This Mumbai home takes big chunks of neoclassical visual inspiration and makes them its own. The team from Tejal Mathur Design realised this graceful project after dedicating months to ideation and careful material collection from Indian and American stores.
This home looks like a castle from a couple of centuries past that decided to come alive, some precious remnants from its earlier life firmly in tow. Except that it decided to morph into a sea-facing Mumbai apartment of today, and walk a fine line between nostalgia and modern aesthetics.
The interiors of this 2,800 sq ft flat have been designed by Mumbai-based Tejal Mathur Design using a name-dropper’s worth of designer furniture and art collection sourced from India and the USA. The 8-month long process involved deep introspections about the palette and forms, amply helped along by the clients who generously afforded the team a free hand.
The interiors’ combination of panelled wall accents, unique decorative elements, metal handles, wooden surfaces, and that unforgettable ambience dominated by a canvas of brooding grey are combined results of a wish to recreate “old-world” European charm.
So, let’s begin from the floor up. The master bedroom’s passage is decked in gleaming chequered black Marquina and white Statuario marble, with a cladding of tobacco-stained herringbone flooring from C. Bhogilal sitting side-by-side, establishing a subtle swipe of textural difference.
A beautiful sheep sculpture from the North Carolina-based retailer Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams stands, seemingly mid-gaze, at one end of the passage. The bed, side-table, and reclaimed pillars and cast-iron roof supports from Ironworks populate the cladding side of the room.
The backdrop wall is a remarkable sight in its neoclassical elegance, an array of lightweight concrete panels covering it, and a ‘Rosette Plaster’ from the Corte Madera furnishings experts, Restoration Hardware, sitting with talismanic flourish above the bed. A wall of wooden doors and closet openings runs along the passage’s length, centred by the bathroom doors distinguished by their coloured panels.
The master bathroom is pattern – breakingly modern in its feel, combining the black-and-white hue and geometric pattern of the outside room in its flooring. The ‘Pillar Candle Round Chandelier’ from Restoration Hardware is eye-catching, so is the ‘Montpellier Vanity’ basin unit. The bath tub from Marmorin Design has a floor-mounted faucet for company.
The powder bathroom’s flooring mixes black Marquina marble with white Indian marble, the latter on double-duty as wall cover as well. The baroque mirror frame has an arresting personality, enhanced by a Goccia round countertop wash basin and a tall ‘Joystick’ basin mixer from FCML.
The walnut herringbone floor pattern spreads across the living and dining room sections. The former segment is the lead-up for this home, all concrete wall panels, weather beaten black sofas, and grey upholstered chairs. In this monochromatic set-piece, the Fortuny Studio 76 Floor Lamp is a luminous breakaway that travelled in from another time.
The early 20th century zinc-top mercantile coffee table is another dark body in this delightfully Gothic pile. But, really, what is on top of this table is what is the most remarkable. The two showpieces from the ‘1920s French Cloche Glass Collection’ with a cast flower coral specimen inside the cloche and petite tomes parchment from Restoration Hardware are beautiful, lending a spot of mad scientist eccentricity to the room.
The ‘Girado Dining Table’ from P3 Architectural Solutions is lit by a 19th century chandelier, and by the sunlight streaming in from the wooden slatted window shades. Two Brittany Architectural Railing Sconces from Restoration Hardware guard the main door.
Facing the living room at the end of a sunlit passage is the family den, dominated in style by a ‘Tremont Console’ sourced from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. This beautiful piece, composed of a well-preserved precious tree stump from yore, holds eye glass moulds and a lovely vintage bowler hat mould as show-pieces.
The layout is a perfect prototype of a busy but confusion-free setting where an industrial grey shelf can happily coexist with subtler elements like dainty lamps.
A vintage French armchair looks on wistfully at a rug from The Merge Projekt, and a medallion piece on the wallpapered wall in the vicinity. This corner is the distilled shot glass to the home’s charming bottle, and can be closed off with reclaimed doors finished in distressed polish.
The passage in the middle of these two segments is marked by wooden swivel restored doors with stools standing between them holding stoneware vases on their heads. This sliver of relaxation holds a dewan, a vintage weighing unit on the floor, framed herbariums on the wall, and the promise of views of real plants and the city skyline when the wooden slatted blinds are pulled back. More echoes of the idiosyncratic scientist to be found here.
Admittedly, the designer’s favourite room is the “man cave”. “A dense man cave, with charcoal walls and an ox blood leather couch thrown in, make for the perfect cigar chamber,” she opines. The daughter’s room, on the other hand, lends itself to a different branch of ruminative creativity. It is distinguished by a mannequin bust from Pier One Imports and a beautiful 1920s French drafting table placed against a white brick wall finished with a plaster finish.
As a whole, this home commands an appreciation based on an analysis that goes beyond the brilliant array of bespoke and well-chosen materials. Wide-ranging and deep thought ran in full steam behind the scenes here, culminating in discussions on inspirations that filled up a thick dossier.
“Bevelling soft milky Indian marble for the powder bathroom, understanding the technique of sculpting Siporex, antiquing ceiling with cement powders and sealants to “unfinish” it, fabricating metal carved handles for wardrobes, only made our engagement with the project more engrossing,” affirms Mathur.
To sum up, all that academic commitment has been well worth the while indeed.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs Courtesy the Designer