Sunday, 31 March 2013

Where to Buy Colonial Antique Furniture in Mumbai

Hello fellow antique lovers.  Here is my guide to shopping for antique and colonial furniture in Mumbai, written for April edition of Chalo! Magazine.

Before I moved to Mumbai and my husband was left here on his own hunting for an apartment, I envisaged that we would end up in a dreamy colonial bungalow filled to the rafters with elegant furniture – plantation chairs, four poster beds draped with muslin wafting in the breeze and a study furnished with a fine Art Deco desk and one of those huge globes that would double as a drinks cabinet. 

Well it didn’t quite work out like that as we now occupy a modern 11th floor apartment with magnolia walls and cream tiled floors – and a heap of disgusting laminate furniture put there by our landlady.  Don’t get me wrong – I love our abode with its sea views and sunlight flooding through the sliding doors - but the place in no way fulfills my romantic notions! 

No matter. Since moving in, I have been gradually moving out the offensive items (which included a revolting black vinyl three piece suite), replacing each one with our solid wood finds.  I have a particular passion for antique colonial furniture (even before I left the UK) and so we spend many a weekend hunting down suitable pieces.  Furnishings that will not only fit our modern Bandra apartment but that will also suit our future home in the UK.  So I will now share with you my favourite places to shop.

Note: I like a bargain.  Some places in Mumbai (which I will still mention here), charge the earth so I will therefore focus on ‘good value’ and the ‘thrill of the hunt’.

Camelot - the shop itself is a dreamy colonial bungalow
Top of the list has to be Camelot in Kemps Corner.  The Camelot shop is a beautiful colonial villa worth a visit in its own right and I like the elegant, unfussy style of the place. There are two large rooms filled with genuine colonial antiques including armoires, huge plantation chairs, art deco desks, mirrors and the occasional artwork.  I have picked up a couple of side tables here for around 6,000-8,000 Rs each.   The prices are extremely realistic and the quality is good – each piece is handpicked.  The armoires and mirrored cupboards are in the 20,000 Rs range. Unfortunately, the place was outed after I wrote about it on my blog, and every time I go back the stock is relatively low but there is still enough to create interest. 

Above and below: our Chor Bazaar
find - before and after
Antique shopping cannot be mentioned without touching on good old Chor Bazaar.  I could spend hours on Mutton Street, sifting through trinkets and Bollywood Posters and going up and down the many narrow shops bulging with dusty furniture. You have to be able to haggle though.  We found a beautiful rosewood Indo-Portuguese chair for 18,000 Rs (the dealer started at 30,000 Rs but we still may have paid over the odds for that one) and a basic art deco wooden chair for only 4,000 Rs. The latter was reproduction and you will have to look very closely if you want the genuine article.  Personally, I’m not that fussed providing the look is right and the item is teak or rosewood. We also purchased a whole art deco sofa suite for about 40,000 Rs. When we discovered it in a filthy old attic of one of the showrooms, it was a complete wreck. But with the help of the dealer’s restorers, it was easily brought back to life with a fine polish and new upholstery - all included in the above price.  (I haven’t mentioned any specific dealers here – there are so many you just need to hunt around, comparing prices from shop to shop).

Oshiwara Furniture Market in Jogeshwari is similar to Chor Bazaar in concept.  But it’s not as much fun.  I find the antique dealers a bit surly and not so ‘up’ for haggling. And you will need plenty of energy and mosquito spray whilst you repeatedly tread up and down the many (very) narrow shops.   A lot of the stuff is repro (especially the art deco pieces) but any purchases can still go towards creating that beautiful colonial look.  We have picked up teak art deco style occasional tables for 4,000 Rs. If you enjoy the hunt, you will certainly enjoy Oshiwara.



The Great Eastern Home - every corner filled with top quality
furniture with prices to match.
For sheer designer class with huge prices to match, you want to visit The Great Eastern Home.  Set in an enormous mill complex, the many showrooms are spread over a very large area - all beautifully dressed and stocked.  I find the place a bit daunting and there is always someone following you and rushing to switch on the fans as you go from room to room.  But there is no doubting the quality of the inventory.  Coffee tables, mirrors and small chests are going to set you back tens of thousands of rupees and the larger pieces…well I haven’t bothered to enquire!  Definitely worth a look if you have the budget and want to do a ‘one stop shop’.

The Raj Company: the ground floor has all the original antiques
Similarly high prices and quality can be found at the The Raj Company.  Opposite Mahalaxmi racecourse is a large building where you can wonder around unhindered.  The ground floor contains all the genuine antiques – mostly in an unrestored state, which you can then have brought back to life using their team of craftsmen.  I enquired about an art deco suite and they quoted 1 lakh to restore, upholster and deliver – so about 100% more than the suite we purchased in Chor Bazaar.  On the floor above is a warren of rooms displaying beautiful reproduction campaign chests, wardrobes, beds, dining sets and much more.  All top quality stuff with prices to match.

The famed Philips Antiques in Colaba sells mostly artefacts, engravings and other easily transportable items for tourists.  What you may not know, is that they also have a huge warehouse in Wadala East which showcases very nice antique colonial furniture that has all been beautifully restored.  Their art deco pieces (my particular passion as you may have guessed) are to die for.  Again, the prices are pretty toppy (tens of thousands of rupees upwards), but if you want something with a reassuring provenance, then this is the place to come. 

Moorthy's - filled to the rafters
Moorthy's in Tardeo is a recent discovery - a large warehouse tucked away up a narrow lane filled to the rafters with the most beautiful finds. You will need at least an hour for a proper browse as everything is stacked high and some of it well hidden.  If you have a particular requirement, Mr or Mrs Moorthy will assist you in finding and adapting a particular piece.  For example, a 200 year old Gujurati cradle that we had converted into a coffee table.  Prices are on the steep side but you can be assured that your purchase will come with a good story or history.

Fancy something a bit more bespoke or made to measure?  Try Colonial Collections in Fort.  The shop is quite small so there are only a few examples of furniture on display (including elegant sofas for around 1 lakh).  But rifle through the many brochures and you may well find exactly what you want – they will re-create it for you using their team of skilled carpenters.  I was quoted 45,000 Rs for a 40 inch square, solid teak coffee table with glass top.  They seem to favour the unfussy style of US brand Stickley. 

Lastly, I want to mention the well-hidden Anemos in Raghuvanshi Mills, which is very near your beloved Goodearth.  Anemos is actually a shop retailing high quality ceiling fans (it’s on the row of units on the left, before you turn right into Goodearth.  But if you go in and ask to look at the antiques, they will take you to a large showroom upstairs that is not visible from the street – filled with the most glorious selection of Indian and colonial antiques and art work.  I love the staff here – so friendly, helpful and unobtrusive.  The pieces are all very nice quality with some unusual items thrown in such as the book-shelves that fold up in different ways and the hexagonal, sectioned side tables.  My husband and I have recently eyed up a gorgeous teak drinks cabinet for about 45,000 Rs.  They will also give you a discount if you ask nicely.

There are many other hidden places in Mumbai where you can hunt down antiques but I need to do much more research on that…perhaps I will do a Part 2 some day!


DIRECTORY

Anemos
Krishna House, Gr. Flr.,
Raghuvanshi Estate,
Senapati Bapat Marg, 

Camelot
127 Kemps Corner
Next to Om Chambers
Mumbai
Tel: 91 (22) 2364 4594

Chor Bazaar
The main hub is Mutton Street
(Note closed Fridays for a general market)

Colonial Collections
Trafford House
6, Ghanshyam Talwalkar Marg,
Opp., Cathedral High School, Fort
www.colonialcollectionsindia.com

Moorthy's
5/1, Survodava Mills Compound
136, Tardeo Road
Mumbai 400 036

Oshiwara Furniture Market
Ramjanak Singh Compound
Oshiwara Bridge, SV Road
Jogeshwari (W)

Philips Antiques
Warehouse No. 13,
Western India Steel Traders Compound, 1803, Fort Road,
Next to Godrej Vegetable Oil Mills, Wadala (East)
www.phillipsantiques.com


The Great Eastern Home
The New Great Eastern Mills
25-29, Dr. Ambedkar Rd (Near Rani Baug)
Byculla

The Raj Company
Volga House , 1 - C, K. Khadye Marg, 
Opp. Race Course, Mahalaxmi,




11 comments:

  1. That's a rare list to find. I had just heard of 3 of the above. And of those, I always wondered where Chor Bazaar actually was!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,
      Since 1975; We are an Indian based manufacturer and exporter of handmade wooden furniture and antique reproduction furniture having showrooms in chor bazar and manufacturing unit in Mazgaon. We manufacture entire range of antique furniture, living room furniture, bedroom furniture, dining furniture and office furniture using all types of woods like teakwood, rosewood, etc. Using only the best raw materials, our superb quality handcrafted furniture is well known worldwide and made from solid wood, so it lasts a lifetime. We are able to offer complete flexibility in terms of designs, sizes and finishing to satisfy our customers for their furnishing needs with quality, value and service; hence majority of our business is from repeat customers.

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  3. Ah. Youve just shattered the dreams i have of the home we might have in Pune (were contemplating a move with the boyfs job) but its good to know that style is out there to be found. X

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Em! Ha, a dreamy colonial bungalow really isn't practical - lots of rats and mosquitos from what I hear. Best to stay in a tall modern apartment block! Come to India you will love it...and happy shopping if you make it here. Bye for now.

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  4. Hi, Thanks for putting this list together though it makes me a little wistful for our Portuguese, colonial-style house in Goa that used to be chock full of beautiful, antique furniture. By the way, there are antique dealers there and I'd be inclined to think their prices would be more reasonable than Mumbai. Also, it wouldn't surprise me if some people are even willing to sell directly. Hopefully I'll be able to redecorate that house someday (that's what brought me to this blog). It looks fascinating - I'll be back to read it some more.

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    1. Thanks for visiting Elsie and I hope my directories are of use to you. Your house in Goa sounds gorgeous - completely up my street! I remember seeing a couple of antique dealers near Palolem but never got round to visiting them. We did buy a lovely cabinet in Cochin but then had the hassle of having it shipped back to Mumbai. But it was worth it. Hope to see you again soon!

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  5. Have you come across any places in Mumbai selling vintage suitcases?

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  6. hello ,Just stumbled across your blog,found it informative. Have some antique furniture (100 to 200 years old ) and around 250 lp vinyls (from 1850 to 1950 )..Was wandering if i could get some genuine help in ascertaining its value and sell them .

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    Replies
    1. Send me pictures n your price

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  7. I love this blog. Its really very nice. Here we can get antique furniture.home furniture for sale I like to know more about it sothat I can buy

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