3 whimsical, calming Lonavala homes enveloped in greenery – Architectural Digest India

Peek inside these one-of-a-kind homes

A Family Weekend Home That Breaks All Rules, by Design Inc.

Take it from us—this villa in Lonavala is unlike any other. A far cry from the serious, stately, whitewashed homes that populate the gated communities of the area, Khushboo Khandelwal of Design Inc.’s latest project is a vibrant panoply of colour that defies all the rules. The idea was simple: the villa was to be a family weekend home. “The clients—a young couple with kids—wanted a place where they could relax,” explains  Khandelwal. “They wanted to be able to laugh, play, be young with their children again. And this is the brief we worked with.” The property is part of a private community in Lonavala, where the homes are structured according to a standard layout. There is a large room that overlooks the lawn outside, a kitchen, four bedrooms, and a basement. Design Inc. decided to honour the placement of the kitchen and the three bedrooms. The fourth was furnished with printed mattresses to become a flexible bedroom for children during family get-togethers. The basement was to become a den, or a multi-purpose game room. The interior walls were painted light grey, to add a sense of depth to the space, but the walnut panelled doors and beige floor tiles were kept as they are. The outdoor dark wood decking was kept as is, with its rough granite edges—all the team did was add a lot of plants for a touch of green.  The idea of fun inspired Design Inc to write a poem, which then became the foundation of their interior design. A line of the poem reads, “with a dash of humour and dollops of fun,” and indeed, the villa was transformed into a medley of colours, shapes, artworks and objects that defied all rules of placement and purpose. “We said—give us some space to make mistakes,” Khandelwal says. “As designers, we don’t have a trial and error process. Once we have the concept in mind, and once we manage to find those key pieces, everything else falls into place.”

A Sustainable, Hidden Weekend Home by Ashleys

Sitting on a beautiful 1.5 acre site amidst the rolling hills of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra lies a charming little house that looks like something out of an Enid Blyton book. Belonging to architect couple Arbaysis and Pooja Ashleys, this family home offered the perfect canvas to create a beautiful weekend getaway. “Designing for one’s self allows exploring the core of one’s nature. Both of us clearly wanted the interiors to be earthy and serene while keeping the architectural vocabulary intact except for minor changes in the layout to get more space. The refurbishment of our ancestral home embodies the subtle transformation of designing styles while retaining the soul of the original structure,” say the owners of the restoration of the 3000-square-feet bungalow. The husband-wife also own the Mumbai-based architectural firm, Ashleys. As owners and architects, the couple was clear about retaining the essence of the structure and simply enhancing the existing character. They chose to give the space an earthy Mediterranean flavour with whitewashed walls, polished cement flooring and recycled wood. “For us a weekend home is about serenity; the property wakes you up to the chirping of birds and scenic views. Since the whole bungalow is constructed in basalt stone (that is a predominantly deep grey), we chose to paint the entire structure white, which not only evokes a Mediterranean flavour but also brings in a meditative aura to the whole space. The Mediterranean style of the structure is a blend of earthiness, quietness, and romantic charm,” aver the couple. “The original landscaping of the property has been retained in its raw and undisturbed state; additionally, 200 trees were rooted in the surroundings over the years in order to reconnect the design with nature. The landscape design of the property also accommodates water harvesting, recycling and site-strengthening to strengthen the link with nature.” In their bid to stay local, the material palette consists of basalt stone sourced from the existing site. All the furniture has either been sourced from sustainable Indian brands or has been designed using recycled distressed wood—lending the space its own unique character.

A Taoist Retreat Near Lonavala, by Nirav Shah

The premise was daunting: to build a vacation home on a jagged cliff’s steep slope atop the Sahyadri range, with no flat terrain. But to Nirav Shah, the brain behind the bespoke design firm ACDS, the reward was a breathtaking, unhindered view of the Aamby Lake in Lonavala’s exclusive gated community for India’s one percenters. This 5-bedroom vacation home, called 150 West Lake, was built for a third generation household that spends a significant chunk of their leisure time hosting guests. “I always sketch my blueprints on paper. I never work with 3D renderings. They leave no room for change. I allow the space to speak to me, the design appears organically,” says Nirav. “I knew that constructing on the site location would only be feasible if the structure was elevated on piers, which meant that we had to drill deep into the core to assess whether the bedrock was sturdy enough to hold the weight of the build,” Nirav Shah deconstructs the architectural process. What he hadn’t anticipated back then was the intensity of the torrential downpours in Aamby Valley; heavy rains saw frequent water-logging and the builders had to begin from scratch, taking percolation into account by ensuring that the rivulets of rainwater found their way around the property, not in between! What emerged out of the chaos was a hilltop habitat called 150 Westlake, Lonavala; a simplistic cuboid with tiered terraces. The material palette included sandstone cladding, sandblasted concrete in-situ style tile flooring, with Armani Casa furnishings and art installations from Asia. Even here, Taoist influences prevail: an intricate filigree teak Balinese Tree of Life at the doorway, shocking red Laughing Buddha sculptures and sakura paintings in the master bedroom and quirky Samurai warriors in every hue of the rainbow, mounting a stairway wall. He ensures everything he builds is Vastu compliant. “I intentionally pushed the wet zone: the pool, jacuzzi and barbecue sit-out as close to the waterfront as possible, ensuring all the windows in the living areas overlook the lake. Being a horizontal expanse, I eschewed passages and corridors to avoid giving the design a semblance to a hostel.”


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