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This compact flat designed by Amritha Karnakar is a study in practical minimalism

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It denotes the absence of colour, a blank canvas of endless possibilities. White can be of significant consequence depending on how it is used; that same yawning blankness that can be coldly impersonal or warm and soothing. For homeowners intent on creating a pretty space, white is a safe, go-to option. But for interior designers, it can be a tightrope walk—if one plays it too safe, it risks being banal, even cold, and impersonal.

The idea lies in effecting that perfect balance, one that Mumbai-based interior designer Amritha Karnakar accomplished with some clever colour combinations in the neutral spectrum to infuse warmth to white in this cosy two-bedroom in Mumbai. “The idea was to always go neutral for a small compact space. They wanted it to be young and at the same time comfortable and relaxing,” says Amritha. It fit right in with the young couple’s other requirements of a minimal and clutter-free home—all the better given that this house was as much theirs as their two-year-old toddler’s to run free. 


The fact that this 800-square-foot second-storey home on suburban Bandra was sitting in a building engulfed by generous greenery made it easy to select white as a base to build on. “The space is compact, but the windows are nice big and overlooking lush trees, bringing in a lot of natural light. The brief was to have the living room cosy, easy to maintain, bright and light.”

Within this capsule of bright light, Amritha leveraged the homeowner’s desire for a soothing shell by giving the neutral tone a warm top note. She used greyish-white concrete for the living room walls, which worked well with the uninterrupted light grey flooring tiles. “The idea was to keep one flooring for the whole house as the space is small. We have kept the palette in 

Living room design has neutral colour palette with pop of red in the TV unit - Beautiful Homes

The living room had a neutral greyish-white colour palette with a pop of red seen in the TV unit.

light shades of grey and whites.”

The tone on tone continues with the choice of light ash wood veneers used on the doors “to provide a contrasting touch to the concrete walls. And a rather striking piece of art especially created for this home, which hangs behind the living room sofa. “That wall needed something, so we created an artwork, which is a layering of shapes, in all-white so it stands out against the wall.” The other pieces of furniture were either designed or thoughtfully chosen to fit the homeowners’ requirement of cosy. “The daybed, for instance, was customised to bring that kind of cosiness where you can just lie and read a book with a cup of coffee by the window.”

Apart from that inspired piece of art, the neutrals seen in the living area—the light greys and light ash veneer—are common to all the spaces in the house. “Then each space has its own feature in contrast to these neutral binding colours,” explains Amritha.

Dining table has red wired chairs & the space is highlighted with hanging lights - Beautiful Homes

The red wired chairs around the dining table, sourced from Gulmohar Lane, adds an accent of colour; the space is further highlighted by the sleek hanging lights.

Amritha created small niches in the bedroom walls - Beautiful Homes

Karnakar created small niches in the bedroom to add an element of cosiness to the space.

Custom cut tiles in this chic grey toned master bathroom - Beautiful Homes

Custom-cut tiles were used in the grey-toned master bathroom to make the space sleek and sophisticated.


Rescuing the space from being an echo of neutrals had Amritha cannily adding accents and highlights in pops of bold shades. In the living room, she opted for, most strikingly, a vibrant siren red, a brave choice by any standards. “It’s a colour that a lot of people are afraid to use in their homes and should be used as a highlight against a subdued backdrop for it to stand out and yet look elegant,” says Amritha. Which is just what she did. Strategic pops of red in the living room, in the form of a TV unit with a glossy finish and wired chairs around the dining table, bring in a youthful element along with a splash of colour.

It’s a theme that carries through into the kitchen as well, with red dado tiles serving as a counterpoint to the white countertop and light-grey shutter. “The play of different colours and materials ensures that the house has a calm vibe along with a bit of freshness.”

In the master bedroom, red gets traded on for a subdued black with the off-white walls and grey floor serving up a fine canvas for snatches of bold black strokes. “It contrasts with the walls and the wicker sheets sandwiched in glass that are used as the cupboard panels.”

Amritha created a jungle themed children's bedroom design - Beautiful Homes

Karnakar created a customised jungle-themed interactive bedroom for the two-year-old son.


It is in the son’s bedroom that Amritha and the homeowners let loose with colour, motifs and playful elements to heighten the general excitement for their two-year-old.

Their son’s bedroom needed to be fun and interactive but also one that he would grow into and be able to use for some years without requiring much change. “We wanted a jungle-themed room, so we designed a wallpaper for the main wall with a variety of animals,” says Amritha. A hanging wall light in the shape of a monkey motif complements the wallpaper, as does the climbing rope meant for playing. “Everything else is kept subtle in whites and light greys with a colour pop in the shape of yellow handles.”

The undertone of muted shades that make up this house is seen in the bathrooms as well—the dark-grey tiles, stone basin and black stripes in the master bath that resonates the design of the bedroom, and the lively yellows and whites of the son’s that binds itself to the room.

This compact home for a small family of three allowed Amritha to work with a soothing aesthetic with vibrant accents that ensured the design stays fresh and interesting for some time to come. 


Lakshay Arora

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