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Spectacular views and quirky décor spotlight a contemporary Kochi home

  • Interior Designs for Home
Jan 17, 2024
Wall art ideas for your living room – Beautiful Homes

His pared-down minimalism offsets her collector’s instinct. In this Kochi home with enviable water views, the contrarian styles of the homeowner couple find an almost-perfect balance

What are the odds that the home you left at 17 turned into a residential tower in a matter of just over two decades? In redevelopment-frenzied India, very high. That’s what Annah Chakola encountered after time spent in the US when she returned to her home in Thevara, Kochi—more specifically, to the self-same land of her childhood. “When I turned 13, we moved in with my grandmother, so this is a view we grew up with,” she says. Therefore, her moving into a 12th-storey apartment in the sky-rise that replaced said home had a stars-aligning-just-right inevitability to it. Chakola lives here with partner Tarun Kurishingal in a three-bedroom space built as an ode to emotion, nostalgia, and a whole lot of character.

 

At first glance, the open plan, clean lines, neutral walls and essential furniture are an easy clue to the contemporary minimalism that Kurishingal favours. Nothing distracts from the fabulous water view. But then you really see the space, the colourful accents, the unusual pieces, the history-rich souvenirs. That maximalist-in-restrained-doses approach sneaks in within the muted, hushed, toned-down canvas. (Then, too, nothing detracts from the water view.) The home practically buzzes with whimsy and personality, where two disparate design styles are in constant dialogue.

Annah Chakola and Tarun Kurishingal’s Kochi home finds an almost perfect balance between her collector’s instinct and his pared-down minimalism.

OF A COLLABORATIVE NATURE

“We have an understanding; I handle the big picture, the lines, the architectural elements, the negative spaces. Annah looks at colours contrasts, textures and objects,” explains Kurishingal. It’s a division of labour that serves them well, given that the founder and director of online crafts-focused store Annahmol with an “emphasis on upcycled and the artisanal”, has a deep appreciation for craft and is a passionate collector—of literally anything that catches her eye. These differences became the foundation for the design of this apartment. The colours and textures, therefore, were all Chakola while the big picture had the Kurishingal stamp. In his meticulous hands, the spatial framework stayed contemporary, architecturally sound and completely neutral.

Seating ideas for your living room – Beautiful Homes

Placed on an old Afghan rug, the cane chairs belonged to Chakola’s mother and the coffee table was made using restored wood. The filing cabinet drawers have creepers planted in them, the old console table is sourced from a church and the vintage lamp from an estate sale.

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Apart from books, their floor-to-ceiling library holds record collections belonging to Chakola, her father and brother, and craft objects, sculptures and travel memorabilia.

“This was a standard layout apartment with all these added-on flourishes. For us, it was about removing them, because there is such a beautiful view and the focus is on trying to see how to maximise that,” explains Chakola about the four-bedroom that the couple converted into a three-bedroom-plus-library. “When you have a fabulous view and you try to create alcoves and shrink it, you are losing out on bringing some of that nature indoors. You know straight lines work so those things we tend to leave alone. Some design principles are there for a reason because they work,” adds Kurishingal.

FINDERS KEEPERS

It’s in the little things, the objects and the accessories, the art and the furniture that you play with spaces, believes the couple. And they certainly did that. The almost 3,800-square-foot home is deceptively minimal because of the clever placement of objects and the well-chosen furniture—some upcycled, some found and some they design when it’s something that needs to fit to size. Chakola says, “I moved every year for 25 years, living in different places [in the US]. So it was about making a space as cosy as possible. I used to go to thrift stores to find unique things for nothing at all. It is me being away that has me zone in on the little things.”

Annah Chakola – Beautiful Homes

Annah Chakola, Creative Director of Annahmol.

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An antique sliding door divides the kitchen and dining area. The dining table is sourced from a local carpenter’s shop and was originally used as his work table.

Those could be anything—a rock or a stick on a beach that catches her eye, or a beautiful ceramic Mary figurine sequestered on a shelf top in a tiny packed Goan shop. Now it rests on an altar in their home. “One always seeks comfort in the imagery they grew up around. You could call us Cultural Catholics. In the US, I was very drawn to Mexican craft and ceramics,” says Chakola. And all of it finds room without impinging on the clean lines and ruler-straight alignment. This eclectic collection of stuff is not intent- but sentiment-based—of things that just reverberate at an unexplainable frequency.

“Each piece here has a story. We don’t collect things with the idea of decorating a space; we just pick up stuff because we like it,” says Chakola. Like a piece of driftwood that they found while walking on the beach. “This beautifully weathered piece was stuck in the sand, which we were pulling out to take back with us. Suddenly, a fisherman runs up to us and tells us they use it to tie their boats. He gave it to us though, when he saw the effort we took to remove it!” recalls Kurishingal. It was in their warehouse for almost seven years before they stuck it into a pot to grow plants on. “Even if we find stuff it could be lying around for years before we find a place for it. I have a warehouse full of things we’ve scoured over the years.” 

Window ideas for your bedroom – Beautiful Homes

Overlooking the water, the master bedroom features the first artwork bought by Chakola and Kurishingal, placed above the bed.

ART FOR ART’S SAKE

Along with the big little stuff is the big memory-rich stuff too. Like the Art Deco side tables, and a chest in the master bedroom. They belonged to Chakola’s grandfather, who owned the Chakola Silk House store on Broadway, a popular shopping street in Kochi, “At one point, my grandfather collaborated with a Spanish company and brought in Art Deco furniture from there. We have a few of those pieces,” she says.

Everything finds its appropriate spot, and everything has a compelling story, from found pieces to furniture to art. That, too, follows the same essential principle as everything else—they need to like it. A lot of it right now showcases artists from Kerala. “That’s not intentional but there is a lot of local talent; art appreciation started well before the Kochi Biennale. My dad was a big part of promoting the arts in Cochin,” says Chakola. Her late father John, a versatile artist and musician, turned to painting towards the latter part of his life. (He signed his work with the pseudonym, Laxman Pandit.) “He was a prolific artist. We have over 300 works of his in our archives,” adds Kurishingal.

 

A mosaic of memories, stories, sentiment, whimsy, restraint, vibrancy—in this house, it all comes together in remarkable, even unlikely, cohesion. “At the end of it, it’s about having fun. Our home is a testament to that.”

 

 

All images by Nathan

Wall art ideas for your living room – Beautiful Homes
The large oil painting of Malabar hornbills on fig trees is a reminder of Kurishingal’s many treks into Kerala’s evergreen forests. The coffee table was made from restored wood, as were the two old radio chairs and the driftwood in the pot was one they found while walking along a nearby beach.
Bedroom design ideas for your home – Beautiful Homes
The study desk is from Chakola’s school days, the veena is her grandmother’s, the mid-century-style chest of drawers was designed by the couple and the series of works on the wall is by a young local artist.
Contemporary home design ideas – Beautiful Homes
The inlay cabinet was made in Rajasthan and the adjacent artwork was by Chakola’s father.
Corner study table ideas for your home – Beautiful Homes
The rolltop desk was used by Chakola’s mother and the painting placed atop it used to be unhung in her father’s office before.
Gallery wall ideas for your interior design – Beautiful Homes
The wall along the dining area has Raja Ravi Varma’s first-edition oleographs bought by Chakola’s late father, John, decades ago. The bar cart was designed by Chakola and Kurishingal.
Living room design ideas – Beautiful Homes
The tapestry above the bed is sourced from Rajasthan.
Wooden vanity ideas for your home – Beautiful Homes
The bathroom cabinet, counter and mirror frame designed by Chakola and Kurshingal were repurposed out of old wooden beams.

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