Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The more, the merrier

There are hoarders and then there are collectors. Sometimes I forget the fine line between the two, but while I'm trying to train myself to not be the former, it's quite a lot of fun being the latter. 
As kids most of us have gone through phases where we spent months building collections of coins or stamps or comic books or cars or marbles. I am sure you know what I am talking about when I say there was no greater joy than to find another piece to add to the treasure. Hours would simply vanish counting, cleaning and admiring.
Of course these were abandoned in the pursuit of other more 'meaningful' things as time went by. But you can have some of that joy back by applying the same principle to decorating...pick something that you love and start a collection. The most mundane of objects look spectacular when displayed in multiples. As the saying goes, the more, the merrier!

Beautiful wooden oars casually stacked together look absolutely splendid not just in a beach house but anywhere else.

Antique looking keys for that element of mystery and intrigue. Looks great lined up on a wall.

I have a huge fetish for glass bottles. Display it on a window sill or any place that lets them catch the light, and it's a sure winner.

Don't know what Pepsi would have to say about whats being served here, but I absolutely love the old crates. Make it functional by using them as trays or magazine racks.

Here's another no brainer...frames. Use them to hold family photos, paintings, fabric, pressed flowers or just nothing at all!

I collect anything from old bottles to frames, mirrors, small wooden spoons, ceramic mugs, turtles, corks, sea shells...I could just go on! What's your addiction?

*All images from Pottery Barn, except the last which is from Martha Stewart

Monday, 16 May 2011

Attic: A fashion & lifestyle store

The other day I was headed to buy a birthday cake for a friend, when I decided to just hop in and check out Colaba's latest fashion and lifestyle store, Attic. I had read about it on facebook and was eager to check it out in person. It took a few minutes for me to locate the entrance of this first floor store as I couldn't spot any signs. When I went up I was informed that this was so because the signage had been stolen a couple of times, even though the store was just 3 weeks old! Makes you wonder what kind of people live out there.

As I walked into the store I was greeted by a riots of colours...both in the decor as well as the merchandise. I immediately felt at home. The charming Amrita Deliwala who is one of the founders was there and I got a chance to chat up with her a bit about the store. 

Attic was founded by Rixi Bhatia, Amrita Deliwala, Tinka Bhatia and Shweta Deliwala, a.k.a. the attic RATS. They wanted to create a platform for fresh new talent and currently feature over 36 designers from across the country, doing stuff that is "contemporary, artsy, quirky". They set up their flagship store in Santa Cruz, Mumbai in 2008 and their products range from fashion for men, women, shoes, accessories, stationery, books and lifestyle.
Well I'm just glad that they finally decided to bring their second store to my neighbourhood in Colaba...

I was as intrigued by the interiors of the store as I was with the goodies that they had on offer. The look was clearly distinctive with the use of bold colours, quirky furniture and innovative art. 
For instance these wiry, fairy light-like 'chandeliers' that hung from the beams of a rustic looking ceiling, casting an almost magical light.

One of the things that caught my eye was a glass top table with a bunch of colourful chairs tucked around it, each one in a different design and size. Unfortunately these were not for sale but eye candy nevertheless.

Frames have always been one of my favourite elements to dress up any wall. And as you can see below, sometimes you do not even need a picture in it to make a statement...a splash of turquoise and you're all set to go.

One of the many labels at the store is the recently launched  Quirk Box, "the brainchild of two award winning, overworked, neurotic designers with excessive levels of creative insanity, is a roller coaster ride over a colourful rainbow full of pop, kitschy, loud, yummy, tangy lifestyle products with a load of attitude and spunk". This is the work of Rixi Bhatia and Jayesh Sachdev.

As I went through racks and racks of clothing I was mesmerised. I completely forgot that this was supposed to be just a quick stop, and instead ended up in the fitting room with an armful of clothes! One of my favourites was an off-white dress with embroidery on the bust, unfortunately they did not have my size but even before I had a chance to feel disappointed, the girl who was assisting me had gone to Amrita and they were calling the designer to check if the dress could be made in my size. Sure enough, two minutes later I was informed that I would have it in a week. So four dresses and two pop art frames later, I walked out of the store feeling completely satiated and headed off for my friend's birthday in a brand new outfit.

*All images courtesy Attic

Store Location:
5/5 Grants Bldg. 1st floor, Arthur Bunder Rd. Opp Cafe Basilico. Colaba. Mumbai 5. Call: 22 65650444
Bir Sagar 396/20, Flat#1, End of 17th Rd. Santacruz(W), Mumbai 54. Call: 
#022 3216 9292

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Bathroom Secrets

One may move to a larger home in Bombay but bathrooms never seem to get any larger. In fact mine has shrunk, if that's possible! What's more frustrating is that the guest bath is twice the size of the one attached to the master bedroom. Who in their right minds designs a house this way?! 

Just in case you're wondering whether I am overreacting, let me give you the exact dimensions...the room is eight feet long and three and a half feet wide. Would have made for a very spacious coffin but try accommodating a shower, a sink and a WC into it and there's not much room left to stand, let alone lie. So obviously there was little choice but to make the most of what I had. 

I didn't get too many 'before' images but the one below is of the sink area, which was by far the most problematic. The door of the bath opened inside to reveal a tiny sink immediately on the right. I guess one couldn't get anything bigger else the door wouldn't have opened. But this one was just a bad design with two serpentine taps and an ugly, nonfunctional metallic cabinet, with an even tinier mirror, nailed over it.

Quite sad looking, huh?

So here's my handiwork. Well, not exactly all mine, I had a whole bunch of people to carry out the job. First of all, I got rid of that overhanging ugly metallic box (it's a shame to have called it a cabinet) and instead got a large mirror that was nailed flat on the wall. No frames, no frills, just a plain mirror that would create a sense of space and where one could get a good look at oneself. 

Then came the most obvious storage solution...no matter how tiny, every sink has dead space under it ideal for a cabinet and more often than not, you will find one there. I wonder then if it's just a curse of the rented apartment to get one without one! So I bought myself a new sink, as large as I could manage, and had a cabinet built underneath. The counter was made of some left over marble that we had and the top was given a waved edge, to allow for the door to open easily.

Voila! Now there's enough counter space for tooth brushes and knick knacks, and also storage underneath for scrubs, cleaning liquids and all sorts of other things. 

Then followed a shower curtain to separate the bath from the sink. Yes, I had to install something as basic as that! I guess the previous occupants didn't find it a large enough space to segregate the sections but I certainly do not want the shower water cascading over my brand new wooden cabinet.  

At last, came the frills. Well not all frills really coz the shower caddy, for instance, is a pretty useful thing when you do not have enough shelving. It holds all the essentials within easy reach. And a little bit of green goes a long way to add some cheer to any dull space. So there's the bamboo in a pink vase, sitting on the window sill and a money plant in my favourite square bottle on the counter. 
There's even room for a cute little honey bee bowl that holds my rings and trinkets when I step into the shower. Perfect.

There you have a before and after...from drab to fab, all in a tiny little space and not too large a budget either!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Make life cushy with All Things Pretty

Two years back when Ayesha Puri was setting up her own home, she went shopping for cushions and linen and came back with an idea to set up her own line of home furnishings! A nine year career in consulting was dropped and a few months back she actually kick started her venture, calling it 'All Things Pretty'.
Sounds familiar? You bet! There are many of us out here with similar stories or at least similar desires, so it's always heartening to hear about someone who has made that leap of faith! 
Ayesha's current focus is a range of decorative cushions, with plans to soon expand into table and bed linen as well. She retails mostly through exhibitions and a couple of stores in Delhi and NCR, but will be happy to take your orders online and mail you the products within and outside India. 

Here are a few images from 'All Things Pretty', courtesy Ayesha...

When I saw this picture, it reminded me so much of a bench that I have in my living room. My husband often jokes that I'm always making more room for cushions and not enough for a person to sit!
All I can say is that with stuff like this out there, I'll just be happy standing next to the bench. 

Here's another cool bunch from her latest summer range. Quilted cushions using English country prints...a departure from her otherwise rich Indian palette, but classic nevertheless and a sure hit.

But I just can't get enough of the vibrant Indian colours and prints! Top that with a variety of textures and fabrics, and you've got yourself a treat. 
Prices range between INR 500-1100, so it's definitely something that will be worth your while.

Like all young entrepreneurs, Ayesha is looking to partner with the right people to expand her business, so if anyone out there can give her any leads, please feel free to get in touch with her at ayesha.puri@gmail.com
In the next few years she hopes to get into exports, and wants to open a lifestyle store that will be known as the one-stop shop for home decor! I wish her all the success.
To see more images, check out her etsy store.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Confessions of a Hoarder!

I moved into my new house this Sunday but it's far from fun and games right now...the weekend was as stressful as can be! It started with movers and packers and grew into a battery of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters etc. This is India after all. We have all the help in the world. Forget about the quality of work, at least we have readily available labour, right? Wrong! For a micro managing, control-freak like me, it just means a whole lot of added stress! Everyone is working at their own pace and nothing is going as per plan.
Not only that, I seem to have a whole different complication to deal with. When I told you earlier that my nomadic skills were a bit rusted, what I really meant was that I haven't a clue anymore what it means to move! For starters, I should have started spring cleaning a month before I was slated to move. Instead, I brought all that junk with me to the new house and now it looks like a refugee camp! Just to give you a sense of what I am talking about, here's a list of items currently filling up my precious space...
1. Audio cassettes from college. I recorded these for my husband (then boyfriend) with all kinds of sentimental numbers, including Air Supply and Richard Marx! I don't even have a player where I can listen to these anymore but how can anyone attach practicality to something like this, right??
2. Piles and piles of clothes that I do not fit into anymore. Some which are brand new coz I was just an inch away from the desired size at that point! So, any wagers on me hitting a size zero anytime in the near future??
3. Random gifts that people brought on different occasions...candles, African figurine, incense, glass show pieces, even a set of swords! Been hoarding these thinking I might find someone suitable enough to pass these on to. Any takers?
4. Ugly old linen not bought by me, but kept by me nevertheless. Coz I might have one too many guests at some point (mind you, I do have have an endless stream of house guests) for whom I may have to arrange makeshift beds on the floor! So, have I EVER used them...um, no!
5. Tea pots and cups that were bought 10 years back and have been 'safely' stashed into cabinets that need a step ladder to access. Hence, they have never seen the light of day!
6. Boxes of old mobile phones, cameras, music systems etc...coz I will be 'selling' them to some second hand store and I might need the original packaging then. Add to these, old receipts and warranty cards!
7. A whole set of wires and odd attachments that came with all the electronics ever bought...who knows someday I might want to connect my mobile to the TV, the camera to the DVD and the DVD to the microwave??!!

I need help! No wonder my house looks like a refugee camp and my dream of all things pretty has been taken over by a nightmare of all things unnecessary!

Anyway, as they say, realisation is the key to change! So while I go figure all this extra baggage out, here's a sneak peak into my new bedroom, and it isn't all that bad once you get over that mess on the bed! :)

I had the wall painted a shade of ochre before nailing all of my family pictures on to it. The frames have been collected over a period of time and are largely in my favourite shades of rust, green, mustard and brown. I love how each one is different and yet sits so comfortably together.
The blinds in the windows were a stroke of luck as I found the perfect Benarasi silk fabric in yellow with an off-white motif to compliment the colours in the room. So far, so good :) 
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