From brick and mortar to a home

Planning Matters

While the term, ‘interior design’, creates an aura of aesthetics, in truth, the goal of interior decoration is functionality. Before you begin, ask yourself basic questions on how you want your flat to function or how you plan to use the available space. Is your goal to make the space comfortable or make the apartment look spectacular, asks Mala Ashok.

You have purchased a new flat (or if you are one of the privileged few, a house) and the bare walls are staring you in the face. How do you make a home out of this shell? Your flat may be exactly what you wanted and may be loaded with features but till you have decorated it, furnished it, and organised your accessories appropriately, it’s not a home — it’s just brick and mortar.

“But there’s so little space,” I hear all the time, particularly from those who are downsizing because of the exorbitant price of new real estate. Lack of space need not be a problem rather a challenge you can use to your advantage. The key is to use design principles to create a lifestyle.

While the term, ‘interior design’, creates an aura of aesthetics, in truth the goal of interior decoration is functionality. There are so many spaces that it is hard to know where to begin.

Before you begin, ask yourself some basic questions like, “how do I want my flat to function? How am I going to use the available space? Is my goal to be comfortable or make the apartment look spectacular when I’m entertaining? Will I be using a space in the apartment as a home–office?”

Sofa and its role

Similarly when it comes to furnishings and furniture, before chasing your sofa, you need to know what role the sofa is going to play. “Role to play?” you ask saying “well I expect my guests and I will sit on it!” 

Think again, your sofa could well double up as a room divider in the new large dining-cum-drawing rooms. Yes! The beauty of smaller spaces is that you get to use every square inch at your disposal.

I can speak from experience on this point. We too have a dining-cum-drawing and have divided it into approximately two-thirds and one-third with a massive sectional sofa separating the drawing area from the dining. Now, with the advent of massive TVs, we are considering a 60 inches TV. Needless to say, our two-thirds drawing area will not allow it. So, we are planning to downsize our dining furniture and move it into a small breakfast nook that we have. Now the entire drawing room will certainly be suitable for the huge TV.

When you buy a new flat, most often you do the woodwork later and have innumerable choices based on your budget. The positive note in this exercise is that you are in control of how much you spend where. You could build an entire wall of built-ins in your bedroom, complete with mirrors. This, to use current parlance, will be your storage solution.

Choice of furniture

One note of caution here is that the decision whether to have built-in furniture or freestanding pieces should be based on how long you expect to stay in this home. If it is a long period of time, go with built-ins but if you are just starting out and expect to upgrade your residence after, say, a couple of years you should invest in furniture that will serve you in your new home.

The key factors in good decorating are scale and proportion. The idea that all furniture should be small-scale is a myth. If you fill your space with lots of small pieces rather than a few items, the look you are going to achieve is one of clutter! Not only that, you will have a disproportionate room on your hands.

As always, remember, you are the decorator and you are going to live in the home. This is your home, and you and your family make the decisions as to what goes where. You may create the perfect room with all parts of your furniture and accessories falling into place like pieces of a puzzle assembled correctly — or you may not, but you are comfortable. Either way your home is indeed your castle.

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