A house that has seen many generations, and a perfect living testimony of the ancient Kerala Vaasthu practices. These were enough reasons for Doctor Couple Lijo and Ligiya to not opt for building a brand new home. Even when all their relatives persuaded them to consider bringing down the old tharavad to make way for a modern home, Lijo being the sole male heir in the family stood his ground. He is a stickler for everything old, nostalgic and antique, and all this came together beautifully in his home.
Lijo’s mother and his father’s siblings also live with them and due to lack of space, the family used to stay at the outhouse, meeting at the Tharavadu during meal times. After a point this got inconvenient and that’s when they had thoughts of a renovation. The house was built in 1927 and this year has been etched onto the Mukhappu.
The Interior design of the house was done by Architect couple Joseph and Rose, whom they met quite coincidentally. They happened to like the interiors done at a shop in Ernakulam and on inquiring about the same; and came to know of the designers. Rose and Ligiya had a chat and realized they had similar ideas and concepts on design. The decision to bring them on board to decorate the house then came easy.
Not many changes were done to the exterior structure. The only difference is the newly added extension to the house. There are two entry points for the house, one is in the front and the other one comes in the new extension. While the new door leads us to a room with modern touches, the old door is like a walk down memory lane. There is a veranda on both sides of the house.
The family feels that by using new generation style wood for the roofing, the house got a new look. When they scratched out a bit of the wood on the house, they came to find out that the wood is good quality teak which was given a coat of paint. This was taken down entirely, numbered carefully before removing the old paint layer. After it was polished to look spanking new, the wood was replaced just like before. The whole process was a painstaking one and it was made possible with the help of Johnson from Ernakulam who took care of all the wood works.
The flooring, wiring and plumbing all had to be redone. The old floor tiles were replaced with eco-friendly Kota stone.
The door in the front with an antique Manichithrathazhu lock leads onto the old thekini. This used to be Lijo’s grandfather’s room and then later a living room. Now it has been converted into a guest bedroom. The attached bathroom for this room has been done in a modern style. They haven’t gone for any showy decorative elements inside the house. Except for the new wardrobes in the bedrooms of the extension portion, all other furniture is old.
The tables and chairs in the old house were all polished and re-upholstered to look dapper. Even the broken and worn out furniture pieces were given a face lift and retained. The extra pieces of old windows got a new life as doors of the new cupboards. The antique artefacts like walking stick, pickle jars and small chests all feature in the interior decor. Things like paintings and other curios were all collected by Ligiya during her many shopping trips.
Bedroom and living room
The ancient Arra and Nilavarra is located in the corridor from the Thekini and these were retained. From here you can get into the old bedroom and this has now been converted into a living room. The wooden door on the wall here opens to steps that lead to the attic. The wiring has been done through this top section. The position of another opening on the bedroom wall has been changed. The room adjacent to the living room was transformed into a small lobby area.
The room adjacent to the old dining area was added to the new one to make a bigger dining space with one portion doubling up as a family living area. The top part of the dining table was pretty run down and not usable. Johnson used up all the extra pieces of teak, rose wood, wild jack wood & mahogany and he designed a beautiful table top for them. Glass was added to the ceiling in the section between the dining and living area. An old room here was converted into a wash area.
Modern appliances and amenities were added to the kitchen and new tiles added. Apart from this, the kitchen was left as such. The kitchen was given a country look. No false ceiling was done. But the interior portion of the old roof tiles was repainted. A small opening was given in the kitchen to bring a connection with the family living area. Now cooking and watching TV can go hand in hand. The old portion near to the kitchen was converted into a work area and a traditional style stove was added here. This part got new roof tiles.
The new design beautifully joins together the old and new portions of the house. The Nadumuttom acts as a bridge between these two parts. Cladding has been done on the walls of the Nadumuttom. The new living room is right next to Nadumuttom. The foyer from the living area leads to all the 3 new bedrooms.
There was a good team effort among the contractor, the workers doing wood work and those that dealt with the flooring. Hence the renovation bit went quite smoothly. It took 2 years to complete all the works on the house.