If “before” and “after” pictures can tell you stories, here’s one for you, and a beautiful one at that. This is the story of how an old ‘tharavadu’ was redone and beautified, all the while retaining its character and individuality.
Malayalis are deeply nostalgic about their ancestral homes, for this is where all their childhood memories lie.
Today’s 'villagescape' is changing with concrete monstrosities invading the once pristine beauty of pastoral settings. But there are old homesteads, which still retain their identity and stand as a class apart. One such beauty is P.K. Sabir’s house at Kottakkal in Malappuram.
One look at the elevation and you find a new structure that’s born out of an old grandeur. On 10 cents of land, the 1,350 sq ft house stands head and shoulders above all the other buildings around.
Sabir’s ancestral house stood deserted and forlorn for years. His brothers moved out and built their own homes. The initial plan was to pull down the 35-year-old structure and build a row of shops. Although Sabir had always nursed the hope of building a new structure in its place, his finance being tight, he would put aside the dream. Somehow, the dream never left him. With the mere Rs 8 lakh he had, he dared to dream of a new structure. He disclosed his desire to his colleague and designer P.M. Salim. Once the designer okayed the venture, the planning and designing began.
But when the idea was mooted, the plan to pull down the ancestral house was met with stiff opposition from Sabir’s relatives. But he brushed off all opposition and today, there’s no one around Kottakal who cannot but praise the beauty of Sabir’s new house.
The designer succeeded in preserving the style of the old structure while giving it a fresh look. The success of the venture lays in the meticulous planning that went into it. The basic foundation of the house was not meddled with. The only additions were a bedroom and a courtyard. The rest of the house was retained and gels with the reworked design. This stood well within the budget.
There were hurdles aplenty to cross. The biggest challenge was to buy whatever construction material was available from old 'illams' and ancestral homes, which were to be demolished. Sabir and Salim used to scout around looking for such usable pieces of material. These items, plus whatever he could get out of his old structure were reused. That was precisely how things could be squeezed into his resource plans.
The most striking part of the elevation is the roof-top in double height. The structure has been done up with polished laterite stone. The tiles on the rooftop have also been polished. Except for the new bedroom and the courtyard, all the other rooms were retained and remodeled.
The problem of space constraint the old house had was a thing of the past when walls were demolished and rooms were joined. Besides, the full wooden doors and windows, which blocked the flow of air and light, were redone with glass replacing the upper portions.
The verandah was given a roof with tiles in MS frames. A bench with backrest and chairs adorn the place. A cantilever porch was built adjacent to the sit-out. An old and antique hookah bought when an old 'tharavad' in Kozhikode was pulled down, now sits proudly in Sabir’s living room. Of special mention is the old wooden ceiling of the living room, now polished and shining. A lot of good old pieces of furniture were polished and redone. Vitrified floor tiles give a modern look to the place. Wood-finish tiles for the sit-out and living room provide an ideal contrast.
The new courtyard, the main attraction of the entire structure, brings in light and air in abundance. You can sit on the space provided in the courtyard. Cladding tiles inside the courtyard and on the sides of the stairway make the place look stylish. The old wooden staircase was replaced by one finished in wood and glass on MS steel frames. The wash area is just below the staircase.
The dining area looks neat with wood-finish flooring tiles. The house has three bedrooms, two down and one up. The master bedroom was renovated and provided with an attached bathroom. The jali work on bedroom walls looks attractive.
Porcelain floor tiles make it cool inside the bedroom upstairs. A bathroom has also been added here. The wiring and plumbing had to be completely redone. The compound wall was redesigned to suit the style of the house and a 'padippura' was built in to heighten the look of the house. When viewed at night, the house, with its 'padippura', looks stunning.
The best part of the whole endeavor comes when folks speculate on the cost that could have gone into the construction. How much? Rs 30 lakh? When Sabir says it cost him only Rs 8 lakh, he’s met with stunned disbelief. All roads now lead to designer Salim!
Some cost-cutting factors:
Old, but usable construction materials like wood and laterite stones were used.
A courtyard and a toilet were the only new constructions.
All the old pieces of furniture were polished and put to use.
MS frames support the ceiling wherever it’s been damaged. The rest has been polished.
Roof tiles were polished.
The owner himself was familiar with designing and the designer happened to be his friend.
Place: Kottakkal, Malappuram
Area: 1,350 sq ft
Plot: 10 cents
Year of completion: 2017
Design: Salim P.M, Sabir P.K
AS Design Forum, Malappuram