Interior stylist Manuu Mansheet details his self-made, “best out of waste” hermitage

OCT 27, 2020 | By Mrudul Pathak Kundu and Manuu Mansheet
Heavily inspired by Indian mythology, Manuu’s formal living room is peppered with reclaimed furniture and priceless art like MF Husain serigraphs and Raja Ravi Varma oleographs. While all the silverware are family heirlooms, the coffee table and vintage inspired chandelier are sourced from Restoration Hardware. Old leather trunks, all flea market finds, make ideal side tables. The cabinet is stashed with porcelain collected from all over the world; Photographs by Amit Mehra
In contrast to the rest of the eclectic interiors, the family lounge is toned down with the help of muted upholstery and the black-and-white wallpaper. The centre table is actually a cot that Manuu bought when he was 12, now converted into a table; Photographs by Amit Mehra

My formative years were spent in a palatial British era bungalow, surrounded by historical edifices in a culturally rich area on Ferozeshah Road in Lutyens’ Delhi. My parents ensured I was exposed to all kinds of art, music, theatre, dance and naturally, I imbibed all those nuances.

This led to a fulfilling career in the field of space design, visual merchandising and styling. The family home, which was an apartment, was not enough; I needed a larger house with rustic qualities. Since there were no readymade options, I decided to create this haven on my own, from scratch.

With the design, I knew it had to be a home that reflected Indian architectural principles and had a courtyard. Verandahs and a porch were a must, so we’ve got open-to-sky shower and bedrooms with separate closets and dressers. It had to be organic, and obviously an extension of me. I wanted to explore crazy ideas that might otherwise be too dramatic for my clients.

Stylist and visual merchandiser Manuu Mansheet calls his home “a veritable museum”; Photographs by Amit Mehra

Erected on a 9,000 sq ft plot, the 4,500 sq ft home has four bedrooms, living, dining and family lounges, four staff quarters and two verandahs. The ceiling is exposed concrete and no two walls are the same colour; no polishes or fabrics match. Some pieces of furniture have been bought, custom made, collected, restored and modified, while a few textiles, art and silverware are priceless inherited family heirlooms.

The verandah is an ideal spot for family to get together for tea, where his sister and business partner Manavi also practises the dhol. All the tables here have been made from salvaged waste wood; Photographs by Amit Mehra

Because of my association with Alsorg Interiors, some wardrobes were custom crafted by the brand. My kitchen and bed were designed from waste and leftovers from the same factory. The doors and windows came from a house that was to be pulled down by a builder—a blessing in disguise as they turned out to be rare Nagpur teak! Wallpapers and fabrics were all leftovers from various projects.

The passage features an oil canvas painting of a young woman from Spain, a bust from Paris, an old Kashmiri silk carpet and a vintage tribal rug; Photographs by Amit Mehra

The courtyard is where the carpets and woollens get aired, the pickles sunned, and the vegetables and grains sorted. When friends come over, we spend many pleasant evenings in the summer and sunbathe in winter afternoons. But my personal sanctuary would be my bedroom.

Manuu loves grouping old and new, wood and metal, stone and glass. The unfinished brick wall complements a Tanjore artwork and an Italian marble bust; Photographs by Amit Mehra

I used to travel a lot, which made me accustomed to hotels; so when I decided to make my room I wanted all the elements of a decent-sized suite. Essentially, this house is like a veritable museum—every piece has a story and every corner is a space frozen in time.

Scroll to see more images from this colourful home…

A metal, wood and stone console supports an antique Ram Darbar set from south India with an MF Husain serigraph forming a colourful backdrop; Photographs by Amit Mehra


A Jamawar shawl lines the table decorated with Noritake crockery and napkin rings sourced from Toronto; Photographs by Amit Mehra


Miniature Indian paintings, collected by Manuu’s mother, are placed near an aged Portuguese armoire; Photographs by Amit Mehra


The fuchsia pink wall, stairwell in kota stone, wrought iron railing, a collage of priceless lithographs, jharokhas and Chinese fans collectively evoke a sense of drama; Photographs by Amit Mehra


The parents’ boudoir features a bed and cookie jar lamps from embassy auctions or sales. Seen here is art by Ramesh Gurjar, a library themed wallpaper and textured Oikos wall and vintage cushions; Photographs by Amit Mehra


The large oil canvas by Manuu reflects the colour scheme of his bedroom. The bed is crafted from leftover wardrobe shutter and room divider found at Alsorg Interiors; Photographs by Amit Mehra


Manuu has a soft corner for nostalgic accents and pieces frozen in time. These original trunks belonged to his mother and travelled from Kenya to Shimla. The two vintage miniatures are framed with leftover block printed fabric from the owner’s various interior projects; Photographs by Amit Mehra