In a post-independence India, Delhi’s Barsatis became a charming example of Indian jugaad where the residents transformed the small roof area of the city’s low buildings into a fully-fledged apartment. Open to the elements, these houses – essentially small apartments with large terraces – once offered affordable living space in the middle of the city. But with the gentrification of small neighborhoods and the increasing construction of high-rise buildings, the much romanticized Delhi-Barsati is quickly disappearing. So when an expat friend decided to make one his home, interior designer Shivani Dogra took this as an opportunity to revive his “unmistakable laid-back charm and natural style”.
The challenge was to open up the 1,000 square meter space and create a modern home that pays tribute to its heritage. “This Barsati, a holdover of an older, slower Delhi, stimulated the imagination and it was a pleasure to work with the history, natural light and charm of the existing space. I tried to reinforce the good it contained and to tinker with the existing structure and style, “explains Dogra.
Delhi Barsati: Maximizing the Space
Remnants of the original structure remain in the form of the wall lights, the ceiling and the kota stone floor. The rest of the house was opened with sensible design interventions. The wrought-iron grilles that screened the large windows in the living room were removed to allow an unobstructed view of the large, 700-square-meter terrace overlooking gulmohar trees and a park lined with greenery. Two large windows in the doorway of the master bedroom let natural light flood the room. Another bedroom was created by separating part of the large open plan living and dining area. “A bamboo fence was placed around half the wall of a utility area at the back of the house to create extra space,” adds the designer, recognizing the need to make the most of every inch of the available space.