For some quiet and peace

eco-friendly living

Living in an apartment may soon lose its charm to claustrophobia! To offset this, create your own space, advises Ruth Dsouza Prabhu

Apartment living is a way of life for a large number of people in the city. What you often get is a space of fixed dimension and design, something that almost everyone in your building will also get, possibly with a few variations at best.

The key to making such a space your own is to create small environments within the space you have to make it completely unique. “The creation of these spaces will depend on various factors such as what you want out of the space, how you plan to use it and how much of space you have to work with,” says Ranjeetha Bhaskar, an architect. Here is a look at some of the environments you can create.

Your balcony can be your retreat

A balcony garden is a common use for the space, especially if you do not have a sizable balcony to begin with. “But if you have an average depth of 8 ft, there is a lot you can do with it,” says Sudhakar P, an interiors visualiser. “Before you begin though, you will need to check on the structural integrity of the space. If you plan to add elements of flooring, furniture, concrete pots and the like, you will have to know if the space can handle it. A structural engineer can help you with this,” he adds.

Once done, you can begin with the floor. If you plan to take this on as a Do It Yourself project, then good research is the key to getting your balcony retreat done well. For the flooring, choose materials that will withstand the kind of weather your balcony is exposed to. While some are constantly shielded from the sun, others are constantly in the heat, while some others get a mix.

Ensure that the materials you choose are not prone to too much of wear and tear depending on the weather. You can choose to go with decking material and have that interspersed with patches of white pebbles covered with glass. This gives a classy edge to your balcony.

Seating can be built into the walls to save space for a table and some lighting perhaps. The walls can be done up with murals or with suspended pots carrying foliage. Expansive balconies can even accommodate large dining tables for some outdoor entertaining or even a simple meal with the family. These are just some of the options that you can work out.

Creating that noise-free space

No matter how high up your building goes or how isolated you feel your home is, noise seems to be all around us – from children playing to traffic horns blaring right down to the noisy neighbour. Sometimes, all you need is some peace and quiet to help get the children to study or to get some work done. Here are some tips on creating a noise-free space.

“The first would be to choose the room that is farthest away from the side of the house most exposed to sound,” says Monica K, an architect. “If there is no such room, as can sometimes happen, then you just have to work with what you have. Start by making sure that all the doors and windows to the room close tightly.

This gives you the freedom of keep them open or close as the need may be. Next, place heavy carpets on the floor to prevent sound from bouncing off the ground and walls, adding to the noise factor.”

The idea is to find ways in which to cover up a sound. Sometimes a bookshelf against a window can help muffle sound. Introducing a water element in the room, or playing soothing music at a low level will also help keep distractive noises at bay giving you a space you will be comfortable in.

From kitchen garden to pan

There is nothing like harvesting from your garden and preparing a meal with it. While balcony and kitchen garden right outside the door are a common sight, having an indoor kitchen garden can give your cooking space a whole new look. There are many ways in which to do this.

“Go with herbs”, says Marcelline Lobo, a gardening enthusiast. “These are the easiest to grow and can work well indoors. A single large, wide pot can hold up to three herbs depending on the size. All you need to do is transplant existing plants from your garden to your pot, or simply grow a fresh set in them. Keeping them in a place where they will get adequate sunlight will also help.”

There are several other variations to such indoor kitchen garden. Take a set of two-litre plastic soft drink bottles and cut them round the middle. Use the base portion to fill water and invert the other half, mouth first into the water. Fill it with soil and place your plants in this. Suspend these on the length of your wall and you will have an interesting wall garden of your own.

You could also choose to designate one area in the house that should be completely technology-free. This could be a small space, where just the family can sit-down, relax and talk. If you have a small playing area for the children, then this would be the perfect spot. Ensure that there are no plug points in the vicinity to encourage charging of phones or any such needs. It will give you and the family time to connect with one another and enjoy each other’s company.

All of these tips can be incorporated at any time into a home. It serves as a facelift to an existing space and gives you something unique to show off.

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