A House of Memories and Heritage

Photography By Bagus Tri Laksono

In general, people build a house primarily for its function as a shelter to protect them from harsh weather and to bring them comfort. So, it is important that a house be adjusted to the local nature of its geographical location. Aside from its primary function, a house is also an important representation of the character, style and taste of the owner. These days, a luxury house has become a great showcase that exhibits the culture and heritage of its owner.

The house of the Menon family in the South Jakarta vicinity is one of the best examples where the house is designed following the culture and heritage of the owner.

As the first generation of ethnic Indian origin that migrated to Indonesia over two decades ago, Tiku and Shalini Menon are not only a couple of respectable society members but also great business practitioners.

Originally used as a banana plantation on a hillside of Jalan Kenanga Terusan in South Jakarta, the Menons purchased this land at the time of economic downturn. It was during 1998-2000 that the crisis hit Indonesia and many were sceptical about this Southeast Asia’s largest economy. Indeed, many had flown away, leaving the country. It was at the time of the crisis that the Menons decided to build their permanent home in South Jakarta, wherein the family has lived ever since.

The two-storey house, which was built 18 years ago, boasts a unique combination of colonial elements, modern rationalisation, and neo-classical refinement. The construction combines the high ceiling with extensive use of wooden element that gives a sense of warm and calm ambience.

The heritage and character of the house are seen as we enter the small lobby area of the house. Right there, you will not miss the decoration that features paintings and a collection of antique bric-a-brac. This small lobby on the ground flood leads us to two living areas, two dining spaces, a guest bedroom with en-suite bathroom, a powder room, pantry and large kitchen, and storage.

The ground floor is designed in an L-shape layout in a tropical house principle; all of the areas overlook the lush back garden and are separated by a series of glass doors and windows. While the ground floor is flooded by the bright and airy natural light during the day, the lighting from the swimming pool and garden sophistically illuminates the ambience in the evening.

Still, on the ground floor, this house also owns a living space for their staff, including 4 bedrooms, living, dining, kitchen, and their own private garden - making this overall ground floor design not only unique, but also thoughtful.

The ground floor of the house is also where the Menons display their magnificent art and antique collection from both Indonesia and India. We can also see the memorable display that features the family history in one part of the living room where a mini bar is located. The memorable display, which features a series of old photos of both Tiku and Shalini’s ancestors, beautifully adorn the background wall of the mini bar.

A teakwood staircase leads us to the private area on the second floor, which features bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms as well as a complete master suite that boasts a living area equipped with TV and raised bed section. The piece-de-resistance of this large master suite is none other than Shalini’s walk-in-wardrobe and bathroom complete with a jacuzzi and massage area overlooking the pool.

The master suite is not only designed to accommodate comfort but also done in such panache and has a subtle Indian touch through some mini wooden pillars that appear as part of the bookshelf. On this second floor, in addition to an array of artworks, we are also exposed to antique furniture pieces that have been passed down from generations in their family tree.

It is interesting to know that the couple takes full responsibility for building this house. Tiku, in consultation with Shalini, was responsible for the layout, down to the detailing on the exterior and interior fixtures of the house. An architect was hired to mastermind the architectural drawings, plumbing and electrification. Supervision of the construction was also conducted by Tiku. What is great about Tiku is that he is painfully particular about details, finish and quality. Once the house was officially handed over by the contractor, Shalini, in consultation with Tiku was responsible for the interior and on creating the house ambience. Every room design was sketched on paper, which made it easier to coordinate colours, lighting, furniture and artworks.

All in all, the Menons have not only built the house that reflects on their heritage originality, but also to create a home sweet home that stands the test of time. In their collaboration, we can say that Tiku made the house and Shalini made it a home.

The Menons and Their House

During the photo shoot of the house, we also had a further chat with this lovely couple about their beautiful house as well as their view on what an ideal house should be.

Indonesia Design (iD): May we start with a little bit of your background?

Tiku & Shalini Menon (TSM): We are first-generation migrants to beautiful Indonesia. Of ethnic Indian origin, work brought us here; hence, enabling us to discover and enjoy the beauty of the country and the warmth of its people. Now being long-term residents, we have interests in a few modest businesses and hope to be able to give back to a country that has given us a wonderful life.

iD: How would you describe the interior style of the house?

TSM: The house is a unique blend of colonial elements, modern rationalisation, and a noticeable neo-classical extravagance. It has taken upon itself to provide an oasis of calm and serenity for the occupants. The intent was to provide for a gracious lifestyle while delivering a more realistically comfortable living.

iD: In terms of interior design, what do you think plays an important role?

TSM: Lighting is one of them, if not the most important part of our interiors. It is the feature that sets the tone and mood and is also one of the most overlooked and yet important elements of good interior design. During our early years when we both were struggling to establish our presence in Jakarta, our first rented house had only overhead tube-lights, so I will never forget my excitement when Tiku came home with a brass table lamp as a gift. Next purchase was a table for it! For us, lighting is an essential component in terms of creating the mood and ambiance of a living space, so getting it right from the start is vital.

And since we don’t like exposing wires on the walls or floors, we both took a lot of time to create a lighting setup inside each and every space to ensure the wiring was done well before the house was finished. For our main living areas, we like soft glow to create calmness and comfort, but highlight works of art using things such as spots, table lamps, wall lights and floor lamps.

iD: Can you tell us about your art and antique collection?

TSM: Ours is a house of memories with many beautiful pieces that have passed down from generations. Tiku’s great-grandfather’s Rosewood roll-top table, my grandmother’s silver tea set with bone handles, a 3-foot tall brass lamp from our family temple, a wall lined with sepia family photographs and many more beautiful items we are lucky to have inherited. Over the years we have added to the collection with paintings, carpets and artefacts from Indonesia, India and the places we have travelled abroad. So each one of these items has its own story.

iD: What is your definition of a well-designed home?

TSM: A house where design meets function, and the bathrooms are as comfortable and liveable as the rest of the house

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Erza S.T.
Erza has pursued his great passion for opera and classical music for over a decade. His brainchild, the Indonesia Opera Society, has produced many classical music concerts and operas, and recently marked its 10th anniversary with a gala production. He is also a journalism lover focusing on luxury, lifestyle and travel stories, which he files from datelines around the globe.
Bagus Tri Laksono

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