When a dream home reflects the subtle beauty of its natural surroundings, it is reason enough for its occupants to do it up with loving attention to detail. You & I explores the eclectic design elements used in the home of Kazem and Christine Samandari – co-founders of L’Opéra, Delhi’s first authentic, high-end French bakery.
Located near the Hauz Khas metro, Delhi, the Samandaris vision for their three-bedroom home was to be subtly nestled within its natural environment. And their Mayfair Gardens residence turned out to be just that. “With harmony and peace as the theme, the house is characterised by lots of open space, beauty, much greenery and a lack of clutter. Nature and floral notes are part of the ambience,” Kazem says. Another key aspect was to create a fluidity between indoors and outdoors, in order to make the most of the surrounding scenery. “Nature is a leitmotif inside and outside the house; on the lawns in the form of palm trees and lush greenery surrounding the house at all three of its entrances, and inside as the motif of most of the paintings created by Christine’s mother,” Kazem adds.
With a 15th-century Makhdum Sabzwari Mosque complex located in the centre of the colony, the property boasts quaint lawns and light, open spaces inside. Kazem says he wanted something relaxed — and something French at that. “Considering the environment in the construction of the house, instead of the typical driveway, there is outdoor seating under lush green palm trees. We wanted a spacious house in neutral tones and pastel colours that are classy and simple. Every place is differently done and underplayed, and that defines the residence. The design is mostly French, combined with international modernity.”
When one begins to explore the spacious apartment, it is impressive to see interior design at its peak; a finely tuned exercise in colour, texture, vintage and bespoke furniture pieces brought from France. And there is art, too, all coalescing seamlessly. As you enter the house, you’ll find a console table and a mirror with an antique frame. The walls are decorated with paintings and there are lamps on either side of the tables.
Passionate about interior design since childhood, Christine tries to give each room a distinctive character. “We didn’t hire an interior designer, as we had a talent for decoration running through our veins; my mother was a well-known painter and my grandfather an interior designer. My mother, therefore, inculcated a keen sense of beauty and interior design skills in me and the family. With these talents, I – along with my grandchildren Laurent and Caroline – undertook the task of decorating the residence,” Christine explains.
While maintaining the flow and footprint of the house, the Samandaris added a distinct dramatic flair to the residence that delivers relaxed sophistication. A case in point is the art, which combines tradition and modernity in equal measure. The way in which small pieces are skilfully grouped and larger works given room to breathe gives the apartment visual richness and personality. “There are many oil paintings beautifying the house in the style of Impressionism, illustrating landscapes and flowers. Most of them are by Christine’s late mother. Other artists include Persian painter Sadegh Tabrizi and Vietnamese painter Minh Long. There is some lithography from Andre Brasilier and Isabelle Crevier, and sculptures from France, India and elsewhere in South Asia,” Kazem explains.
A visual representation of their soul, in their own space, Kazem and Christine balance the king-size bed with table lamps on either side, a desk in one corner and paintings on the wall.
The dining room features a teak table that is used with a tinted glass top, a mirrored wall, a chandelier, some paintings and statues. The Samandaris enhanced the space using mashal wall lamps and fresh flowers on the table.
The living room features an exquisite Persian carpet on the Italian marble floor, a grand chandelier that hangs above white contemporary leather sofas, and Louis XV armchairs and coffee tables. The furnishings provide the perfect accompaniment to the contemporary artwork and lamps, positioned by the windowsill to catch the changing light.