This charming Karachi home in a mature neighbourhood exudes warmth and character. The home owner’s love of décor, of gardening and of entertaining is reflected in the lovingly tended foliage and the artistic touches found throughout the home. The beautiful patio outside is filled with the chirping of birds who know that there is birdseed and water laid out for them here.
The house is shared by two sisters; Safina is a former teacher turned jewelry designer and Farhana is a teacher who also runs a small catering business. She is the more pro-active of the two when it comes to home decor and her sister is happy to let her take the lead. Farhana answered our questions.
The two lovely ladies welcomed us into their home and plied us with delicious home-made snacks after showing us around.
This is an old house which has been renovated?
Yes. This house was built by my parents in the sixties. My mother knew exactly what she wanted and I think this was the first house in the area with a sloping roof. People were so curious and kept asking what we were building. We had false ceiling with plaster of paris detailing which was also quite unusual.
So you grew up in this house with your siblings?
Yes. We grew up here. Then I moved away for a long time and returned to live here in the year 2000. It was then that we made changes to the house. The house was extended and I supervised the building of the upstairs portion for my sister. Our current lounge used to be a patio but we included that space indoors and built on top of it.
The home is completely self-designed by you?
Yes. Even structurally, I knew exactly what I wanted. Then I had touches like the grillwork in the arches put in, the front door was re-designed etc.
Do you entertain often?
Oh yes! I love to cook and feed people. I also love doing table settings. There is a good flow of space in the house and I set up small tables throughput the downstairs area. We can have a sit down dinner for up to 40 people.
The patio seems perfect for entertaining too?
It is especially nowadays with the covid pandemic. We recently celebrated my sister’s birthday with a few friends outside in the patio area.
So the upstairs is a completely independent unit as well?
Yes it is. That’s my sister’s portion and her style is much more spare than mine. She thinks I collect too much clutter.
The stairwell leading upstairs is very striking.
I would have loved to have this whole area open out into a terrace but there were many limitations when constructing on an old structure.
What is your favourite space in the home?
The patio! You can find me outside for most of the day. I only come in when it gets dark and mosquitoes come out.
You do the gardening by yourself?
Yes. I have a boy who helps me but I do everything myself as well, including watering the plants, sweeping leaves, lifting heavy pots… I’m a hard core labourer.
You sound like a person who is always busy.
Oh yes! It is impossible for me to sit idle ! I teach, garden, cook, sew, knit, I have designed clothes… I guess I’m a jack of all trades but master of none. (laughs)
There are some beautiful old pieces in the home. Are you fond of antiques?
Actually I’m not. The antique samovar and the lamp were gifts from an Irani colleague. And the lovely old-style chandelier was bought by my mother.
So how would you describe your own style?
I just like things that look beautiful to me. We inherited quite a few Chinese pieces which my mother was fond of and I love those as well so I bought many myself. I used to live in Dubai so many pieces are bought from there.
Is there a special piece of furniture or an artefact in the home?
Well these Chinese vases of my mother’s would be special because they were bought by her and because you can’t get them any more. So they are quite unique and valuable.
The porcelain sanitary ware in your powder room is very unique.
It is. And it is very old, again from my mother’s time. It has that Chinese feel, the love of which I have inherited from her.
Photography by Naeema Kapadia