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A little bit of Kerala in Mumbai

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We take a tour of this tasteful Mumbai apartment belonging to filmmaker Rajesh Krishnan and his wife Sumi, designed by designer Richa Bahl

A surefire way to lose friends is to hire them as decorators for your home. Or so goes a popular inside joke in the interior design industry. Designer Richa Bahl and her close friend Sumi Rajesh were aware of this little truism when the latter hired Richa to do up their new apartment in Mumbai’s Khar suburb. 

“We were clear that only Richa could do justice to our home, she knew us so well and I loved her sense of colour and proportion,” recalls Sumi. 

The result was a spacious, tastefully designed three bedroom apartment, flanked by large windows on all four sides, catching the sunrise from the kitchen and the sunset from the bedroom and commanding sweeping views of the sea from the living room. 

It wasn’t always like this. Sumi recalls the state of the apartment when they were moving in. “It was a shell. The house had windows on all four sides when we bought it, that was part of the reason why we decided on buying the place. Only one side of the house looks into another building.”

Richa had to pair Sumi and Rajesh's traditional Malayalee influences with their artistic sensibility and their inspirations from regular globetrotting trips. "I wanted to give them the best of both. 

Rajesh Krishnan and Sumi Rajesh in their living room.

So, the design had to be a fusion of Kerala touches along with a contemporary look and feel. That explains the boat centre table with the Ralph Lauren leather couch in the living room," she explains.

A glass window separates the entertainment room from the living and dining area.

Given that the couple entertains a lot at home, they wanted an openness to the space, keeping the sea view in mind. The kitchen was, therefore, kept as an open layout, and the entertainment room had a glass partition that allowed the entire apartment to feel like one open space. 

Sumi and Richa traveled to Kerala to source furniture for the apartment. It was also a way for the latter to bring a little bit of Kerala back and incorporate it into the décor, given that Sumi and Rajesh both hail from there.


“Richa is great with putting things together, sourcing and marrying the traditional and modern,” says Sumi. The furniture, sourced from Thailand, Kerala and Delhi, brings this fusion of styles to life. 


In the bar, the stools are from Casting Couch, they were made to order for Sumi and Rajesh's home. The plantation chair in the background is from Kerala.

The reading corner in the master bedroom.

Bright hued soft furnishings were chosen for the children's room.

The dining chairs and the cane furniture in the Indian living room were brought in from Mattancherry while the couch in the entertainment room was bought from BoConcept. The wooden door in the hall, the traditional lock in the entrance and other collectibles around the house were sourced from an antique shop in Palakkad, while some of the other pieces were from the couple’s family home.

The bedroom is Sumi’s personal space. “It is cosy and I love lazing by the window, reading in the afternoons. I love the plants in the balcony. Rajesh likes chilling in the media room, playing his guitar and listening to music. There is a lot of breeze at most times and we love to leave all the windows open. The living area is a good place for the family to spend time during the weekends together,” says Sumi.

The couple and their two children travel extensively whenever school holiday schedules permit and souvenirs picked up from these travels find their way inevitably into nooks and corners. “The mantle, the bar and the niches are filled with things we have collected over the years,” laughs Sumi. If there’s one thing that you 

The master bedroom receives ample light during the day.

won’t find in this household, it is white light. “There are no white lights in the house. We love mood lighting and during the day there is a lot of natural light in the house,” explains Sumi. 

If there’s one thing that you won’t find in this household, it is white light. “There are no white lights in the house. We love mood lighting and during the day there is a lot of natural light in the house,” explains Sumi. 

Their last home was, by their own admission, an experiment that involved lots of colours and textures running riot. This apartment has been a more calming journey, as the couple came to an understanding of what they wanted out of their personal space – peace, calm and a sense of home.


Bindu Nair

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