Kalukanda House continues to take shape. I am just back from a week of day long meetings but the house is standing and being in the space day after day, makes it easier to see with a bit more certainty how the interior will work. FINALLY I can start to commit to some interiors concepts…
THE STRUCTURE, CRICKET AND HAVING A GOOD SIT
The interior space blew me away and left me speechless for the first hour or so. I had to walk around again and again before it all began to sink in. Once I had stopped crying, we could focus on matters in hand and finalising a few details. Inevitably some changes (small) were made.
The house has a small TV room designed in, we had been insistent that no TV would be in the main room. But on Thursday morning as I drove past Galle cricket ground, it was heaving with fans watching the Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe match. It was hard to imagine watching big events which could be happening on the other side of the world to Sri Lanka in a den tucked away from the light outside – so a little executive decision making came into play. A big TV is going onto one of the living room walls – between the two windows in the image below.
Some seating will be roughly where the table is currently, with an enormous light overhead hanging from the double height ceiling.
The pendant light in the main living area needs to be large! And I mean BIG! Designs are being drawn up to discuss with a local lighting designer, a Brit who used to work for Conran but has been working in Sri Lanka for many years under his own steam and using local materials. I am really excited to see how that might work out.
Good friends know me as a column and door lover. I can’t really explain why that is, but it has meant ALOT of time has been spent finalising designs for these. Original doors and shutters from the old house are being refurbished and installed wherever possible, but a new front door and the columns needed designing from scratch. Some Sri Lankan houses historically had beautiful timber columns but these can come at a high premium. The house needed something a little chunkier given it’s new proportions and after some to’ing and fro’ing the final column design was reached.
The sample column was prepared for me to view in person – a stone mason had done this by hand and all 11 columns will be finished exactly the same way – I love it.
Sitting on the veranda one day where the dining table is planned and looking out at the “pool”, I listened to the birdsong and the wind in the trees whilst feeling enormously grateful that we could take on this amazing project. I also realised that putting a dining table there may well be a waste and I would much rather be lounging on a sofa in that space, having a good sit with a cup of tea or a cold Lion beer. So again, an amendment has been made to the design. This doesn’t affect the builders – it just goes to show that a space needs to be experienced before finalising anything.
This fretwork is from the original house – it is pretty worn at the back and un-usable but exactly the same design will be cut new and installed on the new house. I didn’t really think about whether we would prefer a different design because this whole project has been about trying to recreate as much of the original house as possible in a way that accommodates us.
A FEW MORE SITE IMAGES
Mood boards – the beginning of every good design. Why do we love Sri Lanka? Answer : The light, space, pace, colours and simplicity of this beautiful island I am proud to hail from. A design has been in place from the beginning but I think it’s important to keep an open mind all the time so that opportunities don’t get missed. I’ve made a few amendments along the way, and now the structure is in place and I can stand in it and see how it feels, a few concepts will start to land.
These photographs I have taken during my visits have become my own mood boards and inspiration for furniture commissions and colour schemes.
Kalukanda House has been designed to have the colonial look and feel we fell in love with and partly that I remember from childhood.
Aside from some general techy mod cons to fit in with modern life (read WiFi for the family, Nespresso machine for me), the idea is to feel like the house is nestled into beautiful Weligama seamlessly melding into the lush green landscape with all it’s occupants, as if it has always been that way.
We have bought our antique planters chairs and designed 4 poster beds with nets that are being made to order, ceiling fans will be in every room and gorgeous tiling on the veranda overlooking a blue-green pool (the slate chosen specifically for this).
Even the garden will be lush yet simple, retaining a huge number of trees already established there – Jackfruit, Palm trees, a Teak and more whilst adding some Frangipanee, Bouganvillea and one or two brightly coloured plants like Tiger Lily and Heliconea.
As I looked at my walls last week and started to envisage framed photographs, antique statues, wood carvings and materials for sofas and chairs, the house has started to fire up my imagination and come alive all over again.
Our build team are amazing and responsive, roughly four and half months into the project I want to thank them for getting us this far – fingers crossed the next few months will be just as productive – I have a feeling that with their help it will be.