A strong personal design sense and love of all things artistic and creative permeates this living space. The creatively designed home of Ainee and Shehzad brims not only with paintings and artefacts but also with an energy and zest for life that characterizes the lady of the house. An educationist, trainer, event planner, furniture designer and more, Ainee takes the lead in home decor, although her husband and children weigh in with their opinions. Always busy and on the go, Ainee made time to show us around her home and speak about her love of design.
You bought this house many years ago?
Yes and then we carried out extensive renovations. There was no re-structuring but a lot of work was done. This was about 24 years ago and my children were very small then. In fact, that’s how I got into furniture designing because I couldn’t find pieces I liked in the market. Later my friends started asking me to make furniture for them.
So you started from scratch?
Yes. I am also a civil engineer by training so I said ‘why can’t I do this.’ My husband used to travel a lot in those days and when he would come back from his travels I would show him a new piece of furniture, saying I had bought it from somewhere.
It was only later after he had approved of several pieces that I told him I was having them made myself. All the furniture in the house is designed by me. A few pieces are antiques inherited from my in-laws, like the three-legged chairs.
What is your design inspiration?
I would say travel is. Besides designing furniture, I also love bringing back things from other countries.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I like everything. I am not a connoisseur, but I just like what I like… and then I find a way to use it. There are a lot of things in the house, it’s very eclectic, from DIY to classical and experimental… that’s me, that’s my personality.
I like a variety of things and I have collected many pieces in my home. But I find a place for everything; it’s how you display those things. There is even a mural on the living room wall because I believe walls should speak to you.
I am also not afraid to experiment, I’m a risk taker. I like breaking the design rules, for example my home office space is very small but I have put a huge painting in it. Or I have placed the neon-lit Mexican skull I had made for a party in another room.
You have so many paintings.
These have been collected over the years. We all love to collect art, myself, my husband and even my children. I think we have some 200 paintings, ranging from established Pakistani artists to thesis work and paintings picked up on our travels.
The first two paintings we ever bought remain very close to my heart; they are displayed in the niches in my foyer.
Do you entertain often?
We have a lot of friends and we love entertaining. The whole house has an indoor, outdoor flow of space. There are no curtains and all the rooms open into each other. In the daytime, the windows are always open to let in air and light. We love sitting outdoors and the outside patio is also a favourite spot.
You have also converted the roof into an entertainment area.
That was done during the covid pandemic. My daughter was getting married and there was no way I could have large groups of people inside the house. So 22 years after we bought the house, the roof was finally used (laughs). And now I think it’s our favourite space. We also have a gym up there.
The roof is always so breezy, people in Karachi should really use this space more. The Egyptian motif pillars were left over from an event I had planned, I had the small tables and stools made and added plants, rugs etc.
The entire home seems very lived in. There are no showroom spaces.
Yes, that’s true. We use every part of the house, although for my clients, my home is my showroom so to speak. This is where I show them my furniture.
Do you have a favourite painting?
There are so many. I love this small painting by the artist Omar Fareed. Then I also love these tapestry pieces by Masuma Halai. Up close you can only see the stitches but as you move away the figures emerge from it.
And I also have a painting made by the artist Jimmy Engineer which he called “Ainee” because there is so much going on in it, it’s colourful, its busy…and he named it after me.
Photography by Naeema Kapadia