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A Chennai home that embraces modern Indian living

  • Interior Design
By Gauri Kelkar
6 min read
Dec 03, 2021
Dining room space opened to the kitchen - Beautiful Homes

“When I was a kid, I remember joking with my parents that I want my home to be like this every time we entered a really well-designed home or restaurant,” recalls Gowri Adappa. Those latent instincts that allowed her to drop such strong opinions with all the conviction of a child prefaced the profession she chose to hone as an adult. The interior designer and architect is the co-founder of A Design Co along with Nikhith Ashok, which they set up in 2014. The young Chennai-based studio has quickly become a name identified with a well-articulated visual language, an openness to innovate and an approach that willingly bends to context, client and brief requirements. “I love designing spaces where you can’t pin down a particular style or theme. I enjoy revelling in the conflict and starting conversations about a space,” says Adappa.

Working from Home

Nothing could be a greater testimonial to that philosophy than her own house, a 1,000-square-foot apartment in a quiet neighbourhood by the Bay of Bengal. A long and narrow open-plan living room that flows into the dining area in a white-walled backdrop suitably lends itself to the disparate elements that stitch the place together—a soft-looking mid-century sofa, in white, in the company of a postmodern acrylic coffee table. It’s an incongruous pair but works well together, as does every other thoughtfully arranged element. Most importantly, it’s an aesthetic that expresses the lifestyle and diverse tastes of its occupants. “It was renovated to reflect our eclectic taste, with artefacts and collectables from my travels and heirloom pieces that have been passed on to us,” she states. It’s a perfect recipe to add a touch of whimsy and get creative with interesting pieces. Which explains how the striking etagere, a family heirloom, doubles up as a bar created in a corner that’s crafted as a reading nook in front of a picture window.

Living room interior design with modernist decor of white walls & wooden flooring - Beautiful Homes

The living room of this 1,000-square-foot Chennai home has a long and narrow layout with modernist decor of white walls and wooden flooring.

Interior designer and architect, and co-founder of A Design Co, Gowri Adappa’s home in Chennai is a perfect reflection of her design sensibility — an elegant blend of diverse styles. “I love designing spaces where you can’t pin down a particular style or theme. I enjoy revelling in the conflict and starting conversations about a space,” says Adappa. And nothing could be a greater testimonial to that philosophy than her own house, a 1,000-square-foot apartment in a quiet neighbourhood by the Bay of Bengal. A long and narrow open-plan living room that flows into the dining area in a white-walled backdrop suitably lends itself to the disparate elements that stitch the place together. The studiedly artless arrangement offers an insight into the personalities of the people occupying the space, but it also shines a light on Adappa’s almost intuitive approach to design. And that’s seen in the smallest of details, including the selection of art that is seen throughout the house. Her beautifully designed abode is what truly defines her.

This elegant combination of old-world objects framed within a soothing white canvas and warm wooden flooring continues with a certain choreographed precision through the house. The unusual curation of artworks, some by local artists, some collected on travels around the world, sculptural lights that look whimsically perfect where they are placed, a white dining table with a central chubby metallic leg—it’s a house that defies pigeon-holing. “That’s what makes it more interesting; to create these curatorial vignettes around my home, which is not by accident. It’s modern Indian living,” she asserts.

 

The studiedly artless arrangement offers an insight into the personalities of the people occupying the space, but it also shines a light on Adappa’s almost intuitive approach to design. And that’s seen in the smallest of details, including the selection of art that is seen throughout the house. “I pick up art with my gut, I don’t look at names. If a particular piece speaks to me it’s coming home with me. I enjoy curating different works and displaying them like it would in a gallery. They make your eye travel around the house.”

 

Indigenous Accents

Embellishing this space are well-made artisan creations of local craftspeople, in the form of earthenware, sculptures, the bamboo light fittings, among other unexpected artefacts. Identifying and working with locally available skill is, in fact, central to A Design Co’s ethos. “This nod to Indian craftsmanship is a very important element in my design process. To celebrate these craftsmen and artisans and their incredible workmanship to continue to create beautiful finishes, fabrics and feature this in our projects. And this is something I prioritised with this home as well. India has amazing artisans and craftsmen and I try my best to celebrate them in the spaces I design.”

Balcony converted into a reading nook-cum-bar area - Beautiful Homes

The balcony was converted into a reading nook-cum-bar area. The etagere that serves as a bar is a family heirloom. The chair is a hand-me-down that Adappa stained black and reupholstered in a moss-green Believer fabric; the rug is from Jaipur Rugs. Adappa altered the lamp with a conical shade to add another layer of design.

Heavy brass & marble dining table with light wicker chairs & old loveseat - Beautiful Homes

The heavy brass-and-marble dining table from West Elm is offset by light wood and wicker chairs paired with an old loveseat.

The living room has horse sculpture, reading light & wall art for décor - Beautiful Homes

The Ayyanar horse sculpture in the living room was picked up from an antique store in Mahabalipuram and mounted on a pedestal from HB Studio. The reading light was found online and shipped over from the US. The large artwork is by a Sri Lankan artist Syrva.

The bedrooms, though, as well-decorated as the bold art and collectables-filled living room, wear a quieter decor. They are simpler, more sanctuary-like in their aesthetic—unabashedly lowkey in their vibe. Comfort, though, is not relegated just to the bedroom; the reading nook overlooking a picture window is a peaceful corner but for Adappa, that tranquillity can be found anywhere in the space. “Come nightfall, I switch one of my little reading lights, light my candles, curl up on my couch with a cup of tea or wine, depending on how the day went.”

 

When you have a space whose every corner inspires that feeling of warmth and envelopes you in that kind of comfort is one that’s hitting all the right notes of what a interior home design should feel like—comfortable, and completely you.

Interior designer Gowri Adappa in her eclectic Chennai home design - Beautiful Homes
Gowri Adappa, an interior designer and architect is the co-founder of A Design Co.
Mid-century sofa with an acrylic coffee table & artefacts for decor - Beautiful Homes
The mid-century sofa is in front of an acrylic coffee table; the coffee table books and artefacts were collected over time. The cushions are from Good Earth. The small layered cutwork stencilled piece is from Vietnam.
The living room has horse sculpture, reading light & wall art for décor - Beautiful Homes
The Ayyanar horse sculpture in the living room was picked up from an antique store in Mahabalipuram and mounted on a pedestal from HB Studio. The reading light was found online and shipped over from the US. The large artwork is by a Sri Lankan artist Syrva.
Dining room space opened to the kitchen - Beautiful Homes
The dining space just off the kitchen makes for a cosy space.
Heavy brass & marble dining table with light wicker chairs & old loveseat - Beautiful Homes
The heavy brass-and-marble dining table from West Elm is offset by light wood and wicker chairs paired with an old loveseat.
Corridor between reading nook & the open kitchen features artefacts & artworks - Beautiful Homes
The corridor between the reading nook-cum-bar and the open kitchen features artefacts and artworks; sitting on the plinth is an antique Islamic finial that Adappa picked up from Rangeela, Goa; the artwork behind it is by Chennai-based artist NS Manohar. The artwork on the wall to the left (next to the etagere) is by Chennai-based artist Nelson Kennedy and on the right wall are works bought at an art expo.
Kitchen features tiles in a herringbone pattern & floating teakwood shelves - Beautiful Homes
The kitchen features tiles handmade tiles from Pondicherry and installed by another layer of tiles, also from Pondicherry, in a herringbone pattern to create a backdrop for floating teakwood shelves made by a Chennai-based brand, Niroka.
The blue & white kitchen has floating shelves for display & storage - Beautiful Homes
Adappa uses the floating teakwood shelves in the kitchen as a display area for all her chinaware, cookbooks and other collectables.
Herringbone pattern of the backsplash tiles for the floating shelves in the kitchen - Beautiful Homes
The herringbone pattern of the tiles make a great backdrop for the floating shelves in the kitchen.
The design & décor of the master bedroom is soothing & calm - Beautiful Homes
The master bedroom is a quiet and comfortable space.
Master bathroom décor with lights & printed wallpaper - Beautiful Homes
In the master bedroom, the side tables are vintage mid-century sourced from the US, juxtaposed with a rugged metal bed frame. The silk botanical blinds behind the bed are flanked by drapes on either side to soften the space. All the bedding and cushions are from Good Earth.
Master bathroom décor with lights & printed wallpaper - Beautiful Homes
The master bathroom has lights bought from Amazon and wallpaper from Cole and Son; Adappa staggered the basic white tiles to give the effect of subway tiles.
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