Air Marshal Amit Tiwari (Retd) and wife Poonam Tiwari live in a recently renovated two-storey bungalow that was once their old family home, located in Khurramnagar, Lucknow. Originally built in the late 80s, the house belonged to Amit’s parents Kailash Chandra and Vidya Tiwari who lived here till 2019, until the demise of the Air Marshal’s mother. The house was locked up and left vacant for two years thereafter. In 2021, after his retirement, the Air Marshal decided to settle in his hometown and to redesign and renovate his parental property for sentimental reasons.
During the redecoration, the ground floor was left untouched while the first floor was modernised and renovated. In addition to the interiors, the lawn was also redesigned and re-laid, adding to the overall transformation of the property. “It was a challenging task to redesign the old house to a modern template without an architect”, says Amit. The main aim was to create a house that showcases the family’s love for plants and the Air Force.
“My father was a civil engineer and my mother a visionary, so the original house was a compromise between utilitarianism and aesthetic priorities. I am passionate about gardening so in the renovation, special attention was given to create and enhance greenery,” says Amit.
The house has a total of five bedrooms, three on the first floor and two on the ground floor. The colour palate used is neutral and earthy, with the rooms painted in beige and cream and the drawing room having accents of wood. The façade earlier had mostly brickwork in red and rust but it has now been changed to white and grey stone tiles. The master bedroom has a grey theme for a bit of softness. The furniture across the house is a mix of modern and traditional, with pieces procured from various places—the bar is from Kashmir, designed by Amit himself and there is some walnut furniture from Srinagar.
The house’s decor is a collection of artefacts and memorabilia from the Air Marshal’s travels across India and abroad, reflecting his various postings, right from Afghanistan to Northeast India to Kerala and even Rajasthan. Afghani carpets with ‘Khoja Roshani’ design lay in various parts of the house. There are also a few boats as artefacts distributed around the house as Amit’s longest tenure before retirement, as C-in-C grade (air commander) was in Trivandrum. Amit says, “My son works for an NGO which trains rural women from all over the world to make small solar equipment for their homes. They are known as ‘Solar Mamas’. The picture in my son’s room of a woman of the ‘Masai Mara’ tribe in Kenya is a loving gift from the Solar Mamas.”
The layout of the house is such that one climbs up the staircase, which has black granite stone on the steps, and the walls have various pictures of Amit’s life in the Air Force. The door opens into the dining room which has white cupboards from IKEA. It has a clean, minimalistic feel about it, with a huge hanging light over the table, giving warmth to the room and adding a bit of drama. The drawing cum sitting room is a long room partitioned intangibly into two parts, with one being informal for TV viewing and relaxed sitting, while the other is for more formal guests. The room is decorated with knick-knacks and artefacts from various places, including a bar on one side, which is made of walnut wood and has all of Amit’s postings right from his flying officer days to C-in-C carved in the front along with typical Kashmiri carving. The walls on either side have wood panels for displaying Amit’s various achievements and recognitions on one side and a huge Mysore wooden dancing lady on the opposite wall.
The floor here is wooden and there are carpets from Afghanistan on the floor. The room is decorated with knick-knacks and artefacts from various places. There are two bedrooms in this wing of the house, both have chocolate-coloured tiles on the floor and beige with greyish tinge tiles on the walls. One of the bedrooms has a big balcony to enjoy a morning cup of tea. It overlooks the garden below, making it a picturesque setting. This is also the exercise area for the fitness fanatic fauji.
The master bedroom is in the other wing leading from the dining room. This has a white and grey colour scheme with a beige stone textured wall on one side. The floor has black and grey tiles and the entire vibe of the room is warm, comfortable, and sophisticated.
All the bedrooms have different false ceiling designs that add to their character. Amit shares, “The kitchen is an activity hub as both my wife and I like to bake and cook and often experiment with food. It is a smart black and white modular kitchen fitted with all necessary kitchen accessories and appliances.”
Amit is very passionate about gardening, and this is evident from the beauty of his lawn. The garden on the ground floor has a huge collection of orchids, almost 300 of them, which the Air Marshal has been carrying around with him since 2017. It also has a collection of about 200 adeniums. Consequently, there is an orchidarium adjacent to the garden that houses his collection. This is equipped with an AC, a sprinkler system, and temperature and humidity measures, as well as a small waterfall.
The garden itself is partly an unhindered growth area and partly a landscaped lawn. Creepers make up one side of the lawn which have bleeding hearts and bougainvillea. The garden has fruit trees like mulberry, mango, mangosteen, peanut butter fruit, Rambutan, fig, lemons, oranges, grapes, and passion fruit. Adjoining this is a cobblestone sitting area with a bathtub converted to a lotus pond on one side. A variety of Bonsais developed over time are also on display here.
In conclusion, the Air Marshal’s refurbished family home in Lucknow is a testament to the family’s passion for flying, gardening, and baking. The house’s design is centred around plants and the Air Force, with its neutral and earthy colour palate, mix of modern and traditional furniture, and extensive collection of artefacts and collectables. It’s a warm and sophisticated house that provides comfort and reflects the family’s unique personality. – By Niharika Keerthi