Less is More

 In former Indian Idol Abhijeet Sawant’s Mumbai home, Architecture Studio PS Design  uses the backbone of simplicity to create an elegant and charming space.    


Architect Priyanka Pradeep

With a house that’s to be home to a traditional family, it’s always the prerogative of the architect or the interior designer to make the available space work to its maximum potential. So when young architect Priyanka P took on the home of singer-songwriter Abhijeet Sawant, this factor was the focus. The family consisted of Abhijeet, his wife Shilpa, his parents and his younger sister. The 28th-floor apartment in a relatively new swanky high-rise in suburban Mumbai is a modest 1,800 sq ft, but it is how Priyanka stretched the carpet area for all its worth that deserves applause.

The factors to be considered were storage, a spacious feel and a smooth transition from the old house to the new. Priyanka went to work taking each in her stride. Both architect and client spent several meetings fine-tuning minor but important details. “I always make it a practice to put everything on paper, right from the layout and flow of the space to each cushion. That way there are no last-minute adjustments or misunderstandings.” This clinical method definitely earned her the confidence of her clients. “They kept themselves involved but were really accommodating and open to new ideas and concepts,” says Priyanka. “Well, we didn’t really know anything about design or interiors so we decided to leave it to the experts,” laughs Abhijeet, who has just wandered in during my tour.

The living area uses dramatic colours, high-end materials and a dark tone of luxury. The recliner in the foreground is made from faux leather. The wall to the right was originally the entrance to the kitchen. Now it proudly displays a large framed picture of a tabla.

The architectural tweaks start right at the entrance. All the flats in the building have two doors: a main entrance and one to the servants’ quarters. Priyanka blocked off the second door, and created a simple wooden sliding grill in front of the main door. A Ganesha statue, incidentally the only artefact the owners brought with them from their old residence, sits benevolently at the front door. Once inside, a door on the right leads you to Abhijeet’s sister’s room. A simple affair with oak veneer furniture (a desk, a wardrobe flush with the wall and a single bed that folds outward to become larger), the room has furnishings in feminine pink and ample natural light coming in from the west. A deep pink accent wall in grass cloth wallpaper stands out from the otherwise pale off-white colour scheme. “We kept this room simple but stylish,” says the architect.

Priyanka could well be talking about the rest of the house. While she did make a few structural changes to the original layout, there is a defined logic that flows effortlessly throughout the space. To the left of the main door, you almost don’t notice the servant’s quarter which has been converted into a narrow walk-in dressing area with floor-to-ceiling wardrobes for Abhijeet.

Music inspires a lot of the decor in the living room with a picture of a flute, and models of a sitar and a tabla. Other interesting accessories include a model of the Eiffel Tower and a vintage telephone, picked up from the family’s travels.

A flood of natural light from the west pours in through french windows in the living room. The late afternoon sunlight really stands in sharp contrast to the tone of this space, which is a study in brooding luxury. The furniture (we especially liked a faux leather recliner) uses sombre colours like deep red, black and beige. Interesting decor elements mark this room and give it a distinct personality. Even if you don’t have a clue about who Abhijeet is, it is apparent that music is a passion for the residents of this home. If the giant sound system and speakers at the far end of the room don’t give it away, then the artefacts and wall art do. Above the sofa is an artistically-shot, large-framed picture of a flute. A sitar sits in a niche in the accent wall in silent harmony with a tabla which rests on the floor. The style of this living room is what Priyanka calls “dramatic and luxurious.”

The dining area is right next to an east-facing balcony. A round table and four faux leather dining chairs, the same deep red as the recliner, lend a touch of grandeur to the space. The luxurious appeal of the material stands at odds with the rest of the house that is simple to the point of being monastic. There isn’t an extra square inch that’s unnecessary or flamboyant. Abhjijeet assures me that this was their intention all along. “We didn’t want to feel like we’re living in a hotel,” he says. Priyanka agreed wholeheartedly. “A lot of people compromise on their lifestyles just to live in a beautiful and newfangled house. This family was different,” she says. The lighting, effected through general overhead ceiling lights and focus lights for the accessories, is in keeping with the tone of the decor.

The master bedroom flaunts blue and white furnishings and cleverly uses a wardrobe with a sliding door for storage. The pictures above the headboard were shot especially for the room.

Abhijeet and Shilpa’s bedroom is a distinct break from the sombre tones in the rest of the house. Furnished in bright blue and white, it is largely occupied by the 6 ft x 6 ft silver faux leather bed. Still, the natural light and the neutral shades keep it from becoming claustrophobic. To the left, a PU and back painted glass wardrobe with sliding doors conceals custom-made niches and shelving for personal effects. For this, Priyanka ended up borrowing space from the attached bathroom. Now the couple can access the contents of the wardrobe from inside the bathroom as well.

Clever storage is a running theme of the house where wall niches and concealed cabinets are the order of the day. In Abhijeet’s parents room the panels on both sides of the headboard open outward to display neat shelving. “We did away with a window behind this space and converted it into a cabinet,” explains Priyanka. The rest of the space uses beige and cream with serviceable furniture.

Abhijeet’s parents’ room uses tones of brown, beige and gold. Concealed storage behind the bed is the highlight of this otherwise charmingly modest room.

By the time my tour of the house winds up, it is evening, and the sky outside the french windows has dimmed to an inky blue. The house looks even more elegant with focus lights gleaming off the art on the wall. As I leave, I notice something I had missed before: a door handle shaped like a sitar. Clearly, aside from the main considerations of layout and functionality, it is little elements like these that add to the charm…
To make the most of space and optimize storage while creating a home that would be elegant and grand.

Floor Italian marble Walls Grass cloth wallpaper, paint Furniture Custom-made pieces in wood, oak veneer, faux leather Furnishings Silk, polysilk, cotton


Clients Abhijeet and Shilpa Sawant Location Goregaon, Mumbai Area 1,800 sq ft Principal architect Priyanka P Project duration 1 year


Some more images…