Sunday, April 7, 2019

Easy Elegance (Home tour)

A home with a heart has the ability to "bouy life" and not weigh it down! When Veshali Visvanaath (founder, curator and interior designer at the Singapore based antiques and furniture store Prakalyam Gallery) was entrusted with the task of transforming and curating for Anusha and Vijay's Singapore based home, she did just that. Combining a deep knowledge of traditional and vintage Indian furniture and antiques as well as expertise in contemporary style, she realized the full potential of this beautiful 1,744 sq. ft. sun drenched apartment. 

Veshali recollects how it all started and how she and her clients share the enthusiasm for vintage and old world charm,"Anusha and Vijay are such a lovely couple and we hit it off from day one. Anusha called me one afternoon to confirm if I undertook interior designing projects and told me that she had actually found me through your blog The East Coast Desi. So you Sruthi are a huge part for making this project happen. Anusha and Vijay are working professionals from Tamil Nadu and expats to Singapore. What enticed me even more was their ancestral home is Tanjore which is now a resort stay called "Svatma". This gave me a glimpse of the style that they were drawn to and I could align myself naturally with that style and deliver to them what they needed." 

Encapsulating an intimate and balanced setting in the home, Veshali worked her magic yet again (This is the third time that I'm working with Veshali and every single time this lovely and uber talented lady amazes me with what she can do to a space!). There is no overdone element in the ambiance. Every aspect of the home is beautifully balanced - the traditional with the contemporary clean lines while the old and the new are married in unexpected ways! 

The project took about 2 months to plan with 3 months of work on site. The most challenging aspect of the project was the square footage. But Veshali came through on this one and gave them ample storage, stylish and aesthetic features and a home perfectly mirroring the family's personalities, roots and interests.

The living room is the perfect stylish spot to kick your feet up at the end of the day and let the captivating ambiance rejuvenate you for another day.To invigorate the space which was primarily done up in neutral shades and dark wood tones, she chose hits of emeralds, mustards and ruby hues to offset the monotony. 
The design for this space is brimming with a lot of South Indian influences and rightly so to showcase the roots of its homeowners. There's the one of a kind "Indo-Portuguese" settee from the late 1800's, the "Oonjal" or swing that was installed against all odds of space restrictions and innumerable meticulously selected artifacts and accessories that  bring the convincingly traditional South Indian essence to the space injunction with the improbable mix of a contemporary vibe. 
True to its Indian inspiration, the entryway whets ones appetite as to what’s in store. Here’s more from Veshali on putting this corner together, “The lady of the house has fine taste and is full of positive aura. Her quest for the beautiful pieces, made me hunt for pieces that I knew she would love. Every piece curated for her home has been a journey to remember. This corner in particular, the 3 orange frames, are mica art from the early 1900's and acquiring it for her, is something which brings a smile to the both of us.” In the frame: A Tamil Nadu Nellai or door frame converted to a mirror. The 3 mica 1910 Tanjore art. A beautiful RV artwork. And A vegetable painted Kerala dowry box.
Seen above is the beautiful custom made swing that adds the oonjal effect of traditional south Indian homes. Veshali shares, "Anusha was so clear in her vision and as a designer it gave me the clarity to carry out the look she wanted. In fact the swing was something which she really wanted as part of the design plan and we had to get it done for her. This was the fun and challenging part as we had to restrict the swinging effect and yet get the swing to play its part." 

Another one of Veshali's distinguishing style is converting large brass pots into makeshift coffee tables or accent tables. I've seen this as part of her previous homes too and love how it adds so much omph to the space. Here's more on why she loves implementing this in her projects time and again, "I believe that our culture has such beautiful elements and pieces, I enjoy putting them together in daily life. I prefer pieces being used rather than just for display. In this project the proposal to use this beautiful vintage metal pot was willing accepted by Anusha to match a similar accent table created with one of Anusha's own heirloom brass plate ( as seen in one of the images of the living room)."

More of Anusha's Kerala connection can be seen in the display of the copper para with a traditional "coconut flowers" arrangement that is a part of various auspicious Kerala ceremonies. 

The intricate details of the swing can be seen clearly in the image above. Veshali tells me that swings like these can be recreated on request. So if you like what you see, do reach out to Veshali to make this a part of your home. 
The dining room is simple in form yet makes a grand impact because of the brilliant choices made by Veshali and her clients when it came to the accessorizing part. To overcome the space limitation, Veshali settled for the gantry effect to maximize storage and seating without overwhelming the space. The Pichwai art was originally used only as a reference point to present to the clients. But they loved it so much that it was specifically commissioned and it came out exactly the way Veshali had rendered it in her 3D.

A mix of bronze, brass and silver accessories are used to accentuate the gantry effect. The dining table, is a beautiful South Indian door that's converted to form the table top. I personally think it perfectly balances out the contemporary gantry as its backdrop.
All the cushion covers in striking color combinations were custom made with old kanjivaram sarees. And not any kanchi saree but those that belonged to Anusha's mom. A great way to repurpose and cherish precious things that belong to loved ones and an absolutely delightful outcome! 
A troupe of pickle jars sit pretty on the dining table adding that final vintage touch to the dining space. 
As you can tell that is the door to the pooja/ prayer room but it works more like a stand alone art object. In an effort to make each home personal, Veshali transformed an ordinary looking door that originally came with the apartment to a whole new level. She wanted to keep insync with the contemporary vibes evident in the rest of the home and hence only added cosmetic changes to the existing door. In addition to the stained glass panels and brass bells, she also went onto add Tanjore panels that she got custom made from India. These were then assembled in Singapore to create the grand and very unique door!
One look at this cozy nook and its apparent that the home owners are bibliophiles. That's one brilliant use of space! Functional yet design oriented and checks the box for the comfort factor. When I asked Veshali what was that one absolute favorite design element in this project, she had this to say,"Wow!! That is a tough choice as I personally loved the way every room turned out! But if I had to choose one, it would be the seating cum storage in the study.Credit for this goes to Anusha for inspiring new ideas to get this design done. We made use of the bay window and every available space to create storage for their huge collections of books that the home owners had amassed. But the one thing that we ha to ensure was that we never compromised on the brightness of the space. The design allowed us to achieve all that we wanted without compromising on the sunlight filtering in and keeping things bright. The couple are so happy with the space achieved!"
The master bedroom has a more of the contemporary vibes but Veshali brings in that touch of Indian with her choice of pattern play,"The space had to be defined in a way where it brings in a different tone and we decided to keep it simple yet very chic by going monochrome. Black was the chosen color and Anusha loved it. We finally settled on wall paper from Japan and patterned textiles to pull the look together. Love how the lights by the side of the bed and mirror complement the look."      
A snap shot of the mirror that's working wonders to give a sense of added space. All the rooms boast of large-paned windows. Veshali design plan has put this to good use by creating window seats that can be used without obstructing the splendid view.
Like the rest of the home, Veshali kept it simple and classy in the couple's daughter's bedroom. Here too carefully chosen accessories with comfortable and functional furniture pieces were the key elements in design. Taking it a notch up is the choice of lovely patterns for the room.
If the above home was not proof enough as to how thorough Veshali is with what she does, then this will seal the deal as to why I say she's a perfectionist. Quoting Veshali, "Almost all the time my aim to take on the stress of the homeowners so that they get to enjoy the home making process. Their utmost satisfaction is what I aim for. In this case, it was to give my best cause Anusha had put so much of trust and faith in my work. The onus was on me to bring it all together. Always ensured that she liked and approved it all like a 100%. Never executed anything if it was a 98% for her. I would go back to the mood board to re-look if that was the case.This is a beautiful home of a very beautiful couple. I have enjoyed every bit and have lovely friends for life!"

My Singapore based readers, should you wish to visit Prakalyam, please make sure to book your appointment right here or call (+65) 9008 3979. And for those of you not in Singapore, Veshali does online consulting too. Do write to Veshali at with your design dilemmas. 

Veshali thank you so much for choosing TECD yet again to showcase your amazing work. We wish you the very best in your creative endeavor and know you will be reaching new heights in the years to come! 

(Photo Credits & Image Copyright: Veshali Visvanaath for Prakalyam Gallery; : The images may not be used for commercial or non-commercial use without the prior written permission of Veshali Visvanaath & TECD.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Settled in for a Lifetime (Home Tour)

I’ve always loved showcasing homes that are not forced to look good but have come together very organically over the years. And by that I mean a home that is not caught up in trends or imitating another's style but a home that has interesting layers of its own. Each layer replicating the personality, interests, style, aesthetics of its home owner and decoding the meaning of ever evolving perception of relaxed living. We have toured Hemangini’s rental pad earlier and now a year and a half later we get to take a tour of their very "own" piece of haven in Gurgaon. 

Dr. Hemangini Hoskote is a Consultant Nutritionist with a Ph.D in Nutrition and Mr. Hoskote is a senior leader in Quality and Business Excellence. They share the home with their teenage son who is quite the decor enthusiast. He has had his fair share of influence when it comes to his home's design and style. 
The Hoskote family wanted to embrace a design scheme that’s contemporary in style yet exudes warmth, elegance and simplicity. Infact, this design plan was advocated by none other than their teenage son. It seemed right in the context of the relatively modern apartment with high ceilings and a glass wall running through the entire one side of the apartment letting in abundance of sunlight for a bright and airy space.
The Living Room is furnished with pieces that have clean lines and a contemporary feel. A supporting cast of well edited accessories add the shot of color, pattern, texture, identity and make a cultural point with its design. But most importantly, I think they have cracked the code when it comes to the process of a home being relaxing visually, physically and mentally! 
Brass tattoo markers (the two thin sticks displayed on the wall) were found at a local weekly market at Lake Inle, Myanmar. Another unique element added to the wall display is an antique carved wooden kavadi that the family found during their Chennai stay. It was recently refinished and proudly made part of the living room.The black throw is a Ladakhi shawl and the Ikat one is from Java, Indonesia. The turquoise silver and leather lamp is Moroccan.
As a family, the Hoskotes love traveling and photography. They seamlessly integrated their interests into the design of the home by displaying pictures from their travels in different corners of the home. Majority of photographs are grouped into simple frames that are propped on white ledges in the living room that blend into the wall creating an almost floating effect. Besides bringing back memories of fun times, these framed pictures are great conversation starters! Hemangini makes sure to update the pictures in the frame every now and then with the latest ones from their various vacations and globetrotting expeditions. 
Here's what Hemangini had to say when asked about her decor style, "We have deliberately not followed any particular theme/style but primarily used a few hand-me-downs with travel finds. The thumb rule we follow is, one has to absolutely love it and it has to be 'hatke' (unusual/unique), before we buy it and bring it home. The apartment had white walls which are a perfect back drop for the colorful finds."
More from Hemangini, "We did not hire a 'contractor/decorator’ as we do not like the 'decorated' look with gypsum board ceilings though we had to go with the existing gypsum board ceiling in some parts of the apartment."
This corner has been personalized with wooden musician ladies that were picked from an antique store in Jew Town, Kochi, Kerala. The terracotta pieces are all from Goa, acquired over several visits from Potter's studios to antique stores. The Indonesian mirror was bought when the Hoskotes lived in Dubai. Accentuating the bench style seating are throw pillows that pick up the rust and terracotta hues from the gallery wall above.
One of the bedrooms was converted to serve as a media room. It's where the family spends most of their down time. Hemangini decided to have a collection of posters of their favorite movies framed to reinforce the theme and also clearly gives away that the family members are movie buffs!

The media room also serves as their library. With abundant display and storage space on the adjoining wall, books and other collectibles are neatly organised and provide a clutter free look. A diverse collection of musical instruments from Africa, Mauritius and Indonesia allows for a visual change of scene.
Lovely little corners are created using the family's collectibles and rightly shows the power of grouping things in varied heights and textures.The tribal Ganesha is from the Craft Museum, Delhi.  On the console table along with the brass statue of Radha and Krishna are vases and porcelain fishes that were brought home  from a pottery exhibition in Gurgaon. The pencil sketches featuring the horses were done by none other than Hemangini herself.
The dining area has an informal vibe and suits the family's relaxed style of hosting. The ta-da element in this space is the wall of masks. The collection was amassed from family vacations to North East India, Far East, Mauritius, Africa and so on.
A practical dining set works in tandem with the rest of the clean line vibe evident in the home. Clearly "comfort is everything" is a norm that takes charge with the decor in this home. Overlooking a balcony area, the doors are thrown open when entertaining on weekends or to enjoy those relaxed and laid back evenings after work.
Absolutely love the open kitchen-dining-living concept! Over to Hemangini for more as to why she prefers this concept, "It was a plan that I had always wanted in my dream home and am loving it. It’s so much more fun to chat with family n friends as one is rustling up a meal. And it works perfectly with our lifestyle. The cleanliness freak that I am, have to be a little more efficient in having the kitchen even more cleaner at all times! I opted for the open shelves as I wanted the kitchen to look light and airy. Upper kitchen cabinets would have made the kitchen look smaller n boxed in."
What a charming breakfast bar! I'd make excuses of having frequent hunger pangs just to enjoy this lovely nook, wouldn't you?
The Hoskotes were very clear from the onset that the maid's quarters would be converted to a home office for Hemangini. Hemangini shares, "This makeover did take the longest time and even though we had a relatively tight budget we didn't compromise on the look n feel of the office. In a space little over 100 sq feet,we managed to create a small, cosy office."
The walls of the office have SH Raza's prints and pencil sketches made by all members of the family.
The gallery wall in the Master Bedroom suite has a host of paintings and travel memories. The pencil sketches here too, are those done by the talented family members. The Copper n Gold art work, is a temple etching on rice paper, bought in Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
More pretty corners from their Master bedroom. The easy chair is an heirloom piece that was handmade by Hemangini's grandfather-in-law! The console in the master bedroom has baskets from Bali, Thai wooden bust, Myanmar lacquer bowls and marble plate from Goa. Love how the old and the new have together so effortlessly in this space.
And finally we get a peek into their son's room. Done up in shades of deep blue, the textured wall was what the young man decided on all by himself. This room is everything a teenager would want - practical, comfortable, low-maintenance yet stylish, masculine and totally lit!

I hope you enjoyed the home tour as much as we loved sharing it with you. Things to take away from this home tour : 
~ Skillful space planning, 
~ Visualizing the function of the space before executing the design plan, 
~ Include artwork to make the space feel more soulful and individualistic,
~ Mixing and layering the old and the new to create a classic vibe and
~ Visually linking the color scheme or decorating style of rooms that open onto one another.

Thank you Hemangini for trusting me yet again with your beautiful home to be showcased on TECD. We wish you and your beautiful family the very best! 

(Image Credit: Hemangini Hoskote, do NOT use the image/images from the blog without prior written permission of the homeowner and TECD)

Friday, July 20, 2018

Preserving memories in a Restrained Maximalist Style

By eschewing traditional design rules and embracing only that which brings out their authentic personal style, the "Desor-Singh's" have created a beautiful home away from home in Melbourne, Australia. Their 3 1/2 year old home is a delightful melange of  aesthetic collections, sentimental keepsakes, fun accessories, color and pattern in abundance and subtle desi touches to proudly display their bond with India. Neha and Kabir are both IT professionals and share their beautiful home with their 3 year old daughter, Mila. The couple met at the University 14 years ago and have been together since. It is their "poles apart personalities" that brought them together.  But somehow these differences work very well together in creating an amazing home that encompasses their different styles and personalities. Neha tells me, "Kabir is quiet, an introvert and happy to stay at home with his family and his play station kinda guy. Whereas I am talkative, social and love to be out and about."

Rather than focusing on one style, the couple decided to decorate with memories and thus bring a slice of the past to a newer home. Result being a fun, functional, cozy, interesting and exuberant home with meaningful vignettes at every turn. In Neha's words, "We have tried to preserve a lot of old family memories and used them to add soul to the decor around the house. We've used a lot of older objects from our childhood homes in India to build a space that has an emotional connection and a sense of comfort. If I had to classify our style it I would say bohemian, eclectic and restrained maximalist. I say restrained because as usual Kabir and I had very different ideas when it came to decorating the house and he loved the clean minimalist look whereas I wanted to fill the house with plants and colors. Needless to say I won him over but he does keep me from going overboard!"    
Neha's favorite feature is 'The Great wall of India'! She has effortlessly created an eye catching display by juxtaposing Indian touches in terms of wall art and little figurines. Almost all of the elements in this vignette have a sentimental connection. The vintage flat woven rug was handmade by a woman in Bikaner (Rajasthan) and belonged to Neha's mother. It was made when her mum was born, to be used later for her 'dowry'. The small painting of a woman in the doorway was done by Neha's mother during her degree in fine arts. The woven fan is a treasure that belonged to Kabir's father and is displayed with fond remembrance. The framed cross stitch embroidery was done decades ago by Kabir's mother, now gracing the walls of her son's home in another land.
To broaden the color palette, Neha decided to add a bunch of Turkish kilim pillows to the lounging room. She says they were a splurge that she never regrets buying them as they bring in that punch of color and pattern that she was looking for.

As you can tell there is a strong Bohemian influence in Neha's style. Here's more from Neha on why she's drawn to the Bohemian look, "It resonates very well with my idea of home. I think Indian homes have been doing bohemian decor before such a term even existed. The use of colorful dhurries, cane and wicker, decorative baskets, crocheted or knitted throws, vibrant art pieces, brass and copper, all these are integral to the boho style and have a been part of Indian homes forever. So it is no surprise that this style comes easy to me."
Neha is a huge fan of layering! She's more than adept when it comes to mixing and matching. She does this without overwhelming the space, making each item stand out in the happy decor compositions that she creates. Love how she has layered the phulkari throw on the couch with the Turkish pillows. Another treasured piece, the phulkari textile is around 25 years old and hand embroidered by artisans from Punjab. It was lovingly given to the young couple by Kabir's parents.  

The main challenge that the couple faced in setting up base here in Australia was getting the right pieces that complemented their decor style. Neha explains, "It was difficult to find things that showcased our roots and our personal journey here in Australia. And shipping from India was not an option. We ended up getting a lot of the smaller pieces from India like family heirlooms, old toys, textiles, art and then blended them together with bigger pieces bought here, thrift store finds and some weekend DIY. With the bohemian style garnering popularity it has become a lot easier now to find such eclectic home wares anywhere in the world but it is not always kind on the pocket."
Another lovely corner in the living room is strategically sprinkled with more of the sentimental mementos that the couple own. The tall brass diya, Neha inherited from her Aunt. The stack of brass pots are from Kabir's parents' home. The wooden chess, a gift that Neha bought for Kabir from Simla during a university trip.
Neha has always had a thing for baskets! So she decided why not group all of her pieces in one place to create more visual impact. The colored baskets were ethically sourced from women in East Africa. These baskets are woven by hand using seagrass and sisal. The aztec patterned basket is from the Maati collective in Munsiari, India (Its made from bamboo by a local craftsman Nain Ram from Jaiti village in the mountains. The bamboo is then darkened using ash to create the pattern.) The other ones are lucky thrift store finds.
More from Neha on why decorating with memories is so important to them, "Our daughter was born here in Australia and we want her to be her own person without imposing or forcing our cultural and traditional beliefs on her. But we do want to share our memories with her while we build new ones together. So it was important to us to have a house full of objects old and new that we are emotionally connected to. It feels amazing to see my daughter playing with our old teddy bears or her grandmother's brass kitchen set. Using objects tied to our special memories as display items around the house makes them topics of conversation and interest for her. Plus we feel a sense of belonging, a sense of 'home'." I can so relate to all that she has to say!
Comfort and style combine in Kabir's den/gaming arena. Bookshleves to keep the clutter organised as well as provide a place to display their collection. A pop of color is integrated into this area through the Ikea Strandmon wing chair, framed Hayley Mitchell artwork and selective accessories. As is with any other corner in Neha's home, Greens are a must to pull the look together. Neha shares, "He loves his ps4 and it occupies a proud spot on the desk/shelf opposite the chair that I always conveniently crop out of this pic. Not sure if this was his idea of a man cave but I love it and he can have the garage if he doesn't like it;)" Now that's one chic and comfortable gaming space if you ask me!             
A close up of Neha's collection of Hayley Mitchell artwork in the den area. Love how the Thanjavur Dancing Doll picks up all the colors from the artwork. 
Neha is quite the DIY queen if you ask me. She recently undertook this mammoth stenciling job! Armed with Cutting Edge Stencils and some paint, she turned a blah cabinet into one that screams global style. The framed artwork is another of Neha's DIY projects. I personally think that's a brilliant idea to sneak in some color through the mat boards in the wall art.  

Here's a quick rundown of the foolproof decor mantras that have worked for Neha:
~ "Bring the outdoors in by having greenery inside the house. Plants would work better than any expensive decor item while improving the quality of air by being a natural humidifier and freshener!
~ Use textiles. Cushions, throws, tapestries help you add color, texture and patterns to your space without burning a hole through your pocket.
~ Color coordinate but do not over do it. Build a flow by connecting the colors in the room and using a focal point. For example if use a yellow chair as the focal point like I have done in one of the rooms, make sure there is just enough yellow in other objects to make it look cohesive but also use other complementing or contrasting colors along with it."
When it came to setting up a play area for Mila, the couple decided to set it up right next to their main lounge area for easy supervision. By focusing on creating separate play zones and colorful work stations around the periphery of the room, the center opened up keeping the space open and airy for child's play. The adorable playhouse that you see was a DIY project by Neha! Cardboard boxes, paint and lots of art paper was employed to create the cubby house. No points for guessing, it is Mila's favorite spot. She escapes to her little retreat and is lost in there for hours together. Another favorite with Mila is the teepee tent. The blanket layering the floor by the teepee was made by Neha's grandmother when Neha was a baby. The cat painting on the cube shelves was done by Neha's mum while the 3 bears was handpainted by Neha herself.
Well preserved vintage Indian toys that belonged to Kabir's mother are now lovingly handed down to Mila. I am told that Mila cooks up a storm with these in her play kitchen!

With that we come to the end of our home tour. Wise parting words from Neha, "Don't try to make your home a catalogue home. Instead, use your individual style and fill it with things you love and cherish. Let your home tell a story of who you are. And it because of this that our home is a place that provides a sense of warmth, comfort and security, where we love coming back to at the end of the day, everyday."

Thank you Neha for inviting us to tour your fabulous home. We wish you and your wonderful family, the very best! 

To stay connected with Neha and follow along her decor journey of #decoratingwithmemories, do join her on Instagram.

(Photo Credits & Image Copyright: Neha Desor. The images may not be used for commercial or non-commercial purpose without the prior written permission of Neha Desor & TECD.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Paradise Found (Home Tour)

Today, we go all the way to Mumbai to tour a fashionably furnished home done up in a Contemporary-modern style but then sprinkled with just the right amount of Indian touches that readily identify the home owner’s Indian roots. The home of “Amritha Karnakar” (founder and principal architect at AKAD - Amritha Karnakar-architectural design) and her parents (late Dr. Sachin Karnakar and Vrinda Karnakar) is brimming with personality, class and an electric mix of styles. But more importantly, it is suggestive of an unhurried pace of living that balances an otherwise very demanding metro lifestyle.
While her parents love for antiques and nature set the tone for the design elements and color scheme in the home, it was Amritha’s professional acumen, her aptitude for close observation and global exposure that effortlessly brought the modern edge and architectural interest to the scene. Set on the 6th floor of an apartment with a terrace garden, the crux of the design plan sought to make the most of this wonderful space by blending the indoors with the outdoors.

The antique artifacts in the home not only talk of the homeowner’s love for timeless treasures but the collection also imparts an authentic vibe of the by gone era to an otherwise modern palette. Wooden carvings from the south of India and metal/brass work from Gujarat are thoughtfully placed to add visual drama and interest. The outdoors too are dotted with stone sculptures from Hampi, making it a captivating green sanctuary. 
Amritha proudly shares, “Every plant big or small, each has been treated as our own baby. We have a mix of bonsais, cacti, orchids, a number of other flowering plants (like the Plumeria) to fruit bearing plants like chikoos and oranges!” A green oasis like this in the midst of an otherwise urban concrete landscape is sure to have a calming effect and drop those elevated blood pressure readings significantly! 
Will let the images do the rest of the talking for me….. 

Will be sharing more from the portfolio of Amritha Karnakar so watch this space for more. In the meantime should you wish to reach out to Amritha regarding your design challenges or a project at hand, please mail Amritha at or connect with her via her Instagram page or FB. Thank you Amritha for sharing your absolutely beautiful and tastefully done up home with my readers.

(Photo Credits & Image Copyright: Amritha Karnakar for AKAD; The images may not be used for commercial or non-commercial use without the prior written permission of Amritha Karnakar & TECD.)