Stumbling upon a spacious, three-bedroom apartment in the heart of Nepean Sea Road in Mumbai is a delightful surprise and the beautiful home of Urja and Harshal Shah (on the first floor of a building dating back to the 1960s) does not disappoint. The couple live in this eclectic home along with their son Hrehan. While Urja heads Setco Foundation, Harshal runs a venture capital business, Hrehan Global Ventures. Their son studies in the first grade at American School of Bombay.
Though the building has been in Urja’s family since the early 60s, the couple only decided to move in around 2013. Keeping the character of the building intact was their priority, and the couple stuck to this by only stripping the paint from the walls and polishing the beams. Their place is an eclectic mix of traditional sculptures and paintings with contemporary furnishings.
“Rather than making our home modern and straight-lined, we wanted to keep the actual arches, doors and windows to let the heritage appeal speak for itself,” Urja says. “Since my husband and I both love art, we decided to make it the focal point, and we let the interiors of the home blend in with what we chose.”
The home is a showcase of beautiful paintings by renowned artists, as well as eye-catching artefacts collected from around the world. “A lot of the furniture and artefacts are ancestral pieces given to me by my parents and other family members. Most of these are rare pieces that form the focus of the room,” Urja reveals.
These pieces include an intricate jhula crafted in Jaipur using pure silver, a contemporary sofa with inlay made from raw silk upholstery in burgundy, an Art Deco coffee table with butterfly legs, a Murano chandelier, and a teak dining table. “We don’t usually buy too many artefacts unless they’re really unusual and artsy, maybe if they blend with our home. That’s the reason most of our artefacts were given to us by family.”
Muted colour schemes in most sections mean the primary sources of colour are paintings and artefacts. The bedrooms, however, have one accent wall in a bright colour. Entering the main hall with the silver jhula, there’s a blue accent wall and Italian porcelain tiles to go with the cheerful feel of the space. This is an intermediary space between inside and outside. To the right is a lovely balcony perfect for winter mornings; to the left are the living and dining rooms.
This area features a round, teakwood dining table that seats eight, contemporary brown sofas, and wooden centre tables. A striking painting by Seema Kohli hangs on a wall in the drawing room, while other paintings in this area include one depicting Parvati and Ganesh by Jayasri Burman, one by Paresh Maity, and another by Charan Singh. “Though I enjoy art, it’s my husband who has a real eye for it. He understands art deeply and finds his pulse in that world,” Urja reveals.
Surrounding the living room are three private spaces. The master suite has an antique walnut bed, with two large side tables and other traditional pieces of furniture. The colour scheme is mainly beige, tan and light silver, and the dark wooden flooring complements it perfectly. Hrehan’s bedroom has a bright green accent wall, pinewood furniture, and light pine flooring. Most of the furniture here is simple, other than the antique Art Deco cupboard. The third bedroom has been converted into a study and family room, with a wall-to-wall deck that’s used by Urja and Harshal for work. The panelling and television unit feature leather upholstery, while the accent wall in this room is a sharp turquoise.
Near the living room, we find a pantry that doubles up as a bar. Beyond there is a spacious kitchen featuring black granite tabletops, white cabinets, and black and white tiles. This space also has a contemporary glass dining table, a clean and straight piece of furniture that seats four. This is used mainly for breakfast or smaller meals.
Urja says that the family room is most extensively used area in the house, though the family spends a good deal of time elsewhere, too. “We use every room in the house extensively, except our bedrooms, which are only for sleeping. A conscious decision to not have televisions in the bedrooms is the primary reason why we spend so much time together.”
A heritage property, the Shah home has beautiful, high ceilings over spacious rooms featuring classic furniture. As Urja says, “Our interiors were so dependent on our personalities that we didn’t want to have anything over-the-top. Though it’s simple, our home has an old-world charm that not only appeals to us, but it makes for a cosy and beautiful setting.” We couldn’t agree more.