The living and dining room housing a beautiful chandelier and paintings from various artists
Photography by Fabien Charuau

Left: “Merill”, a magnificent metal buffalo by Valay Shende has a commanding presence in the living room corner; Right: “wall of fame” – a motley collection of photographs in all kinds of frames

Left: A simple corner of the house made extravagant with simple paintings and a sofa; Right: The arched window in the kitchen overlooks South Mumbai’s high-rises

The attic-turned guestroom filled with artwork

Srila Chatterjee’s South Mumbai home is like a life-size treasure chest

by Srila Chatterjee Nov 23, 2017 Designer and curator Srila Chatterjee and filmmaker Mahesh Mathai’s top floor apartment in an old South Mumbai building is a tightly packed treasure trove of art, travel souvenirs, stories and memories. We give you an insight into their house and how they designed their humble abode.
In October 1993, Mahesh and Srila decided to take a gamble on a space they saw and a life they had imagined within it. “It wasn’t in good shape but it was beautiful; the owner wanted to redevelop, but hadn’t done that yet. Our gamble was on five years: It’s been 25 and we’re still in the space we love!” says Srila. 

The building is 113 years old. It’s a little jewel and creative juices flow out of each doorway. You can make a movie, buy high fashion, invest in fine jewels, get vintage carpets, re-plan a city, style a home, own real book sculptures or get rid of terrible allergies naturally – all within its walls. Transforming an old flat into a modern home came with the advantage of being able to decide how they wanted what. 

“We wanted big public spaces and smaller private ones, a dining table for 12, a good sized kitchen...and as much of the view as we could get. This home wasn’t created on a computer, nor was there a mock-up or a plan to see. We never poured over drawings and we didn’t have a single scrapbook or mood board. Mahesh got the space done, and then we filled it with things we liked or needed. And when we needed to, we changed them,” reveals Srila.

"I believe that things don’t have to last forever, so pieces changed and places also transformed over the years. Spaces changed, so did our needs as we evolved. A little attic, that was once a TV room, is now a guest room with a bath; another bath lost its walls and is now a part of my bedroom."

"I believe homes tell stories – and this one has hundreds. There’s a story in each piece of art that has come into our lives; in every change of colour; in every bit that has come back with us from travels: A window from Rio, a picture from Dubrovnik, a light from Istanbul, a scroll from Yangon and so much from so many parts of India. It’s got a different vibe in the day, when the sun is so intense that the blinds stay down, it’s beautiful at sundown when the best light comes flooding in and it’s magical at night with spotlights and chandeliers and lights all over the place. I never grew up in Bombay. I chose to live here, and in a city that has changed drastically over the years, coming home is always a refuge for me. I have space to breathe. It feels comfortable. It’s got great energy. And it truly is beautiful. I never forget how lucky I am” Srila exclaims. 

The attic-turned guestroom filled with artwork