Architect-designer Souhitha was given only 85 days to renovate Madukkakuzhi family’s ancestral home in Kanjirappilly. Although famous for its roots in Ayurveda, the house was shorn off its old charm and badly needed a facelift. When the makeover job was entrusted to Souhitha, who knew the house and the family right from childhood, it was a daunting task indeed, as the renovation needed a lot of pulling down and putting up.
A sit-out, a hall, three bedrooms with attached bathrooms, a kitchen and a work area had the architect in a fix. How to pull down and rebuild it all in 85 days was the challenge.
The old house stands next to the Ayurveda hospital owned by the Madukkakuzhi family. The owners had two conditions. The renovation would have to be done in 85 days and the “character” of the old house was to be retained. The architect stood by her first commitment, but when it came to retaining the old structure and building on it, things took a different turn. With no base design of the old structure, the going was pretty tough. The basic question was about the strength of the old structure. Work began with a new base plan. And it sure was a grand one.
A daunting task
While the ground floor would house a sit-out, hall, three bedrooms with attached bathrooms, dining area, wash area, kitchen and work area, the upper floor would sport a spacious living area, three bedrooms, a verandah and an open terrace. The plan for a final 3,300 sq ft was ready. Souhitha who loves to design structures was aided all through by architect M.M. Mathew, whose valuable inputs helped the redesign plan.
The first task was to bring down the old rooftop and needless walls, which separated rooms. Care was taken to see that the house would not come down in the event of walls being brought down. All the new walls on the ground floor were reinforced with solid eight inch blocks. Wood from the old structure came in handy and helped a lot in cutting woodwork cost. The rest was got from the trees within the tharavad.
Along with the roofing, concreting, plumbing and wiring, work on extending the garden was also undertaken. Drawings for the wiring was done meticulously with the pipes concealed inside the concrete and the walls done up vertically. This made work easier for the architect. Once the work on the walls was done, the floor tiling was looked into. Work on the kitchen, other rooms and furnishing was taken up along with the tiling. The whole place was given a thorough shower on the 82nd day. The 83rd day saw curtains being put up along with other interior decorations.
The highlight of the house is the cover of the car porch. With glass laid atop multi-wood carving, it’s a splendid sight. The main door was shifted from the right to the left. The furniture in the sit-out were polished and upholstered to give them a brand new look. The newly-laid French windows enhanced the appearance of the house. From the sit-out, one steps into a spacious and roomy hall with its subtle warm light effect, which emits a soft glow all around. The wooden furniture was chosen especially to go with the mood of the room.
The TV area finds room in the hall. The double height atop the TV area lets in natural light for as long as it lasts. The French panels from the TV area open out into the backyard. The furniture in the TV area is simple and minimalist in design.
The doors leading from the hall to the bedrooms are structured in such a way to ensure total privacy. The open walls leading to the dining area and the bedrooms have been done up with wood paneling to avoid the place from being dirtied by grubby hands.
The very simple, no-frills dining room shows an old chimney, which has been turned into a crockery shelf in the new scheme of things. The lighting here is pretty romantic as it emits a candlelight glow.
The wash area stands adjacent to the dining area. The kitchen cabinets have been done up with teak wood as well as white colored hot-pressed factory laminated marine ply. Maximum storage comes within the limited space. The stairway to the upper floor stands next to where one enters the dining room from the hall. The staircase opens out onto a spacious area, which at present doubles up as a kiddies’ play area. The bedrooms also open out into the living area. The living area opens out onto a small balcony covered with flowering plants. All the bedrooms have attached bathrooms and built-in wardrobes. The pastel shades used contribute to the serenity of the place. Onto villa sheets have been used for roofing.
How was it possible to complete the elaborate renovation in 85 days?
The first step was to prepare a perfect and precise plan.
Each day’s work was prioritized.
There was no compromise on the work or the workers assigned to each job.
What was the focus on?
Since I was associated with the house right from my childhood, I was all too familiar with its layout and design. The biggest factor in my favor was the total freedom I was given in designing and reconstructing the place.
The main drawback of the old house was its lack of natural lighting. This flaw was corrected in the new design. Along with cost-cutting ways, I was able to maintain the privacy of the house and that of its members.