A home. Your home to be exact. It is irrelevant if it is your own home or whether you live in rented premises, once you become a home-owner, the next thing on your mind is Interior Design. While some of you probably have an idea about how you want your home to look, others are probably confused by the plethora of options that are available in the market and what one sees at the homes’ of friends and family members.
A popular choice is achieving a warm and lived-in look that is smart yet comfortable. Fads and trends come into fashion and also fade away quicker than the time it takes to put together a complete home. But creating a warm haven that you can come home to every day after spending time out in today’s fast-paced world is truly comforting. How does one go about this?
Primary to creating a smart yet comfortable space is a thorough understanding of your own and your family’s habits and requirements: divided as needs and wants. Ask questions on how you want your home to look, to function… and to feel. A good design is one that relates to you and your family and the way you all act and react to each other and other people in your circle. An accurate diagnosis allows you to create and purchase correctly sized furniture as per the dictates of the space available and your analysis of your requirements.
Proceed with extreme caution. To achieve the ‘look’ you need to consider the spaces you have available, i.e. the 3 surfaces- your floor, your walls and your ceiling. By treating a minimum of 2 of these surfaces in the suggested manner, you can achieve the result you are looking for. Before we detail materials and finishes that will help you achieve the right look, remember it is primary to get your furniture right. It is ideal to apportion part of your budget towards good and solid pieces of furniture that will keep pace with your lifestyle. These are the most functional blocks that make up your home and getting the layout, size, proportions and detailing will affect how you use the space greatly.
When you’re attempting to achieve the ‘lived-in’ and ‘comfortable’ look it is important to get your material selection and finish correct. The key here is the natural material that brings in its own individual characteristics to your space. Materials that show their variations and their imperfections and therefore are true to their natural state will contribute immensely to achieve a ‘homey-feel’. Therefore to treat your surfaces choose between brick, stone, exposed concrete, wood, terracotta, and other such natural materials. Let each material be a star. Using too many of them in a single space will be chaotic. Understand the proximity, textures and colour palettes and then decide on the juxtaposition of the materials.
Floor- This is not an option to a lot of people who are purchasing ready-to-move-in homes and do not get disheartened if this is the case. Remember that you need 2 of 3 surfaces and you can achieve excellent results. If you cannot change the flooring, you can add area rugs in warm colours and textures to add dynamism in the flooring. But if you have the ability to choose your flooring, do not miss this opportunity. Choose between a wonderful stone (unglamorous local stones such as kota, tandoor, sadarhalli, jaisalmer yellow marble and other such stones can create a truly warm canvas for your further flourishes) and a warm wood. Marbles- especially Italian marbles are very glamorous and sleek and can add a lot of glamour to your living room, but may not be the best option for this ‘look’. Other options include brick, handmade terracotta tiles, interesting mosaic floors, concrete floors, etc. Mix two of them up in the form of borders, accents, motifs etc and see magic unfold on your floor.
NOTE: Wooden floorings are now gaining in popularity for usage in bedrooms. In India we now have access to good quality of wooden floorings at different price points that can be used even in living rooms without any major worries of maintenance. Let your imagination run wild.
Walls- When you’re involved in the design of a room- living room or bedroom, it is important to first freeze on all pieces of furniture that is going to be present in the room. After finalizing the furniture layout the spaces that are available for treatment become apparent. If you have an entire wall that is free of any furniture- it is a great opportunity to attempt cladding/ panelling.
The same key applies here too. Choose between well-laid bricks, stones that are dressed, random or arranged, natural wood veneers and panels, exposed concrete and artistically finished plaster. You can also paint a warm colour in a matte finish or a textured finish on the entire wall. Remember that the treatment on your walls should be complemented by the finish of your furniture and your flooring.
Ceiling- Undertaking a complicated false ceiling here is a big no-no. Stick to the palette of natural materials and add a couple of natural wooden beams and rafters. You may put in a false ceiling to manage your wiring and lighting better especially in case of a renovation, but go in for a complete white finish at a single level so that attention is focussed on the treatment you have given to the walls and furniture. If your home has an exposed roof with metal and wooden beams, celebrate it. Keep your walls simple so that the impact of the ceiling is felt.
Lighting- The true finishing touch to any space is provided by the lights you choose for the space. As far as possible one must try to create an even lighting system in the room- especially the living room, via the ceiling. Use simple spotlights to achieve even lighting in a warm-white finish. Warm-white/ yellow light is preferred for accent light over white light, which is used for task lighting. Choose couple of decorative pieces that stand out and throw light in a manner that accentuates your design scheme. The choice of finishes of the light should complement the natural materials you have chosen for the room. Add in a wonderful statement floor lamp near a single recliner and a lovely table lamp near the cozy pair of chairs to add to the warm-homey look that you desire.
Decoration- You have by now finalized your furniture, floor and wall finishes and your ceiling accents. Have you finished creating the perfect room? No. Similar to how the right accessories can make or break an outfit and therefore a person’s sense of style, the artwork that you hang, place or exhibit will add those desired finishing touches to your space. The rule to achieve this look is to never over-do any decoration. If you have a wall which you have already finished by cladding or panelling, ensure that the art pieces that you hang or place complement each other. For example, unfinished frames/ gilded frames look wonderful on brick/ stone/ concrete walls. On a wooden wall, choose frames that are bold, i.e. black or white for e.g. That will stand-out against the wall. Any mural you have commissioned or create should not overpower the wall. Therefore a mural is best done on a wall that is bare of any other adornment. If you have curios and objects-d-art to place, make sure you group them well according to size, proportion and finish; both w.r.t. each other and the background.
Do not forget to put up family pictures. Choose couple of candid/ posed photographs that invoke wonderful memories and group them together on a wall. They can be a great substitute for a wall treatment. Other wonderful ideas include hanging tapestries that are family heirlooms on your walls. Have a passion?? Showcase it by matting several prints, putting them together in a collection of frames of different sizes and grouping them together on a wall. Put together some pieces of your cutlery, display your grandfather’s LP prints, your music memorabilia, your super-hero action-figure collection, your sporting heroes, etc. When you personalize your spaces by putting up art/ artefacts and memorabilia that has a personal connect to you and your family, you are automatically giving your spaces a wonderful sense of home.
Living room- This is the show-piece of your home. But it is important to remember that the Living room is not only a space seen and used by all your guests but also where you will spend most of your time. Ensure that the furniture design is done to manage all these requirements.
Bedroom- Allow yourself a lot more freedom in your bedroom to customize and personalize the space.
This is the unedited version of the inputs given to a Feature Journalist for the Deccan Herald.
The link to the article that appeared on Deccan Herald on 30th August, 2013… http://www.deccanherald.com/content/354092/bring-back-warmth-your-home.html