Cochin Shipyard's huge cranes winch up the containers, Chinese fishing nets line the backwater branches, islets in the lake resemble a map of unknown countries. Ambika Pillai takes in the vista from her lakeside apartment in Edakochi.
The apartment on the 16th floor is a viewfinder exposed to a panorama of Kochi, from the Manorama office in Aroor to the faraway Choice Towers in Tripunithura. "I didn’t know anything about Kochi when I shifted here," the hairstylist says, looking over Vyttila, Thevara and Kadavanthra. "Now I feel like I know the city’s map byheart."
"I live in Delhi. I come here for a few days every month. So I opted for an interior in a holiday hangout style," Pillai says.
The interior, of course, rises up to the grand view outside. "Where the body and mind automatically relaxes – That's what we had in mind when we went for an open style," interior designer Amjad Ummer says.
This style came at a cost. Two of the three bedrooms had to be converted. One became an open kitchen and other a living space. The original kitchen near the entrance was removed as it was not Vastu-compliant. A bedroom for guests was built instead.
Parts of the outer walls yielded to sliding doors, letting in beams of sunlight. Balconies were retained but with some modifications to the one attached to the master bed room. The main balcony links the kitchen, living and dining rooms. Every room in this house opens to the lake.
Ask Ambika what her favourite colours are and she would say white, white and white. Naturally her house is all white, and vaster-than-real vastness comes as a byproduct of the choice. This makes furnishing easier as any colour you choose matches white.
The breeze entering the house from all sides finds an outlet through the main door. A louvered door behind the main door serves this purpose without compromising on privacy. You can keep the main door open and still feel secured in the house.
The blinds in the balcony have three shades, allowing full or partial views of the outside. Blinds were preferred to curtains to save space.
Living space is paramount in the design of this interior. Beyond the foyer, an L-shaped fabric sofa is arranged on the right side to watch television. There's an identical sofa in the space on the left too. This wall is decorated with wallpapers. A counter made of particle board shelters this space. Both spaces have balconies.
Of all the spaces, formal living takes the cake. A white sofa and a swinging cot make up the space. When you enter the dining space, it's even grander. A custom-made dining table, glass top on marine plywood, is an integral part of the design.
Kitchen is no less beautiful. Amjad designed a smaller compact kitchen. Overhead cabinets are conspicuously absent. But seemingly unimportant elements grace the kitchen, like the small potted plant near the sink. "I like cooking," Pillai says. "You won't notice time passing when you are looking at the scenery from the kitchen window."
Pillai is in love with plants. They are arranged in niches all over the house.
"Butterflies have a special place in my life. They are always with me as a pendant or a tattoo," she adds, pointing to a glass wall full of gold-coloured steel butterflies. They also perch on the shoe rack and the wallpapers in the bedroom. "This is their home too," she smiles.
Interior designer speaks
"We have designed the interior in a holiday mood, ensuring 'waterview' anywhere from the apartment."
Amjad Ummer, Interior Designer, Innovators