Tuesday, July 9, 2013

On trend: Open shelving in kitchens

Having moved recently into an 1970s bungalow first floor rental, I was faced with a peculiar problem. A massive (by apartment standards) square shaped kitchen with plenty of concrete shelving. But no cabinets. It was charming but quite impractical due to all the pots and pans clutter one could see. Until I found this country style kitchen inspiration.

It quickly led to a neat little two part solution i could work with. Use of open upper shelves for holding my pretty ceramics used frequently and some essentials in glass jars. And use of lower shelves for everything else tucked away behind two tone striped curtains. 

I love the upper open shelving so much now that I cannot see myself living without them. Its definitely a trend that is on its way to becoming a classic.

Sources: Marie Claire Maison and various

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A magical place for the little people

Magical children's rooms come together with a few ingredients: functional division of space, artful use of colour, well planned storage and huge dollops of imagination. Or so these pictures would lead us to believe.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Green blanket

Lately I have been thinking about the shrinking green around my apartment. One day my croton dies due to lack of sunlight and the next day the dour neighbour pays a mini fortune to get rid of the neem tree. A tree, that gracefully framed my living room balcony, and totally made my mornings, along with that hot cuppa. To add to this, the very next week, the majestic palms overlooking the dining room windows, giving that last semblance of privacy to our flat, get lopped off mercilessly. All in the name of regular maintenance. In a sense I have been feeling a little closed in, with all the concrete and not much else to distract from it.

But seeing these pictures were like a shot in the arm for me, giving renewed hope. Hope, that comes from trying to make the best of the space we do have, to greenify our living spaces. They are also a reminder of how wild and wondrous rather than manicured and perfect is the so much more charming way to go when planning green spaces. Not only does it embrace our faults as gardeners and nature's ever changing ways, it highlights a raw natural beauty that we would miss in a blink (or in a snip in this case). I hope these pictures do make you see green in some small way. Yes, I am talking to you, living in that tiny city apartment with a box balcony lamenting the lack of a house with a great, big garden. Someone just like me.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


"It was just great! We stayed in this pretty bamboo cottage, cycled to our fresh organic food, swam or simply bummed around on the hammock. And this adorable Dalmatian simply adopted us while we were there, following us around everywhere", said a friend, talking excitedly about her three day weekend retreat somewhere on the outskirts of Pondicherry. I was intrigued.

A couple of months later, while randomly surfing channels on TV, I come across a feature on this innovative website, http://petvacations.in, which was all about helping regular folk take breaks with their pets. Especially 'desperately in love with their dog' folks like my husband and I!

So off i went to their site, to figure out pet friendly resorts and retreats in around Chennai. The site instantly gave me a number of a place in Pondicherry, and it turned out to be The Dune, the retreat my friend was talking about. Lovely Happenstance!, I thought, as i hopped off to check out the resort site, http://thedunehotel.com. After being blown away by the striking eco friendly rooms and facilities, I quickly made a reservation.

Last week we spent a blissful three days on the property - in a quaint little hut on stilts made completely of bamboo and recovered antique doors, windows and furniture all painted in mint green pastels. All positively radiating Indo French chic! Add to that a super friendly staff, great food made with organic ingredients and an eternity pool!

What could be a better way to introduce Olive, our 10 month old puppy, to the joys of vacationing! She sure couldn’t resist the hammock or a splash in the pool or for that matter, a gentle Dalmatian called Panku!

Olive and Panku

Baywatch 3, our vacation home on stilts

Our front porch: Colonial planter chairs recovered with a lick of mint green paint

Inside view with a traditional Chettinad bed

Here is some other eye candy from the resort

Inside the Gramam house:
Dual toned bathtub with a striking checkerboard backsplash

Gramam house: Serene traditional sitting room

Bangle room with earthy hues

Antiquated opulence in the Nawabi room

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Treasures by the bay

Furniture hunting can be a rewarding thing on ebay! That is - if you have the patience and the eye for it. Surprised? You shouldnt be. If you are looking for half decent, selectively stylist wooden furniture (mostly made of the trusty Indian sheesham wood) at a gettable price, this is the hunting ground for you. Trust me.

This is truly a Godsend for plywood/veneer furniture haters like me - I would choose not so great wooden furniture over its almost like the real thing, state-of-the-art laminated wood veneer cousin any day. I know, I know - sounds irrational, but its the whole synthetic thing around veneer that puts me off. To me, its like choosing tericot over cotton.

Ok enough of that rant. Getting back to furniture on ebay - pieces here has been inspired from styles as varied as Contemporary, French, Indian vintage to Scandinavian and Far Eastern. So there is a decent range to choose from.
What I like about sellers here (most big sellers are from Jodhpur, Rajasthan) is that they are earnestly trying to offer some really basic and practical pieces (a la Ikea's lack shelf, basic wooden corners) that every home needs - but pieces that are strangely either very hard to come by in the Indian market or are overpriced in stores like Fab India. Another thing that struck me as positive about the sellers on the site is that they are very upfront about the wood being used and clearly mention if ply has been used to supplement a part of the piece. So clearly tis no under the carpet con job! (Are you listening - furniture flea markets of Jogeshwari, Mumbai and Amar Colony, Delhi!)

Personally I tasted blood on the site after ordering a lovely opium bed from a vendor called Induscraft last year. I did receive the knockdown piece in good condition but not before dozens of followup calls had been made and over one and half months had passed after placing the order.

Clearly patience was the key in my experience with delivery. I remember thinking in my exasperation that their service was based more on good intentions than good execution. So if you have a furniture deadline to catch, like a first visit from in laws after marriage, this may not be the place for you. But since i had no such compulsions, all was forgiven.
This well crafted bed has become the focal point of my guest bedroom and I am pleased with it. So do you blame me for cruising the site for bargains from time to time. Here is a peek into some finds that I would like to own soon.

The Opium bed i purchased

A daybed for the den to simply hang loose

A simple, square table for those unavoidable TV dinners

Elegant extra storage for my bedroom

Handy side tables for the living room

All images are from ebay India

Friday, March 20, 2009


Am indulging myself in the middle of the day with pictures of Elsewhere - a stunning heritage retreat in North Goa. I can never tire of looking at this place - with its simple and stunning beachhouses set in between a creek and the Arabian Sea.

A vibrant Portuguese colour palette combined with interiors that are deliciously spartan (showcasing colonial furniture and vignettes using house found objects) makes a truly drool worthy statement.

A vignette after my heart!

Images: www.aseascape.com

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Of Gardening, Denial and other Past times

I have recently taken to gardening or rather it has taken hold of me (thats quite a statement from someone with a few potted plants inhabiting a miniature balcony in a rental apartment, but please bear with me). Maybe it means I am growing old and infirm (having crossed over the big 30) or possibly that my mother's green genes are finally kicking in (and here I speak of a lady who thinks nothing of toiling away mid afternoon in her garden in the sapping, dry heat of North Indian summers wearing what curiously resembles a Vietnamese rice bowl hat!). Either ways I know - what was once casual flirting is slowly becoming a quiet love.

And how do I know that. Well plants for me, not so long ago, were simply accessories that made the house come alive with freshness and colour. It was all about how they looked in my house and how they made me feel.
Obviously, the most seductive and overpriced plants were bought ready potted and all, and then cared for with a generous dash of mythical fantasy ("this Croton is not doing too well, maybe I should sing to it") and a pinch of insecurity ("Oh God!, I hope the Poinsettia makes it through the winter"). Why some survived or why most withered away, with prolonged exposure to me, was a complete and utter mystery. I surely didnt have a green finger, what I had were some pretty random explanations. ("Ah well, most likely the palms died because the maid forgot to water them while I was away for a couple of days last month.")

And so it went on, till one day a friend, (similarly infatuated and totally ignorant about house plants) during the course of a conversation, confessed that inspite of owning so many plants, she didnt know how to pot one, or even when to till a plant. Even though I could perform those simple gardening tasks, it made me realise just how little I knew about the plants I was supposedly taking care of. I was obviously missing the big picture.

And so my experiments with real planting (as i call it) began. Planting that is based on some healthy research and customised daily care. I am happy to report that I have tasted some initial success with planting succulents from scratch. The best thing about these wonder plants is that they need minimal soil and water and are great for almost any season and climate. They can even be potted in a tea cup. What a lovely thought that!

My next experiment is to successfully pot a Hibiscus, hopefully the first of many flowering plants that are commonly grown as bushes. This one promises to be a toughie, but lets see how it goes.
Why Hibiscus - well it was the first sapling that caught my eye at the nursery the other day - I remembered it as being the first flowering bush my mother planted when we moved into our very own red brick townhouse all those years ago, it reminded me of the zillions of crimson blossoms I would see every morning from our kitchen window, it reminded me how darned irresistable they must have been, enough for a neighbour to get her puny man friday to steal a bunch of them for her morning Puja!