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July 11, 2016

Take A Walk Around Priya Tandon’s Cozy Ahmedabad Home

Text by Simone Louis. Photographs by Tejal Pandey

With a keen eye for eclectic artefacts and a wonderful case of wanderlust, educationist Priya Tandon fills her home with treasures from all over the globe

Nestled in a fairly quiet part of the buzzing city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, an expansive villa-slash-manor sits at a slight height, atop a winding, foliage-lined driveway. Priya Tandon waits for me at probably one of the largest wooden doorways I’ve seen. The deputy director of St. Kabir School, she oversees the administration of one of Ahmedabad’s top educational institutions with as much elan as she radiates in her daily personal life. The home that I’m welcomed into could very easily have been overwhelming, if not for the simple and minimalistic yet swish and comfy interiors that could instantly make anyone feel at ease. Each room across the three levels has its own distinguishing personality and purpose, allowing Tandon to host elegant soirees, relax in tranquil corners and spend quality time with her husband, in-laws and three happy-go-lucky children.

“I mostly use travel as a source of inspiration,” she says of her passion for bringing the world she sees on her many trips into the family’s private space. We’re sitting in a cheerful living area where, being the impeccable hostess that she is, Tandon has laid out an elegant high tea. Decorated in a pink, cream and coral colour palette with dashes of green, the room opens out to a perfectly manicured lawn. Seeing me admiring an intricate floral jar in the middle of one of the large marble coffee tables, she tells me that it has quickly become an object of her son’s fascination after her husband picked it up from Istanbul. “He may be very young but is already turning out to be quite conscious about things in the house. Usually this jar is kept with its lid on. One day, the lid was off and placed on the table and, as soon as he saw it, he pointed it out to me before rearranging it in the most prim and proper way. It was quite adorable.”

The home is filled with numerous such items, each with its own story to tell. Almost every work of art, from paintings and centrepieces to crockery and vases, has been carefully brought in from the many countries that the family has visited. Having moved to the patio, she gracefully lounges on a pretty one-seater cane swing as she admits, “One never knows when or where you will find unique pieces. My husband also constantly picks up things for the home when he’s out on business trips; he has very fine taste.” Europe is a clear favourite when it comes to holiday destinations because of its relaxed-chic aura, which is a vibe that seems to inhabit many areas of the home — especially at the lower level. I fall in love with it as soon as we step out of the in-home elevator and into a large room complete with a bar, plush seating areas, a gorgeous grey shag carpet and delicate curtains. Even though the topmost level also has a swanky bar and lounge area, this feels like an ideal place for the ultimate party. What really wins me over is the fact that the sliding doors open onto a breathtaking outdoor pool area, the bright-blue-and-wood décor of which creates an interesting contrast with the more subdued hues and glitzy accents in the room.

As we take the wooden staircase from the pool back up to the lawn and main level of the house, I find myself mentally taking notes of everything I’ve seen so far, something that the lady of the house confesses to doing whenever she travels. “It’s not so much that I want to recreate a specific style; I just like to put together design elements which really appeal to me and which work well with our personalities.” I notice a harmonious correlation between vintage and contemporary as well as sophisticated and fun elements as we go from the children’s rooms to the dining and lounge areas — my favourite being a cluster of sofas arranged below a stunning skylight. There is no shortage of unique artefacts and modern functional pieces to catch one’s eye, but Tandon has been careful to ensure ample negative space, so it never feels cluttered.

Another highlight is the library, which has been one of her favourite projects. A floor-to-ceiling bookcase adorns one wall while the L-shaped computer corner facing it features tall glass windows that bring in a flood of natural light. “I love sitting here because it instantly puts me at peace,” she smiles. “It overlooks the garden so you get the feeling of being amidst nature while still being in the cool comfort of the room and out of the arid Ahmedabad heat. I think I’ve been quite lucky with the creation of our home because we had a wonderful architect, who my husband worked with, and while they figured out all the technicalities, wiring and structuring, I had free rein with the interiors!” The stylish achiever definitely has a knack for putting together a cohesive, modish home, so she isn’t ruling out doing that for other people sometime in the future. “Right now I’m quite busy, what with managing over 7,000 children at the school as well as three of my own, but who knows; maybe one day I could do some interior designing. In fact, more than me, my eldest daughter has shown interest in décor and has a good sense of design.”

From what I’ve seen, every member of the family seems to have developed a keen eye for all things tasteful. Comfortably intimate and classy, Tandon has created a beautiful nest and an invigorating epicentre around which her personal and social life revolves. And even with the multifarious nature of the various areas in the property, one theme that runs through it all is ‘family’. “Most often when people think of luxury, they think of glamorous and expensive things. For me, it’s comfort. I wanted to create cozy spaces that my family and I can relax and spend time with each other in. Home should be a snug and secure place.”

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