Prakriti Marg – an offshoot of the main road close to Sultanpur Metro Station in the capital – takes one to the Sultanpur farmhouses area. Navigating the winding route lined with high walls and a variety of trees that peek out from behind them, I pass one property after another, till the vehicle stops at No 15 – the expansive one that is Priya Kakar Kapur’s home. As I learn later in our long chat interspersed with shots, it is an abode that she has lovingly created – a space any family would be proud of.
As the car drives in and I look around the manicured lawns, I spot a tree house in one corner of a green space, a cabana in the centre of another garden and a fountain in the driveway. Priya Kakar Kapur appears elegantly in the doorway to bid us welcome.
As we explore, we take in the décor, the lighting and the larger-than-life floral presence in the home. Priya explains, “Flowers are very close to both Atul’s (her husband) and my hearts. Both of us are crazy about blooms. I have a room on my terrace which is only a flower room and that was in existence before Atul started importing them. He imports them from different parts of Asia and also from Amsterdam.”
Each space has a character of its own. The glass room – which Priya says is her favourite because it has all the elements ‘earth, fire and water in it’ – has a glass flooring on one side. “It is extremely relaxing as there are very subdued lights in it. The water body splashes water on the glass to make a gentle noise. And, of course, the piano standing in one corner completes the picture of a room of serenity. “
We quickly take our pick of the spots where we want to shoot – and Priya obliges as if to the camera born. We have perhaps taken her back to her modelling days where, at the age of 16, she had plunged into the world of glamour at the behest of photographer Shantanu Sheorey. Several ads later, she chose matrimony over glitz and settled down in the capital with her businessman husband, Atul Kapur. Her kids – Shiv and Savar – completed the family picture but, along the line, Priya decided to try her hand at interior designing – a desire that has now grown into her full-fledged business, Serene Homes.
“Before I got married, I worked with a garment firm when I was in New York for a year and a half,” she says. “At that time, I began to develop a lot of stuff that goes into making interiors beautiful and started putting things together with an element of taste. While I was there, I did a couple of homes for friends which were well-appreciated.”
Relying more on her practical experience and her work with interior designers in Paris rather than formal training, Priya devoted all her energy when she got married to creating her perfect home. “Atul and I shared a dream of what we liked – it was the White House. So, when we built our home, we did it with a focus on whites, beiges and similar colours. And when it was complete and our friends and families saw it, I got a lot of exposure. It was all by word of mouth.”
Forty-three-year-old Priya follows her own sense of taste while doing up interiors. “I do not follow trends. I like to do homes which have clean lines. The spaces should be something that one should not get bored of with the passage of time. I prefer to do more of a fusion of styles, so that the areas look spacious, add a touch of glamour and get an overall pleasant feel. My home was done about nine years ago, and till today, touch wood, it has not dated.”
Although her personality infuses her creations, she is also careful to take into account what the client wants. For instance, even in her home, as she says, “Atul’s space is derived from his temperament. He loves horses – there have been riders in the family – and he has a little of the cowboy element in him. This is reflected in his den and the various horse images, the tree house and the statuettes. So when I interact with a client, I find out what they want, what they are like. I try to learn more about their social and daily lives. Accordingly, we design their areas. But we also try and convince them how well our ideas will suit their lifestyles. A client picks an interior designer the way he would choose someone for his clothes. You may like a personal style that someone else won’t.
So you go to the person whose style you connect with.”
‘Serene Homes’ refers to something pleasant and calm, reflecting to a large extent who she is. “I am very laidback and not always on a high. I take on three or four big projects a year and businesswise, when the work starts, the push is strong at that time to get me going.”
And when Priya wants to relax, her options are several. “Sometimes at night I am designing, thinking about a project the whole night. Then I relax by reading,” she states. “That is one thing that keeps me calm. I also see a lot of movies as I have a beautiful home theatre at home.
This cuts me off from work.” This explains the frames of movie stars in her workspace at Serene Homes.
Priya finds it easiest to work when both the architect and the interior designer are in tandem from scratch. With a factory in Muradabad, where they craft all their chandeliers and a huge production space in New Delhi, creating the look the clients want comes as a matter of course. Priya has worked on homes both in Delhi and Mumbai, drawing inspiration from a variety of sources. Yet she emphasises, “My fashion sense imbibed during my modelling days helped me a lot. I learnt to put together things with a sense of class, a style element. I love London and Paris for their sense of design. I like a lot of international designers, fashion houses like Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren who have moved into interiors. But we do not copy anyone. Everything is international today – the global market is closely connected. All brands are coming to India. I prefer to put my spaces together. I may be inspired by something on the street or just a shop window. When we do wallpapers, if we do not get what we want, we make them. We match the wallpaper with the carpets. We create a story into which we put a great deal of thought and intense work.”
Although she has been about seven years in the business and has done several homes, she prefers to keep a low profile and is loath to talk about her clients by name. “After I got married I wanted to shun the spotlight. Perhaps that has proved to be a mistake in the long run but I had got so involved with my own space, my own self and my own family – even though I was still doing something and not exactly sitting at home. Somehow, I did not feel like getting out there saying here I am doing something else. If I had done that, it would have ensured that my work progression was not broken. But now I am ready, and if people enjoy my work, I would be the happiest to do their homes for them.”
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