Friday, 18 March 2016

Objects of Art for the Home

My article above was published in Deccan Herald today. You may read it here

However.....since, as readers of this blog, you are special - I am posting the unedited, original and the much cooler version of the same article for you below. 

As always, will welcome any thoughts, inputs & suggestions

I remember my elder sister, long number of years back, never coming back empty handed from any of the home improvement fairs that used to be a regular affair in our neighborhood. Be it tribal art, handicrafts, monkey faces made from coconuts, wall hangings, stone carvings from Orissa, we saw it all.

You may ask what this bit of family history has got to do with our topic on Art for the home. When I started thinking through the topic I went back to the core question of what defines “Art” for one’s home and the thought that resonated was that it’s something that gives a certain “character” to one’s home…be it the MF Husain that the rich amongst you hang on your wall to that tiny water fountain you bought to put under the staircase, including all those coconut monkey faces, handicrafts and stone carvings that my sister collected and dutifully showcased in her home all these years.  That definition also makes each one of us an Art Collector … ladies & gentlemen - welcome home to art.

Aligning with the theme of your home
When choosing art work for your home it is important to think through the “character” or the theme that you are looking to give your abode – is it contemporary or is it traditional. If yours is a villa or an independent home then the theme is highly dependent on the overall architecture. The theme decides the kind of artwork it can accommodate. Just to give you an example – terracotta vases would go well with a traditional theme while a contemporary theme would need classic white ones. I recall a customer who got this beautiful madhubani type painting done from a well-known artist in Bangalore. The home on the other hand was designed all contemporary with straight line and minimalist furniture. We struggled placing the painting in different parts of the home as it just did not gel in. In the end we had to redesign the bedroom in traditional brown with curvaceous and flowery light fittings just to accommodate the painting.

What goes where – the fitment puzzle?
Pieces of art find a place just about everywhere in the home - from the foyer till the balcony, the walls to the ceiling and the flooring. At the same time over doing it may make your home look….well, overdone while under-doing it may make it look barren. Below a guide you can use to decide what kind of art work goes where in the home.

The main Door-The place where it starts:  One might argue that the home starts with the front porch and the entry gate. However the architectural style of the home is not part of its interiors and hence not covered here, maybe part of a separate discussion. Coming back to the front door – There are 4 things to play with here – the door itself, the door knobs, knocker & the name plates. If you are not builder dependent and do have a choice to customize your front door then both hand carved as well as slick machine made doors are available in the market today to suit your character – you can even get customized carvings done on the door. Based on the style of the door one must select the handles and the knocker. On top of this an arty name plate gives your guests an idea of what to expect when the door opens.

The Foyer – This is the hi-traffic part of your home and the place that creates the first impression of your abode. Depending on the space you have the foyer can have anything from carved murals & paintings on the walls to sculpted artwork in metal or stone in spaces specially created for the same. Artwork encased in glass with proper lighting looks especially appealing. Murals in metal and stained glass are also becoming popular nowadays, a lot of these are good old China imports. At the same time there are local artists in Bangalore doing their own works in metal and glass that might appeal.
Hand painting the foyer wall is another option, if there is an artist in you then this may be the best place to showcase your talent, if not then there are artists who can hand paint it for you. Though expensive, this does create a unique “creative” signature for your home.

The Living Room – The living room can really take all you’ve got, from Jaali work on the ceilings to Mosaic and marble cut work on the floors – nowadays with artisans available in Bangalore from Rajasthan and other parts of the country, there is exceptional beauty and creativity that can be laid out especially on the floors. At the same time artwork on the floors typically requires large spaces over 20X20 feet, in small sized Living rooms the look may not be noticeable and the outcome may not justify the investment
The quieter walls of the living room - the ones along the line of sight such as the passages & internal staircases can be done up with the family photo album while the prominent ones should host your collectibles or paintings to your liking. In general a showcase for curios from travels and all those impulse purchases (recall the coconut monkey face…) is also recommended in the living room.
The corners in the living room are places that can host sculpted artwork in wood, stone or glass. Make sure to highlight these with appropriate accent lighting

The Bed Room: While some may like their bedroom to be arty I somehow feel that too much art in the bedroom comes in the way of a good nights sleep, maybe just a painting to undo the barren-ness of the walls is enough. I remember this hotel room that we checked into sometime back that had these carved faces in wood hung on the walls. The kids felt that someone is watching them and could not get any sleep in the night. The next morning we had to ask the hotel staff to take the faces off.

The Study & the Hobby Room: If you have the luxury of dedicating a space to your hobby - could be a full room or just a space in your study – then do up the space in the theme of the hobby – this could be sports, music, dance, philately, coin collection, even software, electronics, architecture, woodworking, pets … the list can go on. I know of a friend who in his younger days used to collect matchbox labels – I just looked it up on Google and found that nowadays it is recognized as a formal hobby called Phillumeny. I myself had a collection of soft drink bottle caps. Haven’t each of us collected pebbles or sea shells…. I guess what I am trying to say is the each one of us has something that we feel or have felt passionate about at some time in our life. As Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day once said…”Take the photographs and still frames in your mind, hang it on a shelf in good health & good time” – that to me would be true art for your home – of your self, by your self and for your self -  the “Character” of your home that we discussed earlier….your Character.

Signing off

Monday, 12 October 2015

Feedback from The ET Acetech 2015 Bangalore

If you have been on Bangalore roads in the last couple of weeks you would not have missed the huge posters of Shahrukh Khan promoting ACE Tech 2015, in fact the newspapers have been ringing with full page ads of the exhibition as well. One wonders what has Sharukh got to do with the Construction and Interiors industry :-P, perhaps this came about via his wife who is a known Interior designer herself. A Google look up on “Gauri Khan Interior Design” throws up a 2012 Bloomberg video that says “Gauri Khan turns interior designer”… huh – how does one "turn into" an Interior Designer?? I got to go and watch that video now :-).

Enough pun on the Khan Khandaan for now, back to Acetech. It has been among the largest exhibitions in the Construction and Interior design space, professionally organized and at one of the better venues (BIEC) in Bangalore. This year they had invited almost the entire Architect & Interior Designer fraternity in Bangalore to stand jury for their awards to honour the best exhibitors at the event. As “eminent jury” yours truly got deep-er insight into the products/ concepts on display with detailed presentations from the exhibitors.

Apart from the regular stuff like tiles, countertops, hardware on display a few themes stood out this year and possibly are representative of how the market and demand around interiors is shaping up for the future

1. LED Lighting is now standard fitment: With LED’s now available in all shapes and designs with a drastic drop in prices they offer a competitive alternative to regular lighting. A number of vendors also had fuzed LED lighting with unique designs in Glass to create a stunning effect. I have mentioned this earlier – lighting if used tastefully can drastically alter the feel of a home be it that of positive energy or relaxing comfort. LED lighting along with its rendition in glass take that effect to the next level

2. Home Automation: While we are still some time away from the refrigerator ordering grocery replenishes on its own, home automation has already come a long way from offering remote controlled switches, curtains, blinds etc. to controlling devices via your smart phone or based on a set time schedule - imagine your sprinkler or water pump automatically switching on at the designated hour, controlling the lighting in your home from a remote location, or your home security system setting off the intrusion alarm on your cellphone and all the while being able to monitor your overall energy consumption via the app on your tablet.
With more than just a couple of vendors offering solutions along the lines above, and mind you - these are not imported, some are in fact being manufactured in our very own Bengalooru, it is evident that Home automation is here to stay. So get ready to install that smart phone controlled cuckoo bell for your home during your next renovation ( …heee)

3. Ready-made partitions and wall murals: Home makers and designers usually have had to manufacture those partitions and panels for your home to make it stand out, no more…
Vendors now offer readymade but built to size partitions for your home. These can also be customized for your specific wants and desires and are available in different material and finishes – from brass, steel or wood.
Additionally a number of vendors are nowadays importing extremely pleasing wall murals from across the world and making these available at your doorstep. With the demand growing for these our desi manufacturers have also picked up steam to make these in country. Check out some of the pics below

4. Skylights: Last but not the very least, with Villa living in vogue nowadays customers are looking for skylights for that classy look to their home and to help bring down energy costs. For lack of better options a number of my own customers have had to compromise with installing fabricated and flimsy skylights for their home during the construction phase. While this may still not be run of the mill, there was at least one vendor that had ready-made skylights (both fixed and retractable) on display at the exhibition. With prices starting from 3000 per square feet these still may not be for the mass market but it is good to know that the option exists.

Signing off for now, as always would welcome your feedback and inputs

Nandita can we sign off without due regards to the here goes

** Image attribution - ABEC Events/ ACE Tech 

Friday, 11 September 2015

My "Expert Corner" in Deccan Herald - Starts today

Deccan Herald has started an "Ask the Expert" section in their Friday Homes & Interiors segment where I will be answering reader queries. They possibly got inspired by the over 1600 Q&A on this blog :).

The first Q&A got published this morning - have pasted the snipping below. This gives you one more channel to write in with your questions ....and comes with the advantage of seeing your question in the "Newspaper" which is kind of nice.

Will look forward to more interaction through this new channel

Signing off for now


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Some more pictures of home interiors across Bangalore @ Purva Atria, Brigade Courtyard, Salarpuria Silverwoods, Greenage, Chaitanya Smran, Mahaveer Rhyolite, Chartered Beverly Hills, Samruddhi Lakedrive & more

These pictures have been lying around on my phone for a long time, finally ended up posting them on the Facebook Page. For the first time I could appreciate FB for the ease that it offers for posting pictures without which these pics may lost their way on the cellphone ... super like :)

Posting them here again for the readers of this blog. Here goes...

That's it for now. As always will welcome your feedback

Signing off


Thursday, 6 August 2015

Tips and tricks to convert your rental home into a place of your own

This one is for readers who have or are in the process of renting out a home. The simple tips below should help you get your home to reflect your lifestyle and your style without cashing out your wallet.
This article also appeared on the home page of Deccan Herald - Homes & Interiors this morning...happy reading

While you may not be able to do much about your nosy landlord, there is lots that can be done to make your rented house reflect your lifestyle and make it feel like “home” without cashing out your credit card.
Each of us has lived in a rented accommodation at some point in our life whether it be due to moving cities, the need for a bigger place or just that it was not yet time to afford a place of one’s own. While a new place comes with its own quota of excitement, doing it up to suit one’s taste and lifestyle is a bit of a tug of war between balancing the costs against the desire. The simple tips below should help you balance this equation.

Before you zero in on your rented home
Make sure that the place you are renting has the right amount of fixed furniture. In the minimum, the place should be fitted with the Kitchen and the Wardrobes in each of the rooms. These are your CORE storage spaces and without these, no matter what you do, your stuff will be found lying around in places where it is not supposed to be, giving your home the typical “rented home” look
Also press upon your landlord to install a decent enough chimney in the Kitchen. Without one, sooner than later you will see black soot accumulating around the cooking area which will be a “no-win” both for you and your landlord.

Just before you move in
There are things that need to be done that need the house to be empty hence a bit of planning may be required for this bit. At least one day before you move in with your truckloads get the floor cleaned – acid washed if it’s too dirty. Additionally get a round of pest control done through a reputed company. Doing this in an empty home is better as you can reach into every crevice and corner, secondly your kids don’t suffer the inconvenience and the poisonous fumes.
You may also want to get the curtains resized according to the window dimensions of the new home in advance so that they are ready to go from day one.

Now that you have moved in
Let’s start with the curtains where we left off. If you already have them ready then they will define the colour theme of the home, else if you are planning on getting new ones and don’t want to spend a bomb then you can look at some of the ready - made ones available in the market. With a broad colour theme in place as defined by the curtains decide on the bed linens. Your existing sets of linen will mostly do, however look at adding small cushions in different finishes and colours to either merge with, or to contrast with the colour theme.  Once you are done start adding other things

The Highlight Wall: Look at highlighting one of the walls of each room, including the living room in line with the colour theme. You can do this by painting, using wall paper or wall hangings & photo frames. Wallpaper and paint may sound difficult but nowadays it takes not more than a few hours to do up a single wall nor is it too expensive. Just this single investment will go a long way in adding a fair degree of the desired warmth to the new home.
Depending on the space available you can look at adding designer shelves for showpieces or books on the other walls. Nowadays there is a wide range of such shelves available to purchase online as well.
A Dash of luxury on the floor: Rugs and mats will add that bit of a luxurious look to the place that you need. Look out for ones that go with your colour theme. With the weather in Bangalore you can have the rugs on 365 days however be careful not to overdo it since rugs everywhere may make the space look smug & small.
Lighting: This is again a small investment that will make a big difference. To most people lighting = having enough light in the room to be able to read which is the equivalent of using a space shuttle to go to Mumbai when it can take you to Mars. Depending on the living space, proper lighting can either make the place feel warm or full of energy and affect the mood of the inhabitants accordingly. In a rented home though you may not be able to do much about the light fittings that your landlord has provided you can definitely enhance the same by changing to warm white LED/ CFL’s and  adding floor as well as table lamps. A dimmer on the lamps can help you adjust the brightness in line with the mood you want to set and the time of the day. Do also remember that yellow lighting, also called warm white, will make the space feel warm and cozy while white light will make it feel more efficient. In well-designed homes you will hence find warm white in the living rooms and white in the study
Greenery: Plants, both indoors and outdoors add colour as well as style to the living space. If you have the luxury of a large balcony or a terrace then take help of the local nursery to identify the right plants that will thrive in the given space based on the direction of the sun and have a combination of flowering, fragrant as well as fruit giving varieties. For interiors there are a number of different plants available including bamboo, parsley & ferns that can be arranged in regular pots as well as in vertical stacks available nowadays. Some of these indoor plants also have air purification properties ensuring good health along with a plush look.
The Doors: If your rented place is passing its middle age then the doors will mostly have a worn down look. One may feel that not much can be done about it - nevertheless there is still hope. First – scrub down the doors with a good cleaner – you will not believe the years of accumulated dirt that will come off them. Now that you have them done and dusted get small trinklets that you can hang from the door knobs. Doors of kids’ rooms can also have some catchy posters. The resulting clean and catchy doors will bring in a substantial change to the overall look of the home.
Once you are through with the above changes you will surely have a place to call your own, hopefully you have a long enough rental contract with your landlord to ensure that you enjoy it for a long time to come.

As always, will welcome your feedback and comments

Signing off

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

"The Studio" - now on Facebook : A photo palate for interiors in the "Indian" context

Over the last few months I realized that I have been accumulating a good number of  photographs of interior work - both ongoing and finished, on my phone and nearly none had found their way to this blog. The prime culprit - the thought that I will "one day" get a good photographer to cover "finished" interiors of the entire project/s and then put the best ones out here .... a "one day" that is yet to come :(

There is a lot that pictures communicate, not just how good (or bad) the interiors look but also insight into what goes into creating good designs - thus initiating and invigorating the viewers' own thoughts & ideas. What I also found was that while the western world has its's and other websites, there is hardly ANY place that has insight into home interiors in the Indian context...let me explain what that means.

As Indians our needs are fairly unique and these need to be factored in while designing homes - things such as gas cylinders in the kitchen, a place for storing slippers in the foyer and a provision for people to sit and put their shoes on, false ceilings that need to take care of accommodating the ceiling fan (ask a westerner what a ceiling fan is and watch his expression), storage spaces in the kitchen for lines of boxes containing different spices - the small - small boxes that we have quite similar to the ones in the paan shop :), the puja unit, the jhoola in the living room... I could keep going on and on but I guess you get what I mean by design in an "Indian" context.

So back to the point - if you look around for ideas and pictures of designs that cater to our Indian needs you will hardly find much on the Internet. The facebook page of The Studio is an attempt to fulfill that exact gap - apart from getting all those photographs out from my phone that is :). It is also a forum I am experimenting with for a more continuous interaction with my readers (you).

I will be glad if you visit the page (it's at and give me your feedback - a "like" if you like it or a comment if you see something amiss and want it added. Just be a little considerate as the content on the page is only what was added this afternoon after the page was created. Based on your feedback it will grow over time.

While it's said that a picture says a thousand words, sometimes those thousand words need to be written down for the best impact. Therefore this blog will continue to be THE medium for exchanging thoughts, questions & ideas. The Facebook page will serve as a medium of conveying some of those ideas through pictures. And both this blog and the Facebook page will interlink to bring you the best of each. Also, if YOU have any picture that conveys a unique idea/ thought or lifestyle then do please share and I will be more than happy to put that up ... just ensure that it is not copyrighted.

As always will welcome your feedback

Signing off