One & Only promises to be a one-stop destination for interior decorators and house-proud persons

The heritage Beach Palace at Shanghumughom is a link to the Thiruvananthapuram of yore. It was used only for the traditional Arattu ceremony of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple conducted by the royal family of erstwhile Travancore and it remained closed to the public.

But the winds of change have touched this delightful palace on the beach on account of the entrepreneurial and creative skills of two couples – entrepreneurs Sanjiv Sunu, and his wife, Geetha Sunu, and architects T.M. Cyriac and his wife, Nisha Cyriac. The couples have combined their love of history and art with their expertise in interior design and furniture design to renovate the magnificent building and its premises and to introduce a one-stop interior design haven called One & Only.

I enter the courtyard of the building to be greeted by glass fountains with a Ganesha and ocean motifs. The main palace now holds several intricately carved pieces of furniture befitting their royal abode. Teak and mahogany wood (veneer and plywood are a complete no-no) have been polished to achieve an unsurpassed sheen.

A passionate furniture designer, Sunu explains to me that the kiln drying process (seldom used in India) has been employed to attain this sheen. Pieces have been sourced locally, nationally and even internationally. The furniture mixes old world charm and beauty (featuring Sheraton and Hepplewhite styles) with modern functionality.

Mix and match

The store also uses the novel concept of “mix and match” furniture where patrons can purchase different pieces and are not constrained to buy all the pieces in a set. Quaint what-nots, chairs and consoles rub shoulders in the rooms with regal four-poster beds, bureaus, dressers and dining sets. The dining tables have expandable eaves to enable owners to expand or shorten the tables as per their guest list. The comfortable chairs and sofas are upholstered in leather or in beautiful fabrics. Some are intricately carved and feature classic Victorian reliefs and secret compartments.

One & Only also stocks artwork sourced from around the world, with an emphasis on local art. The paintings range from vibrant oils of tropical flowers to sombre Buddhist monks. Artifacts from around the globe are in evidence in the Balinese masks, ceramic pieces, black and white photographs of old Travancore and elegant elephant planters strewn around the rooms. Mirrors and lighting fixtures complete the establishment's claim as a one-stop destination for interior solutions. The lighting fixtures range from glass mosaic globes to a flamboyant red chilly pepper-shaped hanging lamp.

The palace itself is a work of art restored to its former glory by the passion and perseverance of the couples who kept the interiors true to the original except for adding lighting and music.

Visitors are free to roam through the palace courtyards and to explore the exteriors. While outside, don't forget to check out the unique gazebos constructed from exported coconut wood (our own coconut trees unfortunately slant rendering them unfit for gazebo construction). Seat yourself on a comfortable wooden swing and enjoy the breeze and the quiet while you decide what to buy for your home.