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A couple in their 60’s creates their retirement home as their first dream home

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Malavika Bakshi Rao and her husband Pradeep Rao, both in their 60s now, lived the most interesting life as a young couple. With Pradeep in a government placement and Malavika working for an international company, the two got to travel in and around the country and the world, making many places their short-term home. When it was time for them to plan their retirement home, it had to be something they had never had before. “Because of my husband’s government job, we have lived in beautiful houses, but they were all built around the 50s. And you could only do a little bit to make it your own. So, when we started planning for our own house, I wanted the space to do exactly what I wanted,” says Malavika.

Having spent most of their life residing in Delhi, the couple bought a 3,000 sq. ft. apartment in central Bangalore as their forever base. Malavika had her own collection, and certain pieces passed down from her family that needed to find a home, including the Nataraj that her parents had bought on their own honeymoon. “Most importantly I wanted the space to feel comfortable and lived-in. And have big, beautiful bathrooms because I never had that,” she says.

Early last year, Malavika got in touch with Vinithra Amarnathan of Weespaces to help her design it. We spoke to Vinithra about the process of designing a home that is as much about the past as it is the future. Edited excerpts:

Beautiful Homes: What was Malavika’s initial brief to you?
Vinithra:
She had envisioned this as their retirement home. She wanted it to be full of natural light, open and filled with things she loved. This included pieces they had collected on their travels and those that had been passed down to her. There are books, artworks, and furniture pieces with a lot of meaning for them that had to be a part of the décor. And that’s why the house has a unique character of its own.

BH: Did you have to make any structural changes to the apartment?
Vinithra:
Yes, because they wanted to have a nice open floor for their living space. Earlier it had two to four walls, so we broke that whole thing down and it became one single area. The way the 

Beautiful library room that extends from the living room design - Beautiful Homes

Keeping in mind that the home owners are avid readers, this library/ lounge area was created in the extension of the living room for them to spend time in.

house was structured, the kitchen was much smaller and there was basically no space between the dining, living and the kitchen. These were all separate compartment like spaces. We broke down the walls in between, and we enlarged the kitchen by taking in some space that was kind of like dead space next to the bathroom. And then we reoriented the bathroom completely. We also opened the dining area. So, the layout now has a large living room that looks onto the Ulsoor lake. 
 

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BH: Have you used a specific colour scheme?
Vinithra:
 Malavika does love vibrant colors, but we have used them in a way that complimented the elements that she already had. For example, she had a lot of vibrant rugs brought from Milan, she had collected a lot of art over a period of time, both Indian art as well as a lot of British art. So, we had to keep everything white so the colour could come from her pieces. The only space in the house where we've used the punch of colour is the kitchen.
 

Dining room design with teak wood partition & upholstered furniture - Beautiful Homes

The dining area that was completely closed got opened up entirely and refinished in a warm oak toned wood.

Interior design of the hallway has a cane & glass closet & brass pendant lights - Beautiful Homes

The hallway into the private spaces of the home is punctuated with a cane and glass closet along with vintage maps collected by the homeowners, hand knotted Iranian runners in a vibrant red and the pinecone brass pendants from Bo Concept.

Guest room design with smoky blue colour palatte & bone inlay bedside table - Beautiful Homes

The guest bedroom embodies the retro chic vibe with the smoky blue walls, a bed with bold bone inlay and bedside tables that add a touch of color and fun to the space.

BH: How was the whole process of designing a home for a retired couple different from when, say, you are working with a young couple?
Vinithra: I think a big difference would be that a younger couple is usually not as aware and focused because it is most likely their first or second home. They get an interior designer to sort of help them navigate through the world at the time. And lots of the time they don't know what they want. Whereas with someone like Malvika, because she was older, and has already seen a lot of designs through her travels, and even as a collector herself, she was very sure about what she likes and how she wants the house to behave and work with her. It was a more nuanced process, which made it so much more interesting for me as a designer because it was not all about functionality. She was someone who had kind of gone beyond that stage, she was the sort of person who said, ‘I have these pieces of art, how do you think we can blend that to the décor’. The design conversation was at a completely different level with her. There is a lot of mixing of styles and a detail-driven approach.

BH: With advancing age you have to also think about very practical changes in the home related to physical abilities. Were there some specific things you added based on that?
Vinithra:
Absolutely. She always kept comfort in mind in terms of the pieces of furniture we got. There were little details like the counter height of the kitchen, the mounting height of the WC etc. There are handlebars everywhere in the bathroom and all bathrooms have anti-slip tiles. And the shower partitions are also only halfway done. There's no low seating in the house anywhere. All the beds are at a comfortable height and the same with all the chairs. 
 

Photographs

Shamanth Patil

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