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Interior designer Supriya Hiremath Vora reveals the art of styling a rental apartment

  • Interior Designs for Home
Sep 23, 2022
Living room design with diwan & spotlights - Beautiful Homes

The designer shares the simple principles she relies on to make a rental space feel more like your own

Most young folk in urban cities today find themselves looking for a rental apartment or home to live in. This usually involves making peace with and finding a way to work around the designs that already exist within the space. However, in the two-bedroom rental apartment interior designer Supriya Hiremath Vora shares with her husband and two-year old son, this wasn’t the case. In a home she describes as fuss-free with a lot of room for running around, she found a way to create a space that feels like her own.


“Since I was a child, I was always interested in creative things from using pieces to pull together an outfit or sprucing up a home,” she recalls. “For some reason, I ended up studying psychology in college because, at the time, I thought interior design was very technical. Once I started working, I took up jobs that involved curating and editing things. Through this journey, I discovered my calling as an interior designer. Every day is a learning experience, and each space I design gives me more and more confidence.”


With this skill, she put together her South Bombay apartment which boasts a unique art collection and edit of design objects. She took Beautiful Homes through her journey designing this space.

Supriya Hiremath Vora’s two-bedroom rental flat, where she lives with her husband and two-year-old son, is a house she describes as fuss-free with plenty of room for running around, and she found a way to make it seem like her own.

Beautiful Homes (BH): How did you find this home?

Supriya Hiremath Vora (SHV): This is the second home my husband and I share. I think finding a house is truly a game of luck. After a couple of months of seeing spaces with a broker, we stumbled upon this one, which also happens to be in the same building as my in-laws.


BH: What was the home like when you first saw it?

SHV:It was a bare shell at the time and needed to be built from scratch. It had a lot of potential but needed the right design.


BH… And you asked to be part of the renovation process?

SHV: Yes. The landlady had employed a contractor to build the house. I stepped in and asked if I could also be a part of the entire design process. Since I had a different vision for the home, I worked out an agreement where she’d share the budget she’d set aside for designing the apartment, and I’d pool in the rest required to execute my designs. The size of the rooms and the tall height of the ceiling immediately caught my eye. Every window also has a parapet outside, where I knew I’d place a lot of plants. Both the bathrooms were given a complete makeover. We also added more wardrobes because there was barely any storage space. I updated the existing ones with cane shutters and tried to keep everything against the walls to have more space for running around. I was also careful about not buying things, because I wouldn’t be able to reuse them.

Study area design with ghost chair - Beautiful Homes

A leather-top vintage desk combined with a Kartell Louis Ghost chair makes for a home office in a nook by the window in the living room. The designer says the old marble lion from Chor Bazaar is one of her favourite antique finds.

Dining room décor with black & white wooden chairs - Beautiful Homes

Mid-century modern chairs with monochrome striped upholstery and a simple teak dining table rest in front a concrete and wood artwork by Julien Segard in the dining space.

BH: What did you learn along the way?

SHV: I was pleasantly surprised to learn that you can give a space a completely fresh look without changing too many things. You don’t have to go crazy bringing in new designs. Simple but effective decisions such as having high-quality pieces of furniture make a room look richer and warmer. There are also so many reasonably priced materials available to create a stylish bathroom.


BH: What was the one thing you splurged on the most in this home?

SHV: We added laminate wood flooring and swapped out all the windows with huge sliding frames to bring in more light. Floors and windows are two things that are very important in any house, and the first thing I look at.


BH: This is interesting because most residents in a rental think of investing in pieces they can take with them to their next home…

SHV: That’s quite true, conventionally one would not do this, but, in this home, it was a change that was necessary to make the house warmer and happier to live in. We didn’t have to spend much in other areas, so it worked out to the same thing.


BH: What do you look out for when collecting pieces or furniture for you home?

SHV: I like things that are unique, and I enjoy the thrill of searching and finding something completely unexpected. I have a fond memory of the time my mum took me to Pondicherry to shop for my home before I got married. There was a couple there who drove from Germany to India and they were selling furniture in their backyard. We bought everything, from crockery to the desk in my living room to an old music box from them. Each one is a sentimental piece now with a nostalgic story attached to it.


BH: You’ve also collected a lot of art over the years. What makes you want to buy an artwork?

SHV: I follow my heart. As a young collector, I usually pick pieces that I want to look at every day and make me feel happy—make the home feel happy. And I’m always on the lookout for something new and interesting. Every piece doesn’t have to be expensive or created by a prominent artist.

BH: You designed your son’s room after you moved into the home. How did you plan that?

SHV: I started ordering his furniture the moment I found out I was expecting. It started with a little almirah and a chest of drawers, and then I sketched out a rough layout of everything I’d need in the room. I also knew I wanted a wallpaper because it allowed me to create something whimsical. It’s easy to change it as the child grows out of it. Earlier, that room was the den, and I wanted to reuse the furniture that already existed there, so I kept one of the bookshelves and reupholstered the sofa bed.


BH: Most designers want to create perfect spaces. However, living with a toddler doesn’t always allow that. Did this influence your designs for this home?

SHV: You can make a home which is far from perfect but still aesthetically pleasing and warm to live in. Ultimately, you should always create spaces within which you feel happy. A picture-perfect house may look gorgeous in a magazine, but your home should enhance the entire family’s lifestyle. If a kid’s room is messy, simple tricks like bringing in cute baskets for storing toys will make the area neater.

Living room with wooden floorboard & window seating - Beautiful Homes

The nursery was designed in a pastel, gender-neutral colour palette. A bench seating by the window with several cushions and a velvet feeding chair make for a cosy and functional space to play and feed. The cane baskets above neatly store extra odds and ends.

BH: What are the biggest myths about designing a rental?

SHV: That you shouldn’t splurge on a rental. We spend so much on eating out, shopping and travelling—but at the end of the day, it’s more important to spend on living in a space that makes you comfortable. It’s what you experience every day and will bring you more joy. It doesn’t have to be too extravagant, but a little always goes a long way!


All images by Kuber Shah

Interior designer  Supriya Hiremath Vora - Beautiful Homes

Interior designer Supriya Hiremath Vora in her apartment in Mumbai.

Living room design with diwan & spotlights - Beautiful Homes

Large windows bathe the living room in natural light through the day, while tall plants add a serene tropical charm in the room.

Beige diwan with throw pillows & long cushions - Beautiful Homes

A daybed with ample cushions doubles as a cosy spot in the living room.

White sofa with linen fabric - Beautiful Homes

A large artwork by Rewati Shahani creates a meditative view point from the daybed across.

Living room armchair with end benches - Beautiful Homes

While a collection of artworks by contemporary artists cover the walls in the living room, a mix of classic pieces such as simple slip-covered sofas, a rendition of a Paolo Piva table, and a B&B Italia coffee table tie the space together.

Glass display cabinet with black rim - Beautiful Homes

A black metal cabinet has been cleverly placed to fill an empty nook in the living room to hold books and keepsakes.

Bedroom décor with tufted upholstery - Beautiful Homes

In the master bedroom, custom furniture with an assortment of bed linen from Sarita Handa and The Calico Guild add texture and pattern in an otherwise minimal space. A handmade artwork by an artist on Etsy hangs above the bed.

Wardrobe design for bedroom - Beautiful Homes

The wardrobes in the master bedroom are painted the same colour as the walls to create uniformity in a small space, making the room feel bigger.

Sofa chair for bedroom design - Beautiful Homes

A corner nook in the master bedroom.

Narrow hallway design with cabinet storage - Beautiful Homes

The existing wardrobes were given a fresh update with cane shutters.

Cupboard design for storage space - Beautiful Homes

What was earlier the den has now been redesigned as the nursery. “I wanted to reuse the furniture that already existed here, so I kept one of the bookshelves and reupholstered the sofa bed,” explains Hiremath Vora.

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