Monday, 21 April 2014 with furniture!

I know I have been gone far too long, it was never my intention to disappear from this blog. I have procrastinated over it endlessly and missed it terribly but I am finally back and we have a lot of catching up to do.

Those of you who have been following my posts (when I did post!) will know that I have been talking about getting into furniture design and interior decor for a while now, it was the reason I decided to walk away from a corporate career. Well, I am happy to say that things have been moving on that front and as my 'come back' story I'd like to share a little bit of that with you guys.

You know that my tryst with furniture started with me designing pieces for my own home. Living in Bombay one quickly realises that there aren't too many options out there if you are looking to buy furniture with great aesthetics at a reasonable price...never the twain shall meet! 
Yes, there is always the likes of fabindia, but it's completely overexposed due to the dearth of choices. So if you want to give your home an individualistic touch and bring in elements of your own style, where do you go? You come to me, hopefully. Ha ha!

Customisation is key and that's what I do. You can choose your own design, have it sized to your requirement, pick your own colour, upholstery, hardware etc. and basically have it all personalised to fit your home. 

Here's a sneak peak into stuff that I have done recently. 
I love wooden furniture with a distressed finish. It has a classic appeal and is the easiest way to add a pop of colour to any room.  

This cabinet was sized to fit perfectly into a nook in the kitchen
A built-in plate rack for easy stacking, without fear of chipping or cracking
Vintage tiles lift this cabinet from ordinary to fab! Who says functional pieces need to be sans style?!

The most challenging thing to possibly find in the market is a good couch. It's practically impossible to get the best of style, comfort and upholstery that will match your taste, all in one piece. That's probably why it's one of my most selling offerings.

So that's all for now, I will be back with detailed accounts of some other pieces soon. 
There's also a whole other story on my work in interiors, it's something that I have recently started in collaboration with a talented designer and home-store owner, but more about that later.

For furniture consultations and orders, please write to

Monday, 29 April 2013

Have glass, will paint!

I've been away too long...again! I wish I could write and post more often but I've finally realised that it's just not something I can control; it's the flip side of being interested in too many things, eventually I end up getting distanced from some and this blog has been at the receiving end of that.

Time for a quick update then! My glass painting is what keeps me busy most of the time these days. Last month saw my first ever exhibition; a bunch of us facebook entrepreneurs came together to host a Spring Bazaar across four different locations in Bombay. It was super fun and quite a learning experience for a newbie like me. Then there's the steady trickle of orders that come via my facebook page, thanks to you guys. I'm also getting enquiries from a couple of home stores that would like to stock my products, lets see how that goes. And last but not the least, there's my tie-up with the ITC group of hotels; they are are now serving tea in my cutting chai caddies across their properties so if you happen to step into one of their coffee shops and spot one of those babies, you know where they come from!

And when I'm not doing all of the above, I am busy feeding my own crazy desire to surround myself with coloured glass. No jar or bottle in my house goes unpainted; old jam jars, pickle jars, sauce bottles, booze bottles, all get upcycled and find their rightful place! Here are some images from my personal collection...
Upcycled jars that I use to keep my pens, pencils, paint brushes etc.

L: old Pisco bottles that now store oils; R: a small jar that works as a match box

L: my personal favourite, a jar for my homemade ginger-garlic paste; R: a jar for my little spoons

Jars for my make-up!

L: an old soap dispenser that received a new coat of paint; R: more jars for earbuds etc.
If you like these, then you'll be happy to know that I'm working on a kitchen range...some bottles and jars for your spices and oils. Meanwhile, if you'd like to see the products that are currently available for sale, please visit the albums on my facebook page. You can place orders by inboxing me on the same page or sending me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Cutting Chai Glasses

I've decided to take my love for coloured glass to the next level by sharing it with all of you! I've been busy painting away for the last few days and am happy to launch a range of hand painted glass items that you will find not only quirky and fun but extremely handy as well. Just simple everyday objects...some recycled, some new, but all guaranteed to make you smile. The first in line is my favourite, the cutting chai glass! Now, who doesn't like these?!

Here's what I have to offer...a set of six glasses in different colours, stacked in caddies that are used to serve tea in little dhabas and shops across the country. I'm currently doing these in two styles, solids and stripes. The colours are wash proof and food safe so caring for these glasses is easy, just ensure that you do not use anything abrasive to scrub the surface.

Solids - a set of six brightly coloured glasses, available for Rs 1200
Stripes - a set of six glasses, each with two tones, available for Rs 1400.
The solid colours can be customised as per your preference. You could go for warm tones or cool tones, or I could just stack them to match the colour theme in your home.
Monotones - warm and cool hues, Rs 1200 for a set of six.
My favourite ways to use these glasses...
Serve tea, coffee or tequila shots!
Pass around nuts and crunchies when friends are over. 
Pop in some tea lights to brighten up a corner.

Go ahead and think up your own ways to use them...the possibilities are endless.

To place an order, all you need to do is send me an email or inbox me on my facebook page.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Sondha, the garden shop

Ok, I'm back after a long hiatus with a long promised post! As you've probably gathered by now, I do take my time doing things (read, I'm the laziest ass in town) but I've really had my fill of deadlines in life, so what the heck. Anyway, remember that gorgeous garden shop in Delhi that I mentioned a couple of months back? Of course you don't. Well, this time I have some images to share with you.

It's a discovery that I owe to a dear friend in Gurgaon who shops here frequently for her lovely terraces and gardens. And yeah, I live in Bombay but I do have the privilege of renting a house with a tiny little balcony and that's where I've stashed all my Sondha treasures. I even have my very own mali who comes to tend to the few pots that I own...well, he started with caring for just one frangipani so I had to quickly acquire some more to make it worth his while.

Sondha is part of a sprawling bungalow in one of the plushest parts of New Delhi...wide roads, gigantic trees, lovely houses. As you walk into this garden cum shop, you will be greeted by splashes of colour amongst the various shades of green...

Take your pick from cutest looking piggies, fishies, birdies, dinosaurs, crocodiles, turtles, hens and all other adorable little animals! From large freestanding pots to little hanging ones to even wall mounted planters, they have it all. And their impressive collection of accessories includes birdbaths, bird houses, birdcages, weathervanes, stepping stones, wind chimes and various other decorative knick knacks.

Isn't this stuff amazing?! I bet you've already spotted all kinds of interesting things for your gardens, terraces, balconies or any other green corners. They even have an in-house gardener who can help you fill out your planters and adjust the length of the hanging wires, hooks etc. And while he does that, you can browse around the gazebo that is filled with many more interesting trinkets. In fact I'd recommend you check this place out even if you don't have a huge green space coz there are tons of other fun things that you could use to cheer up a window or doorway.

Visit Sondha:
39, Prithviraj Road, Prithviraj Market, New Delhi - 110 003
Tel: +91 11 24638663, 24648659
+91 9810053013

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Art for art's sake

The fun thing about art is that it can mean so many different things to different people, who's to say what works and what does not? You've heard the saying, one man's trash is another man's treasure, truer words have not been spoken. I honestly believe that any old thing can be turned into something priceless as long as you have the eye for it and you believe in it.

Let me show you what I have been up to lately, it's for a restaurant called Le Pain Quotidien (LPQ for those who can't be bothered) which happens to be owned by my husband and his two business partners, so all the more dearer to me. LPQ is part of a Belgian franchise and most everything in terms of the look and feel follows a template but there's always room for styling, so I had lots to look forward to when they recently opened their second restaurant in Bombay.

The brief: We need a piece of art for one of our large walls and some stuff to fill up a shelf. Yeah, that's the sort of detailed brief I get! But I wasn't complaining coz it meant that I was free to do exactly what I pleased.
My thoughts: The space has a lot of wood already so the wall needs something that would provide an interesting contrast to it. Cast iron would be perfect as a material. It has to be in keeping with the rustic feel of the place, and should definitely stand out from all the other decor ideas that people are used to seeing in restaurants. As far as the shelf is concerned, well that's going to be a tough one.

So off I went to my favourite flea market, scouting for possible sources of inspiration. I have to say that I have never come back empty handed from this place, in fact this time I came back with a couple of ideas for my future projects as well.

After walking the length and breadth of the market in the scorching sun, I spotted an iron grill hanging from a shop front. It looked like the sort of thing I could use so I asked the shopkeeper if he had some more, and out came a treasure trove of 10-12 more pieces in different patterns and sizes! These were scraps from old windows and fences which are often reused in building furniture...fitted under a glass table top or part of a small cabinet door etc. I desperately tried to contain my excitement as that would mean totally losing the edge in the negotiations that followed. I had found what I was looking for.

My plan was to put the small grills together and recreate the look of an old-fashioned window frame. Once I had secured my iron pieces I took them to my carpenter and sketched out the design that I wanted him to follow. As luck would have it, he had the perfect wood to match the grills, old planks of Burma teak with fabulous chipped paint! My heart skipped a beat when I saw it, everything was falling into place. He also did a fabulous job of putting the frames together and I have to say, I couldn't have been happier with the result.
Ready and waiting to be hung
Up on the wall

There was one piece which was exceptionally thick and heavy so I decided to just leave it as is for another part of the restaurant, and I think it works pretty well hung on its own...

I have to say that the shelf did give me a few sleepless nights. I had a vague idea of what I wanted but honestly most of it evolved as I went along. Two of my favourites from here are definitely the old weighing scale and the butter churner...

An old kitchen scale and a butter churner make up the odds and ends as part of a shelf display

Here are a couple of other things that I have put together across the two LPQ restaurants. Just a bunch of old things that one would find around the kitchen, but antique enough to be qualified as art when packaged right...
Framed: an icing gun, a bottle opener, a cork screw, a sieve and an ice cream scoop!
L: a ship's porthole converted into a mirror; R: antique kitchen graters
I am often asked the names of home decor stores that I frequent, and while I have my favourites, I can tell you that the thrill of digging something out from a pile in flea market is quite something else. So the next time you are walking past one, do not hesitate to take your time and discover something new for yourself.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Writing on Walls

I was four or five years old when I started scribbling on walls, I don't remember it very clearly but the wide open canvas must have been pretty hard to resist. My mother tells me that I'd use anything that I could lay my hands on - pencils, paint, sketch pens, crayons - and my favourite subjects were abstract depictions of the English alphabet, decapitated stick figures and flowers that looked like flies.

After many failed attempts of trying to introduce me to paper and colouring books she decided to let my creativity run wild, as long as it was contained in my own room. And instead of coming after me with a cane, she came after me with a can - a can of distemper (cheap whitewash that most army households are familiar with) acquired from the painter on his nth clean-up visit. When I'd finish with my hard day's work, mom would just splash some paint over it and I'd wake up to a clean slate the next morning. I'm not sure if I liked this blatant disregard for my artistic creations but I guess it was a lot better than getting whipped for writing on walls, like some of the other kids...those kids have gone on to become NASA scientists or housekeeping assistants. But look where it got me, I am still painting and writing on walls.

Just spent two whole afternoons writing and drawing on my kitchen wall. God knows what came over me, maybe it was a recent trip to a restaurant that had illustrations all over it's walls, obviously much cooler than these.

I played around with a couple of thoughts before deciding to create a graffiti with funny quotes related to food and cooking; definitely lightens my mood and keeps the guests entertained as well. I'm not quite done with the illustrations yet and will be squeezing in a few more. In case you couldn't read some of the stuff, here's a closer look at some of the lines and illustrations...

I know you're smiling reading this, just like me :)
So long!

PS - thanks mom, for never yelling at me when I scribbled on your walls.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Jyotsna & Rajat Sethi's Dream Home

Ensconced in the Kumaon mountains, wrapped in soft white clouds and guarded by the mighty oaks, this home is a literally a piece of heaven for those who abide here. Welcome to Iris Cottage, the private getaway of two wonderful people, Jyotsna and Rajat Sethi - Jyoti didi and Keetoo mama for me as they are my friend Upasana's aunt and uncle. In fact, it's a happy coincidence that all home tours featured on my blog so far have been from the same family - the first was Upasana's brother, Anuj's pad in LA, then her own in Gurgaon and now the uncle's lovely cottage which interestingly has also been designed by Anuj - with this the family trilogy is now complete!

Located in a small village called Sagarkhet, Iris Cottage is approximately a seven hour drive from Delhi on a day when the traffic gods are favourable. I had the privilege of visiting it around three years ago and remember feeling like I was in an enchanted forest. So I wasn't surprised when Jyoti didi told me that it was Keetoo mama's idea to name the place Iris Cottage thanks to an Enid Blyton hangover that he still carries around - kinda cute for a 50 something guy - but she decided to build the connection further by bringing home a Van Gogh reproduction also titled Iris which she found outside Musée d'Orsay in Paris. This painting is the central focus of their living room and the blue colour scheme of the house flows from it.

You guys are in for a special treat this time because we are going on a tour with the lady of the house herself! So without further ado, I'll step aside and let her do the talking...

Path leading down to the entrance of Iris Cottage, located at the back of the house 

"We visited this beautiful and quaint little village in the Kumaon mountains in 1998 when we went on a camping trip with Devika and Nandini (their daughters) who were eleven and eight at the time. We fell in love with the place and talked to some people about buying a little piece of land there, if possible. A couple of months later we got a call and rushed back to purchase the very first plot of land we were shown, no exploring, no bargaining! The only thing we knew was that the plot was in an oak forest on a steep hillside, so steep that is was really difficult to walk down to see it! In hindsight it sounds really stupid but then it was also providence!"

The front of the house looks on to the magnificent mountains and every single room in this house opens out to nature

"We did not construct until 2004 because all the architects we met complained about our choice of plot and told us that the only way to build would be to cut down all the trees, flatten the land by razing the hillside and make a gigantic retaining wall. We could then have a cottage on the flattened piece of land which was not attractive to us at all! Anuj was the only one who thought out of the box and had different ideas. We were lucky that he had finished studying architecture and was in the process of applying for his masters in the US. Of course Anuj also thought that the land was a “khadda” (ditch) but took up the challenge of designing a house on that steep piece of land, keeping all the trees intact. 
So what we have now is a lovely hill house where the natural contours of the land have been woven into the design of the house and levels, not walls, demarcate the different spaces in the house. The outside of the house and the garden too is in levels and all the beautiful oak trees that were on the land remain a part of the landscape, including two tall evergreen oaks that are at the entrance of the house."
Colourful potted plants at the entrance
Through the main door and into the spacious cottage

"We knew from the outset that finishing would be an issue since most of the labour available in the hills is unskilled, plus they have their own idea of what looks good and it's difficult to make them understand otherwise. So we planned for the house to have a rough and rustic character. The other big concern was funds since we were working on a shoestring budget. So we had to come up with ideas such as dana (raised spots) in the interior walls which were finished with cheap exterior paint. The floor was done using slate which is really cheap and not a typical flooring material but the effect that it produced was that of stone."
Gorgeous rustic interiors of the cottage

L: Part of the living room that opens on to the deck; R: the lovely swing on the deck, perfect for a lazy day

"The dining table and bar is another such innovation, the table top was designed by Anuj and made by the local carpenter using simple cheap board. The bar was made out of left over pieces of wood from doors, windows and cabinets. The louvered doors and cabinet shutters in the house were also made by the local carpenter and served to keep the rustic look of the house and turned out to be cheaper than buying and installing solid wooden doors. The open plan kitchen is deliberately bare but has an interesting assortment of knick-knacks including a tall pepper mill which is my latest acquisition, I also have a pretty decent collection of mortar pestles in different shapes and sizes since I have a particular and peculiar passion for these. My pantry is always stocked with a collection of spices, sauces and other ingredients that help me whip up meals for my foodie family.
L: dining cum bar; R: open plan kitchen from where the smell of freshly baked bread often wafts through

"The design of the house is such that retaining walls have been taken into the main structure. For example, the wall behind the bed in the master bedroom is the retaining wall of the hill and is made of natural stone. The bedroom is located on the lowest level and a flight of wooden stairs leads straight to it from the living room. The roof of the bedroom is low and lined with wood, so it remains warm and cosy even on the coldest days."
L: Steps coming down to the bedroom; R: Looking into the bedroom from the steps
Split level - studio on top and kids' open planned bedroom below, leading out into the garden. 
L: wide doors that open into the garden from the kids' bedroom; R: One of the beds with a fireplace in the corner that keeps the entire house warm and cosy
The upstairs studio that houses the painting corner used by their younger daughter once in a while

"We try to go up to the cottage at least once a month to get our dose of the mountains, the crisp air, the deep blue skies and the smell of the oak forest...we love going for long walks along the village paths just to take in the sheer natural beauty of the place. Rajat and I have a passion for birding and we get to see many varieties of Himalayan birds just sitting in our balcony and he spends his time waiting to shoot birds with his zoom lens! A lot of our time is also spent pottering around the house reading and cooking.

L: entertainment nook in the living room; R: books that keep them company 
Clockwise from top left: early bird catches the worm - shot by Rajat Sethi; split level decks & garden at Iris Cottage; a full moon night that hangs like an overhead bulb; flowering pots fresh off the nursery

So that's all folks! Hope you enjoyed the tour. 
And a big thank you to the Sethis for allowing us a peek into their dream home.

*All photographs courtesy Jyotsna Sethi

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

For the love of chalkboard!

I've loved chalkboard since the time I was a kid, not so much the ones at school but definitely the plaything we had at home. I remember the excitement when my folks got my sister and me a blackboard that came with an easel and a boxful of coloured chalk, we spent many afternoons fighting over it and my poor sister always got bullied into playing the student. I guess we were from that generation where role-playing games were far more popular than the hi-tech games that today's kids have at their disposal.

I'm almost halfway down my 30's now and still haven't lost that love for chalkboard, except these days I'm role-playing a super efficient chef who uses the board to display her daily menu...
My cafe themed dining room
And to indicate whether she's in the mood to cook...
Sign on my kitchen door
In case you want to read more about my dining room cafe, click here.

I am definitely not alone in my love for chalkboard coz I see so many amazing ideas out there. 
Here are some fun ones that I found...

Message on a bottle - chalkboard paint on bottles

Chalkboard labels...slap them on to anything and scribble away!

Sign boards, tags and chalkboard sticks

More tags, wine charms and a chalkboard painted pan

Entry board, trays and little message boards

Chalkboard goes anywhere...even on cups, frames and notebooks!
Maybe it's a good thing that I don't have easy access to chalkboard paint out here coz I'd have gone nuts painting everything black!

*All images from Etsy, except the ones of my own chalkboards.
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