Charming is the word that comes to mind as soon as you enter this timeworn Franco-Tamil colonial cottage. The owners, Jay and Prithika (whose beautiful Pondy home we have covered previously), were advised by loved ones to either sell or tear down the structure as it was too old to live in. But Jay’s love for vintage made him choose otherwise and he decided to keep it intact. Inspired by David Davidar’s novel, The House of Blue Mangoes, a tale of a village headman who attempted to preserve a colonised village from catastrophe and change, Prithika and Jay refused to give up on the old property and began to renovate. Aptly they decided to name the place after the novel!
The facade is painted a bright canary yellow and the traditional ‘thinnai’ or seating at the entrance was retained and painted grey.
The area till the courtyard is over a century old. Jay decided to increase the height of the roof within the courtyard by adding a granite stone beneath each antique teak pillar holding up the newly replaced wooden beams. According to him, this also stops the wooden base from rotting during the rains. An addition of a couple of glass pieces into the tiled roof brings in beams of natural light that create patterns on the beautiful red flooring. They have used well waxed red paint on the floor to minimise the cost yet not compromise on the rustic look.
It is obvious that Prithika’s constant foraging at local flea markets has been immensely rewarding. The vintage wall décor is exquisite and all the furniture are genuine antique pieces picked up at second-hand markets, craft bazaars, export surplus stores, hotel closure sales and from people selling their homes in and around Pondicherry, Chennai, and Karaikudi. The couple enjoys the story that each piece has to tell. Prithika tells me that they consciously make an effort to source locally, just like the lampshades that are from Auroville.
The old family photos of South Indian families hung above the antique furniture add to the old world charm. The large mango yellow planters bring a splash of colour to the otherwise earthy courtyard. An effort has been to modernize with the inclusion of paper lamp shades and embroidered cushions.
The kitchen, though minimalistic, is modern and quirky with its framed wall posters and its colourful curtains instead of conventional shuttering. The simplistic yet contemporary feel to the passage-way is heightened by the garden furniture and picket gate.
Prithika’s collection of flea market finds include some original watercolour paintings of birds, which are hung above an antique solid wood cot. The whitewashed walls, raw wooden curtain rods, and the vegetable dyed furnishings create an atmosphere that though inexpensive is priceless in feel.
In keeping with the name, the backyard has a tiny blue mango sapling. For Prithika and Jay, who finished renovating in January 2016, the House of Blue Mangoes is a serene sanctuary away from the maddening crowd.
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