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The Serene Transformation of a 150-Year-Old Home in Madh Island

  • Home Renovation
Nov 30, 2023
Traditional living room design – Beautiful Homes

Seamlessly blending tradition, simplicity and sustainability, The Mangalore Grove transforms from a dilapidated ancestral villa into a serene holiday refuge away from the chaos of urban life

“The family wanted this to be a simple, humble and serene holiday home that would allow them to reconnect with their Mangalorean roots, which gave us a unique opportunity to weave together tradition, simplicity and sustainability within the bustling heart of Mumbai,” explains Akash Dudhe, founder and principal architect of Mumbai-based multidisciplinary architecture and interior design practice SAGI Architects, when walking into a Mangalore Grove—a once-upon-a-time dilapidated villa which he restored into a serene holiday home surrounded by lush greenery and the sounds of the crashing waves of the Arabian Sea.


When the family of siblings and their parents (who used to live in the US and now reside in Worli, Mumbai) bought the 2,150-square-foot villa—which was completely run down at the time—they envisioned a traditional Mangalorean home that would echo memories of their hometown, being a space where they could completely cut off from the outside world, and feel at peace when spending time with each other here. 

Breathing New Life

“Despite its decay, the immense potential within the bones of the house immediately pushed us to salvage and breathe new life into it,” recalls Dudhe. “We began the design process thoroughly researching the architecture of traditional homes and design elements in Mangalore, wanting to seamlessly blend its local styles with minimalism. There was also a strong focus on sustainability because we wanted to reclaim as much of the existing structure as we could with almost no structural changes, and minimise the use of resources that go into building from scratch. The decision to restore the existing structure reduced the project's carbon footprint and extended the building’s lifecycle. With no structural changes to the load-bearing construction, the house still retains the original floor plan of housing three-bedrooms,” shares Dudhe.

Calming house design – Beautiful Homes

The soffit of the roof bears Mangalore tiles.

Elegant room design – Beautiful Homes

North-east corner deck receives the best natural light.

There was also an existing retaining wall that the team reinforced and “brought back to life”, while also repurposing elements from the family’s ancestral home in Mangalore—such as traditional columns, wooden rafters, and 150-year-old window frames—which were used to extend the entrance foyer, and played a crucial role in staying true to their heritage. While the rest of the façade and exterior of the home remains unchanged, the soffit of the roof now bears Mangalore tiles, with river-washed and mirror-polished Kota being laid out across the floors.


Beauty in Simplicity

The entrance foyer opens into an airy living and dining space, where large windows and the expansive deck bring in an abundance of natural light and ventilation, and frame the scenic views of the outdoors. An open kitchen, fitted with an island counter for family cooking, is the heart of the home; and the bar cabinet—designed with dark wooden polish and multi-coloured stained glass—is a nod to the family's priority for practicality over frills and fuss. 

On the north-east corner of the home is the deck that receives the best natural light, which appears to be almost engulfed in the surrounding forest greens—transporting the family into a sanctuary disconnected from the outside world. This deck is intended to be the quietest corner of the house, and an invitation to be truly mindful and present. On the lower level of the deck is the home office. The existing load-bearing retaining wall serves as the backdrop for the home office—a place of quiet uninterrupted reflection—where natural light filters through the glass-block ceiling.

Simple home office design – Beautiful Homes

The existing load-bearing retaining wall serves as the backdrop for the home office.

The colours and hues across the tropical home are soothing, with shades of white and earthy tones being paired within ethnic patterns, such as Ikat, on natural materials like rattan, which were all chosen to create a harmonious blend of simplicity. “The clients did not want any loud colours, textures or styles. They wanted a humble home with white walls, minimal furniture and wooden finishes. We used a distressed finish for the door and window frames to add a touch of old-world charm,” explains Dudhe.

While a few furniture pieces like the sofa, centre table, side tables and lampshade bases were brought in from the family’s ancestral home, the rest of the furniture pieces were customised to complement the existing designs and themes of each room. The highlight of serenity in this home is the decision to exclude televisions and high-tech gadgets here, fostering the heritage charm of the space and making it a haven for tranquillity. Dudhe points out how his team “focused on creating a traditional home rather than a modern one. However, modernity was subtly introduced when planning spaces such as the open kitchen and its fittings, and the home office’s glass-block ceiling.”

Ethnic pattern bedroom design – Beautiful Homes

Earthy tones are paired with ethnic patterns, such as Ikat, on natural materials like rattan.

Traditional room design – Beautiful Homes

Furniture pieces were customised to complement the themes of each room.

The firm’s biggest challenge was bringing the entire home together with all the creature comforts of modern life without demolishing or relocating a single internal wall since “each of them were load-bearing, and removing even one would make the entire structure unsafe or even collapse! It was tricky to work around this and also achieve the bounty of circulation we see here today,” he says, as we take in Mangalore Grove—which stands as a reminder of the beauty of simplicity and the value of reconnecting with one's roots—one last time.


A Quick Guide for Anyone Looking to Restore a Heritage or Ancestral Home:

  1. Pay close attention to the existing constraints because building around it can be tricky, and needs a lot of foresight in planning and design.
  2. Make the most of the original designs and features of the house to retain the existing charm as much as possible.
  3. Less is always more, and a little restraint goes a long way!


Photographed and styled by: Wabi-Sabi Studio by Janvi Thakkar

Simple house design – Beautiful Homes
The home is designed to completely cut off from the outside world.
Traditional living room design – Beautiful Homes
Sofa, centre table, side tables and lampshade bases were brought in from the family’s ancestral home.
Modular kitchen design – Beautiful Homes
The open kitchen with an island counter is the heart of the home.
Cosy bedroom design – Beautiful Homes
The home focused on creating a traditional home rather than a modern one.
Simple mirror design for bedroom – Beautiful Homes
The tropical home features soothing colours that create a blend of simplicity.

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