Thursday, March 3, 2016

An Aesthete's Paradise (Home Tour)

Malavika Kamath is no stranger to TECD. Her brainchild "Omnah" has been featured here on TECD's "Featured shop" segment. If you haven't had a chance to check them out earlier, you may read about them right here. While putting together the feature for Omnah, I was not only drawn to the unique product range but was also drawn to the product styling. My curiosity got the better of me and I knew that if her ability to curate so prudently and style her products so effortlessly for her store, was any indication of her strong aesthetic sense, her home would only be an extension of that. Bull's-eye! I was right! Her Mumbai home is filled with eclectic furnishings and art that creates well-ordered interiors with plenty of references to her homeland, India and her travels across Asia. A style of decorating that is truly synonymous with TECD's "global-desi style"! 
Having been a flight attendant in Hong Kong, Marketing and Communications professional in Singapore, and now a Facebook entrepreneur after having relocated to India after 16 years, this lady has pretty much been there and done that. When Malavika is not working, she enjoys music ranging from raga to rock, loves eating out, lounging at home with loved ones and occasionally escaping the daily grind via sourcing trips she takes around the country for her brand Omnah.

Malavika has successfully decoded the sure fire way to deal with the decorating dilemmas of a rental space. Minimal wall decor has been balanced by using tall cabinets to display her collections that keep the eye at the same level if art would have been hung. Besides, the cabinets provide additional storage space. Now who wouldn't want more of that! Working with the neutral wall colors of the rental property, Malavika makes the space interesting by bringing in bright hues through textiles, art, decor accessories, potted plants and fresh flowers. Each of these are judiciously combined to create little pockets of interest in every corner of the home.
Let's start with this eye-catching corner right here - The tallest idol is that of Ardhanareshwari a gift from Malavika's brother, bought in Chennai. The two Krishna idols are also gifts from friends and family! A Tibetan kettle picked up from Delhi is adapted to serve as vase for a bunch of roses. Although the brass lamp could pass off as Indian in style, it is handmade from scrap metal and was sourced by Malavika from Cape Town.
The living room is an intimate space with plenty of seating options. To amp up the casual vibe in the living room, Malavika decided to go with a diwan plumped up by a number of throw cushions and woven furniture, "I absolutely love having a ‘divan’ at home, with plenty of colourful cushions, either in my living room or in the lounge or TV room. It’s something we have grown up having at every home we’ve lived in. My mom decorated it with bright cushion covers, and being a neat freak, they were neatly arranged as diamonds." Persian Kilims and textiles like the Kashmiri Crewel (Arastan), Gujarati Kutchi embroidery cushions as well as cushion covers from Omnah’s very own Dakshin series import color, texture and the plush factor to this urban dwelling. 
The Annapurna Tanjore painting above the diwan is a 43 year old piece. Malavika loves the deep rich hues of the paintings and says the newer creations these days don't quite exhibit such unique themes or colors. She was drawn to this particular painting at the India International Trade Fair in Delhi as the horse in the painting is actually 5 women (yes, take a closer look)! Flanking the Tanjore painting on the right is the Saraswati wooden sculpture sourced from Salem, Tamil Nadu, another one of Malavika's favorites. 

Another view of the living room. The painting is a hand painted batik creation by artist Henry S from Borobudur, Indonesia. When asked about the influences on Malavika's design style, she says "My mom, a Fine Arts student from J.J. School of Arts, has been my biggest influence with regard to home décor and styling, and she has been significant in shaping my own style. I believe I am blessed with her artistic gene. Her spotlessly clean, simple yet elegant style, with hand-embroidered cushions and chair backs, to well-polished brass pots, artifacts, and a select set of indoor plants made for a cozy and impressive home."
At the far end of the living room, a reclining Buddha from Bali brings a zen vibe to this corner. Malavika particularly liked the teal color going for the Buddha and his serene expression. She fondly recollects a story associated with this Buddha purchase, "I went on a day trip from Bali to Ubud. Enroute there are over hundred shops lining the street on one stretch. I spotted this Buddha from the car and had to have it! I kicked up a fuss and insisted on going back, took a detour to find this shop on the return trip. I am so glad I made that effort." The Cabinet is Korean, bought in Singapore. The picture frame is actually a baby cot headboard that Malavika found in the antique market in Shanghai, which she then got framed in Singapore.
Malavika's "Ganesha Corner"! The large Ganesha on Lotus is a treasured gift from Malavika's sister. The smaller groupings of Ganeshas and brass elephants are a combination of lucky finds from Chor Bazaar Mumbai while a few others were picked out on her travels. The little cow on the right is another interesting find from Chor Bazaar shares Malavika, "It’s used to cover a cow’s horn by village folks, so unique! Some of them come with bells (ghungroos) so you can imagine the sweet sounds you’d hear when the cow or cart is moving?" The glistening copper pot was spotted at a steel shop in Mumbai and is used to houses a few green stalks. A bunch of Carnations and white Statice add a punch of color to this setting.
A Madhubani painting in the ‘godhna’ (tattoo) style was an impulsive buy from Dilli haat. Malavika's coffee table has her favorite books, a Urli from Chor bazaar which is always sporting fresh flowers, and other fond curious from her travels like the bell from Singapore and the copper and metal alloy planter from Istanbul.
A stunning Tibetan wooden door depicting Durga seated on a tiger is a hand painted creation from Just Anthony in Singapore. Malavika loves this piece as it is not only decorative but also multitasks as a room divider. 
Quoting Malavika on what the word "home" means to her, "A home is a place and a feeling, and is a reflection of who you are. That said, my home is my safe sanctuary, my quiet nest that I can escape to, a place where I feel relaxed, peaceful and happy. A home should be warm, welcoming, clean and uncluttered (I try!) and smelling really nice (I use a lot of ‘dhoop’ and incense sticks), with open windows and lots of natural light, and your mood is set! My home is a place I look forward to seeing when I return to it. I feel the decor should be bright and cheerful, and should rise up to greet me when I walk in! And, I decorate to please myself, not impress others." We couldn't agree more!
Malavika's "Got to have it" list always included oriental style furniture. So when she spotted this pair of fire engine red Chinese chairs in "Just Anthony" in Singapore she knew she had to have it! A complementing side stand draped with a 45 year old hand-embroidered piece from Timor Island (Ubud, Indonesia) makes for a lovely backdrop for a collection of pretty decor accessories. The Chinese urn from Chinatown in Singapore, peacock and Naga arti stand from the Rajasthan State emporium in Delhi, an Indian brass lamp (a gift) and the Balinese wooden bowl though disparate in style come together beautifully to give this corner a curated look.
A closer look at a few more pretty corners......Some of her favorite stores in India include FabIndia, The Shop, The Bombay Store, Goodearth, Mora Taara. Singapore being another favorite destination to shop, Malavika digs the product range offered at Just Anthony, Yue Hwa Emporium, Lim’s Arts and Living and Barang Barang. 
Malavika's charming study/work office- Desk and chair from Amar colony is Delhi are the heart of this setting. An Egyptian vase converted into a lamp was picked up from a small boutique in Noida. Adding a touch of green to this setting is a Croton housed in a multicolored planter (reminiscent of the house painting style of the Ndebele village people of South Africa) bought on a trip with Malavika's parents to Johannesburg almost 20 years ago. An exquisite Afghan Kilim and Tajik Suzani patchwork cushion from Arastan pull the colors together perfectly in this room.
A closer look at the photograph by well-known Malayian artist Howard Tan - the photograph is that of the entrance to an Indian shop-house in Georgetown. (Georgetown was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008).
The master bedroom is an un-fussy space that helps unwind and relax at the end of a hectic work day. The painting above the console is from the Forbidden City, Beijing while another contemporary painting gracing the wall above the bed was picked up from a mall in Noida . The brightly patterned bedcover is from The Shop, Connaught Place Delhi.
Malavika's night stand has all the essentials in place - books to read once tucked in, an orange metal and wood storage box (picked up at the Annual Diwali Mela for the Blind School in Delhi) to store unsightly messes, a handmade etched Zebra soapstone trinket dish from Johannesburg, a reed diffuser pot from Pondicherry to keep things smelling fresh, and a yellow ceramic and brass teapot from Chinatown in Singapore that cradles a few stalks of fresh blooms.
A few decor tips from Malavika before we call it a wrap on this home tour, "While decorating your home, try to keep the base a neutral palette so you have the flexibility to add pops of colours that don’t clash or make the space look too busy. For instance, I’ve always liked off-white walls and sofas that contrast well with dark wood furniture and plenty of colorful cushions to accent the living room. Oh, and add some ‘life’ with plants. Another tip I follow while shopping for decor items - if you really like something that you spotted on the first go, BUY IT! Don’t spend too much time deliberating especially if it’s an affordable, unusual piece."

Now that's what I call running counter to trend and creating your own style! I hope you enjoyed the home tour as much as we had fun putting it together for you. Thank you Malavika for letting us tour your beautiful home. We wish you all the very best!

(Image credit/copyright: Malavika Kamath. The images may not be reproduced without the prior written permission of the home owner / TECD) 


  1. Hi Sruthi,
    I am a huge fan of your blog and love reading your posts and features. I think I can say this is one of my favourite posts. I love how you presented Malavika's abode filled with world travel treasures; it was a visual delight! There was so much to learn from her sense of styling so I really enjoyed reading this post. Please keep up your lovely work and looking forward to more and more such posts.

    1. Subhadra, thank you so much for your feedback. I am a huge fan of Sruthi's design ideas and writing style!

  2. Each and every niche is neatly created. Loved the globally desi approach in collection. Without my saying, her brass and specially her Ganeshas had my eyes through out. Another great add-on to your fab home tours :)

    1. Thank you Pinkz Passion, glad you liked my collection :-)

  3. Very tastefully done up home. Collected and well curated what not to love about this home. You have got an amazing sense of Decor Malavika. Thanks for the eye candy post Sruthi!

    1. Disha, appreciate your feedback, thank you! All i can say it keeps evolving with age! :-)

  4. Loved every bit! Very beautifully and aesthetically done!! The collection of artefacts is rather eye candy! Looking forward to more of these!!!


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