When a home on the 26th floor puts you in that ethereal zone between earth and sky, it is only fitting that the interiors should reflect that same sense of calm, suspended animation. S+PS Architects call this ‘Liminal Living’ and show us how to do it right.
Mumbai-based S+PS Architects were commissioned to design a family apartment in the sky. Tucked away on the twenty-sixth floor, the sense of openness and the views from that vantage point formed the basis of the new home design.
The open-plan apartment has four clearly defined zones from the inside to the outside – a service strip, a movement zone, habitable space and outdoor space. The zones are further emphasised by strips of different kinds of flooring that run through the house.
Everything in the house is designed to embrace the ambience generated by the location of the apartment – uncluttered, serene and tranquil. The architects call this ‘Liminal Living’ – a state of ‘in-betweenness’ the gap between the thresholds and boundaries of our lives where living actually takes place.
The main door with its angular planes and toned wood forms the first of the cohesive furniture in the house. On entering the house, the bank of windows sprawling across the length of the room catches your eye. The sense of space and openness is captivating, as are the views from the long balcony outside.
The apartment has a linear configuration. You enter at the centre, in the living, dining and kitchen area. The sleeping zones are at the two ends of this space.
In the open plan central living space, contemporary furniture draped in comforting upholstery adds colour and texture. The floor is divided into zones with different materials – rough black slate, finely textured leather finish grey stone, white terrazzo and mirror-polished white marble.
And here’s the fascinating bit – there are only five pieces of wooden furniture in this space – all custom designed by S+PS Architects. The angular main door and shoe closet, coffee table, TV console, dining table and bookshelf all form part of a cohesive design.
“The furniture and fixtures in this zone continue this angular quality but in a delineated, open and lattice-like quality outlined in black that aids these transitions,” says Shilpa Gore-Shah, lead architect on the project. “The furniture is all made with a similar attitude from MS (Mild Steel) wire and MS rod and then painted black. They are placed on the demarcating floor lines in such a way that the five pieces aid in the blurring of boundaries and also continue the conversation.”
Doing away with the need for an entrance foyer, the house opens directly into the living space. The TV console, interestingly, is placed right in front of the main door. “The flat-screen television acts as a divider and blocks some of the room as you enter,” says Gore-Shah.
The furniture around the house, like the overall atmosphere, is contemporary and trendy. Leather chaises, soft sofas in muted tones, indoor plants and folk art specially chosen by Gore-Shah completes the look.
“The materials define not limits but sensory thresholds between the different strips. The owner’s exotic white Persian cat seems to best understand and revel in this liminality; herself transiting through one of her several lives.”
The bedrooms on either side of the living space are decorated with equal thoughtfulness. The master bedroom is tranquil with an old carved window adding texture and tradition to an otherwise modern room.
The master bedroom is a long room and the architects have made the most of it by dividing it into two zones – sleeping and lounge areas. The brick red, white and grey colour scheme is soothing and inviting. Suspended lights take the place of bedside lamps – an ingenious idea to save table space and also draw attention to a focal point on the wall, such as the old window in this case.
The children’s rooms have neutral wood with cheerful tones of blue and mauve with highlights like stripes and colourful art. Mosaic tiles in the bathroom and plenty of under-sink storage makes even the most utilitarian rooms lovely.
This simple and elegant home goes to prove that most houses benefit from a thoughtful layout, friendly materials and a sense of tranquillity that helps you escape from the rest of the world. That may be easier on the twenty-sixth floor, but the lessons learnt here are some that we could all use.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy Sebastian Zachariah