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Interior Designer Meera Pyarelal On Her Journey And More

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Nayare Ali

Coming from a family of award-winning doctors, and married to one as well, Meera Pyarelal’s foray into interior design could be considered a departure. However, there is a connection between these two seemingly disparate fields. Whether it’s safeguarding human lives or restoring the historical and personal significance of a home, both involve taking good care and putting in effort to protect and preserve what is most precious to us.

“When I was growing up, I had always thought I’d become a doctor but I’m the only one who veered away from the expected path,” Meera says with a laugh. Her father, Padma Shri award-winning general surgeon, Dr KP Haridas, is also quite artistic and enjoys doing calligraphy as a hobby.

“He would say performing surgery is like creating a work of art. However, as I got older, I discovered my passion for maintaining a beautiful home and creating a certain atmosphere in the rooms. That’s when it dawned upon me that being a doctor wasn’t the right path for me,” she reveals.

Earning a master’s degree in English Literature, Meera got married at the age of 20, and her life took a different direction as she became deeply engrossed in setting up her home. It was then, while doing up her apartment in 1999, that she truly embraced her passion for interior design.

“After we bought our first property, a holiday home in Cochin, I began searching for furniture but couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for,” Meera reminisces about the times she spent flipping through issues of Inside Outside magazine. So, she decided to make her own furniture, and when people saw her finished home, they loved it. With two carpenters in the garage, doing up the homes of extended family and friends, is how Meera began her interior design business. Over the next two decades, this venture evolved into her own brand, Temple Town, specialising in colonial furniture.

“I love colonial furniture because it combines the finest European style with a touch of indigenous influence,” says Meera, who spent her early years in the UK and the Middle East due to her father’s postings. The family eventually returned to India, settling in Thiruvananthapuram when Meera was in Class 9.

She reflects on that time, saying, “It was challenging for both my sister and me, and it took us a while to adapt to the small-town culture. However, I had the best of both worlds when it came to design influences. As a child, I was exposed to a lot of European aesthetics, but upon returning to India, my design sensibilities were also enriched by our country’s heritage. Looking back, those travels and experiences abroad shaped my passion for creating homes that blend both influences.”

Preserving The Past, Embracing The Present

This mix of different styles and influences has come together beautifully in Meera’s impressive renovation of Kollara House, her husband’s 20,000sq ft ancestral home in Thrissur. Meera moved in after marrying Dr KC Pyarelal, and they currently reside there with their two children, Harishankar and Parvati, as well as Meera’s mother-in-law.

The renovation of the house began 11 years back and took four years to complete and it now boasts of seven bedrooms, three living rooms, a 16-seater dining table, home theatre and gym. Meera approached the project one section at a time, tackling each wing separately.

Revealing her design process, she says, “I enjoy getting to know the family’s preferences and needs before diving into the design. Once I understand their favourite colours and requirements, I gain creative freedom.” Meera applied the same principles to her own family, paying close attention to their needs and tastes.

“We’ve crafted a family residence that balances elegance and glamour in its primary gathering spaces while creating a more laid-back atmosphere for the bedrooms and upper floor,” she explains.

Ancient family heirlooms have been meticulously conserved, while modern additions effortlessly harmonise with them. The presence of wooden ceilings, Tanjore paintings and vibrant patterns from traditional Athangudi tiles, eco-friendly handcrafted gems from Tamil Nadu’s Chettinad region, all alongside antique Kerala massage beds ingeniously repurposed into stunning coffee tables, sets the unique ambiance of the house. Elaborately carved day beds, cane-back Irish Chippendale dining chairs, custom-made droplet chandeliers and touches of gilt combine to create a unique and personalised home.

A Cosy Family Haven

While Kollara House projects a subtle atmosphere with its minimalist design and subdued colour palette, certain rooms project vibrant bursts of colour, such as pinks and reds. Meera says this was a deliberate choice, part of her vision.

“The public areas of the house have a lot of beiges and white as people in Kerala are not too fond of bright colours. But I wanted to bring a pop of colour into my home, and this was my way of achieving that,” she explains, pointing to the original Art Deco furniture reupholstered in opulent of the business. Her son Harishankar is currently COO of Temple Town, having joined the company after completing his master’s degree at Warwick University.

“He is very keen on evolving our brand into a homegrown luxury label with expansion plans all over India,” Meera says, in anticipation of how the next generation will further advance the brand.

Interview: Nayare Ali; Photos: Interiors — Justin Sebastian; Portrait — Prateek Arun; Coordination: Amber Tikari

This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in Hello! India’s April 2024 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!