This Family of Four’s House is Colorful, Mural-Filled, and India-Inspired

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Living area with leather sofa, rattan furniture, navy walls, and basket wall in corner

Name: Sunita Chhabra, husband, Raj, and two kids, Mira (2), and Kabir (5)
Location: Sydney, Australia
Type of home: House
Size: About 3,983 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

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Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I live with my husband, Raj, and two kids, Mira (2) and Kabir (5). Being first-home buyers, we didn’t have much of an idea on what we would need when we built this home. With a set budget in mind, we choose a basic structure with only essential upgrades. We didn’t plan on living here this long at that time, to be honest. Ideally, we would have loved some old-world charm with an exposed brick wall, high ceilings, arches, and maybe even a fireplace, something with a lot more aesthetic!

Our house also came with a set color scheme, which included the whitest of the white walls, and I have a slight aversion to white walls. I had been itching to paint them for quite some time now, so the day we went into lockdown last year, I went on a mission to paint the house and bring some color energy into it. I have always loved the idea of murals, and following Liz Kamarul and a few others on Instagram gave me some confidence to take the plunge.

Having a background in arts and design for over 15 years now, I have always loved things with pattern, things that are handmade, quirky, and most importantly, vibrant. I grew up in India, and that has had a strong design influence on me in terms of color.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved collecting artful pieces that narrate stories of the culture and tradition and what goes on behind the scenes to bring that piece to life. I remember this one time during a school trip to a palace in Rajasthan, we were in this exquisite museum shop where I purchased a little paper bag with an elephant painting on it for 100 Rupees — that was the cheapest thing in that shop — and my parents nearly fell off the chair when I showed it to them! They couldn’t believe someone would spend that much money on an empty paper bag, but for me, that was art, a memory of that trip. And I still have it with me 20 years later!

The primary bedroom. We just moved our old bed (that I never liked anyway) out to make room for the big work desk for my husband, and I am loving the mattress on the floor look for the time being.

I read somewhere that objects have many lives, and having some heirloom pieces passed on by grandparents and parents that I would love to pass on to my kids one day, I cannot agree with the statement more! It’s also a big reason why I love shopping for pre-loved vintage pieces from Facebook Marketplace, antique/thrift stores, and garage sales.

My mum calls our house my museum, filled with artifacts and curated pieces that represent us — our little world that we have put together with memories.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Colorful, happy, cozy, and handmade

The pink living room is my favorite, although it’s always the messiest!! As a family, most time is spent together here playing games, watching TV, snuggling, and most times, even having dinner.

I can see everyone when I am cooking in the kitchen, the kids often come and sit on the bar stools with their toys and keep me company… it’s messy but super cozy!

I painted a quote I love from an Indian folk tale above the window. It’s derived from an Indian folktale when King Akbar asked his advisor to come up with a quote that makes sense in happy as well as adverse times, and he wrote “Yeh waqt bhi guar jayega” (This too shall pass.)

The abstract shape mural on the white wall behind the TV is also one of my favorites. It was an idea I saw on the Jungalow Blog painted using Porters sample paint boxes, and it transformed the room in an instant! Justina Blakeney has inspired me in more ways than anyone else!

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I purchased was the piranha hanging in my son’s room. It’s a real piranha from Brazil, and I got it off Marketplace. My son loves sea animals, reptiles, and dinosaurs and loved his creepy present.

My son loves dinosaurs, so it was a no-brainer and super easy to paint his room. He helped me pick the ones he liked. I chose the top four from the list of 35!

Any advice for creating a home you love? Decorate your story, and surround yourself with things that make you happy. If you have been waiting to paint some walls, just do it; it’s easier than you think and heaps fun!

For my girl’s room I used Dulux "Evening Blush." I added with some Plaster of Paris to give a lime wash chalky effect. Over it, I have painted the murals. She loves animals and always talks about the little characters on the wall. That makes me so happy.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.