This Noida home renter has turned her concrete jungle into the Garden of Eden
No matter the season, Neha Sahai’s house is in full bloom
Neha Sahai and her husband move around so often, her friends call them modern day Banjaras. “We have lived on rent for the past eight years — from Mumbai to Bengaluru to Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Navi Mumbai and now we call Noida home,” she says. The couple has planted roots in a three-bedroom apartment that costs them Rs 22,000 in rent.
The apartment building is 20 years old, an outlier in the modern Noida of marble and glass, where Olympic-sized pools, clubhouses and in-house movie theatres lurk behind high gates with guarded intercoms. But one look at its sun-filled living room and spacious balcony, and the Sahais were sold.
The city may be cursed with the reputation of a concrete jungle, but Neha has recreated the Garden of Eden inside her Noida home with a #Spacelift. Tropical blossoms burst from every wall, fish fly through the air and vines tumble over the arms of chairs and spill onto the floor.
“Since I am an artist, the first thing I did was to paint the wall murals and my husband is a plant man, so he brought in dozens of plants,” Neha explains. For plant murderers who are eager to reform their bad habits, she suggests starting small with snake plants, aloe vera, spider plants and pothos. “They are all indoor plants that are easy to maintain, and only need water on alternate days.”
With a ‘more is more’ aesthetic, storage is high priority for this bohemian couple. “We have moved so many times but we still love to carry even the smallest of our knick-knacks with us,” she confesses. “I love to add layers, I never plan the look. I shop from flea markets and thrift shops when we travel. They just add a little spark to the place and every time you look at something, it brings back those memories.”
Being grounded and unable to travel means she scratches her retail therapy itch by checking out The Shop. “It’s the best for bohemians like me who love prints,” she says, recommending their affordable cotton fabrics and ceramics.
Like with most couples, the pandemic has forced them to carve out individual niches in their Amazonian abode in order to stay sane. “We have created two home offices for my husband. One in my studio, a table office along side my workstation and another one in the bedroom, so that we can work together when we wish to or work in the separate rooms where I paint while listening to jazz and he works with his shady ’90s Bollywood numbers.”
The idea of going all MF Hussain on the walls of a rented apartment might sound like you’re daring Murphy’s Law, but Neha has a failsafe tip. “The easiest way to do it right is to use a paper stencil. You can combine multiple stencils to create an interesting piece of art, by layering them on top of another or by placing them artistically. Then use acrylic colour or wall paint to complete the artwork.”
The artist’s favourite room in the home? Her studio. “I love being at home, but at the same time, I needed a space of my own. It’s a piece of heaven for me, filled with art supplies, wall murals, books, plants, flowers and lots of love and warmth.”
Are you living on rent and would like to share your beautiful home as inspiration for our Tweak family? Write to [email protected] with the subject line Spacelift 2.0 and you might just get featured.