1. Actors Aditya Seal and Anushka Ranjan’s newlywed nest in Mumbai
At the door of actors (and newlyweds) Aditya Seal and Anushka Ranjan Seal's new Mumbai duplex, the nameplate is conspicuous by its absence. What is not is the cheery (LED) baby seal that takes its place, animating the wall and nodding to its namesake owners. “It's fun to watch people guess," says Anushka. "Those who get it, get it. And it makes for a great conversation-starter." But the unlikely sea creature isn’t the only thing setting the entryway apart—because if the peach-toned front door (a hat-tip to Anushka's fondness for English country houses) is anything to go by, it’s clear that the aesthetic idiosyncrasies only keep getting better.
"The brief was to create a space that was warm, full of light; with textures, muted colours and patterns," says Disha Bhavsar of Quirk Studio. "We were clear about steering away from touch-me-not accents and easily dirtied furniture that would make guests feel uncomfortable," adds Aditya. the duo was mindful of keeping the home distant from the fanfare and footlights of showbiz. The palette was pared back, the floor warmed with wood. Whites and pastels filled the blank spaces. "It channels a tranquil sanctuary," says co-founder Shivani Ajmera. What the home lacks in vibrancy, it makes up for in variety. Variously laid wooden panels underpin the entire house: Herringbone enlivens the living, dining and vanity areas, while the bedrooms don a diagonal pattern. An assortment of wallpapers—a botanical-print behind the bar, a palm-print beside the staircase—give the walls a lifelike quality. As we move through the home, it's clear that when Bhavsar and Ajmera say "sanctuary", they mean the modern, gilt-edged kind. - Vaishnavi Nayel Talawadekar
2. Kusha Kapila’s Gurugram apartment that is full of secret contraptions
Everything was tailor-made to adapt to their patterns and provide space for self-discovery,” grins Nimisha Sharma, founder and design head of Joint Studio, and a long-time friend of content creator Kusha Kapila and her partner Zorawar Ahluwalia, who was tapped to give their Gurugram home a facelift. Their brief to Sharma was underscored by three adjectives: "Tropical", “minimal”, and "concrete-esque".
The design was developed in a manner where the walls could shine through without any decor, where tranquility could fill the blank spaces. We maintained a palette of grey and white," offers Nimisha. To keep the shell from riffing on spartan, the designer clad the floor in micro cement, and used clean pottery and pampas grass for texture. Given that the house also doubles as a studio, everything had to be multifunctional. By the front door, for example, an almost-invisible storage unit with concealed cubbyholes hides semi-opened parcels that await return pick-up. "With the nature of Kusha’s profession, there had to be a storage system by the entryway that would straddle form and function,” says Nimisha. The system, it appears, sets the stage for a variety of multipurpose contraptions that let the house assume multiple avatars through the day–the dining room, a case in point. As Nimisha presses a button to transform the dinner table into a bar, half the table rises on motorised stilts, morphing into a party counter for drinks and knicknacks. The space underneath, meanwhile, poses as a clever storage unit for cutlery. “It’s one of my favourite things, the bar,” smiles Kusha, “even though neither my husband nor I drink!” - Vaishnavi Nayel Talawadekar
3. The Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar and Neha Kapur's Los Angeles home
When The Big Bang Theory's Kunal Nayyar moved into a Nichols Canyon compound with his wife, Neha Kapur Nayyar, in late 2011, he was overwhelmed by the idea of decorating a 5,000-square-foot hacienda surrounded by jungle—or as close to jungle as one gets in Los Angeles.The couple interviewed many designers and were introduced by a Big Bang writer to Lory and Mats Johansson of Just Joh, who designed Richard Branson’s Necker Island.
The design pros helped bring a new lightness to the previously chintz-filled interior, without altering the bones, and even retained a few chandeliers that have been hanging in the house for some 25 years. Their No. 1 priority was maintaining a flowing indoor-outdoor feel. “We wanted to have this living, breathing energy,” says Neha, “so you see a lot of plants inside, and there’s a Buddha inside and outside.”
While they were on the same page about integrating their Indian heritage, the couple’s aesthetic preferences are quite opposite. Kunal has a “Pop Art side” he attributes to his interior designer mother, who loves bright colours, while Neha prefers subtler hues. One exception to her more subdued taste comes from a lively, six-foot-by-eight-foot, primary-coloured Gond painting by Venkat Shyam, depicting the fable of a tiger cub being brought up among sheep. “A lot of the things in the house are talking points—they all have stories,” Neha says, pointing to their gradual, deliberate accumulation of decor as the reason. A great percentage, which they feel brings the house to life, is from India. The compound is “an amalgamation of the country we live in and the country we’re from and the places we’ve traveled. We want this to be a story of our journey,” Kunal says. - Kathryn Romeyn
4. Grammy Award-winner Anoushka Shankar's London home that mirrors the story of her life
For AD, Seven-time Grammy-nominated sitarist Anoushka Shankar opened the doors to her London townhouse—her first independent home built with influences of London and Delhi, and a light California vibe—designed with help from friend and interior designer Rachel Chudley. “I told her, ‘I’d like all of my life represented,’” laughs Anoushka, especially, she says, her nomadic childhood spent between the British capital, Delhi, and California.
“It was about pulling everything together with textures, textiles, and colours that evoke memories but also blending them into something that still feels like a London home,” says Chudley. The result has a delightful sense of cultural ambiguity: The casually Californian kitchen island faces dark wood cabinets that feel distinctly Mediterranean; a daybed is upholstered in burnt orange velvet and layered with cushions wrapped in crisp white linen and a delicately patterned fabric that was once a rug; and the curtains are made from Anoushka’s mother’s old saris, their opulence offset with sedate grey linen.
Chudley was also keen for the rooms to become “more elaborate” as you travel up through the house. On the ground floor sits an extended living room that doubles as Anoushka’s studio, complete with sound panels covered in dip-dyed silk; “My initial plan was to build a garden studio,” adds Anoushka, “but I had my planning permission denied.” Above that, is the room her sons share, and a family living room with floor-to-ceiling windows and a buttery sofa where the trio cuddle up to watch films. Then, up a final flight of stairs, you reach Anoushka’s bedroom: an oasis of forest-green plant pots, peachy pink drapes and jewel-toned cushions scattered across a four-poster bed. - Radhika Seth
When Sonam Kapoor Ahuja first started dating Anand Ahuja, she also fell in love with the setting of his London perch. Notting Hill is one of the last truly bohemian ‘villages’ left in the city and the couple set their hearts on a home among one of its leafy stucco squares. Lockdown offered the actor an unexpected opportunity to roost. The backdrop to this enforced pause has been a jewel-box apartment perched high up in a grand period townhouse. Sonam’s vision for this atmospheric pied-à-terre has been brought to life with Mumbai-based architect Rooshad Shroff. The luscious palette was taken even further into transporting realms with walls covered in de Gournay’s ‘Early Views of India’. The trumpeting palm trees, chhatris, and pavilions sing a romantic song of Sonam’s homeland even on the greyest of Anglo-Saxon days. “The Indian touches include a number of personal pieces gifted to us by our mothers,” reflects Sonam, “bringing memories of Mumbai and Delhi to London. There’s a lasting beauty in these heirlooms, however humble, that have seen so many lives and brought joy across the generations.”
Emboldened by her experience, Sonam also used the Great Pause to transform a Kensington mews house into a creative studio. The chevron oak flooring is described by close friend and stylist Nikhil Mansata as “chic, amiable and supple”, while film scripts are read and rehearsed on the Pierre Augustin Rose sofa covered in a Pierre Frey mohair. Art monographs are spread across a long Orior Whitman table. To add to the multifaceted aura, Sonam has placed an elegant fitting room in the corner, draped with a Pierre Frey curtain in a beguiling shade of anise.