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A Chennai apartment is a modern foreground to the greenery outside

  • Ideas and Inspiration
By Saritha Rao Rayachoti
8 min read
Apr 01, 2022
Ceiling-to-floor curtains & sage green two-seater chair for your living room - Beautiful Homes

“Back in the day, the older families in the Kilpauk neighbourhood owned large properties, sometimes an entire acre of land.” says Faisal Manzur, principal architect of Faisal Manzur Design Studio (FMDS), “Over the years, they divided and subdivided their land, and this apartment block is on one such property. It is surrounded by trees because the other old houses nearby haven’t been demolished yet.” 

 

In this second-floor apartment that subverts the trope of the little house in a concrete jungle, green is more than just an accent colour, it is framed in every window. 

 

The 3,600 sq. ft., four-bedroom apartment was for a family of four with children in their 20s. Manzur says, “The parents are old-school in a way, and their children are well-travelled. They are one of the nicest clients I’ve worked with, and always open to good interior design.” The clients would also go on to be accommodative when the scheduled handover was delayed due to the pandemic.

 

Between the two mood-boards that Manzur presented to the clients, they opted for a mid-century modern aesthetic. “Mid-century modern infuses functionality in a home, and when you design something functionally, it automatically has a nicer form to it.”

Working Around Challenges

Although it was newly constructed, the apartment was a resale property. The walls were already up, the marble flooring was laid, the dining room was a TV room with a dining table, and there were two puja room designs in the living room. Manzur’s approach was to work with what he had, while also ensuring that it was more than just about aesthetics.

 

Manzur uses a neutral colour palette with beige tones that breaks away from the oak-and-white finish of the social spaces, becoming intimate and cosy as one approaches the concrete-finished ante space with three bedrooms leading off it. Sage green in subtle touches is a constant across rooms. 

Modern sofa & chairs in the living room for hosting guests 7 entertainment purpose - Beautiful Homes

The second puja room in the living room is now an alcove with a bay seat that can seat more guests when the family entertains. An air-conditioner is concealed above the bay seat. adapt the space, with its inherent challenges, to the clients’ requirements.

Another constant is the simple solutions that Manzur uses to adapt the space, with its inherent challenges, to the clients’ requirements.

 

“Although the entrance is close to the elevator, we cut down on sound in the foyer by adding elements like a jute rug, a fabric light, and sheer fabric blinds on the wall alongside.” The sheer linen blinds soften the severity of the straight lines in this space, but they also cleverly conceal an electrical service panel. In the living room, the two puja alcoves were modified to an open display shelf and a bay seat. When the family entertains, the women gravitate to the fourth bedroom that then becomes a den. It is used to accommodate overnight guests and at other times, as a study.

 

The family entertains often, but the bustle of a table for eight is balanced by creating a transitional ante space that leads to rooms for personal inhabitation, where quiet nooks and window seats offer much scope for gazing over treetops.

Wood panelling for master bedroom with blue side table & cabinet to balance pop of colours- Beautiful Homes

Wood panelling adds warmth and character to the master bedroom, while the cobalt blue side tables and cabinet add visual balance and a pop of colour.

The house was planned in anticipation of the son’s marriage. In his bedroom, Manzur carved out a part of the balcony to create a walk-in wardrobe for his future wife. In the daughter’s room, which is suffused with sunshine from two windows, Manzur created bay seats, adding wooden architrave to define the windows.

 

The master bedroom was originally stark, with plain white walls. “Unlike the other two bedrooms which had something going for them, this room needed something to elevate it. That's how the wooden panelling came into play.” The cobalt blue side tables and cabinet, and sage accents keep the room from becoming too monochromatic.

Midcentury Modern Inspiration

Most of the pieces of furniture in the home—from the Pierre Jeanneret-inspired Chandigarh chairs, the Niels dining chairs, or the console in the ante space—were designed by or sourced from Puducherry-based Vincent Roy of WoodnDesign, with Manzur collaborating on some of the pieces. “When Roy and I designed the dining table, we ensured that the edges were bevelled so that it is easy on the arms when you sit to eat.”

 

The hanging light in the dining room too, has a story. It was originally a floor lamp customised for the apartment by Pascal Lys of Puducherry-based Atelier Lumys. Manzur custom designed two other lights with them for the master bedroom and for the daughter’s bedroom. 

 

The result is a happy interplay between form, functionality and an ineffable vibe that brings the design together. “It's how you make a person feel in the space, what kind of vibe you bring in. That's something I work towards.” says Manzur.

Carved mirror frame & console table for the antique space in your house - Beautiful Homes
In the ante space, while a console table maintains continuity with the mid-century modern style, a carved mirror frame sourced from Rajasthan briefly departs from the aesthetic to add a touch of the traditional to honour the family’s roots.
Modern open display shelf to give your living room elegant & lavish look - Beautiful Homes
One of the two original puja nooks in the living room was converted to an open display shelf.
Ceiling-to-floor curtains & sage green two-seater chair for your living room - Beautiful Homes
In the airy living room rendered more expansive by the ceiling-to-floor curtains, a white sofa is placed along the window, and flanking it on either side, are a sage green two-seater and a cognac-brown chair, all arranged radially around the centre table.
Wall art & small house plant to enhance your dining room design - Beautiful Homes
In the dining room, the eight-seater dining table, the Niels chairs, as well as the sideboard were sourced from WoodnDesign. The clients didn’t want another console along the wall on one side of the dining table. Instead, a set of five architectural prints became the focus of attention.
Slender open shelves beside the bed with blue & white colour palette for son's bedroom - Beautiful Homes
The son’s bedroom has a low console alongside the window and slender open shelves beside the bed. With a collapsible sliding door that flushes neatly with the wall, it’s easy to miss the walk-in wardrobe.
Headboard design with colourful cushion covers & hanging lights for daughters bedroom - Beautiful Homes
While the other bedrooms have large windows or a balcony, the client’s daughter was partial to the room with two windows – one beside where the bed would be positioned, and another L-shaped corner window.
Dressing table with oval mirror for your daughters bedroom - Beautiful Homes
In the daughter’s bedroom, the dressing table with a distinctive oval mirror occupies pride of place. It is partially built into one leg of the L-shaped window.
Pierre Jeanneret-inspired Chandigarh office chair for guest bedroom - Beautiful Homes
The guest bedroom doubles as a study, with the Pierre Jeanneret-inspired Chandigarh office chair and a sage green soft board lending a touch of formality.
Center table for the guest bedroom with white, sage green & beige colour palette - Beautiful Homes
In the guest bedroom with its serene palette of white, beige and sage green, the Chandigarh office chair from the study adds to the seating. The centre table is a DIY project by Faisal Manzur, with a metal frame and a long bamboo sieve serving as the top.
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