Srila Chatterjee’s South Mumbai home is nothing short of a life-size treasure chest
NOV 23, 2017 | By Mrudul Pathak Kundu and Srila Chatterjee
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…
Back in October 1993, my partner Mahesh and I decided to take a gamble on a space we saw and a life we 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 [in 2017] and we’re still in the space we love!
The building is almost 120 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 what we wanted.
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.
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 numerous. 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!
Scroll below for more images from Srila Chatterjee’s gorgeous home!