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Sakshi Juneja is an expert at creating safe spaces for India’s queer community through the online media platform Gaysi, which she founded in 2008. When the pandemic began in March 2020, Sakshi decided to move into her partner Naina Narang’s apartment to keep her company for the first few weeks of the lockdown. As weeks turned into months, the three-bedroom apartment in Bandra also multitasked as an office, eventually becoming the first home together for the two.

In a lucky turn of events, the rental, which had been due for annual maintenance, was up for a full renovation in late 2020, largely bankrolled by Naina’s lessor. Since Naina, a brand marketing executive and design enthusiast, had already been renting the three-bedroom apartment for over three years, the apartment owner trusted the couple with making a few structural changes to suit their lifestyle as well as complete liberty over design to redecorate the home.
 

Sakshi Juneja is an expert at creating safe spaces for India’s queer community through the online media platform Gaysi. When the pandemic began in March 2020, Sakshi decided to move into her partner Naina Narang’s apartment to keep her company for the first few weeks of the lockdown. As weeks turned into months, the three-bedroom apartment in Bandra also multitasked as an office, eventually becoming the first home together for the two. Since Naina, a brand marketing executive and design enthusiast, had already been renting the three-bedroom apartment for over three years, the apartment owner trusted the couple with making a few structural changes to suit their lifestyle as well as complete liberty over design to redecorate the home. The couple took on the refurb as something of a DIY project, working closely with the contractor chosen by their landlord and an informal collaboration with a close friend and interior design consultant, Shital Deliwala. The couple cleverly incorporated designs and layout to suit their social as well as personal lifestyle.


The couple took on the refurb as something of a DIY project, working closely with the contractor chosen by their landlord and an informal collaboration with a close friend and interior design consultant, Shital Deliwala. “We’ve learned so much about each other in the process of making this house,” says Naina. “I often dream up designs and ideas and while I know exactly what I want, I don’t follow through because I’m impatient. This is where Sakshi comes in and complements me. She’ll just swoop in and handle the actual execution.”

EAT, PLAY, LOVE

Since the couple enjoy hosting and entertaining friends and family, they decided to redesign the apartment’s living areas first. Acting on interior designer Shital’s advice, the contractor was tasked with carving out an oversized glass window in the wall between the living room and one of the bedrooms to create a see-through, open-plan office space adjoining the lounge room. A large projector screen over the window doubles up as a privacy screen but when it’s paired with the Bose Soundbar (picked by Sakshi in white to match the white window frame), it makes for the perfect home theatre experience.

Next, a ceiling-to-floor, wall-to-wall wooden frame was custom built to separate the lounge from the dining area. Like the windows, the frame is painted white for a seamless transition 

Large window in the wall between living room & one of the bedroom - Beautiful Homes

A large window has been carved in the wall between the living room and one of the bedrooms, creating an open-plan office space adjoining the lounge room. A projector screen over the window doubles up as a privacy screen and a Bose Soundbar in white completes the home cinema experience.

between the three areas. A community-style dining table seats 8 to 9 people in an L-shaped sofa seating arrangement along with a cushioned bench. “All our friends and family have their favourite spots around the house,” says Sakshi. “By giving more depth to all the seating and sofas around the house, we’ve made sure they are super comfortable to chill and even take a nap. Even at the dining table, the sofa is placed next to the window so you can lie down as the sunlight pours in on lazy afternoons.” 

The home office, the couple says, was not necessitated out of the lockdown but instead it was a chance for Sakshi to realise her dream of building an office and sanctum for Gaysi. It’s also the only room in the apartment that displays both of their personal belongings and curios as well as the only big pop of colour in the whole apartment—a yellow lounge chair. However, the real highlight in the office is the gallery wall that holds artworks created for Gaysi zines over the years. “Gaysi has produced some of the most fantastic and forward looking pieces,” says Naina. “They make you think of course, but they are vibrant as well.” Another noteworthy feature of the room that’s flooded with natural light is that there are no conventional ceiling lights in the room. Instead modern, colourful hanging lamps are placed strategically over the work table.
 

A side table & black & White photographs for primary bedroom design - Beautiful Homes

In the primary bedroom, a side table from Gulmohar Lane, black-and-white photographs from Art & Found and rugs in neutral shades from Jaipur Rugs were selected to compliment the large bed custom-designed by Asian Arts.

ACCESSORIES AND MORE

Soothing greys punctuated with lighter shades of blue and pink make up the colour palette for the bedrooms. Sparsely decorated, the rooms feature large beds that the couple designed in collaboration with Asian Arts. A side table from Gulmohar Lane, black-and-white photographs from Art & Found and rugs in earthy tones from Jaipur Rugs complete the primary bedroom. Since the apartment is situated on the first floor, lush house plants on the windowsills are placed for added privacy.

“Luckily we inherited a great layout so both our living spaces are right in front of the house while our bedrooms are at the back,” says Naina. “This not only helps us mentally separate the two areas completely but also ensures nobody else goes up to the back of the house when we’re hosting. This makes these spaces extremely personal.” 

While renovating the apartment through two lockdowns has been a challenge, Sakshi says it also afforded them the luxury and time to truly personalise and decorate in a way that makes the rental feel like a home now. “Being a queer person, at times you are resigned to the fact that you could have love, but only in parts. Maybe not really have a home or family of your own,” says Sakshi. “But I think this particular home is my reality, my home, where I have managed to make those things happen, and it’s all because of Naina.” 
 

Photographs

Kuber Shah

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