The colour white is the residing deity of this residential project in Mumbai by Rajiv Saini & Associates. It is critical to the project’s casual feel and warmth, and also its sense of spaciousness. Rajiv Saini & Associates. It is critical to the project’s casual feel and warmth, and also its sense of spaciousness.
In a place of high drama, a corner of quiet elegance stands out, and so it is with this house. Built in the midst of the Malabar Hill area in the sleepless city of Mumbai, this residence had to become an oasis of escape and modernity for a young couple and their family.
Mumbai-based Rajiv Saini & Associates were roped in to realise this aim, and the team achieved the deft balance of form and feel by keeping everything from the get-go simple.
So, if it was purity of interiors that was the asking, then the team relied on a predominance of white tones, especially on the walls. If a feeling of spaciousness was on the agenda, then furniture was minimised, and only necessary items made part of the rooms’ scheme.
“There was no major room, so reworking wasted spaces was a priority,” admits Saini. The result being a chic home, full of possibilities.
An interesting feature of this home is its complex identity – it has as its exterior, all clean lines and restrained colour tones, and it has its underbelly that is away from the spotlight but is critical to according the rooms their spaciousness. So to understand the home, it is imperative to analyse both these levels of functionality.
The living room, for example, is a plush, warm space that is devoid of unnecessary frills. The couches are again simple but luxurious, and the rug adds to the warmth of the atmosphere here. Beautiful dark timber chairs, and a light fixture made up of a cluster of torch-shaped small lamps, add to the pizzazz.
This is a sea-facing home, so a phalanx of windows naturally sets up a viewing gallery at one end in the living room.
The two main walls of this room face each other and form its bulwark, but in spite of these core commonalities, are as distinct in personalities as siblings from the same household.
One is made up of an indigenous variety of grey stone – the cladding composed of slats of uneven shapes and sizes, with “slivers” of copper interjecting them – in effect setting up a rare display of edginess in the otherwise smoothly efficient setting.
The other is a shiny slick surface of pristine white lacquer, spanning the entire length of the room, constantly reflecting all the goodness of light-and-shadow that pours into the room. Stone detailing below this chunk provides good contrast.
But this wall also hides the most inconspicuous element of the home – the storage spaces. What appear like vertical divisions are in fact store houses for the home’s many needs, and the large painting frame on the wall has been strategically placed on it to further shield their existence.
This brilliant manoeuvring achieved the double whammy of retaining more space for the main function of the room, while still ensuring enough burrows for tucking away what was not immediately required.
This double play with the spaces continues in the 3 rooms, and the repurposing actually peaks here. To fulfil the demand for a dresser, the wide verandah space was reworked upon.
“The home is in one of the old iconic Mumbai buildings, so there were limitations to what we could do. We kept whatever we had to, and still built a visual identity that was light, modern, fresh and cool,” says Saini.
Inspite of the expressed preference for white, the home has managed to retain an air of informality. This whiteness is often punctuated by brilliant dark wood detailing, especially apparent in the master bedroom.
Here, a stone table demarcates the challenging difference in levels between the area where the bed resides, and the rest of the room, making sure it doesn’t jar. The tenor remains comfortably restrained, there is a reassuring sense of space, and the view of the sea is through a floor-to-ceiling viewfinder.
The sense of deep comfort resonates through the bathroom spaces too, where the illusion of space is established by generous swathes of mirror that throw up multiple reflections of the lamps and light fixtures. The shower remains hidden here, further entrenching its privacy. The study, which doubles as a guest room when in need, also sports the wood-and-white two-tone.
The re-allocation of spaces was the biggest challenge of this project, and the design team from Rajiv Saini & Associates worked with deft sensitivity to this need while being aware of the restrictions of working through an old structure.
Remarkable also is the subtle play of contrast here. The versatility of the composite stone and its onyx overtones break any monotony of colour in the house, and carefully placed veneers of oak bring in a solid sense of purpose. This home is as much about what is not apparent as what is. And that is what makes it special.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Sebastian Zachariah