Indian by design

Indian by design


Traditional Indian interior design is widely appreciated all over the world and is one of the most popular themes even in Western homes. One could incorporate this style by making use of elements such as wall hangings, idols, portraits, hand crafted furniture with wooden carvings of religious figures, and historical and moral stories in the form of scroll paintings.

When it comes to the drawing room, you could use traditional wooden furniture with Indian carvings and motifs. You can also install a wooden swing in a sit-out area. Artificial pillars inside the house, an integral part of many traditional architectural styles, can add to the look of the room. You can bring in that Indian touch by way of using warm colours, surprising contrasts, ornate patterns and rich textures. Spice up the room by scattering a few silk cushions. Paint your wall in a warm colour and put up rich, carved frames on them. Warm and rich colours are key in interior design. Earthy tones and saffron could be used as neutral shades.

Shades like a sunny orange, mango, deep pumpkin, red, purple, magenta, wine tones, turquoise or emerald jewel tones can look good on everything from walls, furniture, artefacts and carpets. A large chest of drawers, an open shelf or a canopy bed are classic elements. Look for furniture that contains eye-catching Indian details, such as panel insets with paintings or enamel designs, elaborate carvings, bold colour contrasts, mirrored panels, etc. A coffee table with a carved top might feature shelves underneath for stacking artifacts or art books. A chaise lounge may have a curved headrest that ends in scrolled wood. Use elegant pieces for storage such as a rice chest an ottoman or a shelf with several niches.

Indian decor is not about pieces that match but rather pieces that contain coordinating elements such as fabrics, motifs or small details such as threadwork. Look for parsley silk pillow covers, vividly dyed saris to use as throws and mosquito nets as canopies. Textiles often feature beadings, fringes, small mirrors or appliqués of contrasting fabric.

Cushions, silks, drapes

Place cushions across beds, chairs and couches and scatter them on the floor or patio too. Elaborate metal frames look perfect around mirrors, paintings and photographs. Silk pillows, heavy blankets, candles, gold drapes on a sit-out bed with sheer silk fabric serving as a canopy are the elements required for an Indian-influenced bedroom design.
Throw rugs of blended silks and linen, mahagony side tables with thick gold curtains also work.

Paint your bedroom walls with a strong colour associated with India, typical colours being light pink, maroon, gold and light orange. Continue with this colour palette when choosing curtains, pillows and rugs as accent pieces when furnishing your bedroom, look for dark stained woods. These will help balance the bold colour scheme that is typical in Indian homes. Look for upholstered pieces that feature colours and prints from Indian designs. Do not be afraid to combine different prints and textures, even if they don’t match.


Accessories will make the room look complete. Hang a chandelier over the bed and dangle Rajasthani birds accessorising it with coloured glass and iron pieces. You can use richly carved furnitures, bold colours like spicy reds, rich golds, soft orange and delicious earthy browns in your living room to add some Indian spice combining intricately carved pieces with bursts of colour via cushions. Adding even an accent piece or furniture can instantly update a room with exotic style. Elegant and well-crafted lacquered wood furniture can add interest to any room.

Touches of  Indian style can also work well with modern contemporary design. Mixing the traditional with the modern can make a room feel more contemporary than a room locked into one design aesthetic. Though it’s not always easy to mix things up. You can unify eras through colour. You can use abstract and contemporary art to offset straight lace, traditional furniture pieces or vice versa.

Choose one object that will help link the traditional and the modern.

Other objects that can tie together with traditional and contemporary styles include lamps, chandeliers and sculpture with either modern lines, depending on your furniture mix. Mixing periods can be tricky; don’t over do it. Carved Indian doors as a headboard or a room divider can be a nice way to bring the richness of antique pieces into a modern interior. By adding this desi-tadka, you can add some extra spice into your home interiors, reviving your culture and heritage bringing in vibrance with a mix of Indian richness and colours.  

(The author is an interior designer.)