 25 years,” says Jadhav. “It was not looking cherishing any more, only cluttered.”
The overhaul was a bold move but they now only have a handmade recliner chair soothing colours on wall.
“I do not feel like going to work at all, I just wish to be home,” she says with a laugh.