Turquoise Trail

Interior designer Sonal Bhatia employs restful colours, classic furniture with some turquoise pop and quirky design tricks to create a charming three-bedroom apartment for a young couple in Mumbai.


Sonal Bhatia

There are homes we admire from a distance, and then there are homes where we feel — well, right at home. They have a natural cohesiveness that invites us in, no matter what their particular style is. This welcoming sensibility is something that is emblematic of interior designer Sonal Bhatia, and it’s in abundance in the home she designed for a couple in Mumbai.

The clients, were extremely impressed with the way Sonal had designed her home and were eager to have her work up some of her magic in their three-bedroom apartment in Powai, Mumbai. The fact that the clients were open minded and involved at every stage of designing gave Sonal a free reign to explore and follow her sensibilities with regards to the space. Space is a privilege in a metropolis like Mumbai and Sonal’s work especially takes that into consideration. Her aim, therefore, was to use every corner of the house, and optimize and enhance the 1,460-square-foot area to its full potential.

A wall divides the living room and the study area. Symmetry in design is achieved with white walls and cream furniture, with a few touches of turquoise.

As with all her projects, the designer created a number of mood boards and sketches to help the clients envision the space and then planned the layout, a crucial step for the later stages of the project. She says, “The final look is never known. And that’s the fun. One has an idea of the final look and an indication to where it’s headed. But honestly, it’s always a big surprise until the very last minute.”

The living room looks warm and vibrant with the turquoise-finished day-bed, the wooden bookshelf-turned-bar cabinet and the back-lit drape.

The said apartment comprising of a kitchen, living room, master bedroom, children’s room and study cum guest room, was initially covered with marble flooring (not exactly Sonal’s preference) and had a boxed-in, almost claustrophobic feel to it. Therefore, the entire layout was changed to open up and optimize the space. Sonal tried to give the space pops of colour and interesting textures so as to keep it clean and contemporary, yet not so minimal that it felt cold. A blaring example of this is the turquoise-coloured double door at the main entrance. One rarely finds such old-worldly doors in a modern home. Thus making a statement, the door holds the key to what lies ahead.

As one enters the house, a rare sight that greets the visitor is the view of the skyline that can be seen through the large windows in the living and study areas. A wall has been used to visually break the two spaces and demarcate them. The kitchen, to the right of the main entrance, has been screened off with a beige double-door, placed at the edge of the lobby. It was remodelled to accommodate an L-shaped cooking counter in the middle, a tower unit on the side, and a long preparation counter. Concealed within this space is the entrance to the servant’s room, which is like an extension of this space. The servant’s bathroom is placed right opposite the room. If both doors are kept closed, these spaces are hard to spot.

Offering a spectacular view of the Mumbai skies, the balcony has a dreamy, cosy appeal. The addition of mosaic tiling, antique foldable sofa and blue window installed on the wall makes the space even more charming.

By breaking down one wall of the study and attaching sliding doors, the interior designer has managed to make the entire living, dining and study areas look spacious, with a light and breezy ambience. Most of the walls in this space are painted white, except the ones behind the bar cabinet and dining table. Sonal rolled up her sleeves and got her hands dirty by picking up the brush and painting them herself. It not just breaks the monotony, but also adds a touch of drama to the otherwise plain walls. Layered tones of white, brown and grey are given gold highlights, which instantly glams up the atmosphere a little. While most of the furniture has been sourced from Mumbai-based lifestyle store Serenity Blissful Living or from local artisans, Sonal has customized the pieces to a great extent. For instance, the blue day-bed in the living room was initially white and was given the vibrant-yet-distressed finish to merge with the decor. The bar unit was actually a book shelf to which shutters were added. The living room is meant for cosy gatherings. The study, comprising of a media unit, a day-bed and a desk, has an even more understated and mellow look. The dining area, which is opposite the study, comprises of a glass-top table, six diverse printed beige chairs and a settee, a cabinet customized with mirror work and silver leafing, and beautiful ornate pendant lamps. Originally pink, these lamps have been painted gold from the inside and blue from the outside, giving them a double-toned look in the day. The entire house has been sprinkled with such small yet thoughtful touches to create a warm and pleasurable space.

The brown-and-gold textured wall behind the glass dining table and cream upholstered chairs make for an interesting sight. The space is further enhanced by the sparkly turquoise pendant lamps.

Going deeper into the house, a passageway leads to the master bedroom, a kid’s bedroom and the powder room. Laid with random patterned mosaic tiles in earthy tones, the floor of the passage looks like a carpet. And the tried-and-tested method of a mirror, to give an illusion of space, has been successfully employed here as well. The designer has extended these tiles to the powder bathroom too, making for an appealing and exciting design feature. The same pattern is repeated in the balcony attached to the living room to ensure continuity in design, as both these areas are visible while entering the house. What’s interesting is that Sonal first selected this floor, which then became the inspiration for the colour scheme of beige, brown and turquoise in the living room.

A view of the study-cum-guest room with a minimalist and relaxed look.

Originally, a lobby was attached to the master bedroom; but as the clients required more space, a wall was pulled down to create a walk-in closet instead. The result is a bedroom, which looks sleek and clutter-free. The design highlight of this space is undoubtedly the headboard. Here, two jaali screens were resized, painted and fitted as the headboard, adding a classic touch. A glass door was installed for the bathroom, giving an illusion of space while also re-instating the concept of privacy. A bespoke basin counter that looks like a big picture frame was installed in the bathroom instead of the run-of-the-mill over-the-counter bowls. In the course of decorating the home, Sonal came to know that the clients were expecting a baby. She therefore felt that a tub should be installed in the duct area which is connected to the bathroom. Apart from the bathroom, a huge oval balcony is also part of the master bedroom. Perfect for sipping a cup of coffee and relaxing with a book, its floor is laid with intricate patterned tiles. The railing is painted turquoise from inside to add that touch of vibrancy to the space. The kid’s bedroom was kept minimal with basic flooring, electrical work and furniture as the clients wanted to add the cheerful details only after the baby arrived.

The green jaali work headboard in the master bedroom immediately catches your eye.

Resonating with the designer’s style of work and the client’s easygoing attitude, each space in the house has been brought to life with little spurts of creativity and colour — the blue-painted lamps, the mosaic flooring, the antique pieces of furniture and detailing. The apartment has a fresh, cheerful and serene vibe which is achieved through a keen understanding of space, balance of colour and design aesthetics. While it is devoid of extravagant furniture pieces, bold hues or expensive art, a comfortable and inviting ambience pervades the house… and that’s all that matters!

To design warm and welcoming suburban Mumbai home, all while keeping it fun and colourful.

Walls Matt-finished vitrified tiles, slate-finished tiles, mirrors Floors Matt-finished vitrified tiles, wooden flooring from Ego, Itagold stone, patterned tiles

Project Name Powai Apartment Location Mumbai Area 1,460 sq ft Principal designer Sonal Bhatia Project duration 8 months


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