Posted 12/01/2021

While people’s homes are a true reflection of themselves, it is the powder rooms that allows for an opportunity to experiment. Architect Ahsan Ansari of Clay Architecture & Interiors in Mumbai shares his experience on the making of the library-washroom.

What is it about doing up powder bathrooms that you find most exciting?
Since it’s the one place to show guests another side of you, I always suggest to my clients to allow me to go all out and get as creative as possible. You should do something different to surprise your guests…and let this be another reflection of your space, and of your larger personality too. The design of the room can really bring out one’s fun side, and that’s what I love!  

Tell us the thought process behind the library-bathroom. What was the brief…. 
While designing the home, the owners brief was to create a very quirky space and they didn’t want normal white walls and other regular elements. When it came to the powder room, I realised that it’s a great space for books and magazines, as it’s always nice to have something to read in there. The client loved the idea too, and eventually we decided to work with a vintage feel. The floor has Portuguese tiles, and there’s an old-fashioned WC with a water tank above it and a chain to flush. As some would not be familiar with it, we added a frame on the wall with a picture of the handle saying ‘Tug Lightly’. The washbasin is set within an old-time writing desk that we got modified and painted. You can actually close the cover of the desk to hide the basin. The entire room is like a little library. We also incorporated books on the shelves as light reads to browse through.


What was the thought behind adding video art? What other elements did you include?
The video art is by Pushpamala K – it’s a soundless, one-minute video loop where it starts with a blank screen and then a lady in a sari comes out from behind the curtain and then disappears! I love the piece and always wanted to use it somewhere. The clients loved it, so we went ahead to add that element of quirk in the bathroom. The experience is fun!
And there’s always a need to hang something when you visit the washroom…so for the hook, we used a brass scissor that we wedged into the back of the door for people to hang their bags and stoles.  

The lighting for the space is limited, giving it a dark feel – what was the intention behind it?
It’s basically to set an ambiance. We’ve given a switch to make the lights brighter when wanted, but most of the time it’s dim to keep with the mood. The shelves have some candles too.

What materials did you use for the space?
The basin cabinet is made of wood with a marble top, with a Kohler washbasin and tap. The other open shelves and cabinets are just painted wood. The mirror is a small, oval-shaped brass one from Chor Bazaar that we’ve kept on a shelf instead of hanging on a wall.

Your tips to add a creative touch or a vintage look….   
Simple elements like a Chor Bazaar light or a chandelier in a corner do wonders to a space. Just hang the light low in a corner, and it does the trick. You can also play around with neon signs, especially if the room is small.  

Your 3 favourite washroom reads….

1/ Travel and Leisure (a must read….)

2/ Artists James Turrels book on his approach to lighting –
James Turrell: A Retrospective

3/ Artist Wolfgang Tillman’s photography book


Ahsan Ansari, Principal Architect, Clay Architecture & Interiors, Mumbai

“I set up my practice seventeen years ago and since then, my array of work has ranged from urban residences and weekend retreats to retail spaces and offices. The essence of my work is based on a set of intangibles: Intuition, emotion, shared memories and experience. All my designs focus on the seamless integration between natural and built environments.”


Text: Compiled by The Blue Pencil Design Company

Images: Courtesy Clay Architecture & Interiors