Holiday Home Goa-Amelia’s apartment In Varca
Born and raised in London, my husband and I decided to relocate to Delhi in 2005. I have a bespoke rug business in the UK and the manufacturing is all done in Badohi near Varanasi. I felt that running the business in India would be like selling oil to Arabs and so I started a luxury lingerie business in India, importing from UK and providing a bra-fitting service to clients.Winter in Delhi proved to be a soul shattering experience, so when a friend offered respite by handing the keys to her apartment in South Goa last February, I grabbed the opportunity. The general vibe of the gated development and surrounding village felt extremely positive and I immediately felt elevated. Holiday Home Goa
On my return to Delhi, I began convincing my husband to plough our savings in the UK into an apartment in Goa that we could rent out to holiday makers as well as use for our family.
There were a couple of flats available for sale on the same development and since my husband was going to Mumbai for work, he went on to Goa to see the apartment and called me to say he felt the same positive energy while there. I promptly asked him to take photos and some measurements.
It was a brand new one bedroom apartment on the 2nd floor, north-east facing and overlooking a farm with palm trees, chicken, pigs, dogs and buffalos. Initially, I thought pool facing would be better (for rental purposes) but since it was going to be our holiday apartment, complete privacy won the toss.
Varca village is a 5 minute walk and it has everything you need— from cafes to banks and a very well stocked supermarket as well as a beauty salon. Dabolim airport is a 45 min drive. Although the beach is 1.8km away, one can easily hire bicycles or scooties. The complex also has a swimming pool and a gym.
This apartment was going to have people from all over the world visiting. I was sure that I wanted it to be everything Indian— from workmanship to furnishings and art. However, it had to be functional with all mod cons and no compromise was made on comfort and fittings.
I was limited by the black granite top in the kitchen and the patterned tiles in the bathroom. I could have changed it but didn’t have the heart to break/waste someone’s hard work. I printed out the photographs of the flat and with the help of the floor plan provided by the builder, started planning the kitchen, drawing in the cabinets, drawers, chimney, hob, fridge and other elements onto the photos.
The black granite gave me the license to choose a bright colour for the kitchen cabinets. Since this was a holiday home, I could get away with it. I googled to see images of cabinet colours that would go with the black and the most appealing to my eye was a bright shade of light green.
Two kitchen walls were partially knocked down to allow more light to flow through and give the flat a more open plan feel. The kitchen door was cut to size and attached to one of the walls to be a fold up dining table when required—taking up no space when not needed. This also freed up space for a study table where the dining area was meant to be—no excuses for my daughter who is in her final year at school!
The biggest challenge was the chimney as we only had wall space for an outlet next to the kitchen sink on the right and on top of where the washing machine plumbing had been provided. Totally the wrong place for a hob. So we had to create boxing right across the top of the window. Not ideal but I managed to incorporate a wine rack (using left over materials) to help it integrate better.
The electricals were also repositioned as originally there was a socket above the skirting, the switch for it 2 feet higher and a light point above the switch (the switch for this being on a panel near the door). This was very confusing, so I moved all sockets and their respective switches down.
Because I was living in Delhi and knew where all the shops were and had transport and time at my disposal, I checked out the laminate colours, hardware, furniture and soft furnishings.
For the bedroom, I settled on sheesham wood furniture with a natural polish. I replaced the wood on the wardrobe doors with mirrors. This was going to be placed on the wall opposite the balcony doors. I chose neutral colours for the walls but I plan to accessorise with bright painted trunks for storage and a wall of artwork facing the bed.
In the bathroom, I upgraded the taps, wash basin and WC provided by the builder. Since I had chosen a counter top basin, I had a cabinet made to hold the basin as well as toiletries underneath. Mirrors were placed above the basin and to the wall on the right giving a large bright feel.
For the living room I needed seating that would double up as a bed. So I had two divans custom made to hold a 3ft by 6.5 ft mattress. I had covers made with fabric bought at Maison de Muslin during the sale.
I needed more storage for light quilts/ bedlinen, towels, board games and our personal stuff so I had a TV cabinet custom made with marine ply. This was distressed by a friend and mirrors added, again to give the sense of space and extra light. My mother had some brass ‘thalis’ and I got the carpenter to make a stand for them so they could be used as occasional tables.
No compromise was made on comfort —Snoozer mattresses used by the Oberoi group of hotels were sourced (direct from the factory) and worth every penny. Hafele hinges were used for the cabinets and the channels and baskets were also of good quality. The Kaff hob and chimney, water heater, air-conditioners and washing machine were bought locally. All the cooking utensils and pots and pans were bought from Lifestyle during the summer sale.
Photographs were framed in bright coloured frames along with art forms from various states I had travelled —the Tikali art is from Bihar. Jaisalmer stone was used on both of the balcony parapets. An architect friend had given me some left over fretwork panels from a hotel project and I incorporated them into the cupboard and also created a partition next to the fridge using the original kitchen door frames as support.
I arrived in Goa on 24th August 2011 and stayed for 6 weeks to oversee the work. I was lucky enough to have access to the builder’s team of carpenters, electricians, plumber, tile layer and painters. Using leftover marine ply, a book shelf was created on the half kitchen wall going towards the bedroom; easy access for my son who loves reading on the loo. Lights were bought from Lok Nayak Bhavan in Khan market. Curtains and cushion covers were stitched in Delhi.
I’m currently working on an art installation for the living room wall and still have other finishing touches to do but have saved them for the month I’m there during the summer holidays.
It has now been over a year since we bought the apartment and we have spent New Year and two mid-term breaks there with the kids.
My parents also stayed there for 2 months and loved the peaceful surroundings so much so that they decided to buy a holiday home in the same development. Another close friend from the UK followed suit, so I now have their apartments to decorate and keep my creative juices flowing!
For those wishing to buy property in Goa, I would advise you check out the builder and his reputation thoroughly.
Maintenance is generally paid upfront at the time of purchase usually for 5 years at a time. Since most people buy second homes in Goa, builders are known to spruce it up during season time, often neglecting it off-season. I would advise a trip off-season just to check on your investment as monsoon damage can be severe.