South East Asian Vibe in a Karachi Home

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1994

This beautiful home is filled with traditional furniture and antiques from the homeowners’ travels and stints of living in Indonesia and Hong Kong. These classic pieces give the space a distinctive tropical, South East Asian vibe which blends seamlessly with Karachi’s climate and vegetation.

The lady of the house ushered us into her home on a blisteringly hot Karachi day and, in between sips of ice-cold lemonade and nibbling on home made snacks, showed us around her home.

South East Asian Vibe

Did you build this house?

No, we bought it and it had already been renovated. But we did make some alterations like all the flooring was changed and so was the powder room. But then we moved away for several years. Recently, we did some more much needed renovations.

South East Asian Vibe

You have some stunning furniture and antiques. Were they collected over the years?

South East Asian Vibe

Well first I inherited some pieces of antique furniture when my parents’ house was sold. Then I have lived in Jakarta and later in Hong Kong and I picked up most of my furniture in these places. So yes, it has been collected over the years. The wicker backed chair is also Indonesian, it is called a Lotus chair and the side cabinets are Tibetan.

South East Asian Vibe

Are you particularly drawn to antiques? Is that your preferred aesthetic?

I am drawn to antiques but I like to mix it up. Like my sofa is more contemporary. The big wooden chest is an antique that belonged to my grandmother.

South East Asian Vibe

You bought your first pieces in Jakarta?

We moved there with no furniture at all so when we set up home I had to start buying things. I started visiting the antique markets which were basically tiny shops crammed haphazardly with furniture.

South East Asian Vibe

I would spend the afternoons browsing there. There was an old man I used to haggle with. The first pieces I bought were a writing desk for my husband and two chairs. They were just lying in the shop covered with dust but were antiques. These shops will also make furniture for you using antique wood, as opposed to actual antiques, and I also have those pieces.

Tell us about some of the more distinctive pieces.

Well you see the the frame mounted on the wall above the settee in the drawing room… I have two of these. The other one is in the passage outside and I have added a mirror to it. These are Indonesian and are actually frames for beds, not a bed head, but the frame used to be in front of the bed.

South East Asian Vibe

Then this carved chest, also from Indonesia,  is actually a box which was used for holding a bridal dowry. I’m using it as a coffee table. The Indonesian furniture is all wooden and carved.

The colourful side cabinets and red chairs are from China. Some pieces were bought new from large furniture shops.

This little cabinet is filled with mementoes.

South East Asian Vibe

Yes. I have to show you this tray and a single glass which was won by my mother at a school competition. And she was given this as a prize by Quaid-e Azam himself. So it really has a history.

Where do you spend the most time?

My husband likes to sit in the front lounge which gets very good light. We also use the outdoor patio. The pottery you see here is from Indonesia. But the small jhoola in the corner, which is a child’s swing, is another family heirloom which was in actual use in the family.

This beautiful tiled patio outside is a new addition to the house.

This is a recent addition. We actually had a swimming pool which was filled in. My children used to use the pool when they were little but now we had no use for it. It’s a lovely area to sit outside  and I’m still adding plants to fill it up.

There are some interesting brass pieces here.

South East Asian Vibe

Many of these belonged to my mother. This drum was actually filled with water and kept outside the house with the bucket to wash our hands and feet when we were little.

Are you fond of gardening?

I wish I knew more about plants. I have planted gulmohar here and have my motia in pots. The lovely sera bel creeper in the front of the house is also special to me as it is grown from a cutting from the creeper over the gate in my parent’s old house.

Photography by Naeema Kapadia