Here’s a look at the joint-family lifestyle of three couples who live with their parents but have their own independent space within the family home…
By Fareeha Qayoom
Parents in our country like to get their kids married off as early as possible. The average age for men is 25-30 and for women 15-22. Unfortunately, this means the men are not established enough in their careers or businesses to afford a separate place for their wives.
They usually end up sharing space with their parents. This is called joint family system and is a phenomenon that crosses all classes in our society and over the rural and urban population divide. This in large part has to do with the economics of real estate. An average couple can’t afford to build or buy a home of their own since property prices are real high in this country and incomes don’t match the mortgage rates. Couples have no choice but to start their first homes under their parents’ roof. This is usually a one room apartment – if the parents feel generous, they will allocate a couple of rooms – one bedroom and a lounge. If they are practical people and they have space, they will create a separate portion with a small kitchenette – a home within a home for the couple. Most couples however, do not expand beyond one bedroom apartment living till they have enough cash to move out on rent or till their kids reach school going age. Even then, space vs. money is an ongoing issue. Most couples have to move right out to suburbs to have a reasonable lifestyle on rent or when they buy their first home. You have to be mega rich to afford a town house in DHA, Tech Society, EME or Canal View.
Kehkeshan (Keshi) and Raza Ahmad, Sehr and Adnan Lone and Fatima and Ahsan Lone have solved this problem in a very innovative way. They made their first homes as comfortable as possible to last another four to five years if they have to with the kids growing underfoot while they dream of moving on to a bigger and better space.
Fatima and Ahsan Lone
An Eclectic Mix
Fatima and Ahsan live in the heart of Gulberg. They have a small 2 bedroom apartment upstairs with two exits in their parent’s home. “I was allocated one bedroom and an extra at the start of my marriage,” says Fatima. “We expanded because there was a desperate need for more space. I have two daughters and an active social life. To create more room, we lifted the extension on columns over the car porch.”
Fatima did not consult any professional however, she did have help. “My sister has extensive on the job training. She has built five houses. We also had the building contractor who helped us put our ideas together. But mostly it was my sister and I who did the structural design. As far as interiors are concerned, this is all my work. I knew exactly what I wanted and I knew my budget. Happy to say I achieved my objective – the look in the least possible cost!”
Fatima has two bedrooms with attached bathrooms upstairs, one Lounge, a small kitchenette without the cooking facility and a balcony that overlooks the back yard. “My younger daughter still does not have a room with us upstairs. Unfortunately, we did not have more room to expand.”
Fatima regrets not having a separate powder room, more storage space and room for the house-maid. “The maid is the most important person for the working mom. Unfortunately, my younger daughter is sharing her room with the maid. Ideally, I would love to have more storage space, two more rooms, one for my younger daughter, and the other for the maid and a separate powder room.”
Fatima’s place is full of contemporary and period furniture but somehow it all works out. “I was looking for function over form. French period furniture just came back in fashion so didn’t have to change my bedroom furniture at all though I wanted a contemporary living room. Am proud to say I saved a lot of money by doing my own thing – as a practice, I bought one expensive item and then added on the accessories. ”
Fatima thinks joint family lifestyle is ideal for the working mom. “This feels like home. When you have your own space, you want to take care of it and keep it nice. There is nothing like it if you can swing it – you have the advantages of joint family and yet your own independence. I wouldn’t want to move. Except we will have to four five years down the line, I only want to move once to a 2 Kanal house and that’s it.”
Modern and Contemporary
Keshi & Raza live in Sector J, DHA in a self contained upstairs unit. “We want to sell this house and move to DHA Phase V. I’d like to build a contemporary home that gives our space a feeling of openness and privacy at the same time. I have been living here for the past 13 years – this is an old house and has been built on very traditional lines,” says Keshi smilingly.
Keshi has a self contained 2 bedroom apartment upstairs – two bedrooms (one master bedroom & one kid’s room), a living room, study that doubles up as a dining room, a small kitchenette and a patio. “I didn’t do any structural changes, converted the store to a kitchenette after my first baby’s birth. Just changed the floor to imported Spanish tile finish in the lounge and bedroom and the kid’s room to a wooden floor. Oh yes, converted the closet to walk in wardrobe in the master bedroom and inserted an entrance door to give us additional privacy.”
Keshi keeps changing her décor. “This is a recent look – it’s very contemporary and minimal. I am still thinking about the windows in the living room – so far, have not done a thing about curtains/blinds whatever. Yes, I had a design consultant Omer Rauf (Sub-Culture) design the living room wall. A couple of my pieces are from Sub-Culture and Studio O’s Omer Nabi. I have also started collecting original art. I totally dislike the ornate, Victorian look – I like the contemporary aspect and have consciously used earth tones in my décor to give a feeling of space and openness.”
Storage is a big issue for Keshi. “You can’t do impulse buying, where would you place all your stuff? I have a small space and have to keep it organized. I consciously de-clutter my space every three months – give away bags and bags of stuff to mom to distribute to family and friends.
Fresh and Individual
Sehr and Adnan Lone also extended their space upstairs after the birth of their second baby. “I made do with the existing space – one big bedroom plus lounge – for about three years. Extend or rent was the only question in our minds for a long time! I even ran around looking for rental space but finally we decided to go ahead and build an extension at the back, since we had the space to do so,” says Sehr.
Sehr is happy with her area. “We had an architect in the beginning but that didn’t work out. We ended up doing everything ourselves from structural design to finishing with only one contractor. We built quite a bit. I am pretty happy with the end result.”
She has a self-sufficient unit upstairs – Living, dining, a kitchenette, three bedrooms, and
one for each family member, the master bedroom also doubles as a study/living area for the couple, a playroom for the kids and a big patio at the back overlooking the back yard and the swimming pool.
“There is a playroom for the kids and separate rooms for both our sons. I still wish I had a store upstairs. We had to convert the store into the maid’s bathroom. I would have loved a separate entrance but the one exit I do have is pretty independent too so it’s no big deal.”
Sehr did her own interiors. “I didn’t have to buy a lot of furniture, just had to order for the kids, and bought a couple of things like the dining table and a stool for the living room. Mostly I reupholstered my old stuff and added on accessories but even that didn’t involve any major shopping trips. I exactly knew where to go and what to buy. I basically had nothing much to do after the restructuring was done. One day, I would like my own space but right now I am happy with what I have.”