“Meet Neha and Gaurav, architects and founders of Layers Studio for Design & Architecture, and their little munchkin Kalki (the cutest baby ever!!). Today, we take a peek inside their home in Greater Noida that also doubles up as a home office. As architects designing for themselves, they have made some really bold design decisions both spatially and aesthetically. Their multi functional home is filled with clever DIYs, re-purposed pieces and a plethora of space saving solutions. They were so cool about letting me pick their brains and answered some (a lot of) this design nerd’s questions. So, without further ado, handing over the reins to Neha and Gaurav.”
Q. Hi Neha, do tell us your story.
Gaurav and I, graduated in 2007 from School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi. Our relationship goes back to our college days and it all started while working on group projects, a routine part of any architecture student’s life. Having spent more than 8 years as partners, both in life and at LSDA, our mutual inclination towards art and good design is what makes things exciting at our home. We share a passion for architecture and believe that it’s not just our profession, but a “way of life”!!
The latest entry to our lives, our daughter Kalki is 11 months old and has already started to show a lot of ‘attention for detail’. Now, she dictates what’s to be designed and added to our home! The fourth member of our family is our 4.5 year old canine son, Kalicharan aka KC, a black Labrador who loves to eat, sleep and then repeat.
Q. Describe your design philosophy.
The aim of our practice has been to include local traditions, international ideas, respect for the environment and cutting edge technology as design sensibilities. At LSDA, we understand that built environments in today’s times are complex structures with overlapping layers of activity, functions, usage patterns, aesthetics, desires and prospects for the future.
Above: The home entrance with their flat number as a part of the door’s design
Q. What is the inspiration behind the design of your home?
Our inspiration was to create a home which uses natural elements like sunlight, air, plants along with lots of colour, then spruce it up with artwork, which we have either created or collected over the years and make it into a space that oozes happiness.
Above: The entrance lobby is brightened with a geometric pattern on the door and art on either side
Q. Your home if filled with multi functional spaces. Please tell us how you achieved that so seamlessly.
We wanted to use every room, nook and corner of the house efficiently, without any compromise on the aesthetics. The house with its living/dining hall and 3 bedrooms had to accommodate not just our home, but also our architecture studio, a client meeting area, our entertainment area, a guest room, etc.
So, we created spaces which are flexible in use, a 3 in 1 room that can be converted in to a meeting room or a guest room or a play area with foldable tables, collapsible bed and internal windows. Even for our small 40 sqft balconies, we envisaged them as hanging gardens and therefore used cantilevered planters which add the much needed greenery to our apartment.
Q. Your home makes a bold statement with color choices. What are your top tips for incorporating color in any home?
The risk with using so much colour together is that it can easily go kitschy !! So when you have an abundance of colour in the design just skimp on other aspects, like avoid mixing too many shapes and styles. Also, let the theme run throughout the house. But, always be bold in your choice of colour !!
Above: The living and dining area in it’s present glory after the colorful makeover
Q. Your favorite pieces/corners in the house.
The favourite corner …well it would be the physical centre of the house, our triangular shaped dining table with its benches around. The point provides visual connections with the entire house and is the place where the extended family is fed and entertained when they come over.
Above: Their triangular shaped dining table serves as the physical and visual center of the house
Q. Tell us about the DIYs in your house.
Well there are lots of them, but a few prominent pieces are, a ‘Cycle sculpture’ made with parts that had come out of our Santro car and Enfield Thunderbird bike, a hand-painted storage cabinet portraying the computer game ‘Snood’ which I love to play, a light fixture made out of empty ‘Nescafe’ coffee jars and the favourite being the wall art named ‘KC Ville’ comprising of a lamppost, station clock, signposts and a feeding tray for our dog “Kalicharan aka KC”.
Above: The ‘Cycle sculpture’ in the living room is a reminiscent piece made from parts of their old car and bike
Above: A DIY hand painted storage cabinet inspired by Neha’s favorite computer game, ‘Snood’
Above & Below: ‘KC Ville’ a personalized feeding station for their black Lab “Kalicharan” with a hand painted lamppost, a station clock, signpost and feeding trays.
Q. Did you use any thrifted pieces or recycled furniture?
Absolutely. The entire house is filled with recycled and re purposed pieces. Many of the pieces are made with leftover materials, for example, some remaining tiles from the bathrooms were broken down and used as china mosaic flooring in the balcony. The wooden skin doors taken out from rooms were used as cupboard shutters. The jhoola is made from the wood taken out of the chaukhats(frames) of those wooden doors. Some pieces are also from ship wreck, sourced from Alang, Gujrat.
Above: The balcony bench is a re-purposed piece made with tiles from the bathroom remodel
Above: The ‘Jhoola’ is made from the door frames that were taken out during renovation
Q. You home feels so spacious for an apartment. Tell us about any structural changes you made.
We wanted to keep the civil related changes to a minimal, so we optimized the plan of the apartment very creatively. Strategic location of foldable tables, collapsible bed and an “old-world” style window within the house gave us the flexibility to convert rooms to studio/meeting rooms and convert the kitchen to an open one with a breakfast counter. It also connected the spaces visually and added a lot of character to the interiors of the apartment.
Above: Internal windows (two also have Murphy tables as shutters) were devised to make the apartment feel bigger through uninterrupted sight-lines
Above: An old world style window was added on the home office wall overlooking the dining area
Above: A Murphy Bed in the guest bedroom frees up extra square footage for a meeting room
Above: A fold-able table then turns the guest bedroom into a meeting area overlooking the Studio
Above: Addition of a pass-through window between the kitchen and dining created a breakfast bar
Q. Share your tips for running a studio or business from home.
Running a studio/business from home comes with both its advantages and disadvantages. It does give a lot of flexibility in terms of timing and home management but without self discipline things can go downhill pretty quickly. Also, people, especially family members, think that you are always available, since you are basically at home. So, do fix a work schedule and always allocate a separate space for work in order to be more productive.
Above and below: One room was turned into the office space for their design practice
Q. How did you baby proof the apartment after your little bundle of joy arrived?
Well not much really. Just taped the sockets at the lower level and added a kitchen barricade for her. We are trying our best to apartment proof the baby !!
Q. Your master bedroom and bath are so dreamy. Tell us about all the design ideas here.
The inspiration (also the biggest challenge) was to recreate a palace. We chose to do a continuous classic chequered black and white flooring throughout the master suite which visually combines our bedroom + dresser + bath and gives the illusion of extra space. We used colours and motifs generally associated with a palatial theme like the royal blues and teals along with peacock motifs.
Above: Kalki’s playful Nursery crated within the Master Suite
Above: Kalicharan, their black lab, is the protective elder sibling
Above: The black & white flooring and the palatial theme is carried onto the bathroom
Q. Why are there no traditional drapes as window treatments in your home?
We generally keep our blinds open since we want as much natural light as possible. During the winters, the blinds are not lowered for almost 4 months !! Also, we always felt that traditional drapes occupy a lot of space and add to the visual clutter in front of a fenestration. As a bonus, the blinds are easier to maintain and clean.
Q. How do you make your furry friend keep his paws off your prized possessions. Any advice to large-dog owners for creating a pet friendly home.
We simply don’t !! He is a spoilt child and is actually allowed everywhere, be it the bed, sofa or the kitchen (where our daughter, Kalki, isn’t). Many things have been designed and planned keeping him in mind, like using easily cleanable leatherite for upholstery throughout the house. Generally all large dogs are very friendly and you just need to give them their space and freedom !!
Q. Form over function or function over form.
For us Form is also function !!
Q. People/blogs/designers you follow online.
We follow the great architects from the times before internet. We admire the work of master architects like Frank Llyod Wright, Mackintosh, Carlo Scarpa, Joseph Allen Stein, Laurie Baker. A large part of the inspiration for this house was drawn from the works of Luis Barragan, a Mexican architect, who used a lot of colour in his designs.
Q. Your advice to a budding designer or homeowner, where to start?
Start by finalising a brief for yourself, listing what you want to do with your space and what are your needs.
Q. A design pet peeve.
To spend a lot on expensive flooring and shiny paints (so called HD paints) and then keep the rooms empty and walls bare of any art work or personal touches !!
Above: Floor to ceiling art adorns one of the walls in the living room
This home is a true testament to two creative people bringing their design philosophies to life. If you too have a home to feature here, please drop me a mail with a few self clicked daylight pictures of your place/project at email@example.com, do not worry about the image quality my blog will bear the professional photography expenses.
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3|5|6|15|24|26 Neha Bharadwaj
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