Tanushri Dalmiya combines craft with conscious design and resurrects this Chennai home for a young couple

SEP 14, 2021 | By Kashish Kaushal
The low centre table with brass accents along with the breakfast table from Design ni Dukaan, the locally made daybed and the rug sourced from Bhadohi complete the study; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala
A wooden pichwai mural from Studio Smita Moksh slides open as a bathroom door. These are complemented with banana paper lamps from Oorja; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala
The flowering plumeria in the verandah frames the composition of two plantation chairs custom made by Wood n Design, paper floor lamps and Kalam table by Anantaya, Banana fibre rug by Kaiyare and athangudi tiles from The Tile Kraft; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala
The blue cement plastered wall in the primary bedroom forms the backdrop to the king size poster bed with gold accents and two rattan chairs from Wood n Design; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala
The study is composed of a solid wood desk, a study chair and a rendition of the Pierre Jeanneret’s upholstered chair by Wood n Design; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala
A mustard yellow sofa, two rattan chairs from Nivasa and a bone inlay table from Artisera grace the family room; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala
The living room is composed of locally made sofas and two rattan armchairs by Nivasa. The centre table is handcrafted as a solid wood ripple along with a lotus beaten brass detail by Tectona Grandis. This sits over a banana fibre rug by Kaiyare. Side table and décor by The Purple Turtles; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala
The family room is composed of a double sided cane and teak swing from Design ni Dukaan. The rug is sourced from artisans at Bhadohi; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala
The Perch lights in banana paper are by Oorja and the carbon floor tiles are from Carbon Craft in the dining area; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala

In Alwarpet, a quiet leafy neighbourhood of Chennai, the Anya residence is a home for a young couple that harnesses natural light and space to create visual impact. In the hot and humid Chennai climate, greenery played a pivotal role as the house had ample scope for landscaping on all sides.

The brief for founder and principal architect Tanushri Dalmiya of Vayam, was straightforward—this 45 years old, 4300 sq ft residence was to be refurbished as a temporary abode, bringing down walls to create large spaces. From a five bedroom bungalow into a three bedroom home, the residence bathes in daylight with ample verdure.

“The interior walls were brought down strategically to allow for continuous movement between the living, family and dining areas with all three spaces opening outdoors to a shaded verandah. It was a conscious decision to avoid using any curtains and allow generous amounts of natural light to filter through the verandah into the space”, reveals Dalmiya.

The urli and the Channapatna table, both crafted by local artisans evoke a strong feeling of nostalgia attached to a traditional South Indian home. The brass plated lights are from Sunshine Boulevard and the paper fixtures are custom made by Oorja; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala

A socially responsible and relevant house, it is deeply rooted in a tropical context while treading gently on planet Earth. Not only did this drive the design process, but it also guided team Vayam to judiciously pick all the materials. The clients themselves being owners of a conscious lifestyle brand resonated with the theme and echoed with their vision. Thus, natural materials, local crafts, upcycled saree upholsteries and lime plastered surfaces were embedded in the material palette. 

Revealing more about her thought process, Dalmiya says, “I recall screening through innumerable rugs, to ensure none used viscose or polyester which are highly chemical intensive processes. The home embodies the essence of sustainability and stands as an ode to natural materials in design”.

A soft transition from the formal living space into the family room; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala

Surrounded by pristine verdure, a six ft large urli welcomes visitors at the threshold of this Chennai home. Brimming with marigold and reflecting the petals of little lotus light fixtures handcrafted in banana fibre paper, the bronze sculpture evokes a sense of nostalgia, attached to a traditional South Indian home. Elevating this feeling and bringing back memories of childhood are familiar colours and shapes of Channapatna toys only disguised as the weights of a modern console. To the left of the urli, the welcome continues through a formal living space adorned with Tanjore Paintings and dressed with a large rug, twisted and knotted with banana fibre ropes. 

A hand embroidered solid wood television console from Gunava is the highlight of the family room. It is accompanied with a bone inlay round centre table from Artisera and rattan chairs from Nivasa; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala

Delving deeper into the house, a more intimate family area is flanked by a verandah on the west which is shared by the living area, a show kitchen in the north and the dining area in the east. 

As the Kota flooring gives way to carbon tiles, the family seamlessly transitions into the dining; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala


The cement plastered wall and the ribbed wood detail of the show kitchen along with cement lights from Oorja, form the perfect backdrop to a bright mustard yellow sofa in the family room. The flooring is leather finished Kota Stone; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala

The remarkable aspect of this space is that all of it is defined merely by furniture in what is otherwise an open floor plan, and a change in the flooring from Kota to carbon tiles and athangudi tiles. Between the show kitchen and dining, a small passageway leads to the kitchen,  puja and guest room.

An antique teakwood jali panel sits as a backdrop to an eight seater Nakashima inspired dining table from Wood n Design, complemented by a bench and chairs in red and olive ikats. The Perch lights in banana paper are by Oorja and the carbon floor tiles are from Carbon Craft; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala

The staircase beside the dining area opens into a large study—the most utilised space of the home. It doubles up as a home theatre in the evening. Thus, the furniture designed for the space not only bears in mind the working habits of both the users but also allows for a comfortable lounging experience. 

The study opens out into an athangudi clad terrace, shaded by a bamboo and metal pergola casting filtered light on the cane furniture designed by Wood n Design; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala

The primary bedroom opens up to an intimate terrace that is shared by the study, clad in athangudi tiles, drifting away from the rest of the floor plan which is clad in wood. 

A wooden pichwai mural from Studio Smita Moksh slides open as the bathroom door; Photographs by Ishita Sitwala

Right from hard furniture, to soft furnishings, each component of the home (barring the sanitary fixtures) is 100% handmade in India, boasting of sustainable but affordable luxury and bearing testimony to Indian handicrafts and expertise—unfolding in a manner that is both experimental and innovative.  

If this home leaves you spellbound, make sure you check out this palatial bungalow in Vadodara, designed by K.N.Associates!