Home decor is not just plain old furniture and drab old wall. There is so much that can be done, if only there is a change in perspective.
Customization is no longer the prerogative of a select few. It has become the mantra young adults live by. And this seems to have permeated into every aspect of life. Customisation dictates their taste in everything from what they wear to where they go, even where they live and the interiors of that space.
Adding a quirky touch to things makes it easy to bring out one’s personal style while allowing one to experiment with a variety of materials and styles; be it with wall hangings, cushions or even rugs. It breaks the monotony from the usual and plain patterns, adds spice, fun and life to the entire space. “A lot of clients come looking for interesting items with a twist to add a fun element to their homes. Quirky has almost become a fashion statement today and for most curios and décor items, the hype seems to be more around how high the quirk factor is, rather than understand the concept of the piece,” says Darsha, owner, Glamorama Furnishing Studio, a Chennai based design firm that specializes in customised designer soft furnishing solutions.
What makes this concept even more exciting and easy to adapt is the fact that, when it comes to quirky designs, there is no formula or guideline that needs to be followed, nor does it have a set module like classic design concepts. Being almost a reflection of one’s personal self, quirky interiors can call for all sorts of experimentations.
“We recently did an entire space with a fascinating colour scheme of emerald and mustard with a bit of fuchsia and some interesting decor pieces with Ikat and Bandhni prints. As unorthodox as it may sound, the space looked extremely vibrant with an unexpected twist”, she adds.
With this trend becoming popular by the day, a lot of designers have emerged in this segment to cater to the needs of the masses. While designers incorporate their personal style into their work, they also take inspiration from everyday things that the customers can also relate to.
“I’m inspired by India and her quirks, our culture, and simple elements that could go unnoticed. I also love to mix and match things and bring starkly different elements together seamlessly. From a cup of chai to street typography to nouveau art can be my muse”, says designer Nida Mahmood, who is often called the queen of Indian kitsch.
“There are a few trends to look out for at the moment a quirky printed wall covering can go well with simple under stated furniture. And if one loves to mix and match then mix different prints together. It’s fun to work with geometrics mixed with florals, like using a chevron bold wall paper that can be offset with beautiful botanical printed chairs”, she adds.
Another unique object that can be added to a room is a pouf a movable cushion that can act as a stool or a single seater. This piece could act as an accent piece in any room or can also be converted to a fun element, by covering them in bright colors, patch work upholstery or in different kinds of prints.
The trick with quirks is to fill the room with something simple and changeable, with pieces that can be easily moved around to work together as well as separates. It gives you multiple elements to play around with and gives the space a new and fresh look every day. All it takes is a new perspective and the right combination.
Veena Balakrishnan, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai
The Victorian theme lends a grand look to the interiors of your home. For a sophisticated and classic look, opt for the Victorian theme for your home decor. This theme can be infused in several doses to impart opulence in layers in the various areas of the home.
The Victorian look can, at times, appear heavy because of a profusion of trimmings and fuss, but a contemporary twist can also make it suitable for modern living.
You can begin with designing a stunning Victorian living room with arched windows and doorways, and double height French windows with heavy teak wood panelling. Keep the walls uncluttered. Instead of having a number of paintings, opt for a single one along with an antique wall clock, accentuating the look of the polished wood.
Use rich, jewel-toned colours to accessorise, such as strong blues, deep reds and rich greens. Opt for floral prints for your wallpaper and for sofa upholstery.
In the Victorian theme, furniture should be of mahogany or teak, with ornate carving and tables with marble tops. Use round or oval backs for your chairs.
Even standard decorations are done in excess here, be it the fabrics reflecting elaborate patterns, walls covered with intricate and vibrant textures, large flowers in dark colours, or curtains the décor exudes extravagance that typified the era rich, heavy, and opulent.
Some of the characteristic features of this style are marble faux fireplaces, large chandeliers, heavy mirrors, stained glass and chinaware. These can be easily adapted to feature in a modern home.
Victorian picture frames are a great way to make the walls of your room look elegant. They can magically transform any corner. Victorian pictures frames are mostly of brass with varying finishes. Antique finish, copper finish and silver finish are some of the popular finishes for a frame.
Lampshades are elaborate, with brass and etched glass fittings. Glass featured elsewhere too in the form of decorative stained glass used as panels on front doors as well as for windows. Collections of antique dolls impart are very Victorian.
Light up with Tiffany-style lamps, wrought iron or brass chandeliers and even heavy candelabra.
The living areas can have large vases with floral arrangements and plant stands with potted palms. Grecian busts and statues also go well with this theme.
For your bedroom, furnish it with huge pieces of furniture and beds with elaborate canopies or huge head and footboards. Opting for chests and almirahs that are large and ornately carved will complete the look.
Source: Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai
This fourth quarter, however, saw a massive slowdown in real estate sales in Chennai with a 55% drop in housing units sold year-over-year.
In Q4 of 2016, only 757 units were sold compared to 1,673 units in the same period the previous year. Number of project launches in the city fell to 58 from 93 in the year ago period.
“Demonetisation has definitely impacted sales in Chennai. The cash crunch along with cyclone Vardah were a downer when it came to people taking decisions on property,” said Sridhar Srinivasan, managing director, Chennai, Cushman & Wakefield.
However, this is part of an overall trend in Chennai real estate market, which got exacerbated with the cash ban. For instance, the fourth quarter of 2013 saw a high of 2,554 units being sold. After which there has been a decline to 1,629 units in 2014 to 1,673 in 2015.
However, Cushman & Wakefield expects the phenomena to be temporary and won’t last beyond the new two quarters.
As to the “cash” or “black money” component of real estate sales, Srinivasan said this has not impacted mid-segment sales. “Middle-level housing units have seen a high impact. The high-end and luxury segment, which use a higher component of cheque vs cash, saw lesser impact. We are expecting this trend to continue for the next two-three quarter,” he said.
Mid-level housing units saw a 21% dip to 662 units in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 840 sold units in the comparable quarter last year. High-end units, however, saw sales nearly double to 91 in Q4, from 49 in the year-ago.
Another reason as to why transactions are being hit is because of stamp duty and registration fee that need to be paid at offices. Given the role of the “cash” component in property deed clearances, demonetisation has definitely thrown a wrench in the works.
For the full-year, the number of projects in 2016 dipped 24% to 57 from 75 last year. The number of housing units also dipped 21% to 6,419 from 8,174.
Smaller homes need not necessarily be devoid of the many roles a home plays. Intelligent planning can incorporate different utilities in the same space.
When it comes to real estate, everybody wants a little more space. Especially those of us who live in houses that are at the beginner’s level equivalent of the real estate industry.
Of late, smaller apartments in the city have been getting a lot of attention from builders as well as buyers. Whether it is the increasing floating population that Chennai is playing host to, or the space crunch that is the bane of every big city; whether you picked a small house because it is your first real estate investment or simply because a small apartment fits your requirements, the bottom line is that a little more space is always welcome.
According to Navin, director, Navin’s Housing, even the smallest of houses can be more spacious than they look, if planned intelligently. “For any residential unit, every inch needs to be efficiently planned. But when it comes to small houses, functionality of space is paramount and so special attention needs to be given to various aspects of building to ensure this,” he says. Even when the overall area is not as much as one would like, there are quite a few ways the space crunch can be addressed at the time of construction itself. “For small houses, one needs to ensure that the flow of the house is compact and efficient. There can be absolutely no unutilised spaces in the house. One way to do this is to give functionality to all the odd spaces in the house. Also, thinner walls inside the house can add a precious few inches to the overall area,” he adds. The basic layout, the design, the reusability of space, use of lighter colours and maximising natural light, are some of the basic things to keep in mind, he feels.
Although the best way to go about increasing space efficiency is to work with the idea right from the planning stage, it is not always possible. Today, the real estate sector is giving abundant thought to space efficiency. However, residential units constructed in the past continue to struggle with the minimal space they started out with. “In most existing homes, renovating can increase usable space to a great extent. Simple things like breaking down half the wall between the kitchen and dining area not only increases the open area but also brings into play an extra platform that can provide functional usage to both the segments,” says Nikita Bharat, a senior architect, Framework Solutions. For a long time, the idea of renovating consisted mostly of covering up the balcony space so that it became part of the room, thereby increasing internal space. Although this does make sense, there are better ways to do it.”When you decide to cover up a balcony or verandah, you are reducing the outdoor space of the house which in turn actually reduces the feeling of space rather than increasing it. What one could do instead, is to take in the balcony but instead of covering it up completely, install wall-to-wall windows. This ensures enough natural light and exposure to the outdoors in such a way that you don’t feel boxed in,” she adds.
Use of multi-purpose furniture is also a sure shot way to make your home accommodate more than it could. “Dual usage is a great idea for smaller homes since any space can be tweaked according to personal needs and requirements. There is a lot of variety in terms of space-saving furniture that is available these days. Intelligent use of such furniture can help the hall double up as a second bedroom and the bedroom could be used as a study or office during the day, thereby increasing usable space,” says Rithika S, a senior designer.
Source Divya Menon, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai
Nature can be your best friend, even when it comes to living spaces.
Home decor is incomplete without a touch of greenery.
Gardening and landscaping is only possible when you have large spaces and the ever shrinking living spaces leave little option for greenery inside homes. But in recent times, interior decorators have helped bring greenery inside homes through a variety of elements. Apartments, small houses or villas, people now are seen having small gardens or an artificial tree in the living room.
The enthusiastic ones are utilising every possible space to place potted plants. Home decorators are leaving no stone unturned while incorporating classy and unique styles to bring an air of freshness in the ambience.
“Plants change the way you look at a space. I am a nature lover and was thrilled when my interior decorator suggested placing pots outside my window. Later, I decorated my balcony wall with hanging plants. For the kitchen area, I have small pots with mint and chilies growing in them. Although I live in an apartment, the greenery in and around is refreshing,” says Madhavi S, a home maker. “People are becoming aware of the environment and want to be eco-friendly. There are a lot of accessories like swings, bird houses, lanterns, trolley pot stand, etc, that people have started using in their gardens and balconies. Plants and flowers are good for homes and bring a balance in the overall home environment,” says freelance interior decorator, Chaaru Patel. Various garden shops have now opened up that sell plants and unique show pieces. Plants have also become popular gifting items.
Traditional nurseries have opened online stores for people to purchase plants and flowers of their choice with accessories and basic gardening necessities. Another style in vogue is the use of native plants that attract birds, bees and other insects. This helps bring a beautiful atmosphere in the house. Native plants like cactus, bamboo shoots, hibiscus, lily, purslane and many more are planted in terrace gardens, the courtyard or open balconies. Artificial flowers are a minimalist’s dream when it comes to lasting beauty and low maintenance.
Quality is the most important factor when you chose artificial flowers. “Designed to look just like their real counterparts, these flowers never need to be watered, put in sun or replanted. People use large pots and arrange beautiful artificial flowers in them. They are usually placed in the corners of a room, along the staircases or on tables. Also, we are seeing front gardens and containers that include a combination of edibles. More and more people are turning into gardeners and are adding fruit trees and bushes into their home gardens,” informs interior designer Vishesh Mehta.
Source: Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai
Smart windows for smart living
With the advent of new technology, many are opening up to the idea of incorporating automation in their homes, making it a regular feature.
Technology in homes is making life easy. Everything is available with a simple touch on your tab or phones. This recent revelation that is making tech-savvy residents happy. With the concept of smart windows, Indian houses too are all geared up to embrace this boon. With motorised window shades and automatic blinds, the modern living experience has become more convenient.
The new age Indian is going the extra mile to avail the luxurious lifestyle and convenience by getting the latest technology home. Be it drapes or shades, these tech windows open and close based on pre-programmed timers. One also can operate the blinds with just a click. Motorised curtain rods are time and energy saving. However, app controlled drape rods are yet to enter the market. Currently, drapes unlike windows are being controlled by remotes. Automated windows not only eliminate the need to manually open and close windows, depending on the time of the day, but also add a certain aesthetic appeal to the house.
When opting for a technology upgrade, the budget plays a crucial role. These smart window accessories cost a little more than the regular windows. The purpose of the room also plays an important role. Each room can be designed differently using different kinds of blinds and colour combinations.
In the entertainment room, where one wouldn’t want too much of natural light since it could ruin the viewing experience, app-controlled windows can be used. It not only helps the room to be lit when the room is not in use, it also helps to diffuse the light thus providing an uninterrupted watching experience. Automations like motorised shades and blinds add an extravagant feel while bringing in convenience as well as safety.
Seema Ahuja, a smart window user shares, “Even when I’m not home, I need not worry about the sun light ruining my furniture or fading my upholstery. With the help of these smart windows, I can now I pre-set the opening and closing window time. I have set it in a way that they automatically shut after letting the morning sunlight brighten the house. My smart window is also connected to my smart phone.”
Pre-programmed timers and smart phone applications can help users avail this luxury from anywhere in the house. The technology is available on most smart phones and connects easily to any WiFi router.
It is also a stepping stone towards safety and security. If one forgets to shuts the window before leaving the house, one can easily operate the windows using the app on their phones.
Garima Malvanker, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai
With a multitude of designs and options, coffee tables have evolved to be much more than the purpose they were originally designed for.
Call them teapoys, centre tables or coffee tables, as they have been known of late. There was a time when teapoys were all about decor. Made of the best teak-wood, usually with curved legs and carved with decorative motifs, these beautifully detailed pieces were the highlight of every living room. Today, they have risen far above their mere decorative purpose.
According to Swati Raj, architect, a coffee table usually acts as the binding factor for most living rooms. “When it comes to decor, it is all about striking a balance. If a room is heavily decorated, the coffee table can be a simple, yet classy addition that serves its purpose but doesn’t overpower the room, whereas a room that is minimally decorated can get a much-needed push with a well-designed coffee table,” she says.
Furniture styles can be categorised mostly into three types traditional, contemporary and transitional. While traditional wooden furniture is still very popular due to its sturdy and long-lasting qualities, people have become more open to experimentation and don’t mind veering away from the traditional wood tables. “Although working with wood gives the craftsman a whole lot of freedom in terms of design, of late, other materials have been making a niche for themselves in the coffee table market,” adds Raj.
However, with shrinking homes, the functionality and flexibility of any kind of furniture often takes precedence over the aesthetics of the piece. Many people are leaning towards customisations. The reason this trend is catching on is that one can get unique designs made and even add certain personal details to the piece for almost half the price quoted in big furniture stores. According to Pranay and Tanvi Joshi, who recently got a unique coffee table made, the time and effort they spent getting it made from scratch has been completely worth it. “We picked a design from a website and asked a local carpenter to replicate a design. It is a two piece table that can be merged to make a huge coffee table and separated to make two corner tables,” says Pranay, an IT professional.
But professionally made coffee tables are not all the market has. Says Rati Rajagopal, a graphic designer, “I wanted an inexpensive centre table. So I picked up a big flat decorative clay pot, filled it with shells, glass pebbles and topped it with a round sheet of glass. It is very basic and that is the beauty of it,” says Rati.
Source: Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai
Decor decode – Odd one out
When you choose to design and decorate your home, you make sure that no stone is left unturned. But there can be situations when even after catering to the design requirements of the entire house, one part still sticks out like a sore thumb.
An odd corner in your home is enough to ruin all your hard work. Many homemakers and designers are transforming that unused or odd space into something that can provide utility or make it look artistic. A work space, a small library, a bar unit or simply a zen fountain are ideas that can be given shape to give the corners of your home a new look. You can let your imagination run high depending upon the space you have or have that quiet corner for yourself in the house which you always wanted.
Interior designer Chirag Kapoor does not believe in calling any space as ‘odd’. He says, “Actually, for me, there are useable or unusable spaces, aesthetic or ill proportioned spaces but not an odd space. As a designer, converting these spaces is even more satisfying. In most of our architecture projects, the spaces are pre-planned and pre-conceived, so the emerging spaces are never odd or unplanned. However, when working on an older structure or a renovation or restoration, de signing these surprise spaces becomes fun. A client may see these areas as waste of space but when you bring in an aesthetic spin to these volumes, it becomes creativity.”
He laments that when it comes to the choice of doing odd spaces, the utilitari an aspect is given more priority. “Sadly, odd spaces are looked at more with an angle of utility primarily. But these spaces have much more aesthetic potential. It should be approached with a blend of both aspects; a mini home studio can serve both aesthetic as well as utilitarian purpose. Even a small music room, a library or a space depends largely on a person’s lifestyle and requirements.” He says, “The idea is to give options to our clients to optimally utilise the unused space. Their choice might be completely different based on utilitarian or aesthetic purposes. For example, if you have a lot friends of same age group, you might opt for a bar unit. Again, a 60 year old might opt for a storage space.”
However, he explains there are many factors to be considered before finalising the decor for such spaces. “Lighting, passage, the corner of the room and the size of the room matters before deciding upon what to do with the odd space in a room,” he says. Writing den has so much more potential than a wardrobe to store brooms and umbrellas,” says Kapoor.
Vamsipriya chose to put up a small library in her living room. She says, “Due to the shape of our kitchen, it was becoming very difficult to put one corner of our house to good use. I am an avid book reader and thought of utilising the space to build up a small library with seating for a single person beside it. Now, it has become my favourite spot in the whole house and even my friends are deciding to get something done for un used spaces at their home as well.”
S Balasubramanian, proprietor, Zenith interiors maintains that the decision to spruce up an odd.
Source: Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai
Do the current construction norms require real estate developers to make specific provisions for the differently-abled, disabled and senior citizens?
They do but as is still the case in many areas of the Indian real estate industry, sufficient implementation lags seriously behind the on-paper regulations.
The Model Building Bye Laws 2016 (Chapter 8), IS Code 4963, CPWD guidelines for Barrier-Free environment give very detailed design and planning guidelines to provide a barrier free environment for differently-abled and elderly people. In fact, they have a dedicated chapter on design provisions to be incorporated in any building for public use for differently-abled and elderly people.
The provisions required include, but are by no means limited to:
– Parking on the ground floor
– Wheel chairs (motorised for ease) with ramps and access to all areas
– Hand rails
– Easy signage for the hearing impaired
– Braille signage for the visually impaired
– Elevators with hand rails and easily accessible switches
– Special toilets and easy ac cess to them
– Faster lift door opening time
– Adequate sitting areas for the elderly
– All important buttons and switches at low height
Evacuation route and refuge provisions Building bye-laws are legal tools used to regulate architectural design and construction factors of buildings to achieve orderly development. They are essentially mandatory and are meant to protect buildings against earthquakes, fire, noise, structural failures and other hazards.
A long way to go
In India, there are still a number of small and mid-sized towns which do not have building bye-laws. In the absence of any regulatory mechanisms, such towns are confronted with haphazard development which results in chaotic conditions and inconvenience to property users. The recently-announced Model Building Bye-Laws 2016 are intended to establish guidelines for the benefit of State Governments, Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), Urban Development Authorities, etc. and are an improvement over the previous Model Building Bye Laws brought out in 2004.
Indian construction needs much change in approach when it comes to differently-abled and elderly-friendly real estate developments. The change required is more in terms of making real estate developments disabled-friendly in the true sense and beyond mere compliance for records purposes. The scenario is better for metros and especially in popular retail areas, but the second tier of cities and towns are far behind.
Need to head the market
Similarly, the implementation of the norms needs to be more effective in office complexes and residential areas. The Indian developments and construction industry needs to recognise the importance in fact, the business importance of detailed planning and efficient execution to make any real estate development for public utility. When we look at the developed world, we witness the high level of ease and convenience that disabled, differently abled and senior citizens are afforded in those countries. It is encouraging and heartening to see such citizens taken care of by building provisions or property management teams. In fact, the positivity and trust created by such efforts makes a lot of business sense in terms of the success of such projects. Piyush Gandhi, national director project and development services, JLL India
Source: Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai