Imagine being in a trance state for a while and just when you are about to hit the snooze button of your life, you get hit by a bright blue bolt of lightning and are brought back to the happily thriving, blooming state of mind! Okay, may be I went a little too ahead with the Christopher Nolan movies, but yes, I did have an epiphany when I received a message a couple of weeks back from a certain Ms. Mathur, who wanted her home to be featured on my blog. Well, there were two First(s) for me – one, I wasn’t even sure that people actually read my blogs so diligently, and second, this was the first time, a home owner reached out to me for a feature; normally, its the other way round 🙂
A score of images and a long telephonic conversation later, I realised, I had met Ritu Chawla Mathur – my soul sister, who is a natural when it comes to home decor. So, without procrastinating it further, lets start with the tour –
Ritu has been at the helm of the hospitality industry and worked with iconic luxury hotels brands such as the Taj Group and Marriott International for 18 years. Recently, she made a switch towards entrepreneurship and is now the Managing Partner of a hospitality consulting firm. Coming from a family of hospitality professionals, this second generation (her mother was the Executive Housekeeper in a 5-star hotel chain) hotelier has a penchant for all fine things in life and shares the passion with her better half – Ritesh, who encourages her to create a harmonious balance between rich home interiors and creativity.
When I speak about creativity, Ritu is an artist herself – she probably gets it from her Grandmother who was an award winning painter and she fondly remembers her home being meticulously clean and well-kept, filled with her Grandma’s paintings and watercolors. Of course, like any other kid, she wouldn’t love the idea of dusting curios and carrying out mundane tasks of laying the table and brushing the carpets on weekends, but I guess this is what laid a strong foundation of flair for art and culture, home interiors and styling in her.
Ritu stays in a leased villa in Whitefield, Bangalore, with her husband and in-laws. She proudly curates arts and artifacts from all over the globe. She has deliberately not stayed true to a particular style of home decor – her abode is a self-confessed, self curated home with a touch of the quirky bohemian, a fusion of the rich British colonial with ethnic Indian, and an intriguing mix and match of luxe with rustic chic, and there you go – a perfect recipe of a home filled with a sense of eclectic uniqueness. Like moi, she believes in the mantra of maximalism and goes with her instinct first, and later the need for a particular artifact/artwork in her home. Of course, she tries to find a common ground to make the space around it co-exist in harmony, which she normally succeeds at 😉
Ritu’s home is an embodiment of who she is – open, warm, amiable, and inviting, and you get a sense of her personality when you speak with her. The happy couple love having people over and bring out their fine china even when its a casual dinner with their friends over a game of cricket or a movie together. Both of them are truly home proud, with their friends and family appreciating their sense of decor over all these years; this was reason enough for Ritu to share this incredible journey from being a hotelier to a house proud woman.
The living room, is truly an enviable collection of arty and beautiful treasures from around the world. Most of her furniture and artworks have such interesting stories around them, that I could listen to them all day long! Ritu’s living room resonates a ‘true eclectic collector’ vibe what with quirky accents dwelling happily with a vintage teak wood and rattan sofa and a beautiful floor lamp with a Monstera plant print playing peek-a-boo with the throw pillows in all sorts of colours and textures!
Her favourite accent piece though in the room is a dowry chest from Pondicherry, which well, has an interesting anecdote tagged to it! Ritu was the Deputy Manager at Taj Westend, Bangalore, around 11 years ago, when Judy Chappell, wife of the former Indian Cricket Team Coach, Greg Chappell was in India, doing up her cottage at the hotel during their long stint and she had just purchased this beautiful chest from Pondicherry.
However, after Chappell’s unceremonious and sudden termination from the team, Judy sold this chest to Ritu, believing that she would love it and look after it, which she most definitely has! The chest is lined up with beautiful turquoise green silk fabric and has lots of mirrors and secret storage compartments inside it! The hoarder in me wants it too Ritu! (Have no idea where to keep it in my over stuffed home, but still want it!!)
Even the rattan teak wood sofa, which emanates an old world charm, was picked up by Ritu from a second hand furniture store, popular with the expats on the East Coast Road, Chennai during her stint at the Taj Fisherman’s Cove. She restored it with much love, and it has since been her long-standing companion.
If it was the dowry chest which amazingly landed in Ritu’s home, its the gorgeously hand carved solid wood large mirror which takes the cake in the living room. Distressed in antique gold and hung above the wooden two-seater sofa, it’s a statement piece and reflects the dining table, which as per Vaastu, symbolizes doubling of food and attracts wealth.
The dining area is swathed in natural sunlight and makes for a pleasant, utilitarian space with beautiful wall art pieces and hint of nature in a corner. Ritu has kept the dining table look quite summery and fuss free here.
Another collage of beautiful paintings picked up from the Chitra Santhe find their calling in the dining area and happily complement the blue and yellow checkered table linen.
Ritu’s home is a true delight for any art connoisseur, for she invested in beautiful artworks during her stint at the Taj Krishna, Hyderabad. The hotel at that time was promoting an art gallery, and Ritu happened to meet a lot of artists during the course, which proved to be a goldmine for her. Whether its an abstract contemporary artwork by Jaya Baheti (Artist from Hyderabad) at the main entrance, or Parmeshwar Raju’s Calligraphy Ramayan, or the black and white abstracts by Koeli Mukherjee Ghose, and even an MG Doddamani piece (above the bar cabinet) especially hand painted for her – she has ’em all.
All these artists, including her Grandmother have had a profound impact on Ritu’s mind, which she heartily puts out on canvas every now and then; like this equestrian painting called “Flight of Fantasy” she made for her husband’s milestone birthday.
A lot of other artworks have been picked up by her from local flea markets and during her travels or hotel stints and the now famous annual Chitra Santhe of Bangalore. The mix media canvas painting depicting the Mumbai skyscape, in the family room above the leather couch was one such buy, although it was Ritesh’s choice.
Ritu has become a conservative buyer, now that she has started painting herself and even though she’s still discovering her art style, she loves bringing out the extraordinary elements in ordinary things through her abstract representation.
Another piece of Jaya Baheti’s collections, a terracotta table lamp adorns the chest of drawers and works very well with the grey and blue bamboo runner in the living room. Handcrafted and personally designed by her Mother-in-Law many moons ago, this furniture piece not just marries utility with design, but also carries an innate charming character with a modern table top.
Apart from artworks from celebrated artists, Ritu also has a penchant for other pieces of wall art, such as these Chettinad wooden cow heads picked up during her stint at the Taj Fisherman’s Cove, from the vendor who used to install mammoth versions of the same at the hotel.
The bedrooms are simple, uncluttered, showcasing clean lines and again have been peppered with a dose of watercolour paintings picked up from Pondicherry.
Ritu and Ritesh’s home reiterates a credence that I have always believed in when it comes to home decor: Buy or invest in something that you absolutely love, whether its during your travel or work, rather than blindly going with trends which change like seasons. You will have a home evoking a sense of uniqueness, strong character, and ingenuity, a home that will be your manifestation. Concluding the feature on this gorgeous home with another painting marvel that Ritu made for the space above her console:
Thank you Ritu for giving all of us a peek into your captivating, arty home. (All images published in this blog belong to Ritu Chawla Mathur and may not be replicated or reproduced without prior permission. Text copyright: A Cauldron Full of Love)