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A Luxurious Abode By Ar. Divya Singhal

Architect Divya Singhal brings her design philosophy to the drawing board to transform an old joint-family residence into a grand modern mansion

“I like to design residences in a timeless manner and to steer away from the use of flashy or trendy elements. For luxury residences I prefer keeping the design simple and minimal with an infusion of elegance through elements that are rich and authentic. This keeps the space simple and, clean yet lavish and aesthetically appealing for a longer period of time”, says architect Divya Singhal, Founder* and Principal Architect, of Vasundhara Design Yard, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.


Ar Singhal stepped into the field of design in 2000 and her studio specializes in designing projects related to architecture, interiors, furniture, lighting, landscape and art. Over the past twenty-two years, she and her team have worked on a spectrum of residential, commercial and hospitality projects. She keeps the client’s requirements in mind while designing spaces and enjoys a collaborative approach during the design process. This design philosophy and approach recently bore fruition in a residence she designed for Mr Adarsh Malhotra, Director at Radisson Hotel Bhopal and Director at Surendra Manik and Girija Colonizers.

Master Bedroom
Master Bedroom

A Grand Residence

Mr Adarsh Malhotra and his family lived on the first and second floors of an old family bungalow in Arera Colony, Bhopal. With the passage of time, he felt the home required a new look, renovations and reworking of spaces for three generations of his family. Thus, Ar Singhal was shown the site located on an 8,000 sq ft plot. The family’s requirements of different spaces, of the look of the home and of wanting to continue to live in the home during the project were conveyed to her.

“The client, being a renowned hotelier and a builder himself, wanted his house to portray luxury, grandeur and utmost elegance. To address this requirement, I worked on a simple design that would be defined by an impressive entry; a voluminous atrium; a vast wall-less space spanning the formal drawing room, lobby, entrance atrium and family living area; and a variety of authentic materials from high quality teak wood to Italian marble and gorgeous chandeliers”, says Ar Singhal. “The redesign and renovation was a challenging task as the client did not want to shift to another place. So the whole project was carried out in two phases. It thus took a bit of time, yet, the prolonged execution helped in working on the design and much-needed detailing.

Opening Up Space : Surveying and studying the site, Ar Singhal decided to give the exterior a contemporary modern villa look by redesigning it with a play of horizontal and vertical lines; rustic, stone monolith walls; wood and concrete; insets and projecting balconies; a double-height porch; and a pergola as well as flat roof on the upper level.

The first level of Mr Adarsh Malhotra’s residence was redesigned to comprise a large formal drawing room, an informal living room, a kitchen, dining and four bedrooms for six family members. The second level was dedicated to recreation/ guests and domestic staff accommodation.

Ar Singhal set the spaces around a central atrium that would visually connect the two levels and create a sense of arrival as it would be linked to the entrance lobby. It was decided to break down the non-load bearing walls on level one to open up spaces and create a broad open area, from one side of the bungalow to the other, in the heart of the home. This open space also creates to create an indoor-outdoor connection and enhances the sense of space.

Distinctive Elements

While Ar Singhal kept the floor plan simple and opted to keep most of the walls white, she worked on bringing in subtle elements to the built spaces. Fine Italian marble was sourced for the flooring, counters and cladding, and a team of artisans brought from Agra (where the art of pietra dura has been practised for generations) to work motifs of semi-precious stones inlaid into the floor

A sense of drama was added to the grand atrium by designing a floating staircase, clad in Irish brown marble on all visible sides, leading to the upper level. The adjoining formal drawing room was designed with stylish furniture, plush furnishings and a faux fireplace -inspired by the fireplaces of the great rooms of English mansions- as its focal point. For enhancing the ambience of the home post sunset a selection of chandeliers along with decorative floor, wall and pendant lamps were placed to ensure adequate functional light while adding to the beauty of the home.

Ar Singhal ensured each room donned a distinct design template through the choice of colours, fabrics, furniture details, lighting and ceiling treatment. For instance, the kids room has a cosy nook created like a hut, the bed headboard is painted in pink and the ceiling is designed with pine wood and wallpaper with motifs of a blue sky. The toilet of the master bedroom has a vintage charm of a black and white chessboard pattern and an additional ceiling-to-floor mirror to enhance light and the sense of space. The home theatre, on level two, is a wonderful getaway being done up in a dramatic red and black colour combination that brings to mind the in typical theme of neo-classical opera houses.

living area

Ceiling Style

While each of the design elements is artistic, the most eye-catching are the ceilings that reveal Ar Singhal’s efforts of working within given parameters. As the home is an old structure, the ceilings had exposed beams stretching across them. Retaining these in their original form would not have been aesthetic and concealing them would have taken away the height of the rooms.

So, Ar Singhal decided to blend the beams into the design by camouflaging them with different materials such as pine and teakwood panelling or POP;; surfacing spaces between them with different textures, toughened glass or backlit alabaster; and adding lights where suitable. In the family living room, the ceiling is worked in one integrated pattern where it is defined by coffers that appears as a design element even as it discreetly incorporates the unwanted beams.

An Enchanting Experience

As the spaces were built and their interiors designed, the residence gradually evolved to take an elegant look and feel that is instantly apparent as one takes the lift from the ground level and steps into the sleek entrance lobby. The gleaming passage gently leads onto the atrium covered with glass (cut-out in slab) that suffuses sunlight into the home.

The open floor planning then leads the eye to enjoy views from one end of the living area across the atrium to the other, the plush furnishings and lighting, and the details of the design engage the senses. As the sun sets, the atrium comes alive with hundreds of crystals shimmering in the dazzling tiered chandelier- suspended from the atrium ceiling- that sparkle light through the interiors. It is a picture of luxury and style, in sync with the lifestyle of the client and the philosophy of the architect, and one that brings joy and fulfilment to both!

Name of Project: Malhotra’s mansion

Name of the Principal Architect: Ar. Divya Singhal

Project’s location: Bhopal

Name of the architectural or Design firm – Vasundhara DesignYard

Design Team, - Vasundhara DesignYard

firm location: Bhopal

Built-up area: 6500 sqft

Year of completion: 2022


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