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A Bengaluru Home Inspired by Kerala and Kathakali

  • Ideas & Inspiration
May 23, 2024
Living room design with traditional elements - Beautiful Homes

Architect Gayathri Padmam’s home reflects her love for her home state, antiques, and art

Gayathri Padmam is the Creative Director and Co-Founder at Aanai Design Studio and a furniture studio called Tusker Katha, which she runs with her partner Nikhil Haridas. Their stunning home, nestled in the leafy lanes of Bengaluru’s Koramangala, combines the signature Aanai touch of natural materials and warm wood tones with plenty of artwork and inspiration from their homeland, Kerala.

Nikhil Haridas and Gayathri Padmam’s Bangalore abode is a contemporary home meant to recreate their Kerala roots.


Beautiful Homes: Let’s start with the basics: like the size of your home and who it has been designed for.

Gayathri Padmam: Ours is a 1,300 sq ft 3-bedroom apartment in Koramangala, Bengaluru. I live here with my partner Nikhil and our four-year-old lab. We have a master bedroom and a guest room; the third room is a study which can be converted into a kid’s room later on.

BH: How would you describe the overall aesthetic of your home?

GP: Our emotion was a Kerala home, but in Bangalore. I spent most of my life in Bombay, but my early childhood was in Kerala. I always knew that I wanted to do a Kerala-centric design for our home and you can see it in almost all the elements, from the artwork to the furniture to the flooring.


We have artwork by Kerala artists Sachin Samson and Roy K John in our foyer and dining rooms, and pieces that have been sourced from there in other parts of the house, like a framed antique rice bag in the master bedroom. 

Gayathri Padmam and Nikhil Haridas of Aanai Design Studio - Beautiful Homes

Gayathri Padmam and Nikhil Haridas of Aanai Design Studio.

BH: So, this is why the flooring is red oxide.

GP: Yes, the flooring is a major element and we chose it to reflect the Kerala vibes. The apartment came with standard-issue builder flooring; but we didn’t want to break it and add to construction waste. So instead of red oxide, which is two inches thick, we did a two-millimetre-thick micro-concrete which mimics red oxide without adding too much weight.


We used laterite skirting around the home instead of marble skirting and the same laterite has been used for the kitchen counter, lending it an earthy charm.



BH: What kind of feeling did you want your home to evoke?

GP: We wanted the home to feel serene, so we kept the walls white. But we wanted it to feel earthy as well, which is why we incorporated shades of reds and materials like rattan. We were also clear that the space needs to feel like a home and not a hotel, so we brought in a luxe touch through textures and fabrics instead of ornate fixtures. We also had to keep the keep the overall vibe easygoing because we love to entertain and Nikhil loves to cook!

Traditional foyer design – Beautiful Homes

The foyer features a painting by Kerala artist Sachin Samson.

Guest bedroom design ideas – Beautiful Homes

The guest bedroom wardrobe features banana fibre shutters with a Sri Lankan batik print.

BH: That’s a great way to segue into the kitchen! Did you make any modifications here?

GP: Yes, that’s the only structural change we did in the whole house. The wall where the laterite is, that was actually closed, so we broke it down. We created a peninsula instead of an island because we wanted an open kitchen-plus-dining space.


BH: What was the inspiration behind the dining room light fixture?

GP: The light piece has been custom-made by Bengaluru-based lighting and design studio Olie. It’s modelled around a banana flower—two buds, one open and one closed.


BH: Speaking of customisations, you craft bespoke furniture at Tusker Katha. Is everything in the home custom-made or do you have some antique pieces as well?

GP: Everything is either custom made or antique. We have a 30-60 ratio, with 30% antique pieces we have collected over time. We love wooden antique furniture. Nikhil is from an advertising background and he looks at design and functionality, so each piece has been chosen carefully.

Tropical dining room design – Beautiful Homes

The dining room has several tropical elements, from the custom banana flower light by Living and Lighting to the painting by Roy K John.

Study space design ideas – Beautiful Homes

The table in the study is dual purpose, with space for a keyboard for music below.

The remaining 60% of the furniture has been custom designed for the space with an underlying Kathakali theme, from the shapes to the colours and patterns. For example, the coffee table in the living room has legs that turn outwards, inspired by the stance in Kathakali performances. The sofa fabric, in shades of off-white, mustard, and red, is a play on the costumes worn by Kathakali performers. The mirror in the master bedroom has been refashioned from an antique door, and the bed is our popular Kochi bed from Tusker Katha.

Living room with vintage rug – Beautiful Homes

The living room is dotted with vintage pieces and a Sisal rug with a snake boat design from Kerala-based rug makers Neyyt.

BH: There’s a lot of texture and pattern in the home. Is this a signature Aanai touch?

GP: Yes, it is! We like to work with natural fibres as much as we can and we take inspiration from our roots. The rug in the living room is from Kerala-based brand Neytt. It’s a 100% Sisal rug in green and gold with a snake boat pattern.


We’ve also incorporated textiles in all the bedrooms in some form. We used banana fibre for the shutters in the guest bedroom and linen for the shutters in the study. And for the headboard for the master bed, we wanted a little more richness and used raw silk from Rasaya. 

BH: Lastly, designing for yourself versus designing for clients—what is more difficult?

GP: In a lot of ways, it was easy because I knew the brief, but I learnt to be a lot more patient with my clients! Now I know that it’s not that easy to “just take a call” and move on to the next thing on the list, especially when it’s long-term decision and you need to spend more. So, I definitely learned how to be more empathetic.


All images by Parth Swaminathan

Foyer design ideas – Beautiful Homes
A traditional Kerala brass “kindi” and brass accents for the entryway.
Traditional living room design – Beautiful Homes
The living room has Kathakali-inspired elements woven in, from the coffee table to the sofa fabric.
Living room flooring design – Beautiful Homes
The flooring in the living and dining area was redone to mimic the red oxide flooring found in traditional Kerala homes.
Dining room console design – Beautiful Homes
The custom dining room console is also inspired by elements of Kathakali.
Kitchen design ideas – Beautiful Homes
The original wall was broken to create an open kitchen-cum-dining area with a peninsula.
Master bedroom design ideas – Beautiful Homes
The master bedroom opens out into a sunny balcony. The Kochi Bed is from Tusker Katha, Gayathri’s custom furniture brand.
Antique mirror design - Beautiful Homes
The nightstands in the master bedroom feature a Kathakali mask carving and the full-length mirror is refashioned from an old door.
Antique chest design – Beautiful Homes
An antique dowry chest with brass inlays in the guest room.
Study desk design - Beautiful Homes
An antique study desk in the guest room.

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