Neelam Kothari Soni becomes an interior designer

After a brief hiatus from her traditional acting career, multifaceted actress Neelam Kothari Soni has made a comeback with the popular reality show Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives on Netflix during the pandemic. At the same time, she expanded her design aesthetic and ventured into the world of interior design by partnering with renowned architect Behzad Kharas to become part of LINK BNK.

Design is clearly something that Neelam holds very dear and if her designs are any indication, she puts her heart and soul into every project she works on.

His first residential project, for example, took nearly two years to complete. A sprawling apartment at One Avighna, a plush block in one of Mumbai’s uptown neighborhoods, it’s an elegant marriage of luxury and contemporary design. This project will feature in the second season of The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives where Neelam will be featured as an interior designer.

Designed for a family of three generations, each room at One Avighna reflects the personality of its occupants. “This house had to capture the culture and style of three generations of one family,” Neelam says in an exclusive interview with Friday. “The client wanted a home that was both modern and opulent, while the younger generation wanted something contemporary and rustic. Managing these contrasting styles was the biggest challenge.

The way she achieved this was to have “some commonalities in materials”.

While metallic and Art Deco patterns were used in some areas, chandeliers and ceiling wallpapers were included in the master bedroom to create a luxurious feel, she says.

The living room and dining room are the highlight of this home, the latter featuring a custom metal screen giving a feeling of space and privacy. ‘The apartment overlooks the Arabian Sea on one side and the racecourse on the other. With approximately 3,800 square feet and approximately 1,200 square feet of outdoor terraces and balconies, it has four bedrooms and an additional multipurpose room that can be used as a guest bedroom.

“We wanted the house to be a mix of contemporary and art nouveau. This is evident from the use of curved lines including arches and arched panels in the living room. From furniture to rugs, they all have a distinct art nouveau pattern with a play on geometry and softened edges. Striking pastels and brights balance the color palette and bring the space to life.

Neelam Kothari Soni with famous architect Behzad Kharas
Image Credit: Supplied

creative appeal

Design has always been in Neelam’s blood. If for three decades she made more than 40 films, many of which were super hits, she also simultaneously took over her family’s jewelry business by creating her brand “Neelam Jewels”.

Today, as an interior designer, she has honed her skills and enjoys her new role in the field of art.

“My personal taste in jewelry, style and decor has always been based on the idea that ‘less is more’. I especially like spaces that are minimalist but also have a piece that stands out or have a certain pop element. In the case of interiors, it can be a chandelier, an interesting table or a fantastic piece of art that catches the eye. My personal philosophy is to be simple and elegant If you see from my jewelry to my interior designs, creating elegance is something I strive for, however, that said, a home is a reflection of the client and even original designs can be elegant.

Working with local artisans, understanding new products, seeing new styles and designs online helps her stay on top of trends.

Transition to interiors

Although she made her mark as an actress and jewelry designer, it was a daunting decision for Neelam to venture into the uncharted world of interiors and space design. “Behzad and I have known each other for many years and every time I met him he would tell me why you weren’t trying interior design, it’s a beautiful space to live in,” she says, recalling his entry into the world of decoration. interior design.

Initially, she continued to “avoid the idea”, but eventually decided to try it with a project and see how it went. “Little did I know that I would end up loving the whole design process, watching a space come to life and putting fabrics and textures together. It was a hugely rewarding and fulfilling process.

While Behzad takes care of the details and the technical aspects, Neelam takes care of the style and the aesthetics. “It becomes a great partnership where I have someone strong to rely on and guide me.”

For Neelam, there was no mantra for success and his transition to an entirely new space was born out of passion. “You have to be passionate and love everything you do. Once you take something, you have to give it your 100 percent.

Work with glamorous friends

For those who came late, Neelam made his Bollywood debut in 1984 at the age of 16 in Jawaani. When she was not shooting for films, she used her time to train under her father and became a jewelry designer and businesswoman.

In three decades in the jewelry business, she has created a niche clientele of industrialists, royals and movie industry stars. In 2020, when the world came to an uncertain halt due to the pandemic, the first season of Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives was streamed online, bringing Neelam to people’s living rooms.

“Season 2 is supposed to come out in September or October 2022 and it’s going to be a lot of fun,” she says. “Season 2 is all the more special to me as it captures my journey into interior design with my first project. My personal relationship with Seema [Khan]maheep [Kapoor]and Bhavana [Pandey] is fantastic as they have been my friends for 25 years and I couldn’t have asked for more than to work with them.

What is the role she loves the most in real life – an actor, a jewelry designer or an interior designer?

‘I love creating jewelry the most because it is my true calling and my passion. Acting is what I love, but sometimes it can get extremely stressful. In the world of interiors, I would like to call myself a newcomer. It’s stimulating and exciting at the same time. Design has always been something I loved and trying out this new side of design has been a journey that has challenged me and pushed me to grow creatively. But I always had strong supporters.

background woman

Despite a busy work schedule, Neelam relies on her family and circle of friends for support and inspiration. She is married to actor Samir Soni and has a teenage daughter Ahana.

How does she maintain a work-life balance?

“These are professions that I love and luckily I have a very supportive family and husband who kind of give me my space and time. Juggling so many things and being a mother is tough, which is also part of why I was hesitant to get into interior design. But Sameer and I try to balance things out so that one of us is always there with Ahana. I have so much to do that my plate is always full, but I try to see things positively and make the most of my time.

She makes it clear that being a working mother, wife, mother and daughter can be difficult. “But it’s something I chose. I think for a woman to be successful and to pursue her dreams, she needs to have a partner and a family that allows her to do this and have a good support system at home. After that everything falls into place.

Current projects

Neelam and Behzad are jointly working on a few projects in India and hope to expand to other countries soon as well.

“We are about to complete a residence project for a Dubai-based client at the World Towers in Mumbai. Most projects have a universal design language. We help HNIs refine their own ideas and infuse our creativity, helping them elevate their lifestyle and way of life,” she says.

His on-screen life is also getting busy. “I have many interesting projects lined up, one of them being a project on Amazon Prime. I cannot divulge the details,” she says with her characteristic mischievous smile.

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