Treasures from the backyard

Treasures from the backyard

You don’t have to even enter Christine and Aman Rai’s Nizamuddin West, New Delhi, house to know that its inhabitants have a strong design sensibility. The salvaged gate from a Jodhpur haveli, with typical iron work from Rajasthan, is a clear giveaway.

Once in, you realize this is pretty much a way of life in the Rai household. Christine, who grew up in south India, has been exposed to the wonderful craft traditions and decided to incorporate ethnic elements in her home, be it using slate instead of regular bathroom tiles, or creating wooden flooring from the old planks of a razed palace. Her home, like her, has a distinct, likeable personality.

The house, then, is resplendent with vibrantly coloured walls, folk art, refurbished chests, wire-work pieces from Uttar Pradesh, metal figurines and antique stone sculptures. “Art is personal, it’s like clothes on your walls, you have to love it, and it has to fit into your home. Personally, I like folk art. I have paintings on glass, kitschy Ravi Varma prints, mixed material and oils," she says.

Even the layout is exceptional. “Just by building it cleverly, we’ve managed a lot of space," says Christine. The home is built on several levels, which gives it depth, character and space, belying its actual size (1,800 sq. ft). Since Christine prefers natural textures, the flooring is either wood, terrazzo or kota. “We have such fabulous raw material in India that I choke when people want to use imported flooring," says the lady who has been in the handicrafts business for years and started Zaza, a home décor store in Greater Kailash-1, New Delhi, in 2008.


1. Christine Rai bought old sofas from Amar Colony, Delhi, had them refurbished and upholstered in fabric from Yamini.

2. The dark pink wall alongside the staircase and the lime green banister were painted later.

3. Rai’s home is a wonderful melange of art, colour and culture.

4. A pair of pigs from Jodhpur, brass lotas from south India and dogs from Kashmir on a windowsill.

5. Gates from a Jodhpur haveli at the entry of the house.

6. A cane Balinese basket is used as a remote control divider-cum-holder.

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