The eclectic décor of Srila Chatterjee’s stunning Mumbai apartment is the best source of design inspiration. Come take a look!

The stunning Indian sub-continental art collection which is housed amongst the wonderfully eclectic apartment design of Srila Chatterjee’s home sits in stark contrast to the five lively dogs which also share the space. Srila and her husband, ad film maker Mahesh Mathai, moved into the apartment in February 1993. At the time, the building was going through some serious redevelopment.

Since then, it has been renovated, but has still managed to retain some of its old-world charm with its sloping, tiled roof, old-fashioned lift and some of the most eclectic apartment décor in the whole of South Mumbai.

A life-sized Valay Shende bull that doubles as a puppy nest!
One of the most impressive art pieces that the home boasts is the life-sized Valay Shende bull sculpture which dominates Chatterjee’s living room. Composed of thousands of miniscule metal discs, the bull became a favourite nesting place for her dogs when they were pups:

 “Valay will probably not be too happy about that,” laughs Srila, “but that’s always been my attitude towards art. I am passionate about art, and I want to be able to see it, there is no way it cannot be around my dogs. I have seen the difference that having art in our home and office makes to the people around me – they respond to it, they talk about it.”

The beating heart of the apartment
The first thing you notice as you walk up the flight of stairs leading from the second floor are the three walls covered with personal pictures of Srila, Mahesh and their family and friends, taken over the years. “Before people actually walk into the house, they spend a lot of time looking for their own pictures on the wall. It’s called the wall of fame amongst our friends. In so many ways, it’s the history of our lives together,” says Srila.

As one walks in, they are led through a short corridor that connects to the dining area. A stunning art installation titled “Heart Beat Beat Heart” featuring fiberglass hearts and nails by the artist Sunil Gawde sits discreetly above the dining table.

Beyond the dining room, the living room is the centrepiece of the household, extending over to an outdoor deck that doubles up as a space to unwind in the evenings. Here, the large mirrors on one side of the wall hide the storage nooks that house the TV and the extra wardrobe space for bulky, seasonal clothes.

The house as a homage to those no longer here
The apartment has a guest bedroom at the top with its own trapdoor as an entrance, a sloping roof and art, naturally, covering all the available wall space. Another bedroom used to be Srila’s mother’s room during the two years she stayed with her before her death.

“My mother lived in Calcutta but as she got older, she came to stay with me here. I recreated her Calcutta room, bringing in furniture from there.” The result is a homage to her mother’s life, consisting of every possible piece of memorabilia from her life. “Even now, we call it Mummy’s room and many of her friends and former students like to come and spend a day in this room, remembering the way she touched their lives,” says Srila.

Colour is the key to effective, eclectic apartment design
Srila spent 25 plus years as a producer at Highlight Films, one of India’s most respected production houses. She transitioned into furniture design two years ago, with her brand Highlight Living, which she started with a partner and is now working on interior styling projects full-time.

Consequently, colour is a predominant theme that runs throughout the apartment. Grey walls in the dining area give way to a deeper, darker blue in the living room. Three of Srila’s bedroom walls are painted in a dull, neon yellow shade which are then offset with a singular purple statement wall.

As a celebration of colour, textures and patterns, Srila’s eclectic apartment design strikes a surprising balance. How did she manage to tie together so many elements cohesively? “I don’t agree when people tell you what you can do with colour and what you can’t. Yes, there are colours that don’t look good together but you know it when you see it. I really think everything can be mixed, what is important is to have those elements that tie it all in together.”

Written By: Bindu Nair

Writer

Produced By: Pragnya Rao

Photography By: Pankaj Anand

Photographer

HOME INSPIRATIONS
16 August 2019

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