Art for home's sake...

Art for home's sake...

A  couple of years back, I remember my elder sister coming back with loads of goodies from many home improvement fairs, regular affairs in our neighbourhood. Be it tribal art pieces, handicrafts, monkey faces made from coconuts, wall hangings, stone carvings, we saw it all.

For a long time, I have wondered what defines ‘art’ for one’s home and have realised that it is something that gives a certain character to one’s home. It could be the MF Husain masterpiece that you display proudly on the wall or that tiny water fountain under the staircase. Art isn’t just restricted to paintings and other creative murals. Even your collection of bone china plates can be considered ‘art’.

So, how can one make their home ‘artful’? It’s not just about buying tasteful pieces randomly for varied corners in your home. There’s a process to it.

The theme matters

When choosing artwork for your home, it is important to think through the character or theme that you are looking to give your abode — is it contemporary or is it traditional? Would you like a fusion? If yours is a villa or an independent home, then the theme is highly dependent on the overall architecture. The theme decides the kind of artwork it can accommodate. For instance, terracotta vases would go well with a traditional theme, while a contemporary theme would need classic white ones.

I recall a customer who got a beautiful Madhubani painting done from a well-known artist in Bengaluru. The home, on the other hand, was designed in a contemporary fashion with straight lines and minimalistic furniture. We struggled to place the painting in different parts of the home as it did not gel in. Finally, we had to redesign the bedroom in traditional brown hues with curvaceous and flowery light fittings to accommodate the painting.

The fitment puzzle

Pieces of art find a place just about everywhere in the home — from the foyer to the balcony, the walls to the ceiling and the flooring. But remember, overdoing it may make your home look cluttered while underdoing it may give it a barren look. So, here is a guide that can help you decide what kind of artwork goes where in a home:
The main door: This is what welcomes you and your guests into your abode. So, make sure it makes the right impression. There are four things to play with here — the door itself, door knobs, knocker and nameplates. If you do have a choice to customise your front door, then both hand-carved as well as slick machine-made doors can be put to use. You can even get customised carvings done on the door. Based on the style of the door, one must select the handles and the knocker. On top of this, an arty nameplate gives your guests an idea of what to expect when the door opens.

The foyer: This is the high-traffic part of your home and the place that
introduces one to your lovely home.

Depending on the space you have, the foyer can have anything from carved murals and paintings on the walls to sculpted artwork in metal or stone in spaces specially created for the same. Artwork encased in glass with proper lighting looks especially appealing.
Murals in metal and stained glass are also becoming popular nowadays and a lot of these are actually good old China imports.

At the same time, there are local artists in Bengaluru doing their own works in metal and glass that might appeal to you. Hand painting the foyer wall is another option, if there is an artist in you, then this may be the best place to showcase your talent. If not, there are artists who can hand paint it for you. Though expensive, this creates a unique and creative signature for your home.

The living room: The living room can really take all you’ve got, from jaali work on the ceilings to mosaic and marble cut-work on the floors. Nowadays, with easy accessibility of artisans from different parts of the country, there is exceptional beauty and creativity that can be laid out, especially on the floors. At the same time, artwork on the floors typically requires large spaces (over 20x20 feet).

So, in small-sized living rooms, the look may not be noticeable and the outcome may not justify the investment. The quieter walls of the living room, the ones along the line of sight such as the passages and internal staircases, can be done up with the family photo album, while the prominent ones could host your collectibles or paintings.

In general, a showcase for curios from travels and all those impulse purchases is also recommended for this space. The corners in the living room are places that can host sculpted artwork in wood, stone or glass. Make sure to highlight these with appropriate accent lighting.

 The bedroom: While some may like their bedroom to be arty, I feel that too much art in the bedroom comes in the way of a good night’s sleep. Maybe just a painting to undo the barrenness of the walls is enough.

I remember this hotel room that had wooden carved faces hung on the walls. My kids were creeped out and couldn’t get any sleep at all. The next morning, we had to ask the hotel staff to take the faces off.

The study/hobby room: If you have the luxury of dedicating a space to your hobby — could be a full room or just a space in your study — then do up the space in the theme of the hobby. This could range from sports, music, dance, philately, coin collection, software, electronics, architecture, woodworking to pets. I know of a friend, who in his younger days used to collect matchbox labels, which apparently is even recognised as a formal hobby — phillumeny. I myself had a collection of soft drink bottle caps. I am sure most of us would have at least a small collection of sea shells or pebbles. You can display them proudly in any corner in this space.

Now that you know art isn’t just restricted to paintings, it’s time to give your home an elegant and classy makeover with simple artefacts.

(The author is a designer and  founder of The Studio, Bengaluru)

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