A creative yet cost effective makeover for a 90-year-old house

by Friday , December 02 2016 10:43

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This home in Nedungadappally, Kottayam district grabs your attention by its unconventional look. A facelift version of a 90-year-old home, which belongs to Sam John, stands out with the uncanny designing and arrangement of windows on its front.

Every stone, every door and the furniture inside this home dates back to over 90 decades. Out of the 75 cents of plot they have got, just 7 cents of land is used for the new home. The 1650 sq ft home comprises four bedrooms.

No air conditioner needed

The ancient Tharavadu had ten slabs of cut stone for its foundation. All of them were found intact. Sam the owner, Padma Kumar the Costford architect and Biju the engineer unanimously agreed to retain and reuse the slabs for the new house. They were dug out using a JCB. The cut stones were plastered with traditional kind of mortar mix. This mixture was prepared by mixing mud, mortar and sand by trampling over. They tried a couple of mixtures until they found the stickiest one. “Even during summer, we do not need an air conditioner. It is so soothing inside the home” Sam testifies.

'Pathayam' worktable

You pass through the double door entrance to step into the small hall. Instead of a sofa, you would be surprised to find a large 'pathayam', a traditional wooden container, which occupies most of the hall’s width. The pathayam is surrounded by a number of stools. At one side of it, you will see a seating arranged below the window pane. Such ‘built-in’ seats are a trademark of Costford style. This pathayam-top is a multipurpose ‘work table’, which can be used for keeping newspaper, writing, drawing, ironing and dining.

One of the four sides of every room is left unplastered. Two wooden planks are joined together to form the windows in the new home. Shutters are all wooden. Colored bottles are fixed over the windows in aesthetic pattern to let the light in.

Broken and leftover tiles are used for reducing the cost. The broken ends of the tiles are chipped off and are given a 'button effect' affixing brown tiles. The tiles molded on the ceiling of the living room play a key role in reducing heat.

Apart from the pathayam, you can also see ‘ari petti’ (olden day rice container) and ‘Kaal petti’ given makeover by polishing. It was Biju the engineer who suggested the idea to make switchboards with leftover bamboos.

A creative display of windows

A separate staircase room was built with an entrance that also opens to the outside, with a plan to rent out the first floor in future. This room is distinct from other rooms with its red and black tiles. The architect has cleverly created an artwork with a window on one side of the stairs to give an impression to those who enter from outside that it is a part of the exterior. 10 – 12 windows collected from the old house was artistically rearranged to bring an aesthetic new look to the exterior.

The roof was created by fixing bamboo ply over the bamboo poles and overlaying it with tiles. Old wooden pieces were paneled and fixed to create the charming wooden flooring. Carpenters had to really sweat out for it, says Sam. Shutters of wardrobes are also made of bamboo ply. This house stands as an example of how cost effectively one can build a charming home.

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