“Art should be an oasis: a place or refuge from the hardness of life,” says Colombian artist and sculptor Fernando Botero. This sentiment struck a chord with the Mathur family, who believed that artcould provide that elusive oasis within the walls of their new home, infusing a softer, more soulful dimension into their everyday lives. 

Connoisseurs at heart, the couple wished to have their home curated around art pieces collected over time, and as a part of design processes during the project. During covid and the ensuing lockdown, they realized the need for a bigger space for their family and decided to merge two adjoining 3-bedroom apartments on the 3rd floor of an apartment complex, transforming it into one large dwelling of 3200 Sq. m, for their close-knit family of 5- which included their children and their pet, an adorable cocker spaniel named Leo. 

Alkove-Design, the architects for the project, thought it apt to design the home as a blend of traditional and contemporary interiors, in a Tropical Modernist aesthetic, that would form a mellow backdrop for the art pieces and an idyllic setting for the inhabitants. One of the main challenges came with the fusing of the two apartments, which was soon turned into an exciting opportunity through Design. Komal Mittal, Principal architect at Alkove shares about the starting point of the project, “Since the two flats were to be merged, several walls were eliminated, exposing beams on the ceiling. Additionally, the low-storey height also negated the possibility of a deep false ceiling as a masking strategy. The solution was to then use colour palettes astutely to create an illusion of spaciousness, whilst accentuating certain wall surfaces with textures to emphasise the art pieces.

The architects designed a brand-new layout with a reallocation of spaces and a clear segregation of functions. One complete portion was kept for public use, and incorporated the Living- Dining, Kitchen and Guest bedroom, while the adjacent portion, was a private area that could be shut off with a sliding door, that accommodated a spacious Master Suite with 2 bedrooms and a common walk-in wardrobe for the couple. A binding gesture of lime-washed accent walls brought in rustic sophistication that tied the home into one theme, as well as helped highlight selected areas. 

Entering the home across the threshold, the lobby becomes a liminal space where one could decide their pathway of navigation, to either portion of the dwelling. Moving around the facing wall featuring a Kalamkari painting of the Tree of Life by artist Harinath N, the entrance to the living area is carved through a passage that was created by removing a powder room from the earlier layout. The meandering path whisks the visitor in, to be greeted by twin antique wooden columns that stand like stately guards to the oasis. The columns, exquisitely crafted in teak wood, sourced from an antique store, Suadades in Goa, mark an elegant entryway to the living space.

“Many furniture pieces that are works of art in themselves, have been crafted by Mr Shaban Lakadwala, a master craftsman from Mumbai, whose attention to detail and finesse were awe-inspiring. Mrs Mathur had suggested that we get some pieces crafted from him, to further add a layer of artistry to the home,” recalls Ninada, Principal architect at Alkove-Design. Mrs Mathur, an architect by education and an aesthete, had procured a number of paintings and artefacts that can be found throughout the home, influencing moods in myriad ways. The sofa sets flaunt vibrant textiles from Nagaland that she had herself sourced. A few years back the couple had purchased several tonnes of timber obtained from the structural members of an old wada, intending to repurpose them someday. The wada wood now finds new life in a variety of forms in the home, becoming a metaphor in life cycles, somewhat like the Ship of Theseus.

Navigating to the private portion of the apartment, a TV room with a connected prayer space offers a momentary transition before entering the resting areas.

Mrs Mathur’s room personifies traditional charm with the ornate teak bed combined with the warmth of a minimal workspace that she would use for creative pursuits. Mr Mathur’s den, with a more formal ambience combines a resting and working space tied with an accent wall in beige lime-wash. Connected from this room is a spacious walk-in wardrobe for the couple with meticulously planned storage solutions in a dignified, dark ebony palette. 

“This project was a juggling of multiple roles- heavy-duty civil work alongside planning of the finer details of accessories and art procurement. It was a brilliant opportunity for us to immerse ourselves in all facets of design,” reminisces Komal. Ninada adds cheerfully, “To top it all, Mrs Mathur, being an architect herself, was completely in sync with our creative processes and that made the entire journey all the more enjoyable for our team.” By the end of the project, the two separate homes meld together seamlessly as a cohesive whole, striking a delicate balance between art and design, reminding the inhabitant that even in life’s most tumultuous moments, there is the potential for beauty and serenity.

Fact File:

Project Name: An Oasis of Art

Location : Pune, Maharashtra

Area: 3,200 sq ft 

Design firm: Alkove-Design

Principal Designer : Ar Komal Mittal and Ar Ninada Kashyap

Photography : Pulkit Sehgal