Muted Majesty

Pune-based Varsha and Deepak Guggari Associates bring alive a plush 3,300 sq ft home in Pune with a play of textures and a traditional touch to modern simplicity.

Text: Diksha Jawle
Photographs: Hemant Patil courtesy Varsha and Deepak Guggari Associates

Architect Deepak Guggari

Timeless and meaningful — this is the design philosophy that informs Varsha and Deepak Guggari Associates (VDGA), which was established by the husband and wife (architect Deepak Guggari and landscape architect Varsha Guggari) duo in Pune in 2004. It is upon this foundation that the firm has created chic spaces over the past 15 years, including the one we’re about to explore — the Darda House in the upscale neighbourhood near Pune’s racecourse and city landmark, Empress Garden.

Abhay Darda, the client, desired his lush 3,300 sq ft space to have an Indian modern aesthetic. He approached VDGA after he chanced upon their work online while searching for the right person for the job. The home was to cater to five members — Abhay and his wife, their two daughters and a son. “The client required minimal modern interiors with uncluttered spaces,” informs Deepak.

The living room witnesses a varied material palette as seen in the painted passageway wall, ceiling adorned with a classic shade of veneer, the sliding wall made of printing blocks sourced from Rajasthan, and the black and white frames against a cement sheet backdrop.

On his first visit to the site, Deepak witnessed a completely finished 3,300 sq ft apartment with Italian marble flooring, and realised that the space may not require any structural modifications. However, the Darda House demanded a few basic civil changes. “These were carried out to accommodate the client’s requirements and enhance the quality of the interior spaces,” informs the architect. So, a wall between the master bedroom and dining was removed and the dining space was converted into a lounge area for the bedroom. Also, to maximise the usable area in the kitchen and to capture the view of the tall palm trees that surround the house, the existing utility wall was broken down and was combined with the kitchen. This resulted in the creation of the Darda House comprising living and dining area, a lounge, live kitchen, four bedrooms, puja space and servants’ quarter.

The outcome of this rejigging can be witnessed once you enter the free-flowing living, dining and kitchen space. Bright and airy, the living room witnesses a varied material palette — the long painted wall of the passage; a ceiling adorned with a classic shade of veneer; the black and white frames on a cement sheet backdrop; and the design highlight of the home — the striking sliding wall showcasing a collage of gorgeous printing blocks. The living space is marked by cosy and lavish seating with a hand-tufted carpet and cushions adding an Indian touch. All the artefacts have been hand-picked to complement the interiors, while the furniture has been custom-made to fit in the space requirements. Soft furnishings and fabrics in black, white, grey and understated shades of blue-green offer elegance and restraint.

The sliding wall is formed out of pieces of discarded wooden printing blocks sourced from Rajasthan, and hides the kitchen when necessary, thus becoming a functional art piece in the living space.

The kitchen is neat with a white colour scheme and plenty of natural light. The breakfast table here also doubles up as a bar and has customised stool seating. “The client wanted the kitchen to open out into the dining and living areas. That is why we introduced the sliding wall between the kitchen and dining area. This wall is formed from pieces of discarded wooden printing blocks sourced from Rajasthan. The sliding wall hides the kitchen when necessary; besides becoming an art wall in the living space,” Deepak explains. Interestingly, this 12ft long and 8ft high sliding wall was the most challenging aspect of the Darda House, the architect tells us.

Although the living and dining are part of the same space, they have been sectioned by metal chains suspended from the ceiling. “The idea behind using lightweight metal chains to distinguish between the dining and living area was to physically disconnect them from each other while still keeping the visual connectivity intact,” reveals the architect. Further, the dining opens to a terrace that is adored by a green wall, a customised wooden jhoola, and paper cord-woven furniture. The green wall accommodates plenty of plants without taking up excess floor space.

At the end of the passage is the minimally designed puja room with a backlit, full scale cut-out of Mahavir on a white backdrop. Niches in the wall have been provided for idols on the right hand side of the setup and the Namokar mantra is inscribed on a white panel. A lounge — also minimal in nature — is attached to the master bedroom and acts as an entertainment area. It is separated by a sliding slatted screen.

Complementing the blend of whites and blues of the daughter’s bedroom is the timber-shade furniture comprising a wall-length library unit in veneer that forms a backdrop for a sleek study table, and a walk-in closet.

The bedrooms of this apartment are spacious, subtle and sleek. In the master bedroom, a full-length wardrobe offers plenty of storage. Its shutters are a combination of wooden slatted and silk panels that add sophistication to the ambience. A blend of white and blue imparts calm to the interiors of the daughter’s bedroom. Adding warmth to the colour scheme is the timber-shade furniture that includes a wall-length library unit in veneer that forms a backdrop for a sleek study table, and a walk-in closet. The closet with sandwiched fabric panels leads the way to the bathroom which is adorned with black mosaic and fluid shapes. The wardrobe is a similar highlight in the son’s room with a panel made from a combination of bamboo chatai and veneer which complements the deep blue and grey interiors.

It may have been by chance when Abhay Darda zeroed in on VDGA after running an online search for architectural firms to bring his vision to life, but the Darda House is proof that his leap of faith has paid off.

To refurbish a 3,300 sq ft apartment with a modern Indian theme by incorporating traditional elements with accent pieces.

Flooring: Italian marble
Ceiling: False ceiling finished in POP
Walls: POP
Furniture: Wood

Project: Darda House
Client: Abhay Darda
Location: Amar Renaissance, near Empress Garden, Pune
Area: 3,300 sq ft
Principal architect: Deepak Guggari
Design team: Shivam Bagdia
Civil: Bajrang Kumavat
Carpentry: Chenaram Suthar