Elegance and Comfort

For Ashok and Vinata Shetty, the notion of house hunting, poking around a selection of furniture, home accessories and furniture needed hand-holding advice. This is where Achitect and Interior Designer’s Clement De Sylva of Clement De Sylva Associates and Architects comes in and is still part of this home. For Clement gave the Shettys, his clients and friends an appreciation of the beauty of space and the value of mixing it with a well-thought-out interior.

‘Clement gave us a vision!’ shares Reebok Master Trainer, Vinata Shetty of her new home in the celebrated locality of Malabar Hill, South Mumbai, precisely along the little Gibbs Road. Ashok’s daily routine matches with wife, Vinata is the fitness, but is into IT software business. The family moved into the neighborhood about year ago.

Among other reasons being, the proximity of education and the serenity of the quiet place was the fact that they have lived in the South Mumbai neighborhood all their lives. “The neighborhood is quiet with small buildings, the nearby sea and the area is absolutely residential. There is time to enjoy the world around here. Why? We even enjoy the parrots in the terrace in the morning!,” delights Vinata, pointing to some influential addresses around.

The find is a 1,800 sq. ft apartment that is a make-over from ‘Shambles!’ according to Vinata, “but we fell in love with this place the moment we saw it. Our requirement included 3 bedrooms with 3 bathrooms and a Maid’s room and this fitted very well. Most of the apartments we saw had just 2 Bedrooms, with not many facilities.

Also, it had to fit into our Budget.’ The wizard, Clement De Syla has an impressive portfolio that includes some well known names of spas, restaurants, offices and residences. More than ever, it was the trust-association between Clement and Ashok that goes back 7 years, when Clement was involved in the famous Bay of Bombay restaurant that saw the headlines in the media, internationally for the food and well-preserved heritage interiors. So, it was ‘kapisch!’ to the offered advice with the couple’s inputs.

Matching the profiles of Ashok and Vinata, one would expect to see all the Gym-signs like shoe racks, aerobic steppers, dumbbells etc. with the sportswear signature all over. On the contrary, the home has just come together with neatly done spaces, rather than looking as if it was cosmetically done with any displays.

The brief to Clement included that it had to be contemporary with need of space, yet flexible. “The focus was not really the home, but more so the characters of Ashok and Vinata, I realised. They are walking, talking f-i-t-n-e-s-s! And this meant they needed space – for their gym bags, work out at home, store Vinata’s gym manuals, both their individual work spaces, without clutter.

There is no set theme here, for the want to accommodate versatility the space would demand for the occasion. Also, since they entertain often, Ashok wanted the space to not be intimidating and for easy movement in the house. So the best option was to be abstract, so at any time with additions of furniture, accessories or throw-over can be moved in for personality changes. There are no expensive artifacts and furniture around that seems to look and feel ‘busy’.”

Restoration on the ‘shambles’ began with a structural audit and was refitted right down to the steel bars, only after which the interiors began. The earlier design had passages a'” all leading from the main door to every room a'” as a result of which the lighting was sparse.

All the huge unwanted walls that blocked the light came down, except to the pillar, which today is the show-case for Vinata’s collection of masks. According to Clement, “We had to open up the spirit of every room, beginning with bringing down the walls. Even the ceiling was removed. Since the renovation took place in the monsoons, we had to combat the rains. Temporary bamboo structures were erected, above which plastic sheets were placed for cover.

Water proofing had to be done, as the place had a leakage problem and this took us a little more time. However, we finished the work in four months, in spite the work restrictions. According to the building laws, we could only work between 9:00-1:00pm and 4:00-6:00 pm, unlike the normal shift hours of 9:00-9:00.”

Lighting is mostly direct and energy efficient throughout the apartment. In some spaces mood lighting has been added to create a theme in these niches. The flooring is hardwood and the walls are painted white. “White walls are the best way to help balance the versatility of a space. This is a good backdrop and lends the true richness or play for the upholstery or furnishings in the room.

Besides, all open spaces balance well with a white background making the space expanse-full”, maintains Clement. The furniture in the Living room has an interesting fusion of stone and wood that complements the flooring and windows. Windows are dressed with beige silk curtains and lace. The terrace has a water body which is a cascade with soothing sound. “Garden furniture opted for will soon be included a'” I have opted for seaweed with glass and wrought iron”, says Ashok.

The revival is an ongoing process, with additions in time. The choice of accessories was mostly done by Ashok and Vinata. “I was more into what they should NOT have rather than what they should’, grins Clement.”According to Clement, most of the pieces I had from the old house were ‘busy’, and they just didn’t seem to go belong, so I gave them all to my friends”, revealed Vinata gave them all away.

Clement added nostalgia and time to the terrace with 3 uplights from Bay of Bombay. These uplights are old and a Chor-bazaar find that were once lighting elements of the restaurant which had a theme of the interior of a ship. And the place brings memories and a chapter history, for those friends who were part of the project as visitors to the restaurant. Ashok’s favorite is the painting of artist Samar Singh that, “… just fitted the wall in the Living Room and is a point of conversation.” Among other few paintings that adorn the walls of the interiors is the prized M.F. Hussian on the opposite wall of the Living Room.

And so to prove to the expansiveness of space and versatility of the plan, the house has a relaxed feel. The window seating and the Bar underwent some deliberation. Comfort is the key in the sitting room. “It was decided that this plank of wood could be used for multi-purpose left to the imagination of anyone utilizing the space” simply as a sit-out, as part of the Living Room conversation, reading, lying down, simply relaxing or whatever else..”, says Clement. The Bar was a debate as to whether it would be a stand-up with chairs or simply a built-in cabinet. The latter was chosen, since there was no intention of making the Bar the focal point of the home.

The bedrooms too are simple clean lines. Each room has a charming mix of colours to suit the individual styles of the occupants. The attached bathrooms have shower cubicles fitted with colour schemes, as in the Master bedroom is a mix of orange and red in mosaic; son’s is black and yellow and daughter’s is red.

Says Vinata proudly, “The owners of this place did stop by. Even they couldn’t recognize the place and what’s done to it!”