Under the arches on the first floor hallway, fine khadi curtains billow in the lazy monsoon breeze, almost swaying to the tune of Eldar Levgran’s “Round Midnight”, a caramel jazz number with a brooding bass. It feels like an apt soundtrack to the harmonious mesh of two cities in Paul Mathieu’s vacation house – where the je ne sais quoi, lulling charm of Paris flows with the painstaking historic craft of Udaipur.
A deep love for indigenous craft and frequent visits to work with the artisans, nudged Paul Mathieu to find a coop where he could sketch, cook and breathe at his own pace. This haveli “on the verge of collapse” was quite a discovery, thanks to local restoration expert Monish Paliwal. A six month project extended to three years – Paul Mathieu was introduced to historic finishes, which he knew he just had to include in this mini palace. The white foundation on the first floor, for instance, was coated multiple times with lime, then polished with coconut oil and agate stone. Even on the hottest days, this surface stays cool throughout the year! A fitting contrast to the chaos and colours of Udaipur, Paul’s home follows a quiet palette of chalk ivory and calm grey. The spacious, airy rooms have deliberate hints of wood and aged metal, most from the prototype furniture Paul created. While the base level has two bedrooms and an open courtyard that expands to a bamboo roofed meeting area, the first floor houses the kitchen, Paul’s reading room/boudoir and study with a skylight right above his work desk. On the terrace is a jali work tibari made for the house, where he savours brunches or the one-off Sufi concert with his friends. “I live with an open mind,” he proclaims, when illustrating why none of the areas have one definitive purpose. “In India, a room becomes anything you want it to be – if you feel like eating dessert, a plate is served to you! I love that about this country’s culture