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This custom-made Mumbai home showcases a diverse variety of crafts

  • art
By Gauri Kelkar
11 min read
Sep 03, 2021
Living room design is quirky & has teakwood furniture - Beautiful Homes

For all that this is his first professional interior design assignment, there is a self-assured vibe to this seventh-storey Mumbai home project. And the eye-catching Channapatna craft mural, a fine-looking wooden pillar and handcrafted lights that greet you at the entrance are just some of the reasons. “I wanted to create a highlight space as this is the first thing you see,” says Karthik Vaidyanathan, the designer responsible for that bit of eye-popping drama in a rather soothing shell. This craft intervention is a particularly significant facet of Vaidyanathan’s design sensibility. It began with a visit to Channapatna on the way to Mysuru; that was all it took to get Vaidyanathan completely enchanted with the craft and the works he saw there, planting the seeds for Varnam.

Now, though he may be a founder of the Channapatna-focused store Varnam Craft Collective, he is no stranger to the antique crafts scattered across India’s history. Neither is he a stranger to interior design for that matter, having done all his own homes—three at last count—since 2009. “The first house got huge traction and became this Pinterest phenomenon. It has been blogged and re-blogged quite a bit.” While Varnam kept him busy and prevented him from doing this professionally, he found the time last year to step deeper into interior design with this three-bedroom home in Mumbai.

 

Breaking New Ground
Vaidyanathan engineered a transformation of this flat, which sits just over 1,350 square feet, from cramped and crowded to clean and calm. Failing furniture and ordinary-looking vitrified tile flooring were replaced and the spaces were neatly laid out, book-ended by the guestroom at one end and the master and additional room-turned-den at the other. In between came the dining area flowing into the living that conflates with the kitchen to create the voluminous core of the house. Beyond that is the study space, flanked by the Channapatna mural and wooden pillar. Within this light-filled crucible, he custom-created a home of deep value and all heart.

The living room & dining room design is combined with various home décor items - Beautiful Homes

The ochre-coloured three-seater is by Lap and Dado, New Delhi; a Mumbai-based furniture-maker, Irshad custom-made the mid-century modern chair, the Chandigarh bench-turned-coffee-table and the rattan weave two-seater (to the right). The paintings include a trio of traditional Tanjore artworks (right) and an abstract piece on the dining room wall.

In this effort, the flooring was the first casualty. “I wanted terrazzo but not everyone is open to handmade flooring,” explains Karthik. Homeowners Anuradha and Sukumar Meyappan, however, were on board immediately. “We used to have terrazzo in all our ancestral homes; it’s great to walk and sit on,” says Anuradha. The final shade, white terrazzo with grey chips was chosen because “it reflects light, is easy to maintain, gives a sense of space and my husband wanted white”. So, within the framework of white handmade flooring and bright natural light, Karthik stuck on a canvas in monochromatic grey and white and set to applying spare splashes of colour, and art- and craft-focused broad strokes. 

 

Design Craft
Channapatna is a running theme of the house, where the forms typifying this craft are discreetly seen in unexpected places. It is part of all the paper-based, handmade lights made by Bengaluru-based Oorja, which is artisanal lighting designer Jenny Pinto’s studio. Even the headboard of the bed in the guestroom has spindle-inspired Channapatna work. And the custom-made sofa-cum-bed in the den/entertainment area has Channapatna lacquer-work.

The passage connecting the house has grey & white terrazzo flooring  - Beautiful Homes

The grey-and-white terrazzo flooring flows seamlessly through the house from the master bedroom to the living space to the study, with the corridor terminating at the guestroom at the far end.

Dining room decor with pendant lights - Beautiful Homes

The drop lights were custom created by artisans from Bengaluru-based artisanal lighting brand Oorja; they have mustard-and-black Channapatna accent pieces made by Varnam Craft Collective artisans. The custom-made mid-century modern Chandigarh dining chairs complement the traditional south Indian dining table.

The tabletop of the teakwood dining table has a hand - carved panel - Beautiful Homes

The tabletop of the teakwood dining table, made by the artisan Ramachandra from Bengaluru, features a hand-carved panel that carries the ‘Gande Berunda’, the royal insignia of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore. The swans showcase the popular Mysore inlay craft.

The entire space is one that’s almost entirely been shaped into existence by craft, from the art on the walls to the soft furnishings and rugs to the lights to the mid-century modern furniture made out of recycled teakwood. “I connected with artists who currently don’t have a lot of work. So the idea was also to give them a means of earning money,” he explains. This decision found favour with the Meyappans too. “There is so much effort and skill that goes into making furniture out of this wood, so I was really surprised to find out that handmade teakwood furniture costs the same as new plywood-made pieces,” says Anuradha.

 

While there was some resistance to the idea of paper lights from the Meyappans—“I mostly consider the cleaning angle and how much work that would be”—Anuradha came around when she realised the banana and jute fibres used to make them were hardy and durable and only needed occasional brushing. And everyone was on board about the artworks. Particulary memorable are the quartet of Mumbai’s public transport vehicles hanging in the living room and the dramatic acrylic-on-canvas abstract on the dining-room wall by an artist Karthik found during the Chitrakala Parishad online. Other framed works have a touch of the personal—from the homeowners’ daughters’ pictures along the corridor leading to the guestroom to the teakwood-framed botanical prints in the master bedroom, which he found in Oshiwara market. It was a fitting addition, given that Anuradha was a botany student.

 

Industrial Meets India Modern
Karthik’s vision to create a “contemporary Chettinad home” was offset by his desire to “experiment with industrial lighting”. The outcome of that experiment has clearly been a success. It required him to do a bit of convincing—Anuradha’s husband just couldn’t visualise what it would look like; and, of course, painstaking planning—their younger daughter is a mechanical engineer and laid out the grid work. Now, the black PVC pipes running across the ceiling punctuated with gold-accented bulk headlights are as eye-catching as any craft that’s on display. And statement walls in red exposed brick offset the industrial aesthetic nicely.

 

The seemingly untenable combination of India modern meets industrial works well, infusing warmth in a calibrated edgy look overlaid with vintage craft. “I believe a house should reflect its inhabitants. It shouldn’t look ‘designed’ and it should be welcoming,” says Karthik. His aim has been definitively borne out. “We used to get home really late from work previously; now, we’re home by 5.30. We look forward to being in this space,” says Anuradha. It helps, of course, that it looks as pretty in the moonlight as it does in daylight.

 

And if there is anything the pandemic has made clear, it’s the value of coming home to warmth, comfort and beauty.

Anuradha Meyappan & interior designer Karthik Vaidyanathan in the living room - Beautiful Homes
Homeowner Anuradha Meyappan and interior designer Karthik Vaidyanathan in the former's living room.
Living room design is quirky & has teakwood furniture - Beautiful Homes
The living room is a quirky mix of styles, with mid-century modern teakwood furniture with rattan work, exposed industrial lighting on the ceiling in black and gold and exposed brick accent walls that offer a touch of warmth. The watercolour-and-pen artworks in monochromes are by Srishail Patil.
This bench-turned-coffee-table has a pair of penguins made in the Mysore inlay craft style - Beautiful Homes
The Chandigarh-bench-turned-coffee-table has a pair of penguins made in the Mysore inlay craft style. The dhurrie below is handwoven by artisans from UP.
Dining room design is simple with designer pendant lights & coloured wall art - Beautiful Homes
The dramatic drop lights are made by artisans from Oorja and are accentuated by the mustard-and-black Channapatna accent pieces made by Varnam Craft Collective artisans. The custom-made mid-century modern Chandigarh dining chairs complement the traditional south Indian dining table.
Dining room decor with pendant lights - Beautiful Homes
The drop lights were custom created by artisans from Bengaluru-based artisanal lighting brand Oorja; they have mustard-and-black Channapatna accent pieces made by Varnam Craft Collective artisans. The custom-made mid-century modern Chandigarh dining chairs complement the traditional south Indian dining table.
The tabletop of the teakwood dining table has a hand - carved panel - Beautiful Homes
The tabletop of the teakwood dining table, made by the artisan Ramachandra from Bengaluru, features a hand-carved panel that carries the ‘Gande Berunda’, the royal insignia of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore. The swans showcase the popular Mysore inlay craft.
There is a floral teakwood pillar at the entrance to the open-plan study area - Beautiful Homes
The floral teakwood pillar at the entrance to the open-plan study area was sourced from Oshiwara. Its Jaisalmer seating was made to recreate the tinnai seating area next to pillars, which is typical to Chettinad homes.
Jaisalmer seating made to recreate the tinnai seating area next to pillars - Beautiful Homes
The front door opens into the open-plan study area, which has grey-and-white terrazzo flooring, a Chandigarh chair and study table. The monochrome ink-pen artwork was made by Srinivasa Makineedi.
Pooja cabinet in the kitchen is custom-made from recycled teakwood - Beautiful Homes
The puja cabinet in the kitchen was custom-made from recycled teakwood; Vaidyanathan designed it to blend the art deco style of the cabinet with a typical hand-carved south Indian gopura-like structure as its ‘temple’ top.
Master bedroom with teakwood side tables & custom made dressing unit - Beautiful Homes
The trio of teakwood-framed artworks in the master bedroom against the sage-coloured wall are from the market in Oshiwara. The teakwood side tables and the dressing unit were custom-made, as is the headboard of the bed, which was made using the lathe-turned-spindles from Channapatna.
Guest room has white & salmon colour palette with teakwood cabinet & side tables - Beautiful Homes
The salmon-and-white-coloured guestroom features a custom-made teakwood cabinet in a mid-century modern design. The side tables in teak and rosewood were inspired from the cabinet design. The headboard, with its mustard wooden spindles, was custom-made by Varnam Craft Collective artisans.
Master bathroom design has a black & white colour palette with golden colour accessories- Beautiful Homes
The neutral black-and-white colour palette of the master bathroom is accented with the golden colour of the accessories.
Ceiling design of the house is laid out with fittings in black & gold - Beautiful Homes
The ceiling of the house features the intricately planned and laid out exposed industrial wiring made of PVC pipes and bulk headlights found in Lohar Chawl and fittings in black and gold and.
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