A regal reverie: Celebrity interior designer Shabnam Gupta transforms a Hyderabad bungalow into Peacock Life’s flagship store
DEC 20, 2023 | By Virender Singh
Homegrown décor boutiques seem to have rediscovered cultural context. From avant-garde, antique galleries set in decade-old bungalows to colonial furniture emporiums inhabiting heritage edifices, the retail ecosystem has witnessed a substantial metamorphosis in the way design and retail cross over each other. These stores embrace the narrative potential of vernacular architecture, a home-like setting and period-specific accents to help consumers visualise how the merchandise might look like in their own living spaces.
Reviving a vintage bungalow
Steeped in the heritage of nizams and old-world opulence, interior designer Shabnam Gupta’s Peacock Life recently acquired a 6,000 sq ft bungalow in Hyderabad, where her bespoke curios feel at ease to radiate the legendary artisanship that our country is known for. “We actually retained most of the structure,” Gupta notes. “Except for opening up big windows to bring in a lot of light.”
Sprawled across two storeys, this flagship atelier incorporates warm white tones and textured grey on most of its walls, ensuring their statement pieces command undivided attention. Tumbling out from the forgotten vaults of history, Gupta’s upcycled chiffoniers, cabinets and murals exude artistic sensibilities that remain quintessentially Indian.
Echoes of nature’s bounty
Gatekeeping the entryway, two six-feet tall carved elephants from Jaipur, terracotta planters and stone urlis escort the unsuspecting visitor indoors. A richly foliated wooden ceiling — harkening back to Buddhist temples in Myanmar — looms overhead as one takes in the embroidered sofas, trunk coffee tables and sleeper wood consoles. The tour de force, however, is the Grand Staircase that visually unifies the lobby. It achieves this effect through a cluster of chandeliers and a golden-leaf decal in the backdrop, emanating a sense of restrained splendour.
Two tapering terraces situated on the first level underwent expansion, culminating in a grand Georgian glass door. This addition melds the indoor and outdoor spaces, enhancing the overall spatial continuity. The backyard thrums with vibrancy, its bucolic wilderness blooming upon the wallpaper in several rooms of the studio. Chevron motifs adorn mounted panels, drenched in vibrant hues reminiscent of parrots and peacocks, paying homage to the Pochampally Ikat legacy.
Each room a new chapter
“We’ve treated each room differently,” Gupta elaborates. “but the Red Room was the most difficult to curate because the original structure itself came with this traditional conical roof design.” Subverting functionality, a Kutchi banjara ghagra (skirt) was hung as a billowy art installation, pirouetting above an assortment of seating choices from sturdy Chesterfields to solitary make bouclé chairs. An exploratory layout that beckons visitors to engage with conceptual chambers — each showcasing a diverse assemblage of “eccentric, world travelled crazy designs” — is what distinguishes Peacock Life from the other studios of its ilk.
The Blue Room, endearingly known as Shabnam Blue, carries on the tropical imagery with panthers loping along the cornice in life-affirming vignettes. The Textile Room, draped in taupe mulmul fabric, showcases the elegance of form with a colossal chandelier asserting its presence with magisterial authority.
By such means, a free-standing bungalow enables the composition of thematic episodes, drawing from wellsprings of the city’s former grandeur.
Soaring new heights
This eclectic haven attests to the enduring allure of Indian aesthetics, spreading its talons in this new abode to reconnoitre a world where design has become an immersive journey. As for what’s next, Shabnam Gupta has an exciting lineup: two international projects, a restaurant in Manali and an imperial 13-storey private residence in Pali Hill, showcasing the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of Peacock Life.
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