Raw & Refined

Home to a bachelor and his trio of felines, this Gurugram apartment, designed by Nitin Kohli Home in brick reds, ash greys and ocean blues, is quite the cat’s meow.

Text: Rupali Sebastian
Photographs: Ankush Maria, courtesy Nitin Kohli Home

Interior designer Nitin Kohli



Smooth and rough. Slick and rustic. Bold and private. This studio apartment designed by Nitin Kohli and his eponymous studio Nitin Kohli Home (NKH) is an eclectic delight, dovetailing sophisticated finesse with an earthy charm. The mixed aesthetics of the living space are echoed by the hybrid family that resides in the 1,100-square-foot space — “a well-travelled, young-at-heart, mature ‘hooman’ and his three feline companions,” smiles Nitin, whose vibrant and popular Instagram account landed him this job. The budgeted project was a first for the designer who had built a reputation in the luxury home market. But rather than calling it a challenge, he viewed this more as an opportunity.

The eclectic condominium apartment brings together a diverse melange of elements: a wood and wrought-iron bench, a sofa upholstered in textural fabric, a rustic rug, sleek mirror panelling… The unexpected touch, however, is the centre table concocted out of a coconut shell top and a brick base.

“The bottom line was to finish the apartment in a minimum possible expense and time,” recalls Nitin. “This was our first project in NKH Condo style, since we launched in September 2019. We had the opportunity to learn about pet-friendly materials that are also easy on maintenance. It gave me tremendous opportunity to work with new materials and I loved going to the ‘basic’ markets for material sourcing,” exults NKH’s head. And therein lay an important takeaway for the design professional in him: “The usage of materials, making the residence pet-friendly through the year, but not taking away the aesthetic appeal… the complexity of it has been quite a journey.”

An avant-garde sofa adds a splash of blue to the muted shell of the studio apartment. A large television and a modern fireplace conjure images of cosy evenings. The multi-level cat tree in the corner keeps the feline members of the family engaged.

In addition to economic prudence, the client sought compliance to vastu, sensitivity to his spiritual leanings, usage of materials in their natural colours and forms, functionality, and, of course, cat-friendliness in his home-to-be — pointers which Nitin summarised into a motto of ‘minimum furniture with maximum style’. “A ‘Design Concept’ for us always is the individuality of our client, put together on a mood-board and leading to a final canvas,” he states. “In this particular case, our client was open about what he wanted and also very welcoming of our concepts. A merging of fine ideas led us to begin the project on a promising note…”

The designtrepreneur was “outrageously excited” when he first saw the site: a dated (“a typically 20-year-old design style”), three-bedroom apartment that allowed Nitin considerable scope for retailoring based on the client’s lifestyle. “The residence is now divided strategically into a large lounge — or the living room — with a reading corner and an open kitchen with a dining area, a powder room and a bedroom with an attached study, bath and dresser. This was done by converting the three-bed apartment into one with a single bedroom, and with one room devoted to his meditation and mandir,” he elaborates. The 14-storey location afforded great views and natural light, which the design team made no attempt to block and, in fact, demolished a few walls to further ventilate the apartment.

The study, the designer’s favourite spot in this house, affords beautiful views of the surroundings. The quiet corner comes alive with an interesting artwork.

The uniqueness of the interior treatment, with its chic combination of the raw and the refined, is palpable as soon as you enter the apartment. Within a muted grey and white shell, large multi-functional furniture pieces in raw concrete finish, brick and wood add warmth, while sophisticated elements infuse a ‘cool’ vibe. A comfortable, sink-in blue sofa injects a dose of chromatic vibrancy into the living area. A patch of bricks on the wall, the brick base of the centre table, the wood and wrought-iron bench and the brown rug add a charming rawness to the contemporary space. The open kitchen with a breakfast counter and a dining nook at the back use space optimally, and are just the right size for their single (human) occupant who travels extensively. A mouse grey lounger in the corner by a shelf offers informal seating. Insertions of reflective surfaces help expand the space visually, amplifying the contemporary beauty.

The powder room, too, continues the sleek-organic aesthetic, with a wooden counter and a mirror with interesting wooden frame. In the bedroom, the all-pervasive masculine vibe is reinforced with a leather bed, positioned against a stunning customised wallpapered expanse with the imagery of the Himalayan mountain range and Mount Everest. The study is a quiet corner that comes alive with an interesting artwork. Rustic tiles in the shower area add texture to an otherwise sophisticated bathroom fitted with a dresser.

The masculine vibe that pervades the apartment intensifies in the bedroom with a leather bed. The brooding grey of the room is set aglow by the diffused natural light that flows in through a large, shaded window. The customised wallpaper with the image of Mt Everest and the Himalayan range is a conversation-stopper.

To create an environment that would rise above ephemeral style shifts, Nitin chose shades that were neutral and classic — therefore, the greys and vibrant ocean blues. “Colours,” he adds, “that are synonymous with natural life.” Materials, too, toed the natural aesthetic, as well as the fact that their use wouldn’t be restricted to humans alone. Tough, lasting materials and elements such as ceramic tiles (floor of the living room, bathroom and powder room), laminated wood (floor of the bedroom), basic unpolished wooden tables and shelves, a coffee table with a coconut-shell top and a base rendered from red bricks and a display unit made from wooden blocks supported on fly-ash bricks, among others, lend a certain unexpectedness to the interiors. While invisible Ghost chairs (used in the dining area and the study) reduce visual clutter, painted walls facilitate maintenance.

All furniture pieces — from the kitchen to the living/dining, the powder room and the bedroom — have been customised by Nitin Kohli Home, creating a truly bespoke, individualistic home. Where lighting is concerned, being on the 14th floor necessitated crafting an artificial lighting strategy that would complement natural light. The colour intensity and placement of lights were given their due consideration, so that the apartment is now uniformly lit and the evenings are bright and cheerful.

Done up in a cool shade of grey, the powder room charms with a wooden counter and a mirror with an interesting wooden frame.

“I don’t think a ‘design’ has to be inflicted on a client by the designer,” emphasises Nitin, when asked if there were any points of debate between him and his client in this assignment. “After my first meeting with potential clients, my closing line is that if we mutually like each other as humans, only then can we think of taking this association further. Design just happens thereafter.” And in this design scheme, which illustrates that studio apartment living can be exciting and full of fun possibilities, that initial meeting must have been absolutely purr-fect!

A budget-sensitive home with carefully crafted spaces for a well-traveled bachelor and his stay-at-home feline companions.

Floor: Ceramic tiles and laminated wooden floor
Walls: Plastered walls with paint in different colours and customised wallpaper
Ceiling: POP false ceiling
Furniture: Wood, mild steel, bricks and fabric

Project: Bachelor Pad
Location: Gurugram
Area: 1,100 sq ft
Principal designer: Nitin Kohli