One with earth: A Chennai home reveals greens and grandiose concocted by Farah Ahmed and Dhaval Shellugar of FADD Studio

AUG 4, 2023 | By Pratishtha Rana
An expansive front perspective shot of the charming, rustic brown striped home featuring elegant French windows and encircled by a coruscating array of lush green plants; Styled by Samir Wadekar and Manisha Mittal; Photography by Ishita Sitwala
A panoramic view of the living room and kitchen. Above, a striking red chandelier hangs from the ceiling, creating a bold focal point; Photography by Ishita Sitwala
In the second bar, there is a tall table that holds a Buddha sculpture and a pink brick painting by Dhara Mehrotra.To add contrast to the warm colour scheme, a blue sofa is placed, effectively breaking the monotony and enhancing the overall aesthetic; Photography by Ishita Sitwala
The bedroom features a neutral-toned ambience complemented by a distinctive wooden headboard, evoking a jungle-like atmosphere. It’s adorned with nature, contributing to the immersive natural setting. Additionally, a Rugberry rug adds a cosy touch to the overall space; Photography by Ishita Sitwala
The shallow pool area is enveloped by a plethora of neutral tones and bathed in ample natural light, complemented by the lush presence of nature. Through the French windows, one can catch a glimpse of the serene scenery outside; Photography by Ishita Sitwala
The outdoor seating area, designed in neutral tones, offers a serene and elevated space for relaxation by the poolside. Its elevated position provides a unique opportunity to rest amidst nature, surrounded by tranquillity and peaceful surroundings; Photography by Ishita Sitwala

Volume is a beautiful thing. On our planet and inside our living boundaries, a vast volume can have many connotations. It could be astonishing, daunting, contemplative or pacifying too. Playing with endless yet embracing spatiality of a sweeping 10,000 sq ft home in Chennai are FADD Studio’s Farah Ahmed Mathias and Dhaval Shellugar. Building visual blocks of poetry and practicality out of high ceilings and wide expanses, the duo creates a modern-tropical anchorage dubbed ‘GAIA’ for a young couple and two-year old daughter.

A view of the living room where an interplay of natural light casts soothing shadows, contributing to the overall relaxing atmosphere of the home; Photography by Ishita Sitwala

“What began as a 2,000 sq ft outhouse with a focus on cooking, dining and entertaining, took a wild turn, very quickly during COVID, and became a 10,000 sq ft main home within a gated community,” explain Farah and Dhaval. Despite a seismic size change of the area, the brief remained unchanged. “The family was keen on having a tropical minimal home with a lush courtyard and a large focus on gastronomy.” A first level was soon added to the pre-existing outhouse, carving four bedrooms, three bars, a gym, a workspace, a garden with a pool, a pizza-oven installed area, and a deck along with other entertainment rooms.

To enhance the ambience further, green plants are thoughtfully placed, adding a touch of nature’s tranquillity to the space. A pair of And Black chairs, tables from Gunava and RVS, rugs from Rugberry form the central cluster. The belt light is from Flos; Photography by Ishita Sitwala


Enhancing a woody ambience, a circular swing complements the space, accompanied by a wooden bench that offers a comfortable spot to unwind while relaxing in the verdant surroundings of the home. The neutral-toned wall by Limocoat adds a touch of nature-inspired charm to the setting; Photography by Ishita Sitwala

With recurring caresses of greens against a grounded canvas of wood and granite, the home materialises as a fascinating interlude between sounds and silence. Echoing the quietude of indoors, while swaying on the brisky jingles of the outdoors. With architecture by D+Y Architecture, plateaued on the ECR (East Coast Road) belt of the city once known as Madras, the home gently opens up as a labyrinth, with rising, overgrown calatheas plant greeting you first at the entry gate, and instantly leading to a green arcade-like passage that culminates into a checkered wooden main door. 

An eye for detail and drama

As soon as the grandiose of the interiors begins to convince you of its elevated modern character, the courtyard reveals itself blanketed with teeming greenery and a statuesque, traditional Nandi figurine resting in the heart of it all, crowned with a slender and sinuous frangipani tree. Volumes are indeed a thing of beauty here, in every shape and form.

In the kitchen, the neutral colour palette is teamed with finish by Satinwood; Photography by Ishita Sitwala


The island kitchen table pairs perfectly with two black chairs, and rests on Nexion tiles, creating a seamless combination. These tiles, in turn, beautifully complement the wall finished with Limocoat, tying the whole aesthetic together; Photography by Ishita Sitwala

Sauntering further in, the living room assumes the spotlight, visually and functionally trickling right into an open kitchen, a wine cellar and bar! Deviating wittily from any overwhelming design instances, FADD has brought in a liberal assembly of furniture — sleek, sharp, sculpturesque, and sourced locally. The spectrum of colours here is an effortless oscillation between light and dark, draped in shades of polished wood, light browns and matte blacks.

Yet another expression of subtle drama in the living room is the buoyant belt light by Flos drooping from above and overlapping against the charred-wood walls and fluted marble bar.

The concrete tiles by Nexion glisten under the natural light that filters through the square chequered holes located near the dining table. This effect creates a striking contrast with the vivid, blue-ish artwork by Yuvan Bodhi displayed on the wall; Photography by Ishita Sitwala


The prayer room showcases a variety of sculptures of gods and wooden tables adorned with a ‘puja’ tray placed atop them; Photography by Ishita Sitwala

In the entertainment room, which spills on to the pool, a bookshelf crafted with stone just begins to hum the earthy mood of the house, when a second bar made with pink bricks splashes enough vigour to it.  Glimpses of the courtyard continue to appear and reappear as one ascends to the upper level, where a jacuzzi with a glass bottom awaits, too! Hefty stone bolsters clad the courtyard wall, which surprisingly becomes an imposing background for the centrally-placed bed in the primary bedroom only separated by a clear-glass screen.

“The primary washroom is noteworthy as it breaks away from the straight geometry of the home. The shower and WC pickets are separated by a bathtub. The whole bathroom is open, earthy and lush,” tell Farah and Dhaval.

A captivating interplay of geometrical patterns, casts a shadow of the chequered divider falling gracefully onto the floor, contrasting against a red brick concrete wall by Limocoat. To complement the scene, a stylish grey-toned sofa serves as an artistic piece to the space; Photography by Ishita Sitwala


As the staircase descends, it casts a shadow illuminated by natural light, creating an intriguing effect around the artistic and traditional cow statue. The statue is embraced by a profusion of lush plants, filling every empty space in the house; Photography by Ishita Sitwala

Rooted and thriving

To measure or calculate the expansive scapes of this Chennai home, just walking around and absorbing the sights isn’t enough. The designers have astutely and thoughtfully embellished the open spaces and rooms with gripping design interventions that pull in your attention even long after you’ve passed it by — be it the deck, pool or the koi pond. As the duo exclaim, “Outdoor spaces truly complete a home like nothing else can.”

The light wooden chairs harmonise with the Nexion tiles in the open-space area, allowing an abundance of natural light to flood the space, for both the ambience and the lush plants present; Photography by Ishita Sitwala


The seating area adjacent to the pool beautifully matches the dark-toned flooring, creating a pleasing visual. The presence of abundant lush greenery around the area enhances the atmosphere, imbuing it with a sense of peace and tranquillity; Photography by Ishita Sitwala

The home is not just its family’s design-forward dwelling. It also, as you tread through from one end to the other, is a sanctum of conscious choices. With locally procured and made in India objects of interest, even the plant species and building materials are sourced from only 3 to 4 kms from the place, thanks to the landscape artist Varna of VSLA, who decidedly favoured local species with similar climate conditions as opposed to the exotic elements.

Featuring a neutral-toned ambience complemented by a distinctive wooden headboard, this bedroom evokes a jungle-like atmosphere. It’s adored with nature, contributing to the immersive natural setting. Additionally, a Rugberry rug adds a cosy touch to the overall space; Photography by Ishita Sitwala


In the en-suite bathroom, there’s a bathtub and an overhead shower area thoughtfully designed with ample space to move around. The shower area features a stone-textured base, creating a clear distinction from the light wooden flooring, adding an elegant touch to the space; Photography by Ishita Sitwala

The delicacy of hardware

Framed with hardware by Netherlands-based Fritz Jurgen, the main door channels its protagonist-esque tenor, parallel to the movement of sun and its balmy rays through the day. Almost like the tensile temper of hardware, the anthemic plaid-patterned shadows dance on the floors and walls, taking on an unmistakable role in league with the textures and curious elements seen across the home.

“The stone texture on the wall, the slatted wooden texture of the ceiling, the flat black metal texture of the staircase, the concrete finish floor texture are the perfect formula to enhance the magic that is brought in by nature,” surmise the duo.

The tall wooden door leads to an en-suite bathroom that exudes an aesthetic vibe, enhanced by the addition of plants, creating a jungle-like ambience within the home. A well-placed vase complements both the wash basin and the bathtub, adding to the overall harmony of the space; Photography by Ishita Sitwala


Take a glimpse inside one of the alluring, rustic bedrooms nestled amidst nature, where a window bathes the room in natural light, illuminating and enlivening the space; Photography by Ishita Sitwala

Also read: FADD Studio expertly pair midcentury modern details with handcrafted pieces to furnish this palatial residence