When film-maker Fahad Samar and his wife, actor Simone Singh, decided to move to Bandra to be closer to their work, they weren’t expecting much. They loved their quaint, loft-like south Mumbai flat with 30ft vaulted ceilings and views of the Gateway of India. And though Bandra wasn’t without its share of old-world charm, months of house-hunting had yielded disappointing results.
It was just as they were about to give up that the couple chanced upon an airy terrace flat overlooking St Peter’s Church. “There’s that fantastic cliché that you don’t find the home, the home finds you,” says Samar, who recently wrapped up production on a movie with Sean Bean (of Lord of the Rings fame).
The flat, a cosy two-bedroom on the top floor of a Hill Road building, was perfectly situated, within commutable distance of the couple’s cinematic stomping grounds and their south Mumbai apartment, which they refused to give up. More importantly, nearly half the apartment was given over to the terrace, a spacious enclave with a conservatory that overlooked the church courtyard and the adjoining high school.
The couple work in similar fields, so it was only natural that they decided to design the house together. “It can be a nightmare with couples working together, but mercifully we’ve been in sync on most things,” says Samar, who has been married to Singh for eight years.
The result was an uncluttered enclave very much dominated by the terrace and its wide-sweeping views of suburban Mumbai and beyond. An avid gardener, Samar filled the terrace with a variety of plants and flowering trees; a trellis twined with buttercups and bougainvilleas was erected and lemon and jasmine trees scattered about in terracotta pots. “It’s a regular nature show every morning,” says Singh, who has just returned from a trip to London and Prague, where she was shooting for a commercial. “We get butterflies, humming birds, crows.”
Despite the muted mustard yellow and orange tones, Samar says they couldn’t resist theatrical lighting, the sole ode to their film roots. They hung glass lanterns around the terrace, and underlit the bar and side railing with soft yellow light. “We do entertain a lot,” says Samar of their decision to emphasize the outdoor seating and bar area.
Like the minimalist living room with sleek leather furniture, they kept the outdoor furniture functional and chic with all-weather wicker tables and chairs (similar chairs are available from Dedon at Pallate, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai, for Rs40,000-60,000), and paved the bar with decorative ceramic tiles they had picked up on their travels in Spain. Inside, they converted an old wooden writing desk, a gift from Samar’s father when he began his career, into a bar cabinet. “In Bombay, you have to learn how to utilize old things in a new way,” Singh says.
And though there is no overarching theme, Samar says they did attempt a provincial Mediterranean look. Red walls in the living room add an “element of drama”, while emerald green walls in the den and wicker furniture helped create the warm al fresco look of an Italian country home.
Knick-knacks from their travels pepper the rooms—cushion covers, wooden icons and painted wood panels from Italy (a favourite destination), a wrought-iron candelabrum from their Matheran house, a carved wooden bell from Madhya Pradesh where Samar was doing production work for a movie with Pierce Brosnan.
Both are avid collectors and expectedly, most of the walls are given over to large, show-stopping works of art. A multidimensional round mirror work sculpture from Goa-based designers Monsoon Heritage reflects light from outside. Snehashish Maity’s vivid portrait of Mona Lisa being groomed at an Indian beauty parlour dominates the living room wall (Maity’s oil paintings start at about Rs1.5 lakh at Arushi Arts in Okhla, New Delhi).
“When people walk into the house, and look at it, they break into a smile,” says Samar, who regularly rotates the art in their flat. The den, a cozy study room intended for him, is also neatly appointed, with books lined along the wall, and a charcoal drawing of the Gateway of India. “It reminds me of our Colaba apartment,” he says.