How does one transform a house to a home (and this ask from a design perspective)? I personally think there are three significant triumvirates in making a space one’s home:
~ First, the home has to unapologetically reflect you. If you ask me, this is the one and only antidote to all design dilemmas.
~ Secondly, one has to balance function and comfort, never sacrificing one for the other. The home has to be able to assist you as a work horse to meet your lifestyle needs but at the same time be able to serenade you when you come home after a long tiring day at work.
~ Third, the décor of a home should encourage inspired living. And by this I mean, influencing you in positive ways to be happy, imaginative, creative....cutting it short - motivating you to be your best.
Our home tour today, encompasses all this and more! Welcome to the home of Shalini Vemuri and Surya Chavali in Nashville, Tennessee. Shalini is an artist by profession and a trained Bharatnatyam dancer. Surya on the other hand, is a software engineer working for a Fortune 500 company. The couple have put together this personalized retreat in a short span of 2 years. The home is not only a window that lets us see the true essence of its residents but also serves as a prototype that successfully embodies the triumvirates that I spoke of earlier. Let's get the ball rolling shall we?
Adorning an antique coffee table (that the couple bought all the way from Chicago) is a magnificent statue of Lord Nataraja. This stunning panch loha (five metal) figurine is of immense sentimental value to Shalini as it was custom made by her husband from Chennai and gifted to Shalini before her Arangetram. A gleaming Copper kettle with a bunch of butter colored Snapdragons tucked into it parlays beautifully alongside the statue of the cosmic dancer.
As most living rooms, the Chavali's space is the epicenter of all family activity. The combination of a couch, divan and accent chair offers plenty of seating options. The divan, a random purchase from a store, down in Nashville complements the desi tone of the living room. It is spruced up with handmade cushion covers from Rajasthan and the red embroidered wall hanging with intricate mirror work is another piece of great sentimental value as it was handmade by Shalini’s mom 22yrs ago!
The corners of the living room have been used to their maximum potential by employing Rajasthani style bookcases or cabinetry that not only assists in showing off the exciting partnership of a bold color combination but is also the perfect backdrop for the couple's collection of unique artifacts sourced from all over India.
The Venkateshwara artifact hails from the village of Kondapalli (Andra Pradesh, India). These beauties are made of wood and are a huge favorite during the Navrathtri doll festival display.
As for the intricately carved TV unit, it was a lucky yard sale find! Lucky indeed! Sarees have been repurposed as curtains to echo the bold accent hues of cerulean blue and flaming red. Absolutely adore how, Shalini has used this color combo by creating subtle pockets of color through out the room.
A closer look at another traditional, Rajasthani style cabinetry that serves as the couple's pooja (prayer) corner . The top is adorned with antique brass velakkus (lamps) flanking a Meenakari swing for a miniature idol of baby Krishna.
Shalini is a self thought Madhubani artist and finds solace in experimenting with colors on a blank canvas."I was always interested in arts. But what attracted me to this particular art form was the element of life form depicted in every piece of art. I am personally drawn to bright colors - that is just me, and I made sure that the pieces that I created included every possible hue."
Shalini shares her story on creating a desi vibe in her home and how it all came together to reflect the couple's Indian roots, "Being so far away from my home, India, it made me bring my culture and my artistry here to my home in the United States. I've juxtaposed bright decor accents with my vibrant Madhubani style paintings. I have made sure that even my garage gets a touch of the Indian culture. An entire wall is covered with my inspiration from Kalamkari. An artist and a huge art enthusiast, my home is a perfect example for the interplay of the vibrant hues and my roots."
Shalini's design aesthetics is something that she inherited from her mom, "My mother, an artist herself has been a very strong influence in my life, and has inspired me to appreciate art in every form." Being exposed to the rich cultural environment of both North and South India, it is no surprise that her home is a classic blend of all that is so wonderfully Indian, "I was born in Southern India. My summer vacation memories take me back to the temple architectures and the rich art forms that are in abundance in the peninsular states. My later years were spent in South Delhi, an environment that is a medley of influences. We had Mughal architecture from the North, royalty from the East and the colors and craftsmanship of Rajasthan from the West. I wanted my home to reflect it all. "Shalini swears by these Decor Mantras:
"~ It is important to have some live plants inside the house . They not only add beauty to the space but also purify the air.
~ Display Idols that can bring in positive and calming energy into your home.
~Ensure that the color palette that you choose matches your personality and opens up the layout.
~ Lights: Make sure there is abundance of natural light. If you have fewer windows, go with sheers and light colored drapes.
~ Ventilation: Though here in the US we hardly open our windows, it is very crucial to do once in a while.
~Lastly, Be Bold or Be Italic, Never a Regular."
The dining area too echoes the vivid blue but this time it is mixed in with a streak of flushed pink. Table cloth from Dilli Haat and fresh Lillies (a favorite with Shalini) rev-up the neutral backdrop.
I absolutely love armoires! More so the ones with glass doors like these that reveal the contents and add to the visual display. Crockery in happy shades of blue peek through the glass doors. Drapes in shades of white and stems of money plant dangling down the side of the armoire create an informal dine-in setting.
A sneak peek of the Chavali's media room. Comfortable lounge seating with a well stocked bar at close quarters is perfect for those movie nights or to unwind with buddies on a weekend night.
Block print sheers let in plenty of diffused natural light into the bedroom creating a dreamy backdrop. Colors, patterns and fond objects guide the look in this relaxed space.
Shalini's dressing nook. I just love how she has used an armoire as a substitute for a traditional closet. With the glass doors, one is forced to maintain order and stay organized. I also like how she has her accessories displayed on the dresser. This was you are able to see all your options and getting dressed in the morning is a breeze.
The Chavali's outdoors too gets that personal touch. Even the most neglected of the spaces like the garage, has received a makeover at the hands of Shalini's creativity.
Shalini, on what a home means to her, "Home is a reflection of one's personality. My home reflects warmth, colors and positivity. It is never about the money you splash on a home, instead it is about the on-going process of decorating. So enjoy it to the fullest, as it is the memories that you make along the way that you will cherish forever..." Thank you Shalini and Surya for so graciously inviting us to tour your beautiful home. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you'll and I must add that I especially found Shalini's enthusiasm through the entire process so very refreshing. I wish you nothing but the very best!
Signing off for today with Joyce Maynard's quote, "A good home must be made, not bought." Have a great weekend!
(Image Copyright/Credit: Shalini Vemuri, The images may NOT be copied /used for commercial or non-commercial purposes without the prior written permission from Shalini Vemuri and TECD)