Tailored for Today

Architects Mitul Shah and Mehul Shah of Studio Yamini perform spatial surgery on a 60-year-old Mumbai apartment to make it more relevant to modern living.

Text: Rupali Sebastian
Photographs: © 2018 Photographix | Sebastian + Ira, courtesy Studio Yamini

The wooden expanse became the unifying factor for the living room with its two seating islands, one formal, the other informal. Of course, the architects also capitalized on the apartment’s biggest asset — the sea view — by enlarging windows to floor level.

Times change. Society changes. With these come changes in the way, we live our lives. And with changing lifestyles, come changing demands on spaces — especially homes, which are so inextricably linked to our lives. Such transformation was the impetus for this project, which involved the spatial realignment of a 60-year-old apartment in South Mumbai that had seen no changes from the time the owners had taken first possession of it from the builder. For the family, who reside in Vadodara, this was to become a secondary home, where they could spend moments of leisure and time catching up with friends.

The existing layout was geared towards traditional ways, with segregation of ablution spaces from sleeping areas and a strict compartmentalization between family members and cleaning staff — ways that became obsolete in a modern age. “None of the bedrooms had attached bathroom. All the bathrooms had two doors, one from inside the house and the second from outside the house,” recalls architects and siblings MitulShah and Mehul Shah of Vadodara-based Studio Yamini— who was commissioned this project. “The outside entrance was specially made for the cleaners. They had to come, do their job and go back the same way.”

Having decided on white flooring and off-white walls, the architects needed a strong element in the shell to hold the scheme together — therefore the teakwood veneer-clad ceiling. This ceiling treatment also allowed them to camouflage services. Thus, only the glow of the light is visible and not the fixtures; and the AC vents are ‘erased’ from view.

The functional requirements from the family of five — a couple with three children — specified four bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, entertainment room and staff quarters. It was amply clear that the existing scheme of things needed to be re-articulated to make the space meaningful for the family. While this did not call for a major overhaul, small interventions — like re-proportioning spaces and reclaiming balconies, a bedroom giving to the entertainment space — become significant gestures in this endeavour. While the new configuration optimized space-usage, it also took into account the fact that the apartment faced the sea — and therefore ensured that the primary spaces (the living room, entertainment room, all the bedrooms) took advantage of this asset. The secondary rooms — kitchen, staff room with toilets (ladies and gents) and mandir — were arranged behind the primary zone. Mitul recalls the impact of the site’s littoral location on his very visit: “I was completely overwhelmed with the view from this site. The house was oriented such that all the rooms had a sea view. It was like a dream house.” The challenges in the projects, he adds, arose from reconfiguring the services than anything else. “We had to resolve all the services (plumbing inlet and outlet specially) to realign the toilets blocks to attach them to the bedrooms. Also, the major civil changes happened in the masonry work specifically to accommodate ensuites and staff quarters (male and female) with separate toilets.”

The soothing dining room owes is soft blue colour scheme to the apartment’s littoral location. The wallpaper-lined walls and the Krishna painting ‘Kripa Drishti’ by Vadodara-based PranayGoswami resonate the hue. The solid rosewood dining set furthers the refined sophistication. The striking pendants have been soured from abroad.

The modern, chic aesthetic was translated as a neutral palette for the public areas, while individual bedrooms were customized to the occupant’s preference. For instance, one daughter wanted a minimal, all-white room with a little dash of colour (blush and grey); while the second daughter wanted rose gold, grey and light grey. Similarly, the son’s room was realized with blue as the dominant colour; and the master room was rendered in neutral shades.

While the material palette itself is minimal — engineered wood flooring, polished teakwood veneer and cement sheets for cladding, paint, wallpaper — in order to create a cohesive look, the treatment sees meticulous attention to detail and material play. The mandir, for example, features hand-cut marble jaali frames (customized) from Sompura, while its ‘walls’ are actually handwoven cutwork fabric that has been sandwiched in glass — achieving privacy and lightness on the eye in one design solution. In one of the daughter’s bedrooms, the wall behind the bed is clad in customized wallpaper from London-based companyMuralsWallpapers with a special grunge-paint effect. Cement sheets with a clear coat of Monocoat distinguishes the master bedroom, while all the bathrooms have highlighter Italian marble used as an accent piece in the wall cladding. To create the requisite warmth, lighting throughout the house is effected in yellow lights, with the strategy featuring a combination of ambient, spots and pendants, as per the requirement of the design and space.

The primary areas of the apartment — the public zone and the bedrooms — are all oriented towards the sea. The master bedroom, a cosy, intimate space, is actually composed of cement sheet-wrapped lounge/study and the sleeping area.

The exercise of reimagining the space has been successful — so successful, in fact, that the clients find it difficult to remember what it was originally!

To create a contemporary secondary home equipped to deal with a modern lifestyle.

Floor: White marble and engineered wood
Ceiling: Gypsum and wood
Walls: Paint, wallpaper and paneling with cement sheets

Project: South Mumbai 60-year-old apartment
Location: Marine Drive
Area: 4,000 sq ft
Principal designers: Mitul Shah and Mehul Shah
Design team: Abhishek Patel
Interior: Contracting, Plumbing, Electrical, Mechanical
Structure: INTECH
HVAC: Deepak Bhai
Acoustic: Designer Audio
Artists: Partha Mohapatra (for painted columns in the entrance)
Other Art: Rini Dhumal, JC Harrison, Pranay Goswami, Veguri Ravindra Babu; ceramic plates in the dining area: VinodDaroz