Palatial Dreams

Adetee Sawhaney


When Adetee Sawhaney of Altus Interio first received the brief for this project, she was not very enthusiastic about taking it up. “The client was very clear that he ‘wanted the place to look like a palace.’ Moreover, although we received a bare shell, our design was restricted to cosmetic changes, since we couldn’t do any civil work…the walls were in RCC,” she says. As little as possible was to be spent on breaking and remaking. Consequently, the floor and walls were retained, to function within these constraints.

The material palette is a rich and varied one, in order to articulate the brief. “We are not safe players when it comes to the use of colour,” says Adetee. “Incorporating a blast of hues comes with ease in our designs.” There is an extensive use of semi-precious stones, carving on the furniture and a generous use of mirror work. However, ideas took shape gradually. “Since we didn't have the luxury of redefining the floors and the ceiling, we had to work within the set framework. So we had to resort to dramatic wallpapers, both on the walls as well as on the ceilings. Hand etched mirror work has been used to highlight certain walls and to infuse life into the otherwise staid doors and windows. Larger than life art works created at our in-house studio have been employed to add interest to the various spaces, while handmade Persian carpets adorn the floors,” says Adetee.

The 15,000 sq ft bungalow has two levels, with one bedroom on the ground floor and four bedrooms on the floor above.The foyer has the formal living area on one side and the dining room on its other side. Further inside are the informal lounge and the small home office. The dining area and the informal lounge are both lined with full size glass windows which overlook the swimming pool area. A guest room and the kitchen are also on the ground floor.The family lounge on the ground floor has dark wallpaper, offset by an uplifting butterfly motif on the upholstery of the traditional chair, while a clock with roman numerals marks time.

“Our firm is a one stop shop and offers complete solutions. Our forte is to customise according to the brief of the client,” says Adetee. With a signature look which is a fusion of many materials and styles, her workmanship is intricate. “The form may be modern, for example, but the craftsmanship is traditional. This includes reviving Mughal motifs, which we use extensively, as well as restoring old furniture.” Jharokas and doors from Rajasthan are sourced by Adetee and given a new lease of life.

"The foremost requirement for a designer is to step into the life of the inhabitants of a space, to identify with their individuality and to create a space for them which is in sync with their sensibilities…while being careful not to impose on them what is essentially not in alignment with their being. We reinterpret quintessential Indian sensibilities in design, material and craftsmanship,” says Adetee.