For that traditional touch


For that traditional touch

Simplicity and tradition come together in Sandhya Subbaramaiah’s house. The use of Athangudi tiles, a skylight and a courtyard have ensured a sense of calm and serenity. What’s more, recycled materials have been used in the construction of the house, making it cost-effective, writes Sneha Saloni.

She has brought new life into her dream home by introducing long-forgotten handmade tiles. Sandhya Subbaramaiah, an artist, has given a new twist to her home by eschewing regular tiles, steel and iron. About nine years ago, when Sandhya stepped into this quiet locality of Dollars Colony, JP Nagar, she had made up her mind that her dream house would be simple, yet beautiful, cost-effective, eco-friendly and energy-efficient.

Take a tour

The calmness and serenity soothe your nerves as you step into the porch of Sandhya’s house. The porch, shaped like a hut, has red-coloured rustic tiles, which immediately draw your attention. Call it the ethnic touch or just call it ‘Indian’. The front door leads to the drawing room, which sets up the aesthetic appeal of the house. The red Athangudi floor tiles from Chettinad are perfectly in sync with the white-coloured chapadi granite stone. “These are hand-made tiles from Athangudi in Chettinad, Tamil Nadu. By using them, I have managed to save almost 20 per cent on the usage of steel and cement. It is pocket-friendly too,” said Sandhya.

Athangudi is a village in Chettinad, which is popular for handmade terracotta tiles. These tiles are sun-dried and patterned beautifully to lend the desired texture. The colourful tiles here are mainly designed using sand, cement, belly jelly and synthetic oxides. “No machine is required to polish these tiles. Moreover, only trained people can lay the tiles on the floor and only one person is required to do the job. Hence, you save on the labour cost too, she said. The unpolished chapadi stones on the walls have been intentionally kept rough to lend a look of grandeur to the house.

The open puja room

To the left of the drawing room, there is an open old courtyard-style puja room. The open puja room set up in the middle of the house gives the place a sacred touch. With idols placed amidst a small pool kind of an area, Sandhya said, “The idea of setting up the puja room here was to keep the water flowing around the room but, it was difficult to maintain as dirty water also sought entry into the area, so now, we keep it dry.” But, no harm done, the puja room without any water flow, still looks full of divinity and serenity.

Recycled wood has been used on the staircase. The open stairs inside have African acacia wood to add a rustic touch, which leads you to the guest room and another bedroom. The bedroom upstairs is beautifully laid with black coloured Athangudi tiles, giving a special look to the room. “The wood used everywhere is all recycled. For the windows, steel rods have been used,” she said. The curtains are not just the usual fabrics rolling down the window panes; instead bamboo slats can be seen artistically rolled above the windows.

The skylight area

But, the major highlight of Sandhya’s home is the skylight area. It acts as a lung space and allow you to soak in the unique Indian aesthetic experience. Sun rays from the skylight falls into her home, filling up her drawing room, living area and kitchen with the nature’s freshness. “It is so bright inside that you need to put your glares on,” laughs Sandhya. “During winter, it helps keep the house warm and in summer, we cover it with a garden netting,” she adds.

The beauty of these innovative inner spaces and the classic rustic simplicity leave you amazed. Beyond the puja room is an almost open-kitchen attached to the living area, aimed at creating a warm space for the family to experience togetherness.

Talking about the interiors, Sandhya says that it has all been kept very simple, rustic and easy-to-manage. “It is a very simple house, nothing fancy. Everything we have used is recycled. The floors just need extra care, but the fissures too give a different look to them,” she said.

Everything in her home has been set up with much love and care, be it the soft decor, the artefacts and the paintings. The strong connection with the earth, our inheritance, and the warmth of her house resonates harmoniously with simple living.

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