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Home away from home

ETHNIC PATTERNS: Meenakshi’s home has a lot of Indian elements. Meenakshi Thanikachalam’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina, US, has a decor style which is a fusion of eastern and western interiors. While the interiors are done in the Indian style, the exteriors are based on western influences.

The house is 1,450 square feet duplex/town home with three bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining area, living room and a front yard apart from a fenced backyard. The structure sits on a concrete basement, with wooden walls and vinyl and laminate flooring. The front yard has collection of rose plants. On her design inspiration, Meenakshi says she considers her abode a “sanctified space.” Hailing from Tanjore district in Tamil Nadu, Meenakshi has always been fascinated by Chola temple architecture in Tamil Nadu, especially temples near Tanjore, Kumbakonam and Kancheepuram. Meenakshi’s design credo draws heavily from the huge homes in her native town and the traditions that her ancestors followed.

Favourite design element

While every element in her home is close to her heart, a few antique trunks and antique furniture made of sheesham wood, apart from her collection of Tanjore paintings are her personal favourites. “I own a piece of my town’s cultural heritage, yazhis in the entrance/hallway, and that makes me happy,” she points out.

Her biggest challenge when it comes to decorating her interiors comes from the fact that she lives in the United States. “Living there, it was challenging to set up Indian-style interiors. It took a lot of time and effort to put it all together. I handpicked all the furniture and accessories that are made in India from the local stores in the US and imported some of them from India,” she points out.

“The huge round coffee table in the living room is made of sheesham wood. I got the dining table and chairs from World Market. It has beautiful wooden carvings. The wooden carved Victorian style canopy bed with four posters and sheer drapes gives me some quiet moments and peace of mind. My favourite among the furniture pieces are the antique trunks which have dual purpose. I use them for storage as well as a coffee table at times,” she adds. The Indian accents and accessories have been picked up from antique shops in Kumbakonam/ Victoria Art galleries in Chennai, Pier 1 imports USA, Pottery barn, World Market, and painters and local artists in Kumbakonam and Karaikudi.

The rugs and carpets she has used in her home are very Indian and ethnic. The one in the living room is a traditional kilim flat weave tribal rug, pink in colour with geometric designs. She also has other colourful rugs, including a chindi rug sourced from North India and a round floral rug at the entryway, which is a mix of cotton and wool and is made in India. “I love to mix and match, and move around my accessories and furniture to give a different feel. I frequently change my rugs for the season,” Meenakshi adds.

Paint and colours

She has used neutral and soothing shades for the living area and bedroom and brightened up the interiors of the room with dark-coloured accessories, rugs, flowers and pillows. “I feel neutral colours for the walls are easier to work with, especially if you intend on giving your home a seasonal or festive makeover. You can liven up your interiors with bright accessories if the colour scheme is neutral. The pastel shade of the aquamarine colour is very soothing and gives me a sense peace and comfort,” she points out. Meenakshi has painted a few accent walls in bright colours, including the entryway (bright orange colour), the dining area (baby pink) and a wall upstairs (pastel shade of pista green).

Window treatments

Meenakshi has used woven bamboo shades as window treatments in her home. Drapes used in the living room lend a rich appeal. Made of silk and patch-worked from saris, they have Banarasi brocaded borders. The rich range of colours include pink, maroon, mauve and blue with neutral gold patches. These drapes go very well with the kilim rug.

Wall decor & other artefacts

As part of wall decor, she has used Tanjore paintings and imitations of Ravi Varma paintings, some of them framed in the Chettinad style. A Tanjore doll in the living room and puppets from Rajasthan in the guest room are other adornments. A mirrored patchwork wall hanging in a combination of bright orange, yellow, maroon and red from Rajasthan along with the patch-worked pillows complement the wicker bamboo settee in the guest room.

The brass accessories include a huge five-feet lamp, Kumbakonam style lamp, hanging lamps that have a gold-plated peacock and Ganesha images, a plate in the dining area, a brass kudam that has been used as flower vase/pot. Book-ends are a favourite with Meenakshi. “They are very convenient and lend an elegant look to the space and avoid clutter and mess. She has used traditionally-made Indian style horse book-ends in the living room and globe book-ends in the master bedroom. A miniature veena in the living room adds to the traditional touch.

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