FASHION designer Ritu Beri has used her creative instincts in converting a barsati into a neat two-room pad.
A narrow corridor lined with book shelves, paintings by Jatin Das, a number of Gane-shes and interesting posters, including one by Lesarge, Ritu's guru in Paris, leads to the small (approximately 10 by 12) sitting room. Mirrors and glass give a sense of space. "I always dreamed of doing up my apartment in a particular way," says the fashion designer. "I'm into nostalgia and so there's a lot of mood in this room." Some of the framed photographs on the walls are a century old. The lamp fittings are antique and the worn-out green of the upholstery adds to the antique look. An avid collector, she has picked up most of her stuff from flea markets in Paris, Bombay's Chor Bazar and the auction houses of Calcutta. A huge mirror on one wall of the sitting room and the gilt picture frames are from Paris. She got the two wooden pillars at the entrance to the room from Jodhpur and an antique chair from Calcutta. A lot of different looks put together and sofas you can sink into. The feeling is one of comfortable intimacy, not clutter. A very contemporary music cabinet along one wall seems the only piece made to order.
Through a glass door is the bedroom, about the same size as the sitting area—the colour scheme a strong black and red, the wall opposite dominated by a large Anjana Kuthiala painting. The colonial ebony polished bed is another of Ritu's Chor Bazar acquisitions, thrown over with black, edged with red lace—nothing special, just dyed, she says. Look to the left and suddenly a very personal side of Ritu is revealed. The bay window sill holds some of the designer's most prized possessions. "I've got this fetish for frames and I like to preserve pictures of family and friends. So I got this bay window made through which I could get enough light for the frames." The collection is fascinating. Ornate silver, ivory and glass collected over the years, frame old and new photographs. The space below the sill is used to keep the fridge.
A narrow space (about 8 by 4) leading out from the bedroom, is Ritu's dressing room. Along the right wall is the mirrored closet—the top half stores her winter clothes. One half of the wall on the left is taken up by the dressing table and mirror, an enviable collection of perfumes taking up most of the space. Below the dressing table is where she stores her workout gear. Ritu's secrets are tumbling out literally from the closet. She has another fetish—shoes. And the other half of the left wall is devoted entirely to shelves running from floor to ceiling, lined with shoes. Through the dressing room is a small but neatly-appointed bathroom where ends the tour of the fashion designer's tiny pad. Warm and personal, the effective utilisation of space arrived at after meticulous planning is an eye-opener for those who are at a loss as to what to do with their match box-sized apartments.