The three-acre land has a compound wall built with the local stone “chappadi.” There is one gate, which is guarded. There are no compound walls between the houses. The common area has been landscaped, while each house has a small garden to be maintained by the respective household. Children can play happily without any obstructions and traffic. None of the houses are plastered from outside. The brick houses have an aesthetic look and they seem to instantly connect you to the natural environs of which huge trees and chirping birds are a part.
A peep into the house of the Iype’s enhances one’s understanding of the philosophy of the couple. As you enter the house, you get a sense of openness as the drawing room leads to the open kitchen, a bedroom for guests and a large verandah, which leads to the courtyard. A wooden staircase connects the spaces below and the rooms above. It has a simple, basic plan where the space is kept uncluttered. The front of the house is open while the backyard offers privacy.
The house has two courtyards — one in the ground floor and the other on the first floor. One of them has natural slates used for the floor along with yellow oxide with transparent polycarbonate sheets as roof cover to let light in. One can sit on the local `chappadi kallu” converted into a bench and be one with nature. The backyard has small traditional Kerala-style windows to let birds into the house. The chappadi stone is used with single layer dressing to retain its originality for the sills and lintels. The sills have recycled wood from old doors. All the sills have enough space to sit, something that we usually get to see in villages.
Then there is a simple, open kitchen with a granite service area, which can be used to serve food. It doubles as a space for children to do their homework. Slate has been used for bathroom flooring, which requires maintenance as no acids or harsh detergents can be used on it. Terracotta tiles have been used for flooring in the entire house with some of them being over burnt to create a particular design. Terracotta not only helps in maintaining temperature but also connects one to Mother Earth. Ms. Chawla says that they would like to walk barefoot at home, which has been possible because of terracotta tiles.
The wooden stairs lead to an open study created with small, vertical, evenly spaced windows. There are two bedrooms, one for the parents and one for the children. The bedroom opens to a closet where you can keep your clothes and other things, which leaves the bedroom uncluttered and clean. The doors have louvers to increase air circulation. The doors are made of “hone” wood and are not painted. They are polished with linseed oil and cashew oil, which is a signature theme of the house. The house spreads the sweet smell of cashew.