Designer Sunita Yogesh adds pops of colour and ethnic touches to a minimal white shell
It may be located in one of Chennai’s busier neighbourhoods but designer Sunita Yogesh’s 1,650-square-foot home is a sanctuary scalloped out of the frenzied storm of activity so typical to busy metros everywhere. A soothing white three-bedroom blessed with windows on the east- and west-facing sides is further supplemented by Yogesh’s own modern-traditional, pared-back aesthetic. The founder of her eponymous full-service design studio, Yogesh treated her own house to her gentle, neutrals-favouring, personalised touch that she has been administering to clients’ homes.
A textile designer by education, with a passion for painting and already working in her family’s multi-generational business, Palam Siliks, reputed for their beautifuly handwoven saris (Kanjeevarams in particular)—it would be fair to say that Yogesh knows more than a little about design. It was a deep interest for all things related to home design that prompted her to set up her eponymously named interior design studio. “Initially, the studio was mostly to cater to family and friends. It started as a pet project, and at the time, I didn’t know whether it was going to be a full-time thing as I was already part of my family business,” recalls Yogesh. That it has, in fact, turned out to be more is certainly because of her ability at crafting homes that are thoughtfully designed with the space and the client guiding her design. “I used to paint a lot at one point, so the way I look at interiors is how I would look at a blank canvas. The approach is the same—mixing materials, textures, colours, only with interiors, it’s even more personal.”
It was the same with her own home, connecting with the space at an entirely organic level and letting it dictate her aesthetic, feeling her way through the rooms and arriving at a design that worked instinctively. “I look at the overall space and what would work for it rather than forcing a particular style or genre on it. The requirement for each space is different, the person going to be living there is different.” For Yogesh and her husband then, minimal, traditional, inviting, bright and airy were keywords in getting it just right. “Having lived in other rentals before this, we knew exactly what worked for us and what didn’t. So that knowledge was helpful to us to plan our space.”
The house is flooded with light throughout the day, thanks to windows along both sides was a big advantage. Light and layout were the starting points for the design Yogesh implemented—global in its minimalist leanings and layered with an inviting ethnic vibe. “I think travel has been one of the major influences for me because my approach to design is very global. Apart from that, I love incorporating handwoven textiles found in different parts of India in my projects, through the upholstery and soft furnishings,” she says.
The layout was worked around a bit to ensure a fluid transition of space, with the builder-made kitchen-cum-laundry-room converted into a big kitchen. “We moved the laundry to one of the balconies and the kitchen became a much larger space.” The sense of seamlessness from one room to the other is further enhanced with the grey flooring (vitrified tiles that look almost like natural stone) that anchors the white-walled framework, one that Yogesh consciously opts for in most of her projects. That neutral outline was coloured in with a mix of textures and pops of colour. “In this project, there is a lot of white oak that we have used, a lot of glass, wicker. I didn’t want it to look so modern that it lacks life. And we wanted the whole home to look unified which is why we kept the palette minimal.” It helped too that most of the furniture was custom-designed—something that she does for all her projects—so that it worked well within the layout and the cohesive design language that Yogesh wanted for their Chennai house.
A challenging task when it comes to most apartments in metros, storage was efficiently handled in this house. So, bulky pieces that got in the way or were out of sync with the aesthetic were an absolute no. “Every kind of storage used here feels like an extension of the space. Nothing is protruding outside. I wanted it to be an extension of the walls.”
Unexpected colour splashed strategically onto a neutral framework, a crisp and clean aesthetic, bright daylight lighting up the home and a cluster of trees outside the windows—this is the kind of space that makes coming home feel like being cocooned in comfort.