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Interiorssneak peeks

In New Delhi, A Calming Oasis for Two Journalists

by Kelli Kehler

Anasuya Sanyal and Newley Purnell are two busy journalists — Anasuya is a former TV reporter turned consultant, and Newley covers tech for the Wall Street Journal with bylines also appearing in the New Yorker and the New York Times — so their workdays can become hectic, to say the least. The most recent season of their life saw them move from Singapore to the neighborhood of New Friends Colony in New Delhi, India, a transition which greatly excited the couple for two reasons. The first of which meant they could trade apartment living for a real home with a garden (and more space for their dog Ginger to roam), and the second of which planted the couple in a country that bears Anasuya’s heritage, who is of Indian descent but was born and raised in the US.

Their new 1,200-square-foot home came recommended by friends who were leaving Delhi. An older townhouse-type home, the rental had great character and room to express Anasuya and Newley’s love for vintage items — they just needed someone to help them put it all together. They enlisted interior designer Shivani Dogra, and launched a collaborative design process that took about two-and-a-half months. “After we briefed [Shivani] and approved the initial drawings, we gave her a relatively free hand, which we think helped the outcome,” Anasuya and Newley tell us. “We learned that clear communication and being open about our preferences is essential when you’ve hired someone to decorate your space. Also, choosing someone whose taste you trust is important, as it makes the process much easier. ”

Shivani’s skill of deeply understanding her clients — and what makes them who they are — results in a design outcome that is undeniably personal and cohesive. Throughout the home, vintage Indian furnishings mingle with treasured mementos and keepsakes from their travels, showcasing the impact each place has had on the two of them. “We needed for the house to feel like our connection to the US and our experiences in South East Asia [and] fit in seamlessly with New Delhi, India.”

Culling together all of these details, Shivani devised a design plan that encompassed all facets of Anasuya and Newley’s story as a couple. “Since their time in Delhi was to be brief, Anasuya and Newley wanted a quick but thorough home makeover,” Shivani begins. “The first meetings were mainly discussions covering a range as wide as their love for vintage, her divided but equal love for Calcutta and the US, the story of Newley’s name, their meeting and even his attachment to an old IKEA armchair, which I tried in vain to get him to trade up! Next came the fun bit, as we explored some popular and hidden sources searching for unique, furniture, art and textile. We traversed the chaos of New Delhi in my old Indian (Ambassador) car from the 1980s, which made for part of the experience — what couldn’t be found in Delhi, was bought in Calcutta.”

With room to spread out and enjoy the company of each other and Ginger, Anasuya and Newley are perfectly comfortable in their New Delhi home — however long they may be there until the next journey calls. —Kelli

Photography by Shivani Dogra

Image above: “The dining table was bought after the wall had been painted and went perfectly with it,” Shivani tells us. “The teak cabinet fit all of Anasuya’s crockery, and also fit in perfectly between the two niches — this was a serendipitous arrangement.”

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“The walls of the space had been freshly painted a standard cream before they moved in, so we painted only minimally,” Shivani says. “Two walls, one in the living room and the other in a bedroom were distressed and painted a dusty blue and pink to go with the old Indian mustard and white checkered floor.” Much of the crockery in the dining space is by Nicobar, an Indian homeware brand.

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Anasuya Sanyal, Newley Purnell and their dog, Ginger. When they’re not working, Anasuya loves knitting, embroidery and cooking and Newley is a big soccer fan.

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Beautiful bamboo blinds — handmade locally by Shri Bhagwan Thakedar — bring forth that traditional Indian aesthetic.

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“We worked with Shivani to create a real sanctuary which references the Indian milieu, without reaching for the typical/standard choices in Indian decor and palette,” Anasuya shares. “We also really love how ‘new’ vintage finds have been woven into things we’ve collected in our other postings in Asia.”

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A collection of vintage works and pieces made by Anasuya and Newley.

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Shivani says, “This room is a perfect mix of the clients’ old and new furniture — the yellow cabinet is theirs, the IKEA chair Newley would not give up was covered in a striped, linen textile; the bay window seating was made by us [and] is a favorite with Ginger!”

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Days can be hectic in Delhi, and it’s great to have a beautiful, calm oasis to unwind from work.

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The checkered flooring, detailed built-ins and sweet bay window are all character perks of living in an older home in this New Delhi neighborhood.

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“The bench is a foldable piece, bought at a steal in an old market — the piece on the wall above it is a balcony railing from an old house that was demolished.”

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“[We are] so thankful that [our home] truly reflects us and the way we live,” Anasuya and Newley tell us. “Also [we] like the convenience of its location.”

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Newley and Anasuya’s bedroom. Shivani notes, “We love the shade of pink which took us some time to achieve. It had be Indian and yet not too Indian. There’s not a synthetic element in this room;” from the wrought iron bed to the wood side tables and the linen bedding, all furnishings are made of pure materials.

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As the home had been painted recently, Shivani only had this wall and the dining room wall re-painted. Here, this stunning pink shade was mixed by local painter Rajinder.

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“A mix of east and west,” Shivani says. “An old pew bench is set against wallpaper with blue Indian motifs from one of Anasuya’s favorite designers. The paper was chosen to complement the mustard color on the floor and the blue wall in the living [room].”

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Interior designer Shivani Dogra in her old Indian Ambassador car, in which she drove around Newley and Anasuya while sourcing decor items for their home. Anasuya and Newley say of Shivani, “We mutually liked each other’s style and working together was smooth and fun. It was sad to see the project come to an end.”

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