Television producer Monisha Jaising Vaid’s villa in Assagao is a self-styled passion project. She takes us through the emotional journey of creating a home from scratch
Monisha Jaising Vaid, one of the most sought-after television content producers, wishes she was a jewellery designer. But it hasn’t stopped her from chasing creative pursuits throughout her time on what she describes as a “corporate hamster wheel”. From creating graphics on set and styling popular judges for reality TV shows like Indian Idol, she explains how her creative side came to full bloom during the construction of her holiday home in Assagao. She took the project head-on without the help of an architect or interior designer. A perfectionist by nature, Monisha took the renovation of the Goan villa seriously by studying interior design part-time through the Inchbald School of Design before getting her hands dirty.
“This home pretty much gave me the outlet I had been seeking for years,” she says. “The only difference is that I’ve had to foot the bills myself.” From the challenges of finding the perfect property to zeroing in on a vision and purpose, from inspirations and practical advice, Monisha takes us through her design journey with a tour of her vibrant Goan holiday home that celebrates colour and Goa’s Indo-Portuguese heritage with equal vigour. Edited excerpts from an interview:
Monisha Jaising Vaid: Although we were keen on buying a heritage home, we had rented and lived in a grand Indo-Portuguese villa in December 2020. So, we knew that it wasn’t free of its challenges—that sort of architecture was built for a different time with less light coming in, thicker walls and smaller windows. At the same time, we also looked at the villas in gated communities and realised that even though the ROI on those homes was high, they were cookie-cutter with bathtub-sized pools that didn’t appeal to us. We ended up buying a 13-year-old house with strong bones in Assagao instead, which wasn’t remarkable on the inside.
So, we just went ahead and pulverised the interiors completely to create a villa with a 13-metre swimming pool, five ensuite rooms with formal living and dining rooms, a terrace lounge, a TV lounge and a rooftop study.
MJV: One of the most challenging aspects of designing the home was finding a balance between functionality and aesthetics, especially considering Goa’s climate and the fact that this home is built on the gradient of a hill. We realised that planning was key and understanding how to make each space practical was a priority. So, I decided to take an online course called “Design Your Own Living Space” by the Inchbald School of Design. The three-month course helped me with space planning, layouts and mood boarding, which are crucial aspects of interior design. The best part was that I could do this alongside my day job and figure things out as we went through the different stages of planning and construction in real time.
I also started following the interior design firms and influencers like Studio Duggan, Serena Crawford, Jose L. Rgez D L Iglesia, The Raj Company, The Nook, Fermoie and Darren Palmer, who does these educative videos talking about different design styles and their history as well as rules for things like space planning.
The other big challenge for me was how spoilt I felt with all the choices for decorating, sourcing and shopping online and on social media. You search for one thing and then the algorithms throw up a hundred similar things at you and it can be quite daunting. Luckily, I was able to source a lot of beautiful things, off the beaten path, made in so many different corners of India. My greatest discovery was Indiamart.com through which I found some amazing businesses like MS Antique Décor in Saharanpur that helped fabricate a lot of my chandeliers and light fixtures.
Thrifting was another important aspect to me. Growing up, our folks were just figuring out how to make ends meet, so there aren’t many family heirlooms to speak of. Goa has a fantastic community for sourcing items, with many people selling old furniture and antiques. I’ve tried to find pieces that have a story to tell and a history to them.
MJV: As I started learning and working on themes and design styles, one of the most important things my husband and I realised, was to keep the project as “Goa” as we can—rooted to the land it is situated in and bring in as many Goan influences because it was a dream to buy an Indo-Portuguese house.
We’ve incorporated a lot of Goan elements like shingles and Sundarpatti, what they call Goan lace here (installed below the shingles) on the roof as well as balustrades. We also threw in the teak pillars because a lot of the Indo-Portuguese houses here still have beautiful teak wood columns. The other big thing Goans are proud of is their red earth terracotta, so we’ve decorated with earthen objects through the house. For example, we made a lamp out of a traditional gurguret crafted in the shape of a rooster, which is the national bird of Portugal.
We’ve also used cement floor tiles sourced from Bikaner—the historical connection is that the red oxide, hexagonal and other tiles from Rajasthan and the tiles from Athangudi, Chettinad were used in old Portuguese Goan homes. We’ve also used IPS counters rather than doing granite or quartz in the washrooms, with limestone which is again very rooted to old Goan culture.
MJV: My initial thought was to paint one wall in each room a different colour, balancing it with white or materials like limestone for the rest. But as I started to plan, I realised that I had more time to work with, which got my creative gears turning. I saw this as an opportunity to explore various options and experiment with different colours by Asian Paints. So, we went ahead and painted rooms—walls, ceilings and all—with just one colour each.
Some people who came into our home expressed unfavourable opinions when the rooms were painted all over with a single colour. There were moments of tears and uncertainty, and some comments felt overbearing. But my husband comforted me and said that if it didn't work out as expected, we could always paint it white. But taking this risk paid off for us and the resulting colour, that envelopes you, feels almost comforting, a cosy cocoon and the light reflects beautifully in these rooms.
MJV: The execution phase was both exciting and challenging. It’s when everything you've planned in Excel, PowerPoint and AutoCAD starts becoming a reality. From drapes to blinds, furniture to soft furnishings, and lighting, everything had to come together perfectly. It was like conducting an orchestra so everything plays to the same tune.
The journey was filled with emotions—there was a lot of joy, a lot of anger, a lot of irritation, a lot of heartache. But our home is now our baby, our pride and joy. Friends, family, and even strangers who visited have validated our choices, which has boosted my confidence. We also had a fantastic team of contractors, carpenters, painters, craftsmen and our landscape architect Anusha Babbar who played a vital role in making our dream home a reality.
MJV: You must evaluate thorough due diligence the property’s legal and structural aspects. Ensure that the paperwork is clear and that you have a comprehensive understanding of the property’s title. This is essential to avoid any legal complications down the line.
There are four things one needs to keep in mind: Proper planning is crucial. Create a realistic timeline for your project, and remember that delays can lead to budget overruns.
Consider the functionality of your space. Think about how to make it more attractive and practical. Understand the pros and cons of the area and design accordingly. For instance, we decided to invest in an elevator, a significant cost, for our two-storey villa that is designed for short-term holiday rentals because we understand going up and down can be cumbersome with luggage, especially for kids and senior citizens. Don’t limit yourself to mainstream options. Explore various sources and enjoy finding unique items that can make your space special. The execution phase is where everything comes to life. Ensure all elements come together smoothly. If done right, this phase can bring your vision to reality.
All images by Moments Studio
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