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An eclectic console table set up with a kaleidoscope of artefacts, including cloches, jute baskets that doubled up as planters and large old school perfume bottles, placed against an attractive mirror greet me in the passage area as I approach the entrance of interior designer Farah Ahmed Mathia's apartment. She is the co-founder of the multi-award winning Bangalore-based design firm, FADD Studio. What captured my attention as soon as I entered through the main door, with its flamed brass leafing finish, was the seamless integration of multiple interior design styles coupled with an aesthetic mix of décor elements.
Located just off Museum Road in central Bangalore, the 3,500 sq. ft. ground floor apartment with an equally big (3,500 sq. ft.) garden space, is everything that Farah had envisioned for her dream home. A labour of love, as she calls it, Farah's home is a reflection of her diverse design sensibilities, a treasure trove of memories, and a place she and her husband Torun have built organically over the years. She spoke to beautifulhomes.com about the project and her brand of interior design.
What is the story of your house and the starting point of the design process?
The plot on which this apartment is built belongs to my husband's grandfather and when we were looking to rent a bigger space as I was pregnant with my second child, this house luckily fell vacant. Since it was a family home my husband said that I had the liberty to make changes which would not be possible otherwise. That was enough incentive for me, and I also liked the design of the house, the open garden space, the classical grills etc.
The floor was white marble which was like an open canvas to build a home replete with cornices, colour and character. So, we then started by choosing the colour palette that dictated the shell. We then added the cornices on the ceiling for a mid-century modern look and then took on aspects like lighting, furniture and the works.
How would you define your design aesthetic?
This house reminds me of the song "A few of my favourite things" from The Sound of Music as it has little bits of everything I like: Mid-century modern, contemporary, touches of industrial and even boho chic.
Were there any specific challenges to designing the house?
My husband dislikes false ceilings, so I decided to be more creative and installed a long metal track with an industrial vibe. It illuminates the entire living and dining area. The house has a central living area with multiple beams, so planning around that was a bit of a challenge. Also, as a designer I see new designs and products almost every week, so choosing elements like colours and tiles took much longer than expected.
What is your favourite part of the house and the part where you spend the most amount of time?
Definitely the outdoors, as we are very lucky to have an extensive garden space. My morning coffee is in the balcony outside the master bedroom; our breakfast is on the deck which overlooks the garden. I also relax there after work as I can watch my children play; the garden is their favourite too! They have a treehouse, mud kitchen and a tool set station in there. Inside the house, I do have a vantage point in the living room from where I can get a view of the entire house, and I love sitting there.
Has the house turned out the way you imagined?
Yes, it has, and we are very grateful as we could incorporate our wish list without major budget constraints in the home.
Tell us about your garden.
The garden space had only bamboo and palms before we moved here. I decided to have planter boxes with steps for casual seating—ideal for meeting friends or for children parties. I wanted a natural feel rather than a 'manicured landscape' look and hence have incorporated a variety of tropical plants like aloe, agave, staghorn ferns, fan palms, bromeliads etc., against the peach-pink hued wall which makes the greens stand out.
What is essential for your husband and you as a symbol of a home?
For both of us, a home is all about positive energy, plenty of fresh air, sunlight and plants. We don't like too much clutter and prefer open, clean spaces.
Tell us about the colour palette of your house? How did you decide on the colours, and what are things people ought to keep in mind while selecting colour pairings?
We have used a lot of colours in the house but in a subtle way with the colour blocks complimenting each other. In the living and dining we have two cool shades, light and dark blue-grey and this is complemented by a warm peach rose and dark brown. My son's room has blue and grey while my daughters' has a pastel vintage themed wall paper with pista-green, pink and grey. The study has grey and taupe while the master bedroom has grey and rose. So, while there are multiple colours, the transformation is soft as the colours have the same tone but the hues are different.
While choosing colours for clients, we always take the lead from them considering their likes and dislikes and then develop how to use them. Sometimes factors like Vaastu play a role and hence we give the client what they are comfortable with.
Tell us about the art pieces and how were they picked?
Both of us love to collect art and have gathered pieces from all over the world including Paris, Cuba and Goa. My love for art is not just limited to paintings, and I love different media. For instance, the twin pieces in the study are from China and made up of knick knacks like wires, beads and fabric. We also have Sufi dresses made from Turkish ceramic in the study apart from a Spanish fixture of three angels who are harbingers of good luck. The abstract piece in our dining room was commissioned as a wedding gift and has greys and blues which complement our wall beautifully. I am a big fan of Simran Lamba's work; she uses elements like coal, molten tar, metal waste, acrylic car paint etc. and have two of his pieces in my living room. I like different materials so there is this beautiful, vibrant cityscape crafted by artist Dhananjaya with old tins and perfume cans above which I have a set of clay masks with a gunny sack texture which I picked up at the Kochi Biennale some time ago.
How did you approach this project versus those of your other clients?
Since I am my own client I had the liberty to experiment, like the colour blocks, stencil floor in the balcony, track light etc., as I know what it entails and have access to resources in case something goes wrong. Not many clients can take that risk. That said, I have tried things like the cement finish paint and hand painting on the bedroom wall for many clients after I did it for myself, as they now have a reference image. Also, I had the luxury of time and did things at my own pace which is not the case with other clients.
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