It helps to have a friend as your interior designer. The sometimes-exasperating, sometimes-exciting process of decorating a home becomes “time well spent together”. And, if the interior designer is Pinakin Patel, you’re assured of good results, too. Deven Mehta, 38, managing director, SJ Group of Companies, an investor in stocks and real estate, has known Patel for 20 years. He designed Mehta’s Nariman Point office and when the Mehtas decided to redesign their apartment in Malabar Hill three years ago, Patel was the man chosen for the job.
Simple lines: (clockwise from top) A divan-style couch is placed in front of a gold leaf-covered wall; the study in the couple’s bedroom; Mehta spends most of his time in the family room; and the square dining table is made of Corian.
The Mehtas bought the apartment below theirs on the third floor and the two were combined to make a 5,000 sq. ft (carpet area) duplex with a spiral staircase connecting them. Mehta was looking to design the house in a “New York style apartment — functional and basic”.
“Pinakin goes through phases and, around that time, he was going through his minimalist phase, which worked perfectly for us,” says Deven’s 37-year-old wife, Amisha.
Sleek lines, clean cuts and earthy tones dominate the duplex. The leather and fabric upholstery is either brown or white. The house is big by Mumbai standards, and looks even more spacious because of the light shades and lack of clutter. A life-size painting of the family deity Srinathji greets you opposite the entrance, and there are paintings on most of the walls, which provide the only burst of colour. Works by artists Lakshman Shreshtha, Dashrath Patel and M.F. Husain were chosen by Patel; later the couple got interested in art and added to their collection.
In fact, from the furniture and wall units right down to the vases on the tables, almost everything has either been ordered by Patel or bought by the couple from his store. “I fixed a budget and then gave him a free hand. Of course, we had many discussions before finalizing anything,” says Deven. He gave Patel an approximate budget of Rs4,000-5,000 per sq. ft, and over the six months that it took to design the house, a few weekends were spent at Patel’s house in Alibaug, discussing furniture as well as socializing.
For the family of five that stays together and eats together, meals are shared at the dining table upstairs, where Deven’s parents have their bedroom. There’s a kitchen, too (but that’s the cook’s domain), a guest room and a spare room that doubles up as a store room and a mini gym for Amisha. Otherwise she doesn’t need to go up, and her in-laws rarely step down.
“This way, we all get our privacy. And, if we have a late night, then we enter through the other main door that opens into our bedroom and don’t have to disturb my in-laws,” she says. Downstairs, besides their own rooms, the couple and their 12-year-old son Mohit spend most of their time in the family room. This room, with a big comfortable couch facing the flat-screen TV and a table near the window, is a space for them to relax. There’s a pantry, too, with a small fridge and microwave, for emergency hunger pangs.
A misha had very specific ideas for her son’s bedroom. She wanted a long study table with a lot of storage space for his books and games. “Pinakin wasn’t too comfortable with designing for children, so I personally worked on it,” she adds. The brightest room in the house, the walls here are blue and one of them is lined with framed blobs of watercolour. “I didn’t know what to do with that wall, so I framed the paintings made by my son and put them up,” she says.
Every time they travel abroad, shopping for the home is a must. “But just a few knick-knacks. This house doesn’t just look good, it’s comfortable,” says Deven. The signs of wear and tear — a blot of ink on the couch, a chipped cabinet and scratches on the wooden floor — are there, but the Mehtas are not obsessing about this. “We maintain the house the best we can, but we have learnt to live with imperfections,” says Amisha.