This week You! takes a look at the gorgeous interiors of Mr Salim Ataullah and Mrs Rashidah Salim’s abode in Nathiagali...
In an attempt to develop a space which is warm, cosy and homey, one needs to put their heart and soul in order to create an ambiance that makes anyone feel at home when they visit. Especially when you want to unwind and have a peaceful family time, you yearn to be surrounded by nature. Keeping this in mind, when Karachi-based Mr Salim Ataullah and Mrs Rashidah Salim wanted a summer retreat, they decided to build a home in the serene and gorgeous surroundings of Nathiagali. “Salim had lived in Ghoragali with his family in his early days as his dad was a doctor and in-charge of all the schools and colleges there. So it was only natural to want to go back whenever we had the opportunity,” recalls Mrs Salim.
“The house was completed in 2003. We camped in one of the bedrooms initially, as that was the only space habitable. Work was in progress in full swing and the labourers would sleep in the room across ours. We only had an electric kettle in the incomplete kitchen and that’s how we managed initially,” she shares.
It took the Salims three summers to complete their beautiful home. “We wanted a three bedroom house where our family could spend their holidays. We opted for stone walls, using stone from the nearby mountains which were also easily available. We wanted to use a lot of wood too but weather conditions are such in Nathiagali that the wood warps, hence we used wood sparingly. But we certainly wanted wood rafters on our ceilings and we got that done. For the windows, we chose aluminium as that is easy to maintain as when building a home in the mountains, one has to be careful with the kind of material you use - material that won’t spoil easily and is easy to maintain. Throughout the house, sheesham wood flooring has been installed with tile inlays in some places,” explains Mrs Salim. The floors have vibrant carpets and rugs to add to the warmth of the room.
Both Mr and Mrs Salim spend around four to five months in their Nathiagali home every year.
An impressive sword decorates the wall in the atrium. “It was gifted to us by the Base Commander of the PAF Base in Kalabagh,” she recollects.
Once the house was ready, it was now time to furnish and decorate it. “Credit goes to my daughter-in-law, Ainee Shehzad Salim, for doing a brilliant job. All the furniture was custom-made by Ainee to suit a particular corner or room.”
Talking about their Nathiagali home, Ainee Shehzad Salim, interior decorator and designer of the house, tells, “The idea behind the Nathiagali home was a family and friends’ holiday home in the beautiful mountains... connecting with nature for rejuvenating. When the time came to decorate it, I had a rustic countryside feel in mind - materials which were in sync with nature and the local landscape making it a cosy, warm and welcoming home.”
The sitting area and the dining room are on the upper storey. “It had to be one area, where friends and family engaged in different activities; where they could be together, something we miss in the lives of a metropolis. The material used came from local handicrafts. Basic country and mountain features had to be combined artistically with modern and current day living requirements,” Ainee, while giving details regarding the warm interior.
“The furniture pieces had to be simple yet have a strong design element, which is important to me. My inspiration from travelling to different parts of the world translated into a collection of eclectic country designs that makes the place interesting and visually attractive every time you see it. The balcony right next to the living area and the big windows brings the outdoors as a feature of the area. The strategically placed mirrors reflect the outdoor,” she elaborates.
The bedrooms have stone walls and classic wood furniture with lovely paintings on the wall. The windows have very light blinds so that they don’t take away from the surrounding beauty, both inside and outside the bedroom. The sitting room windows are bare, with only colourful window dressings that Mr Salim got from Haripur. “The windows to me are not bare, as they show the beauty of nature. Why would one want to see a span of fabric when you have fabulous hundreds of years old trees as a visual,” interjects Ainee.
And then there’s the multi-functional attic. “The attic is a fun yet comfortable hideaway. The children love being there. It has a treasure of indoor games and has a provision of upto eight happy youngsters sleeping there. It has been a favourite place for my kids Nireen, Sameer and their cousins and friends while growing up,” Ainee fondly reminisces.
The house is beautified with tasteful accessories and artefacts in every nook and cranny. “The walls have Nireen’s photographs from her exhibition and several other paintings collected over the years. A few are my students’ works. There are handicraft pieces on the walls and tapestry. It is a myriad of decorative features, all diverse. Each one is special as it has a story behind it.
Our home is a perfect retreat where we rejuvenate and celebrate life with family and friends. The beautiful walks, the clouds coming in, sipping tea on the balcony, cuddling up in bed on a cold night, sitting in front of the fireplace, eating pakoras on a rainy day, the strong patter of rain on the ceiling and the beautiful times with friends on the balcony till the wee hours of the morning are beautiful moments, incomparable to any other,” signs off Ainee Shehzad Salim.