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Home > A Vadodara Farmhouse Offers a Modern Take on the Chettinad Mansions of Yore

A Vadodara Farmhouse Offers a Modern Take on the Chettinad Mansions of Yore

Crest Architects effortlessly fuses traditional house forms, such as wooden columns, stained glass and courtyards, and combines them with modern materials and clean lines

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The façade of the house

Location: Vadodara, Gujarat
Size: 5,400 square feet
Number of bedrooms: 03 
Principal architects: Vijay Chauhan and Vaishali Chauhan, Crest Architects & Interior Designers
Photographer: Tejas Shah Photography

Set amidst a mango grove on the outskirts of Vadodara, this farmhouse carries all the outward signs of a mansion more likely to be found in the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu. The clients, a multi-generational family of six, wanted exactly that, says Vijay Chauhan of Crest Architects & Interior Designers, who set out to “concentrate all experiential and formal qualities of traditional style Chettinad houses in a footprint of 5,400 square feet re-appropriating it to a modern lifestyle.”

Imposing wooden columns, angled tiled roofs and other traditional architectural features define the façade of the house

The idea was to incorporate elements of the traditional architecture like courtyards, sloping roofs, stained glass, grilled windows, patterned tiles and imposing columns, with modern materials and clean aesthetics. Vijay says, “It was also crucial to achieve the right proportions and scales of the design plan while abiding by Vastu requirements.” While much of the material was directly sourced from the Chettinad region, such as stone and Burma teak columns, the challenge lay in fusing the modern and traditional materials. Says Vaishali, “Every space is personalised according to its function, and built with openings connecting to nature, using sustainable materials and re-using existing furniture.” Natural materials like wood, stone and clay bricks have been extensively used to foster comfortable temperatures through the year.

The façade of the house is an array of angled tiled roofs, starting with the central one that shelters the patio. A wide verandah that fronts the house features wooden columns and red sandstone benches.

The central courtyard
The entrance is flanked by two raised platforms on either side

The entrance opens directly into the heart of the home – the sunken courtyard that binds the different spaces together. On either side of the entrance are two raised platforms, a typical feature of Chettinad homes, called thinnai, that was used to conduct business with tradesmen back in the day. The recessed courtyard, presided over by the family deity,  is ringed with grand pillars in Burma teak standing on stone bases, holding the roof up. The courtyard is covered with glass panes set in MS grills (unlike the traditional cast iron) and dotted with stained glass tiles. Customised patterned tiles in the corridor are reminiscent of the hand-made Athangudi tiles.

The ground floor

The ground floor comprises the common areas, a study, puja room and a bedroom. “Every room is custom-made according to its function, reflected in the colour of the tiles, openings connecting to nature, and the utility of the furniture,” says Vaishali. The living room located on the right of the entrance has two sets of foldable wooden panel doors allowing for flexibility and convenience, one set giving out on the verandah and the other into the inner corridor. The study on the opposite side mirrors the living room. Colonial-style furniture, grilled windows and patterned tiles embody the spirit of a Chettinad home, as well as the Tanjore artworks.

The study on the ground floor
The kitchen is a perfect fusion of the old and the new – modern ways of living blend with traditional design details

The first floor comprises a large family area and two bedrooms. Describing the upper floor, Vijay says, “The wooden floors combined with fewer openings and plain walls reflect the modern aesthetic.” The family area gives a scale of space unlike any on the ground floor. The terracotta tiled roof, clay brick walls and strategic overtures for ventilation ensure pleasant times. The sloping roof towards the courtyard has a gutter running along its end that channels all the rainwater to the ground. 

The family sitting area on the first floor
A corridor frames the central courtyard on the first floor
The master bedroom

The master bedroom, like the rest of the house, is furnished simplistically – some pieces have been salvaged from the owners’ old house in keeping with their desire to reuse and repurpose. The tiled roof here has been covered with wooden panels. A massive balcony provides views of the lush greenery surrounding the house. 

The bathroom follows the home’s common theme with wood accents and printed tiles.
Ground floor plan


Story by Vinita Kunnath

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