Going the pure 'desi' way

Going the pure 'desi' way

Have you noticed how every time you travel to any part of our vast country, you tend to bring home at least one piece of decor that represents the place you have visited? If you are an avid traveller, chances are, your home is packed with Indian decor items that are looking for a way to be highlighted. Even if you aren’t one to travel as much as you would like to, the concept of Indian decor is one that catches just about everyone’s fancy. Here is how you can make your home the perfect showcase of some great ethnic pieces.

Making a start

If there is one thing that can be said about Indian decor and artefacts, it’s that it is
always intricate, ornate and really colourful. “We in India have never really been able to deal with the idea of minimalism. So, it is important that the ornate, colourful and usually heavy decor elements that we use be highlighted in the appropriate manner, for them to make the right impact,” says Priya Vasudevan, owner of Collage Shop India.

A lot of people also imagine rich furniture and a lot of brass when they think of ethnic decor, says Sharon Colaco Dsouza, decor blogger and stylist. “These are a part of, but not the only two things to focus on, when it comes to ethnic decor,” she adds.

A beginning can be made with some pointers to keep in mind when it comes to Indian decor elements. Since these are varied and not easy to work with, especially when you are doing it on your own, you need to keep some things in mind. Priya has a point when she says that when it comes to fabrics, there are a few Indian motifs that are so common, you may find them on your curtains or tablecloth and then the same on a salwar suit you have recently picked up. “One tip would be to ensure that the fabrics you pick have unique motifs,” she advises.

Indian furniture tends to have a very colonial touch to it and can be extremely ornate and carved. “There is every possibility of it looking awkward when not visualised or placed in the right way. This is something to consider”, believes Priya.
Also, among the common decor elements chosen are lighting fixtures.

Indian lighting options such as handi lights or the pumpkin styled lights of Tamil Nadu can be very seductive in nature, but again, it’s the placement in the right setting is very important. In fact, ethnic lighting fixtures are so ornate that even one of them can completely change the look of a space.

Forms that are universally popularSharon believes that traditional South Indian, Rajasthani, Mughal and Gujarati, are the most popular ethnic decor styles one sees these days. “I think Gujarati and Rajasthani have much to do with accents and accessories such as fabrics, furniture (the Gujarati jhoola for instance) while South Indian decor will look best when you have the right flooring and wooden pillars to accompany it”.

Priya shares a similar opinion and adds that in terms of popularity, you have the decor of Rajasthan that has gone completely international – with its jharokhas, mirror work and ornate wood carvings. Also popular are the Chettinad doors and pillars — intricately carved.

In fact, the focus, when it comes to Indian decor, has largely been on doors and windows. Carved doors can be mounted or may even be used as the headboard behind your bed. The effect is brilliant. Urlis with flowers were once the rage, but this is on the way out right now.

What you can bring home

So now that you know what to keep an eye out for, here is a look at some of the decor elements that you can consider bringing home. Sharon makes a few suggestions when she says that India has a rich heritage of art, especially tribal art that can find a perfect place in your homes. Ethnic weaves can be beautiful and functional. When used in home decor as upholstery, drapes or cushion covers, they add a lovely dimension of colour and texture.

If you are looking for some wallet-friendly options, then Sharon says, “Old family photographs and calendars are great things to put on your walls. Family photographs in black and white can be framed attractively. You could also frame old calendars with pictures of goddesses for that era gone by look”.

 Divans are all the rage these days, but instead of the traditional pre-stitched
divan sets, opt for your own fabrics — anything from khadi and block print to
organza or even a repurposed kanjeevaram sari to dress it up. Give Indian art and weavers (and the environment too) a chance. For instance, invest in a good Gond painting that will liven up your living room, and use hand-woven fabric in ethnic prints on your drapes.

These little touches will add the ethnic element without making your entire home look Indian. It is fashionable to have a piece of statement furniture. Opt for an Indian piece such as a Bhavnagri jhoola or a traditional Kerala swing, or use a Western chair such as a wingback with lovely Indian fabric as the upholstery. These are subtle ways to bring an ethnic touch into contemporary decor.

And if you are looking to retain that international feel to your decor, then let’s not forget that Indian decor when used the right way is a brilliant accent with universal appeal. Priya says Indian carpets like our dhurries make for a great element to work with, especially those of the ikat art form. Indian Buddhas too work extremely well. While they may be Indian, it may easily be associated with any of the Southeast Asian countries. Indian pottery is akin to Balinese and Southeast Asian work.

The northeast of India has a lot to offer in terms of decor elements that can be well-blended into a contemporary environment. Unfortunately, it is not as popular as the others around. Their basketry as well as artefacts made of banana fibre work really well in most decor themes. Silverware from India, especially colonial styled teaware and kettles make for great accessories that easily find place with contemporary decor set ups.

And so, there you have it. Indian decor can just as easily find a place in your home, as a standalone feature or one that blends perfectly with international elements. All you need is a keen eye and an aesthetic sense to place things in the right
perspective.

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