Urban cottage

Urban cottage
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First Published: Fri, Dec 05 2008. 11 03 PM IST

The painting by Welsh artist Huw Williams, also known as the ‘horse painter’, is Singh’s pride and joy.
The painting by Welsh artist Huw Williams, also known as the ‘horse painter’, is Singh’s pride and joy.
Updated: Fri, Dec 05 2008. 11 03 PM IST
Surrounded by high-rise concrete and glass buildings, crowded malls, and congested roads, actor Chitrangada Singh’s cosy two-bedroom Gurgaon penthouse with its warm colours, soft leather touches, comfy sink-in couches and wooden floors appears to be a world apart. It exudes an inviting cottage-like feel that calls for a book, a cup of hot coffee, and a snuggle chair.
The painting by Welsh artist Huw Williams, also known as the ‘horse painter’, is Singh’s pride and joy.
While Singh has done up her home herself, the look is not something she had consciously planned. “Maybe it was there at the back of my mind because I like cottages. I find them most comforting and I like the way they’re decorated—the rustic wooden look. A cottage always feels very warm and nice...very homely. I guess this comes from having lived for years in colonial-style bungalows thanks to my father, who was in the army!” says Singh with a laugh. “Also, I don’t like the modern minimalist style. I find it very cold and uninviting,” she adds.
That’s something she’s managed to keep away from in her home. Far from being cold and impersonal, her home is full of personal touches or “moments” as she calls them. Golf trophies won by her husband, ace golfer Jyoti Randhawa, compete with family photographs in most display zones. Golf and polo touches—her father-in-law, who lives with them, was an enthusiastic polo player—make an appearance all over the home in different forms: framed prints, books, and even cushion covers (even her pet dog is called “Golfie”).
“That’s one reason I didn’t want to have my house done up by an interior designer because then you don’t know what was picked up from where. Now I know every single light shade and where I’ve picked it up from, and how I haggled for it,” she says.
For someone who spent a lot of time doing up her home and enjoyed it—even after eight years of living in her apartment, she cannot resist the urge to shop and pick up knick-knacks while she’s travelling—Singh followed a very simple decorating mantra: slow and steady. “I started working on the house after two years of living in it. I did a lot of renovations—combined two rooms to add more area to the master bedroom, covered up a balcony to make a lounging area.”
Singh has also created a separate service area, neatly tucked away from sight, for the washing machine and other household essentials. “After you’ve lived in a house for two years, you understand the practical needs. Ideally, I think everyone should live in a house and then invest in it. If you make all the changes beforehand, you don’t know what the house needs,” she says. She’s followed her mantra so strictly that despite being an art lover—“I just want to make a lot of money to buy as much art as I can!” she laughs—the actor took her time in selecting the right pieces for her home. “I decided that I would keep my walls bare till I find the art that I really like. So I didn’t have anything on the walls for many years,” she says.
But now, eight years later, the walls have started filling up. A recent purchase is a painting by the well-known Welsh artist Huw Williams that dominates one wall of the living room. “I saw the painting at an exhibition in Scotland and I didn’t want to go through the gallery because I wanted to buy it from the painter. So I found his email ID, got in touch with him. I didn’t know anything about him. He was really happy that someone from India was buying it,” says Singh.
She also has a word of advice for those interested in buying art: “You shouldn’t go by what people tell you. You go to an art gallery and they show you something worth Rs20 lakh. Who are they to say what an artist is worth? When you see art and then the money that is quoted, it should make sense to you,” says Singh—such as the painting of dance girls that she picked up “for a steal” from a roadside antique collector in Jodhpur.
Even though Singh didn’t plan the whole “cottage feel”, she’s managed to create a comforting retreat in the midst of a bustling metro for her family.
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First Published: Fri, Dec 05 2008. 11 03 PM IST