Massive plots with rambling buildings, set amongst verdant gardens seemed to be the real estate flavour in the posh Dalanwala area in Dehradun. Some of the houses are colonial in look while others borrow from Art Deco style. All of them had one thing in common- long driveways studded with a bed of loose gravel and red brick lined flower beds; all nestled in the generous canopy of at least 50-year-old trees.
One such house is the Dhawan house which had a few surprises in store for us to stumble upon. My client and I had entered here with the notion of having a coffee in a cosy cafe here while discussing a few design ideas. But when we entered, the sheer chicness of the place took me by surprise. I was not expecting a medley of Greco-Mediterranean decor in the open air cafe which also shared space with a nail spa boutique and a high-end interior decor item store.
Pleasantly surprised, we sought out the owner – Mrs Sonal Dhawan who turned out be a vivacious and bubbly lady with uber entrepreneurial skills and an excellent taste. At our insistence, she told us her business journey that started with one afternoon when she was feeling sorry for herself over a lack of something to do. A dear friend (who co-incidentally is also a well-known and talented architect of Dehradun) suggested to her to launch a retail store and cafe with a difference. Support came from her Father-in-law who offered the use of the empty spaces in one of their property compounds and her husband who was damn sure that she could make a success out of it.
Sonal had always felt the dearth of good and tasteful gifting items in Dehradun, especially in the luxury section. She and many others in her social circle would shop from Delhi every time. Plus a hangout zone initially just for her friends which had good reasonable food with an excellent ambience was also something that had been on her mind for ages. Sonal was also conscious of an emerging hot trend of nail spas which were mushrooming in tier -1 cities.
Lo and behold an idea was born!
A powerful trio of trends that was turned into reality by the playful and fresh decor by Malvika who studded the serene backyard with class and verve. Brilliant blue painted awnings & doors coupled with a white stucco finish on the walls and low ledges, lent a classic Mediterranean feel to the complex. Verdant green canopies of the lush bushes and trees lend a dramatic dimension to the open air cafe which apart from its settings of white-painted metal chairs and tables also had a covered section – resembling a gazebo setting under a corrugated roof. Brightly coloured baskets full of plants dangle from a twisting tree which reminds one of the enchanted forest of Enid Blyton worlds.
A little recce and loads of good taste coupled with her skills as a gracious hostess, set Sonal to open a store where she now stocks quirky, trendy and stylish items from well-known brands like The FCML store, ELVY- gifting solutions and a few others.
From English garden tea sets, melting clocks, vividly Painted metal tea boxes, expensive crystal vases, glassware, art, innovative platters, votives………. The list is simply endless. Every item is selected by Sonal personally with great taste and a confident knowledge of the wallet power of Dehradun locals. An intuitive eye on the pulse of her demanding customer base plus when what will sell based on changing festivals, has served Sonal well enough to turn her store into a runaway success in a couple of years.
Accessory2Design is an Interior design consultancy firm that lends itself to reviewing interior products and stores. If you would like us to visit and review you. please get in touch with us at [email protected]