A Vibrant Spirit

With a careful focus on a cheerful colour and material palette, art and accessories collated from varied sources, and a detailed bespoke furniture line-up, architect Sandesh Prabhu creates a home with a soul in the busy suburbs of Mumbai.

Text: Sanjukta Nandy
Photographs: Amit Bhandare, courtesy Sandesh Prabhu Design Studio

The foyer at the entrance sets the mood for the rest of the house with a divider embellished with a lotus motif and ornate cement tiles that add an artistic touch.

Some spaces immediately connect with the word home — not lavish in scale but with a bright spirit at its heart — and the Mumbai home featured here is a fine example of the same. All the applause and full scores for this beautiful and warm apartment goes to architect Sandesh Prabhu whose forte lies in designing with a thoughtfully chosen colour palette (that is a mix of vibrant and demure), keen detailing of furniture and incorporating art and accessories painstakingly sourced from his various travels. It was this charming design sensibilities which got an admirer in Radhika Choksey (the client) when she saw Sandesh’s handiwork at a friend’s penthouse in Mumbai. Radhika, at that very day had resolved to work with the architect whenever a chance presented itself to her. So, when her parents’ 3BHK house underwent redevelopment, she immediately dialled his number.

“During our discussions, one line that really stayed with me was, ‘I want a place that my parents and I can call home. Radhika and her sister Preeti, who live in The Netherlands and the USA, respectively, were used to homes with neutral palettes but were ready to experiment with pushing the boundaries of the tried and tested. For both, India spelt sunshine and colour so they readily agreed when I proposed a design that was rich and vibrant,” explains Sandesh. Though the initial discussions were over video calls, it only took a couple of real life meetings for them to develop immense trust in Sandesh and he was given carte blanche. “Having been given a free hand, I designed this place straight from the heart with keen detailing, keeping in mind every requirement of the users and merging them with a vibrant yet sensitive decor,” says the architect.

The living and dining area exudes warmth and charm. The focus wall splashed in vibrant turquoise is complemented by durries and a hemp carpet on the Merbau-finished engineered wooden floor, customized furniture that utilize every inch of space, sofas fringed with colourful cushions and suspended lights from Good Earth.

The welcoming entrance is marked by a laser-cut jaali made of mild steel with a lotus motif that is complemented with 6’ x 6’ cement tiles. The combined living and dining area is dominated by turquoise walls and is lent a cosy aura from engineered wooden flooring in a Merbau finish, custom-made furniture and rugs and durries sourced from Rajasthan. An intricately detailed teak console, designed by Sandesh, with the motif of its block-printed knobs also engraved on the elevation of the shutters, paves the way to the corridor that leads to the open kitchen and the two bedrooms.

The living and dining area also overlooks the study that is finished in black and white zigzag cement flooring and furniture in Succupira veneer, which has been used as a finish throughout the house to maintain connectivity in the design. The otherwise neutral room is lifted by pops of colour from bright ikat cushions, paintings and pink block knobs on the wall unit. The centre of attention, however, is the light teak table that has been painted in water colour and finished with a PU coat by an artist from the team.

Sandesh goes on to explain that “The kitchen is Radhika’s mother’s favourite place in the house, so each detail was designed keeping in mind her need and preferences.” She wanted a pretty but low-maintenance kitchen, so it was finished in laminates for the shutter, vibrant and easy-to-clean Spanish ceramic tiles and shutter knobs made of hand blocks. The kitchen’s quaint breakfast counter in teak wood lies against a bright red wall dressed up with Moroccan plates sourced by Radhika during one of her many travels, and serves as a place for the family to gather. Radhika’s parents, who mostly live by themselves in this house, love to grab their meals at this counter rather than an elaborate spread on the dining table.

The study cum guest room is given a striking identity with its black and white zigzag ceremic tiles. The otherwise neutral space is brightened by pops of colour in the form of ikat cushions, a dynamic table and a horse-themed artwork that the client had picked up during her travels. Sandesh believes that touches of the owner’s personal taste highlight the essence of a private home.

The master bedroom is done up in beige and white with engineered Merbau finished wooden flooring. The sparks of colours in this room beam through the prints of artwork by Sakti Burman on the wall, while copious natural light flood the room through the large windows. Keeping in mind the family’s need to accommodate luggage and clothing, the focus of the design for the room is on maximizing storage. Therefore, Sandesh smartly used the bed to do some multi-tasking — there is storage space not just at the headrest, but at foot rest and side rest too. This design also gives a cocooned effect to the sleeping area. The master toilet exhibits a similar neutral palette with the highlight being the shower area where an interesting pattern has been created with slabs of black river-washed slate of different sizes.

Through a shrewd balance of colours, art, accessories and furniture, Sandesh turned the apartment into a home. He adds with a smile, “Today when Radhika travels, she sends me photographs of collectibles and accessories that she wants to add to this house. This home has been designed with enchanting nooks and corners to document the story of lives. I keep visiting Radhika’s parents who proudly share with me how well-received their home is by family and friends.

To create a home, that a daughter wanted designed for her parents, where comfort is married to a complementing artistic vibe that exudes an ebullient cheer.

Walls: Paint
Floor: Ceramic and cement tiles, engineered wood
Ceiling: Gypsum board
Windows: Aluminum

Project: Choksey Residence
Location: Linking Road, Santacruz, Mumbai
Client: Radhika Choksey
Area: 1,150 sq ft
Principal architect: Sandesh Prabhu
Civil contractor: Datta Gawli
Carpentry contractor: Madan & Bros
Electrical contractor: Michael
Plumbing contractor: Bablu
Artist: Sandeep Naik