Monday, 19 December 2011

Life in a Living Room

Growing up in an army household this room was what we refered to as the 'drawing room' - a rather formal looking place where my parents entertained their guests over luncheons and cocktails. (As an aside, did you know that the name 'drawing room' was derived from the term 'withdrawing room', more commonly used in the 16th century? Well, that explains why you don't have to be an artist to have such a room in your house). However, today this room has quite a different connotation for me; my guests don't come in chiffon saris and I don't have rows of crystal showcases, so it made sense to quickly adopt the more casual nomeclature 'living room' instead.

We spend most of our time here sprawled on a bean bag or lying on the couch with feet propped on the coffee table and very often carry our dinner plates to eat in front of the television. Oh yes, the fact that the television is here pretty much explains why my husband, Pawan, likes to spends his life in this room. I've always maintained that the idiot box should be kept out of the bedroom, hoping to build a healthier atmosphere with conversation and books. Little did I know that no TV in the bedroom also meant no husband in the bedroom. Anyhow, the point is that we do end up spending most of our life in the living room.

This is also the only space in the house where I have been magnanimous enough to accommodate Pawan's desires in terms of decor, which in one word was 'comfort'. It would have been all good had it not been the very antithesis of style, but I was determined to find a meeting point between the two. So out went the low lying furniture and the straight back bench and in came the lounge chair and more relaxed sofas. However, a line had to be drawn somewhere...NO lazy boy and NO fat couch would set foot in my living room.

Let me take you through my redecorating journey. Here's what the room looked like when me moved in, a nice open space with lots of sunlight streaming through the large windows and balcony doors.

The first thing that I did was to lay a wooden flooring over the tiles. The idea was to make this large space look more inviting and less formal, besides I wasn't a big fan of the tile pattern. And that one thing changed the whole mood in this room.

Next came the curtains. The area that had to be dressed was a large 9x14 feet frame. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted here - it had to be off-white with an element of fun on it; any other colour would fade away in no time plus I didn't want a huge block of colour cutting up one whole wall of the room. To save the off-white from becoming plain Jane I turned to my fashion designer friends, an extremely talented duo who own a label called Black Sheep. They had never designed curtains before but were happy to take on my assignment. I rattled off some of my favourite things for them to work with - embroidery, mirrors, paisley, polka, brocade, gota, sequences etc. and give it their signature style. After some rounds of brain storming and trials, this is what we ended up with...

While the curtains were getting done, I decided to bring in some fresh energy into my old furniture by reupholstering them. I had had an orange and fuchsia palette on these for quite sometime and was ready to embrace something more subtle, leaving the colours for the curtains, cushions and rugs.

Last but not the least was dressing up the space and allowing our personalities to shine through. Every piece and corner has it's own story and I would like to believe that it all comes together to create a room that speaks of us and not just a showcase of our possessions.

So all put together, this is what our living room looks like...

We are also fortunate to have a balcony attached to our living room, a luxury not very easily afforded in Bombay. The cute little pots that you see in these pictures are thanks to a place my friend Upasana took me to in Delhi. They have the most fabulous garden accessories; I shall do a feature on them soon.

Hope you guys enjoyed this journey. I'm off to bring in the new year now, see you all on the other side with many more exciting stories. Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Pretty peg tables

Here's the latest from my living room - two peg tables that I designed. It's pretty basic, nothing out of this world but may give you a couple of ideas on how to take something simple and give it your own personal twist.

The brief: compact peg tables to keep on the side of my new cane couch; a resting place for cups/ glasses and maybe a small bowl of nuts.
The design principle: non-fussy yet stylish; introduce an element that transforms it from being plain Jane to fun. 
Break through idea: using the tiles that I picked up while holidaying in Napa Valley earlier this year! 

I had bought these tiles thinking that they would make an interesting souvenir and could go up on my cafe wall - they had hooks at the back and were quite in line with the cafe theme. Then one day, as I was looking at my pretty tiles, it struck me that these were just the perfect size for the peg tables that I needed; a simple two inch wooden frame around it, and I was set to go! 

When I drew out my first sketch, I had given these table straight legs and just a simple shelf at the bottom. But it looked too basic; it needed some more drama so I decided to incline the legs slightly, like a painter/ artist's stool. Just that little twist made the design so much more appealing. I threw in a tiny little drawer as well and it was just what I was looking for.

Using these tiles on my table was so much better than hanging them up on a wall. It's fully OCD-proof as well coz now I don't worry about people not using coasters on the table top; and it adds a fabulous twist to just a simple little 4-legged table. 

So, what do you guys think?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Upasana & Deb's penthouse in Gurgaon

This is a special home tour coz I am taking you into the spanking new place of my dearest friends, Upasana & Deb. The only credit that Deb gets in this piece is that he didn't get in the way of Upasana's decor sense, and happily (or so we'd like to believe) pulled out his wallet when required. She on the other hand went through the tedious process of dealing with carpenters, painters, upholstery guys and numerous furniture shops to get this massive 5,700 sq.ft. penthouse looking the way that it does now!

I shot these images when I went to spend a couple of days with them last month. They themselves had moved in just a few weeks before, so she wasn't very keen on me featuring the house while it was still 'half done'. I promised her that I'd do a part two once she finally settles in, but frankly I didn't understand what the fuss was about; as you'll see, she's already off to a fantastic start.

Let me begin by showing you around the downstairs section. Yes, that's what you get when you have 5,700 sq.ft. - a downstairs AND an upstairs! So be prepared for a long tour and a visual treat.
A corridor opens into the living room, and you are greeted with warm colours and relaxed, low-level furniture. Attached to the living room is a massive balcony, scattered with cute little pots in the shape of turtles and hippos and frogs! You can see that each plant is lovingly cared for and provides a green haven amidst the concrete skyline of Gurgaon.
I call this their 'green house'; not only does it have massive outdoor spaces filled with greenery, the colour scheme on the inside walls is also in earthy green tones. The result is naturally soothing and welcoming.

The dining hall has a six-seater with gorgeous green and yellow chairs and a long bench, mixed and matched by Upasana. The side board is an old piece that she and I had fallen in love with when we had gone looking for furniture for her previous house. But the special feature here is of course the massive walk-in bar...the scene of many a 'bottoms up' invariably followed by 'bodies flat'!

Wait, the fun is just starting - they have a Foosball table and a pool table in their house! It's something that Deb was quite passionate about. So here's how a typical day/ evening rolls when friends are around...lots of drinks, fabulous food, loud conversations and crazy bets around the pool table. No wonder we rarely step out of their house; there's enough here to keep everyone happy!

Ok, it's time now to head upstairs, past the lovely corner bench and around the picture frame wall. This is where the family area begins and you'll find them here with their feet up...

Welcome to the upstairs lobby which has been converted into a den. Rows of books are arranged by colour, providing a cosy backdrop to those moments of leisure; a giant TV and comfy couches complete the scene. An attached pantry works perfectly for the times when one wants to just grab a soda and pop some corn, without making a trek to the main kitchen downstairs.

Past the lobby is Kabir's room. This is the only space where Upasana has let her eight year old son's preference take over in terms of colour and style. In case you're wondering, the room was not tidied up for my shoot, this is how it normally looks! You know where he gets that from, right? A walk-in closet also provides ample storage and neatly stows away all that he needs for his activities and interests, ranging from painting to horse riding to playing cricket and strumming the guitar...our very own rock star in the making.

The master bedroom is large and airy with it's own walk-in closet (you can tell that I'm quite fascinated with those walk-in things, right? Out here in Bombay, we just call them the second bedroom). A rectangular bangle stand adorns the closet wall, almost like a piece of art. Upasana had it built to hold all her fabulous coloured glass bangles. The tall white frames that you spy in the image below were a house warming gift from me; they now hang proudly on the wall above the head board.

Finally, here's the upstairs terrace - a large, open deck with comfortable seating and lovely creepers to keep one company. This is the spot where they plan to have barbecues and jamming sessions during the winter season; I can't wait to go back in December!

I hope this was enough to whet your appetite. There is still a lot more that I haven't covered...a lavish kitchen, the entertainment room, two guest rooms and all those wonderful spaces in between. But I will just have to come back with a part two once Upasana has finished working her magic.
- to be continued.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

My Kerala Courtship

Sorry guys, I have been away far too long! The reasons were many - first it was a flu, then the Diwali buzz, followed by a Delhi-belly, a wedding in Amritsar, ulcers that refused to go away, a flying trip to Kerala,  hanging out with my favourite niece, introducing her Peruvian fiance to Bombay and taking care of a house full of friends and family. Phew!

With so much happening, there's naturally a lot to share as well - a friend's penthouse, some new furniture pieces, my handiwork around the house and various other decor ideas. I promise you there will be enough action to make up for my prolonged silence. But first, let me take you to the backwaters of Kerala, where I spent last weekend. It's one of my favourite places and there's a very good reason why it's called 'God's own country', it's simply out of this world.

Set amidst the backwaters is the Kumarakom Lake Resort, easily one of the finest hotel properties in the world. The design and decor is in traditional Kerala style, and there is just one word to describe it - stunning. I have always had a soft spot for this style and if I were to ever build a house, it would definitely be heavily influenced by it. Besides my love for wooden furniture is no secret, so how could I not fall in love with the exquisite craftsmanship that Kerala has to offer?!

The wood work that greets one can only be described as sheer poetry
By far my most favorite piece...the 'charupady' or wooden bench with a carved decorative back
A beautiful uruli with flowers and a traditional swing in the courtyard
The 'chundan vallam' or snake boat with floating hibiscus
Intricate wood work in the 'chuttu verandah' or open passages
Lush green outdoors spotted with coconut trees 
A deck overlooking the backwaters that flow through the veins of Kerala
The 'kettuvallam' or house boats, waiting to set sail 

The property also has a beautiful curio shop that had me at 'hello'! Surrounded by gorgeous hanging lamps and urlis, it beckons passers-by who really have no means of escape. Most of the stuff here is locally sourced and if one were to go exploring, they'd find similar offerings in the by-lanes of Cochin at a much cheaper price. But who cares about that when one has been mesmerised by these magical lamps and whispering antiques...

This is definitely a love affair that shall last forever.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Lighting up!

Just put up my Diwali lights and couldn't wait to share it with you guys. 
Have you ever seen dragonflies that turn into fireflies? I promise you, they are quite a sight. 
Allow me to present these magical lightning bugs...ta-da! 

(Which reminds me of a song that my friend, Upasana, introduced me to not so long ago. I've grabbed a few lines from there to show-off my sparkling new lights. Check out Fireflies by Owl City in case you are in the mood for more of it) 


One can never have too much of a good thing so I got myself two of these strands. 
One adorns the kitchen window and the other hangs by the living room curtains. It's certainly going to brighten up my Diwali!

Hope you all have a wonderful Diwali as well. Here's to happy and prosperous times ahead!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Kanak & Anuj's lovely LA home

Who doesn't love a fabulous home tour?! So I have decided to bring you guys a series of spaces - inhabited by my friends and acquaintances - that I admire. And I am very excited to kick off this series with the warm and welcoming home of two very dear friends living in Los Angeles. Anuj is a brilliant young architect and his wife Kanak is a very talented interior and industrial designer. Together they have turned a regular, rented apartment into a space that you will not want to walk out of.

They have been living in this one bedroom apartment for the last four years. With an area of 950 square feet, it's not very large, but you wouldn't think so because of the way the space has been managed. I had the pleasure of visiting them a few months back and for me, it was love at first sight! Since then I have been chasing Kanak to send me these images. So without further ado, let me show you around!

The apartment opens into a large living room and you are immediately greeted by a splash of colour. The contemporary style has been beautifully enhanced by an Indian palette. There is a generous amount of colour also being added by the gorgeous paintings across the apartment, these were all made by Kanak's father, Vinod Rai Patel, a renowned Indian artist. The mood at home is clearly vibrant.

The living room is almost half the size of the whole apartment, if not more. But an open layout and some clever planning has resulted in them being able to break it into sections serving different purposes. These have been created using shelving units brilliant on functionality, while maintaining a free flow of energy across the room. Not only did they manage a cosy dining area but also a study that doubles up as a spare guest room when friends and family visit! 

The far corner of the living room has been cordoned off with blinds on one side and a bookshelf on the other, to create a working space for these two creative minds. The couch opens up to accommodate those extra guests.

If you haven't yet understood Kanak's love for colour, just take a look at her bed linen...she is a woman after my own heart! The blue, fuchsia, orange and red creates a spectacular effect. The white drapes hold it all together while allowing the sunlight to come bouncing in. 

The splash of lime green makes one feel fresh without even needing to step into the shower! Little touches of art, candles, fairy lights, hanging mobiles and quirky hooks, just finish off the job by making you forget that you are actually in a functional old bathroom!

This tiny space is no exception. Kanak's fabulous taste clearly reflects in every little object, whether it's a frying pan or a potted plant. They all have one thing in common...lots of character & colour. I wouldn't mind playing Nigella here!

Alright then, you guys continue drooling while I go look for another home as gorgeous as this. 
Thanks K for sharing this with me and the readers of my blog.

*All photographs courtesy Kanak Patel
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