Kottayam-based Mathew and wife Sindhu just can’t stop talking about their remodeled house. An amalgam of the old and the new, this combination of bricks, wood and stone houses not only the fondest memories of those who lived here ages ago, but also the tangible gifts they bequeathed their children in the form of a heritage to build upon.
Once the house was rebuilt, its owners could only gape in wonder and awe at the finesse with which the new house was done up. Why hadn’t they hit on this “redo” concept before?
“The benefits of redoing or redesigning a house are many,” says Sindhu. In the process of re-designing the house, nothing of value was lost. Every bit of wood…of the windows and doors and blocks of stone that held the old house together were reused. The job of redesigning the structure was entrusted to architect Regi Paul, who happened to be a relative of the family.
To begin with, it was decided to retain two well-maintained rooms in the front. The walls here were built with laterite stone. Though the verandah was widened and lengthened, the owners decided to keep the fine quality teak windows and doors intact. The old house had the doors of all three bedrooms opening out on to the verandah. The ventilators were in louver design and all doors were made of four pieces.
The changes began when the round pillars along the verandah and the car porch got replaced by square ones. The car porch with its new design sets in an ambiance of luxury. The strength of the structure ensured that two well-maintained bedrooms could be retained.
However, it was a totally transformed house, which met Mathew and his wife as they stepped from the drawing room to the family living room. The dining section and the family living area are set in total alignment. The dining room has come up in the place where the old kitchen once stood. In the new setup, the house was extended a little to the back to create a new kitchen, work area and a store. You can go up to the closed terrace from the store.
The long and lean dining table is meant to consume as little room as possible. The truss space can be well utilized to hold small parties and gatherings. Apart from the bedroom adjacent to the drawing room, three more bedrooms were built. All bedrooms have dressing rooms too. As one of the bedrooms could not accommodate a dressing section, the space within the corridor was converted into a dressing area.
The master bedroom has a nook for entertainment apart from the dressing area. The original plan was to have the walls paved with boundary stones. However, considering the safety aspect, the plan was shelved and glass windows were put up in its place.
The couple’s son has his bedroom right behind the “ara”. The room also has an attached dressing section. A section of the “ara” juts out into this room and to camouflage this protrusion, the room has been given indirect lighting.
All the wood that could be saved from the old house was used to build the wardrobes. Though a lot of it was used, quite a lot was rendered useless. A large part of it went into the making of new cots. Jute upholstered sofas find place in the drawing room.
The curtains come in off-white linen. It took just six months to give the house a makeover. Quite a lot of traditional vessels and boxes, seldom used now, were taken out, polished and set up as decorative pieces in the drawing and living rooms.
Don’t miss the cane chairs in the sit-out. They are from an antique shop. An armchair, handed down from generations, finds pride of place in the verandah. There was a time when paddy was stored in the “ara” and “nilavara” (cellar). Today, though there’s no paddy, the owners are loath to let go of such traditional gems. Polished and lacquered, they adorn the interiors of the new house as a testimony to the grandeur of a bygone generation.