What makes ‘home sweet home’? It’s a reflection of our persona, passion and panache. A home is an echo of what we believe in, aspire for and live by. “A beautiful home is about a home that’s alive. A home that breathes, that talks, where you hear laughter.” – Shabnam Gupta; Interior designer, Shabnam Gupta Designs.continue reading ….

Home is the place where we can drop our shoes, sink into the couch, sing & dance crazily, demand warm food, procrastinate endlessly, cuddle our loved ones, sip coffee at leisure, cry watching movies, laugh endlessly and a lot more.  It is simply the place where we’d want to be at the end of the day, resonating warmth and well-being.

This feature is a narrative about the inspiration that breaths through the homes of five home owners, and an insight on what brings out the connect between them and the personal spaces in their home.

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Anita Belani: ‘Not having role models or mentors made me chart my own path and take some bold decisions which were my own’. Anita Belani has an experience of almost three decades as a business leader & a senior human capital professional.  Independent, opinionated and a tenacious single woman; her home is an authentic projection of her passion for art.

Her home is a true example of ‘restrained opulence’. Black, white, grey as backgrounds juxtaposed with metallic, mirror and shocking pink. Uncluttered and welcoming, just like Anita who is a warm and plain-speaking individual. It’s a volume that hosts art in all possible forms to create a saga of visual experiences. Nothing can stay plain and mundane. Anita is a compulsive art collector and her work takes her to places, “when I visit a city, the only thing I research are the options for viewing and if possible buying art”. An art piece draws her to it and makes a mental imprint of where it would render her abode. Her home was completely conceptualized by her in a phase of equanimity when she was homebound and almost blinded for a while due to illness. Her ideas were brought to life by a young designer Neha Deva. Anita has designed and got customized most of the furniture in her place to keep it unique. Her inspiration comes from giving moments to a sunset, travelling to art fairs or even visiting some interesting office spaces on work (Walt Disney headquarters, Burbank USA). Even with a frantic work schedule, each piece in her home is handpicked, customized and carries a narrative.

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Clockwise from top right: Anita seated on a sofa customised for her. Entryway wall featuring some of her art collection with her, marble urli. Console table designed by Anita herself. Artifacts from travel. Center: buddha in texture and more art collection.
(Images by author)

Mala Ramadorai: ‘Music in the soul’ defines her in a nutshell. It’s a challenge to put her passions and achievements into a few words,  be it origami, teaching or giving back to the society. At all times adorned with a large bindi and an endearing smile.  “If you have belief in yourself you can succeed at everything.  Just believe.” – Mala Ramadorai

To chose a fovoured spot in her home is like asking Ms.Mala Ramadorai to pick a favourite from her children. There is a sense of sublime delight when she is surrounded by all that she loves and has so tirelessly handpicked and chosen with care for her homes (in Mumbai and Khandala). Handsomely crafted local handiworks and woodwork are her absolute calling for which she often travels south of India or even obscure markets of Oshiwara (Mumbai). She finds joy in reinventing and personalizing décor for her home, for which she resonates with brands like Shyam Ahuja and organizations like Sewa to provide authentic Indian customized décor like curtains and furnishings. “My (interior) designers work with me”, there can be no other way for her when doing her home. There has to be a convergence of aesthetic appeal and focus on keeping the spaces open, free-flow and well lit. For this she has found a perfect partner in acclaimed architect Brinda Somaya, also her close friend, to design their Khandala home. She feels that “most people are aware and affected by their surroundings”, so it’s relevant to pool in opinions from all the members of the family. She supports local handcrafted products with a vision that ‘Indian Culture’ will stand tall and apart from cheap imported stuff that has flooded our economy.

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Clockwise from top right: Ramadorai house at Khandala in bright yellow and white. Trees and blooming plants that have responded to love and care of the owners. Large open balconies with traditional flooring accessorized with simple foldable wood furniture. Manicured lawn with handmade hammock. The warm and endearing couple Mrs. and Mr. Ramadorai. Mala Ramadorai spreading joy with music and laughter. (Images: Mrs. Mala Ramadorai )

Vishakha Singh:  “I believe that work is worship and supporting women in their work is devotion”; Vishakha Singh, founder and CEO of Red Polka. With sound experience in media she has mastered ‘consumer behaviour’ with a strong bent towards women as consumers and retailers. She embodies a strong value system and is committed towards the cause of child adoption.

The joy of living a story, an experience in the smallest thing around. Her world of curation is not just bound by her current work sphere and business, but expands into her home and life as well. The beauty of each collectible at Vishakha’s home lies in the narrative of its origin and in her compel to carry it with her. For this reason she calls her home ‘a curation of stories’. Things that simply bring a smile. Things that have been nurtured, created and styled specifically to suit her taste. Detail in technique, textures and depiction in all that surround her are essential ingredients that bring to focus her penchant for all things simple, stylish and artistic. She is not the one to get carried away by brand labels and norms of home designing, rather her heart lies in keeping her home playful, warm and one carrying good vibes; a space that respects her thoughts and philosophy. Her design mantra is to juxtapose against white to bring out colour as an accent, with things complimentary rather than matching. She collaborates with friends, artists and designers and brings to life ideas that she is smitten with. ‘Story in four frames’ is a concept she developed with a friend for graphical art with photographs, customized ceramic murals by artist Shalan Dere, stores like ‘Freedom Tree’, ‘Transforme’,’Chesterfield’ and her very own e-commerce platform of chosen and curated products ‘Red Polka’; have all been a part of her journey in bringing her home to life.

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Clockwise from top right: Gauri from Devrai Art in Panchgani. Red Stone carving of Saraswati from Orissa. Gem stones studded Horse by an artist in Rio. Cusco Church of Peru. Metal Giraffe from South Africa. Vishakha with background picture clicked by her of Kudu in South Africa and designed in a concept called Story in FourFrames by an artiste cum creative advertising professional, Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar.
(Images: Vishakha Singh)

Namrata Jajoo: Namrata has drawn analogies from her exposure in the corporate world and her association with education platforms to develop intuitive linkages with individuals to help them draw and build on their innate strengths. She puts her energy into tasks that aim at creating a joyful, secular and robust world by helping individuals build a high self-esteem. Her home has been nurtured along with supportive hands of her husband Harsh Vardhan. For Harsh, his thoughts have set the course of his life, in reaching heights in business and corporate world or in getting ‘engineered’ spiritually.

She and her husband Harsh Vardhan share ideologies and common thought processes that have helped them build a home that draws from the virtues they believe in and put into practice. Called ‘Mangla Dwar’, door to auspiciousness. the anchor of their home and life is the temple (a dedicated room). Namrata and her family find ‘solace, grace, energy and harmony’ in this beautifully rendered space that is energized by their believes and practices. Their tenets of live, love, learn, laugh, smile, sing, pray, devote reflect in their interaction with fellow beings and also as an artwork commissioned for their home. This artwork draws from the Hindu symbol of ‘kalash’, pot of abundance and prosperity. There is a thought that drives the built of every element of the home. A lush garden that sports a large swing for joy and togetherness. Large windows to welcome the world and the bring in opportunities. Square dining table for equality and fairness. An open large kitchen for the love of food, fitness and family. Never ending, copiously filled book shelves to drown in words of wisdom. Tall cupboards for a family reaching to the sky! A house that welcomes with warmth and embraces with love. Their visions were transformed into physicality by architect Sameer De Monte

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Clockwise from top right: Heart of the house (Mangla Dwar) temple rendered by artist Sanjay Soni. ‘Wall of virtues’ with the Kalash motives symbolizing potfuls. Square dining and open large kitchen, large bookshelves with books for all, big window overlooking the lawn with a swing. At the center Namrata & Harshvardhan Jajoo
(Images: Namrata Jajoo)

Arati Kumar Rao: ‘… together we will listen to stories of the lifeblood of our land’, (www.aratikumarrao.com) Arati documents compelling environmental issues through her photography and writings. She is prodigiously creative, subtly witty, blissfully indulgent and thorough with whatever she has taken up, be it tennis, calligraphy, sketching, biophysics or reporting.

She lets us glimpse into her Bangalore home and the stuff that makes it special for her and her family. Her eternal love for connecting with the organic, open and honest is at the core of her home design, ‘I love the outdoors and have tried to bring it in wherever possible. My home has one whole side (the north side) open to the yard and we have a small atrium studded with bamboo. Two large terraces on each of the floors also add to the airy, bright, inside-outside feel.’ To be in sync with the nature is quintessential to this family, so what does the family resonate most with in this house, ‘I would have to say the bamboo. We all love the bamboo and it speaks to our collective inclinations.’ Arati’s exposure to diversity stems from her grooming, diverse reading and travel to heartlands and obscure geographies, also reflected in the décor of the home, ‘The whole home is earthy, with slate stone peppered around the house. There is no single geography, but rather a mix of Indian, a few Japanese, and some African elements.’ The first response that Arati usually receives from visitors is that the home is so “her”, which is hardly a surprise when she explains, ‘I have steered clear from the whites and the marbles and gone with blacks, greys, olives, and ochres. Those are the colors I prefer in my art and dressing as well.’ This home is definitely about self-expression and evolution in the most organic way. Giving and having space for passion that motivates life and beyond. This home has been actualised with the best stone from Neelu Bhatt’s Nustar Exim and Mistry Architects who brought Arati’s ideas to fruition.

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Clockwise from right: The well lit atrium with bamboos. Glass walls to separate but keep connected the yard from the indoors. Arati on a project. Natural materials and painted wall reflect an affinity for grey and ochre. View into the house through the atrium.
(Images: Arati’s pic by Raji Sunderkrishnan, home pictures by Arati Rao )

I have been extremely fortunate to have known these people personally. I hope to be infected by their creativity and aesthetics. Many thanks to all of them for taking the time to interact and share an essential aspect of their life, their homes.

FEATURE PICTURE: Image Credit: © Sarah Buckley via Flickr (smbuckley23)
(All pictures have been either credited to the source / photographer or linked to the original site from which they were taken)
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