The Telegraph
Sunday , March 27 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Theatrical touches

Theatre actor Divya Palat and her husband Aditya Hitkari dreamt of a home where they could relax, entertain and work comfortably. So when, in 1996, they moved into their first-floor flat in an art-deco building in Mumbai’s plush Breach Candy area, they knew exactly how to transform the space into one that they had always wanted.

Instead of hiring an interior designer, they worked on it themselves. Divya says: “Since we’re always busy with our work, we wanted a lived-in feel to our home. The biggest challenge was agreeing on the décor since we have very different personalities.”

The first thing that the couple agreed on was a separate colour palette for each room. So while Divya’s office-cum-den is done in red, the bedroom is blue and white and the guest bedroom is a cheery yellow. When it comes to décor, it’s easy to see strong differences — and similarities — between them. Says Divya: “I have a soft spot for pink and Aditya hates it. But both of us love minimalist designs.”

Step into the 2,000sqft apartment and the vast expanse of the living-cum-dining room strikes you immediately. The hall is painted a pristine white with just the outside of the kit-chen wall painted in a startling burnt orange.

Since the couple loves minimalism, the hall with windows overlooking the road, is kept clutter-free with functional and comfortable furniture. The living room has comfortable sofas and a low, glass-top coffee table that can be moved around easily on castors. “Since I rehearse in the hall, I’ve kept the furniture basic. During rehearsals, I shift the table to one side of the room,” she says. The hall has a wood-tiled floor.

The couple has created a cosy corner by way of a separate lounge area at the end of the living room, near the windows. Oversized floor cushions are placed on the dark wood flooring while a large lounger completes the picture. Sheer curtains fill the room with natural light. There is also a bar inside a wooden cabinet.

At the other end of the living room is the dining space. It is slightly raised with dark teak flooring. There is a teak and glass-top dining table that has three chairs instead of the regulation six/eight. There’s also a teak bench. The wall on this side of the hall — close to the kitchen — is a burnt orange.

The dining space is slightly raised and has dark-hued teak furniture that contrasts with the flooring

Adding to the allure is a puja corner. Divya’s placed statuettes of deities on three marble columns of varying heights. She says, “I love the concept of heights. I have diyas on one column with incense sticks and deities on the other two levels.” The hanging light above the dining table is from a home decor store in Mumbai.

The couple’s hangout zone is the office-cum-leisure room next to the kitchen. It is painted red and black. “I chose red because I love the colour and because it’s a very aggressive hue,” says Divya. It’s clear that Divya spends a lot of time working here as the room has a big, foldable work-table and a black work unit from Singapore. There are also three zigzag book shelves fixed to the wall that have been designed by Divya.

The walls are covered with classic Hollywood posters of films like The Godfather and Indiana Jones as well as stills from their earlier plays like The Graduate. Says Aditya: “When Divya’s not working here, it becomes a video game-cum-home theatre haven.” This room leads to a small walk-in-closet.

Aditya and Divya prefer keeping their home uncluttered and minimalistic

The most interesting aspect of the house is the long corridor that extends from the vast living room to the couple’s bedroom and guest room. Its walls are painted a bright mustard and adorned with the couple’s photographs.

Says Divya: “We always wanted our house to tell a story. So, we went with these photographs depicting the stages of our relationship and family memories.” They include several of Divya’s royal ancestors (she belongs to the Cochin royal family).

The passage leads to the master bedroom which is simple with just a master bed and a pink, cushioned (and heart-shaped) floor-bed for their cocker spaniel, Cookie. “The room’s done in white and blue because blue signifies calm and serenity,’’ says Divya.

The room is semi-circular at the end where the windows are. There are no drapes as the couple loves natural light. On the other hand, the guest bedroom’s a cheery yellow with a wrought-iron bed and a natural wood finish closet.

Family photographs line the mustard walls of the passage

The flat’s décor is accentuated by accessories like a glass vase from Germany on the dining table. The coffee-table has knick-knacks like a steel bowl from Singapore, a silver palanquin — a gift from Aditya’s sister’s wedding — and a steel banana leaf from Mangalore. There’s a stone chessboard next to the sofa and a pasta jar used as a vase. Divya says, “We want this space to be fun-filled and don’t believe in showing off artefacts. So, we’ve kept them to a minimum.”

The couple, however, maintains that their home is a ‘work in progress’. Says Aditya: “Every three years we paint our home and come up with some-thing new. At present, both of us are happy with the way it has evolved.”

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