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A Land of Milk and Honey

By Mamnun Ahmed Nihal

Once upon a time, a handful of people liked to decorate their houses with the theme of golden and white. At present, it’s very hard to impress with that outlook. But everyone will be astonished to see the residence of Mr. Shakhawat Ahmed, the owner of the renowned restaurant ‘Sajna’, situated in Dhaka. The balance between interior decoration and space utilization, natural light and manufactured LED lights, natural air, and conditioned air, all these can be comprehended vividly in his abode. The artistic minds of both Shakhawat Ahmed and his spouse Ishrat were combined to make the house more beautiful. The planner of the interior, beautiful lady Ishrat, gave us a swift tour to know the inspirations, thinking process and memories of the embellishment of the house. Now sit back and enjoy the journey of this fabulous house. 

The flat is located in Baridhara DOHS, a comparatively calm place to live in Dhaka. The 4th-floor residence contains three big bedrooms with one master bed, one large living room, a well-decorated dining, and a kitchen. It took a total of 3000 square feet and only two people are living there, for ten years.

Theme/Thought-Process

Reflection of The Mirrors

Evidently, the main color theme of the house is golden-white. Most of the décor elements of the house are either white, golden or silver, which reflects the themed color. The LED lights ignite the whole house with a goldish-white look, that reflects in the ornaments and frame-less mirrors which can be found in the walls of the house. These reflections are the creators of the magical white-golden melody of the whole area that creates a traditional Bengali palace look. Three things were kept in mind while beautifying the house, ‘Simple, slick and easy.’ Mrs. Shakhawat explains. Natural lighting and simplicity are the main priority.

Old guitar is used to hide the wires in the ceiling

“The uniqueness of the house relies on atypical perception and creativity of the household.” Mrs. Shakhawat was telling about the motives behind the decoration. People use the false ceiling to cover the electrical wires of the house. But the false ceiling is plain; it doesn’t create any exclusivity. Here, you can see a big guitar is used instead of a false ceiling to cover the wires which for me shows the atypical perception of this residence’s décor. We all have unused candle holder in the house, Mrs. Shakhawat’s creativity has been seen when she combined bottles with the unused candle holders that make something that everyone will ask ‘From where did you buy this?’   

THE ENTRANCE

Marble-Customized Entrance Door

You can assume the exquisiteness of the whole residence by only inspecting the entrance décor. Even people who won’t enter the house will take a moment to appreciate the entrance.  ‘You can guess the insight of the households by watching their entrance’ Mrs. Shakhawat describing the importance of the entrance. The white and golden theme of the entire house can be tasted by only watching the entrance. The entrance door has its story too, it was a typical wooden door but then it was customized with marbles that not only increased the attractiveness but also made it easier to clean.


Elegant Swing in front of The Entrance

Entering the residence, we can see a well-decorated wooden swing which was imported from Calcutta to Dhaka; made with pure teak wood. It gives the house an old North-Bengali film set vibe. A thin hallway can be glimpsed after entering the house. The left pathway will lead you to the  living room, dining room , and kitchen, the right side will lead you to a veranda containing plants and flowers.


The Left Pathway from the Entrance (Living Room, Dining Room and Kitchen)

THE LIVING ROOM: The living room blends traditional decoration pieces with simplistic sofa sets. ‘Even though I would like to have as limited showpieces as possible, there are some decoration pieces noticeable in my living room, but all of them have their own story.’ Mrs. Shakhawat explaining. Some of the ornaments are from the 1940s, some of them are from her mother in law. One of them is from the 1960s when her mother in law visited Holland, one of them is from the 1st salary of her daughter. Every showpiece has a memory, a story. And to me, things related to memorable stories are always gorgeous.

The Interior of the Living Room

The most precious aspect of the living room is the embroidery used as a curtain beside one of the walls which was previously used for partitioning. It was imported from Korea and has taken the magnificence of the living room to a whole new level. A set of rectangular customized tiles made of stones is another exquisite attraction used in the living room wall.

DINING AND KITCHEN:

Welcoming Quotation Beside the Dining Table

The dining room invites gathering. Though only the pair lives in the house, they carry the true tradition of Bengali hospitability. Guests are always turning up in the house. The ambiance of the dining is pleasing, which creates an emergence to the senses. The wall beside the food serving area is decorated by a mirror with an overlaying curtain which is nicely designed. Usually, people place wooden decors instead, but to her, it feels gaudy. The curtain is made of standard clothes which are very cheap to buy. ‘People think it’s expensive to embellish an interior beautifully, that’s not always the scenario, with slight creativity, anyone can make a fabulous interior, with very little expenditure.’ She explained. The sensation of reminiscence can also be felt even in the kitchen as she puts every collected magnet on the kitchen fridge. ‘You can tell how many countries we’ve visited by only watching our fridge.’ She told with a smile. The kitchen is very hygienic and well-furnished too.

Food Serving Area

The Right Pathway from The Entrance (Bedrooms, Favorite Corner)

The Bedrooms

Hint of Pink & Touch of Paris

The right side of the pathway from the entrance contains three bedrooms, a master bedroom with two regulars. Conventionally owners of the house live in master bed, leaving other bedrooms for the sons, daughters or guests. But here we can see most of the hospitable behavior of Mr. And Mrs. Shakhawat, where they leave the best for the visitors and offers everything a hotel would offer for the guests. The two other beds are minimalistic at its best, with simple décors maintaining the golden white theme but here we can see a touch of pink which resonates with the main theme. The most significant entity of the bedroom is a wooden headboard which was imported from Calcutta to Dhaka in 1991, initially used for partitioning, later changing the scheme, used as a headboard.

Amazing Customized Headboard for Bed
Favorite Corner of Mrs. Shakhawat 

Favorite Corner: Mrs. Shakhawat’s favorite corner of the house is positioned beside the veranda, with a touch of nature and some minimalistic design, the blending forms a very soothing environment. Most of her time is spent here. 

Walls: You can guess now, which colors are used for the walls, yes, it’s all white. Not even any shade of white, as she said white becomes off white subsequently. The ‘all-white’ paints of the house creates tranquility and walls are free from any extravagant destruction, by and large, a peaceful sensation flows through all over the abode.

Maintenance: Comparing with watering the plants, she expressed the importance of maintaining a house. A worker is selected exclusively for the maintenance of the house. The goal is to keep the house as clutter-free as possible. They change their paint coat every 1-2 years. While choosing the brand, the couple’s all-time favorite is BERGER Luxury Silk.  ‘The main challenge is having a small number of belongings as possible.’ She explained. Maintaining a house in a polluted city like Dhaka is always challenging.

For some people, home is not a place, it’s a feeling, and we felt an ultimate instance for this proverb in the interior of this residence. People typically use professionals to design sophisticated interiors like Mr. Shakhawat’s, but creating the interior by customizing old belongings, is truly admirable.

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