Thursday, August 27, 2015

Some more pictures of home interiors across Bangalore @ Purva Atria, Brigade Courtyard, Salarpuria Silverwoods, Greenage, Mahaveer Rhyolite, Chartered Beverly Hills, Samruddhi Lakedrive & more

Hi,
These pictures have been lying around on my phone for a long time, finally ended up posting them on the Facebook Page. For the first time I could appreciate FB for the ease that it offers for posting pictures without which these pics may lost their way on the cellphone ... super like :)

Posting them here again for the readers of this blog. Here goes...







TV Unit - Under Construction




Puja Unit - Under Construction
Glass Shutters for the Puja Unit



That's it for now. As always will welcome your feedback

Signing off

Nandita

Friday, August 7, 2015

Tips and tricks to convert your rental home into a place of your own


This one is for readers who have or are in the process of renting out a home. The simple tips below should help you get your home to reflect your lifestyle and your style without cashing out your wallet.
This article also appeared on the home page of Deccan Herald - Homes & Interiors this morning...happy reading
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While you may not be able to do much about your nosy landlord, there is lots that can be done to make your rented house reflect your lifestyle and make it feel like “home” without cashing out your credit card.
Each of us has lived in a rented accommodation at some point in our life whether it be due to moving cities, the need for a bigger place or just that it was not yet time to afford a place of one’s own. While a new place comes with its own quota of excitement, doing it up to suit one’s taste and lifestyle is a bit of a tug of war between balancing the costs against the desire. The simple tips below should help you balance this equation.

Before you zero in on your rented home
Make sure that the place you are renting has the right amount of fixed furniture. In the minimum, the place should be fitted with the Kitchen and the Wardrobes in each of the rooms. These are your CORE storage spaces and without these, no matter what you do, your stuff will be found lying around in places where it is not supposed to be, giving your home the typical “rented home” look
Also press upon your landlord to install a decent enough chimney in the Kitchen. Without one, sooner than later you will see black soot accumulating around the cooking area which will be a “no-win” both for you and your landlord.

Just before you move in
There are things that need to be done that need the house to be empty hence a bit of planning may be required for this bit. At least one day before you move in with your truckloads get the floor cleaned – acid washed if it’s too dirty. Additionally get a round of pest control done through a reputed company. Doing this in an empty home is better as you can reach into every crevice and corner, secondly your kids don’t suffer the inconvenience and the poisonous fumes.
You may also want to get the curtains resized according to the window dimensions of the new home in advance so that they are ready to go from day one.

Now that you have moved in
Let’s start with the curtains where we left off. If you already have them ready then they will define the colour theme of the home, else if you are planning on getting new ones and don’t want to spend a bomb then you can look at some of the ready - made ones available in the market. With a broad colour theme in place as defined by the curtains decide on the bed linens. Your existing sets of linen will mostly do, however look at adding small cushions in different finishes and colours to either merge with, or to contrast with the colour theme.  Once you are done start adding other things

The Highlight Wall: Look at highlighting one of the walls of each room, including the living room in line with the colour theme. You can do this by painting, using wall paper or wall hangings & photo frames. Wallpaper and paint may sound difficult but nowadays it takes not more than a few hours to do up a single wall nor is it too expensive. Just this single investment will go a long way in adding a fair degree of the desired warmth to the new home.
Depending on the space available you can look at adding designer shelves for showpieces or books on the other walls. Nowadays there is a wide range of such shelves available to purchase online as well.
A Dash of luxury on the floor: Rugs and mats will add that bit of a luxurious look to the place that you need. Look out for ones that go with your colour theme. With the weather in Bangalore you can have the rugs on 365 days however be careful not to overdo it since rugs everywhere may make the space look smug & small.
Lighting: This is again a small investment that will make a big difference. To most people lighting = having enough light in the room to be able to read which is the equivalent of using a space shuttle to go to Mumbai when it can take you to Mars. Depending on the living space, proper lighting can either make the place feel warm or full of energy and affect the mood of the inhabitants accordingly. In a rented home though you may not be able to do much about the light fittings that your landlord has provided you can definitely enhance the same by changing to warm white LED/ CFL’s and  adding floor as well as table lamps. A dimmer on the lamps can help you adjust the brightness in line with the mood you want to set and the time of the day. Do also remember that yellow lighting, also called warm white, will make the space feel warm and cozy while white light will make it feel more efficient. In well-designed homes you will hence find warm white in the living rooms and white in the study
Greenery: Plants, both indoors and outdoors add colour as well as style to the living space. If you have the luxury of a large balcony or a terrace then take help of the local nursery to identify the right plants that will thrive in the given space based on the direction of the sun and have a combination of flowering, fragrant as well as fruit giving varieties. For interiors there are a number of different plants available including bamboo, parsley & ferns that can be arranged in regular pots as well as in vertical stacks available nowadays. Some of these indoor plants also have air purification properties ensuring good health along with a plush look.
The Doors: If your rented place is passing its middle age then the doors will mostly have a worn down look. One may feel that not much can be done about it - nevertheless there is still hope. First – scrub down the doors with a good cleaner – you will not believe the years of accumulated dirt that will come off them. Now that you have them done and dusted get small trinklets that you can hang from the door knobs. Doors of kids’ rooms can also have some catchy posters. The resulting clean and catchy doors will bring in a substantial change to the overall look of the home.
Once you are through with the above changes you will surely have a place to call your own, hopefully you have a long enough rental contract with your landlord to ensure that you enjoy it for a long time to come.

As always, will welcome your feedback and comments

Signing off
NM

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"The Studio" - now on Facebook : A photo palate for interiors in the "Indian" context

Over the last few months I realized that I have been accumulating a good number of  photographs of interior work - both ongoing and finished, on my phone and nearly none had found their way to this blog. The prime culprit - the thought that I will "one day" get a good photographer to cover "finished" interiors of the entire project/s and then put the best ones out here .... a "one day" that is yet to come :(

There is a lot that pictures communicate, not just how good (or bad) the interiors look but also insight into what goes into creating good designs - thus initiating and invigorating the viewers' own thoughts & ideas. What I also found was that while the western world has its  Houzz.com's and other websites, there is hardly ANY place that has insight into home interiors in the Indian context...let me explain what that means.

As Indians our needs are fairly unique and these need to be factored in while designing homes - things such as gas cylinders in the kitchen, a place for storing slippers in the foyer and a provision for people to sit and put their shoes on, false ceilings that need to take care of accommodating the ceiling fan (ask a westerner what a ceiling fan is and watch his expression), storage spaces in the kitchen for lines of boxes containing different spices - the small - small boxes that we have quite similar to the ones in the paan shop :), the puja unit, the jhoola in the living room... I could keep going on and on but I guess you get what I mean by design in an "Indian" context.

So back to the point - if you look around for ideas and pictures of designs that cater to our Indian needs you will hardly find much on the Internet. The facebook page of The Studio is an attempt to fulfill that exact gap - apart from getting all those photographs out from my phone that is :). It is also a forum I am experimenting with for a more continuous interaction with my readers (you).

I will be glad if you visit the page (it's at https://www.facebook.com/homedesignbangalore) and give me your feedback - a "like" if you like it or a comment if you see something amiss and want it added. Just be a little considerate as the content on the page is only what was added this afternoon after the page was created. Based on your feedback it will grow over time.

While it's said that a picture says a thousand words, sometimes those thousand words need to be written down for the best impact. Therefore this blog will continue to be THE medium for exchanging thoughts, questions & ideas. The Facebook page will serve as a medium of conveying some of those ideas through pictures. And both this blog and the Facebook page will interlink to bring you the best of each. Also, if YOU have any picture that conveys a unique idea/ thought or lifestyle then do please share and I will be more than happy to put that up ... just ensure that it is not copyrighted.

As always will welcome your feedback

Signing off

Nandita

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Experts you need when making your home - My recent article in Deccan Herald

The article below was published in Deccan Herald last Friday. The free text is pasted below. Happy reading

Cheers
Nandita



The role of an Interior Designer & tips to get the best out of your Interior designer for your home design project.

If you have a house getting ready for possession in the next one year or are looking to do major remodeling in your current home you are sure to have spent ample hours already Googling for an Interior Designer.
A quick Google search for “Interior Designer in Bangalore” yields 3.39 million search results (in 0.47 seconds). This is not surprising because everyone from an Architect, Civil Engineer, Carpenter to a Plumber nowadays informally calls him/herself an Interior designer and sometimes vice-versa, so let’s first start with what is the role of an Interior Designer and how is it different from that an Architect and a Civil Engineer.

The Architect: He is the one responsible to plan the overall internal layout & exterior elevation of the building. This is based on the (1) law of the land - the offsets, Floor area ratio etc. demanded by the authorities (read BBMP, BDA etc.) (2) The needs of the owner such as the room sizes, direction, external elevation etc. and (3) the physical, and design constraints such as the slope of the land, the bathrooms being next to the plumbing lines, the columns need to be straight etc. etc. The Architect is also qualified and expected to do a sanity check on what s/he has designed can be constructed and will be livable.
As an analogy - if one were to be making a human being -  the Architect’s role would be to define that the head will be on the top, hands on the side and the feet at the bottom with a body in the middle  so that the human can function in the best way possible
The Civil Engineer: He is the person who will take the Architect’s designs and construct the building based on hardcore principles of engineering such as the load on the walls, the thickness of the columns & beams to take the load, the type and amount of material to be used etc. Your Architect and the Engineer hence need to be in constant touch to ensure what has been designed 1. Can be constructed, 2. Is being constructed and 3. Any construction constraints that come in are discussed and changes factored into the Architect’s plans based on your agreement
In our human analogy the Civil Engineer will be fitting out the different organs within the body and determining the material that each part will be made of

The Interior Designer: Now that your home is constructed and ready comes in the interior designer. S/he will take the space available and make it livable in line with the needs, lifestyle and the outlook of the owner and the “feel” that one would like to give to the space. This would include the space planning , colour schemes, lighting, furniture, furnishings, woodwork including build versus buy decisions for the furniture etc.
Again – in the human analogy the Interior designer will determine how the person will look, talk and behave….and that better be good
In a continuum extending from Science on the left to Art on the right, the Civil Engineer will mostly stand on the Science side, the Architect in the middle and the Interior Designer on the right. That however does not necessarily mean that anyone with a good sense of art can do an interior designers job since there are technical aspects within interior design that one needs to know and be good at… more on that later.

The Value of Interior Design and why you may need an Interior Designer
A well designed home is EXACTLY like a well designed car – you just know that’s its well done when you drive/ walk into one, you may not be able to pin point specifically what the difference is but while the car feels great when you drive it, the home just feels "nice" when you enter. I remember this interesting episode of a home owner  who commented “you know whenever the neighbors come in they say that my home somehow feels different and more balanced” – in that project the interior designer had changed the position of the fans in the drawing room to go with the symmetry of the overall interiors of the room. And it does not stop there - things like deciding whether the shutter flap will be a pull up or a pull down, the drawers will be to the right of the kitchen hob, the left or right under based on whether the user is left handed or right, the material to be used in case the home is self managed or maid run are key things that the Interior Designer will plan for while designing.
Colours & Lighting add an interesting dimension to interior design and is perhaps the most under-rated & under thought design element and one that Interior Designers spend considerable time and effort on. An extremely well designed home can look ordinary if the colour selection & lighting is not done properly and a fairly simple home can look extraordinary with the right colour selection & lighting.
In addition to the above when designing the furniture the Interior Designer would incorporate the limitations of both the material, hardware and the workman to get the desired output. While the limitations of the workman can be managed with over-communication or by getting someone better, it is extremely important to know the material & hardware that will bring the designs to life. With the huge Hardware range that’s available in the market today & the Hettich & Hafele Hardware Manuals running into some 1560 pages, this is one area of technical expertise that the Interior designer has to be conversant with to do a good job … remember, our science versus art discussion earlier.
Due to the above reasons having an Interior designer by your side is helpful especially when doing “Home” Interiors because a Home needs not just to look good but also be built specific to a lifestyle & need and has to be live-able for years to come.

Finding the right interior designer:
This one is never easy. Even with the most thorough search, going through profiles and past projects etc. I have seen client - designer relationship go bad & the project bearing the brunt of it. Finding the right designer is much like an arranged marriage, beyond how the person appeals to you in the first meeting and the matching of the wavelengths there is not much that can be determined which will have real bearing on the success rate. The only other thing you may want to check while looking for a designer is whether he has been around for some time and has some grounded experience, whether he will be personally available to you and be directly involved in your specific project and whether he can get the job done within your time and budget constraints.
Getting the best out of your Interior Designer:
While every client, project and designer is different there are some core do’s and don’ts to ensure a healthy relationship so that the project gets the best treatment from all concerned.
  1. Have the detailed scope, payment terms and overall timeline clearly defined and stick to these as the project proceeds
  2. Once you have provided your inputs and documented the scope & budgets trust your designer to deliver and do a good job. The Type X Management style may work with the local carpenter but with the designer it’s got to be Type Y
  3. Don’t visit the project site every day and unannounced. … Imagine how you would feel if your manager peeps into your desk 3 times a day and the kind of respect such a manager will command. Set up work inspection days in advance with mutual agreement of your designer. This will create a general atmosphere of positive management.
  4. Avoid mid work design changes. Think through all your needs and discuss these with your designer before finalizing the designs. Last minute and on the fly changes are always messy. Sometimes these lead to scope creeps resulting in time and budget creep and heart burn. At the same time if there are key changes that HAVE TO be incorporated then ensure that these are discussed and any accompanying budget and timeline changes are agreed and documented
  5. Due to the unorganized and unprofessional nature of the labour market in India your designer may not be able to give you a project plan with weekly timelines. However you should expect that the general pace of work is nippy and there is visibility of the work being completed in time. If not then raise this during your scheduled site visits.

The above should mostly see you through, warm and happy, in a fully furnished home built without any mishaps and within your budget and timelines

Happy Home making

Nandita Manwani is a designer & founder of The Studio, Bengalooru.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Kitchen Design - Best Practices Consolidated in One Single Article

The article on the left was published in today's Deccan Herald. It encapsulates and consolidates all the Kitchen Design Best practices mentioned across different posts on this blog. Reproducing it below for my readers ... here goes...
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It’s that place in your home where you are likely to spend over 10 percent of your working life and the one that gets the most footfalls. It houses more gadgetry than you have in your car and is one of the most complex spaces to design. The smart among you may have guessed it already, for the laity - I am talking about your Kitchen.

A Kitchen needs to be ergonomic, utilitarian, maximizing storage space as well as good looking all at the same time. The fact that the kitchen has "hot spaces", "wet spaces", "work spaces", "wash spaces" …  (I guess you get the idea) complicates matters further.

If you are in the process of setting up your new home or just remodeling it, considerable attention will be demanded by your Kitchen. While Kitchen Design is too vast a topic to cover in a single article, the simple design tips below are meant to make your Kitchen design journey both enjoyable & easier.

Basics of Kitchen Design - The Zones

A Kitchen can broadly be broken down into 5 zones - Preparation, Cooking, Baking, Cleaning & Storage. The core idea behind Kitchen design based on zones is to ensure that each zone can be
independently operated without one having to criss-cross through other zones thereby optimizing efficiency. For example – the Dishwasher should be placed next to the sink and the trash cabinet to form an integrated Cleaning Zone, Utensils and Cooking instruments should be under or next to the cook top (Cooking Zone), The Preparation zone should be close to both the Cooking and Baking zone so that you don’t need to walk to the cooktop after having rolled the chapatti or - a very common mistake that folks make – that there is no counter close enough to put down the hot tray fresh out of the Oven. Additionally the space for long term storage of grain, pulses, oils, namkeens etc. (Storage zone) should be away from the Cleaning Zone, specifically the trash bin, to avoid any chance of odor contamination


What is the height of a Kitchen counter?

A number of deemed architects have missed admission to top architecture schools just due to a “wrong answer” to that question. Basic as it may sound, the height of the Kitchen counter can range anywhere from 32 to 36 inches. A high counter allows more storage space underneath; it also ensures that any appliance such as a dishwasher fits properly under the counter. However if you are 5’2’ or shorter a high counter will get uncomfortable to work on and you may be better off with a 32 – 33 incher. In summary (1) Optimize the counter height based on your own height (2) If you are planning any under - counter appliances then read the appliance manual and keep the counter height accordingly and (3) Don’t go under 32” and over 36”.


Planning for the Appliances

The exact dimensions of the appliances – those you plan to keep and the ones you will buy, should be factored in during the Design phase itself lest you end up stuck with an appliance AND an un-matching hollow
The fixed appliances like the Hob, Chimney, Dishwasher, Microwave etc. need a dedicated electrical connection to be housed in a way that the wires are not visible. Modern Hobs have an electrically operated ignition system and most folks miss out on planning an under the counter electrical point for the same. Also, if you cook Non Vegetarian at home then ensure that the Chimney has a suction capacity of 1000 Cum/ Hr or higher
For the movable appliances like the Grinder, Hand mixer, beater etc. you should ideally keep 2 sockets spaced out above each counter. Ensure also that you have a socket close to the hob so that the hand blender can be used with dishes “on the flame” as well.


Long term storage and that Clumsy Cylinder

Whatever be the size of your Kitchen, somehow there is never enough space to keep the grill that you take out once in 3 months or the table mats meant strictly for special occasions and all the things that
you will end up accumulating over the years. It is therefore prudent to plan bulk storage spaces from
the start. Tall units and corners are ideal for bulk storage. For accessibility in the corners, solutions such as magic corner units are popular and readily available however if you do not want to invest in one then just a regular shelf in the corner will do. A Tall unit is specially recommended - plan one with regular shelves instead of a pantry unit to maximize storage space 
LPG Cylinders take up primary real estate within the Kitchen and while it is the easiest to put them under the cooktop, the decision is definitely not the wisest or the safest. If you are blessed with a utility then house the cylinders in there and connect them to the cooktop with a copper pipe – this will save you prime space under the cooktop. The cylinders now in the open will also ensure that your family is safe in case of that rare gas leak. However if you do not have a prized utility, keep the operational cylinder in that corner space that we just talked about and the secondary cylinder somewhere far & away. Remember - keeping both the operational and the secondary LPG cylinder together inside the Kitchen is a potential recipe for disaster.

Material to use for the cabinets & shutters?

From MDF to Water proof ply to Polywood, Steel & beyond. With the huge material choice available in the market today this is perhaps the most difficult as well as the most important decisions you will need to make.

Cabinets:
If you want your Kitchen to last beyond its 3rd birthday then the only real choice for the Kitchen cabinet material is between Water Proof Ply (Technically called BWR 303 Grade Ply....ISI Marked preferred) and Steel.
When choosing between the two remember that while Ply cabinets can be modeled at home Steel cabinets will need to be procured ready-made. If you plan to use steel cabinets then ensure that the steel is 304 grade and comes from a known manufacturer.
Cabinets in MDF & HDF – widely used in the west, are available in the market today, however these do not measure up to the rigors of Indian cooking and use – especially if your kitchen is fully or partially maid managed.

Shutters:
Any of MDF, Hardwood, Marine Ply or Polywood work well for the shutters. However if you have a high traffic or maid managed kitchen then it is wise to go for Hardwood or Ply. However shutters in Particle board are a definite no-no.

Countertop – Beyond just Granite

The market has moved far beyond a time when the countertop meant Granite. Nowadays Kitchen counters are available both in Natural Stone (Marble & Granite) & Artificial Stone (Quartz & Acrylic Solid Surfaces). Granite & Quartz fit best against the needs of a typical Indian Kitchen as they are both stain resistant & hard (but not brittle) however the colour options in Granite & Quartz are fairly limited. If you are high on the maintenance side of things then Marble & Solid Surfaces (sometimes referred to as Corian) are great options as they offer exquisite finishes and a splash of colours to choose from.

That dovetails well into the last, but not the least important subject – that of colours & lighting. It is said “to each his own” but in the department of colours there is still some method to get that look and a spacious feel to the Kitchen. Follow the two simple rules below when choosing colours for your kitchen (1) darks make spaces look small while lights make them look larger and (2) A single colour may be monotonous and more than three too colourful to the eye.
Therefore if you are planning dark shutters then balance them out with a lighter shade of the backsplash and glass shutters in the wall cabinet. On the other hand if you plan to have your Kitchen in shades of white then you can select a fairly vibrant colour for the backsplash


Lighting 

Specialty lighting has a huge impact on the overall look and feel of the Kitchen. Nowadays with the advent of reasonably priced LED’s it is not even a huge burden on the pocket. Plan for an LED strip
running along the backsplash and, if you are the “new age experimental” type, next to the skirting at the bottom. Any wall cabinets with a glass shutter should also have a spotlight.

The above should give you quite a headstart in kitchen planning - good enough for you to enjoy both the journey now and the outcome for a long time to come – here’s wishing you happy homemaking.

Other posts on Kitchen design that you may also want to go through are linked below

http://www.homedesignbangalore.com/2010/06/so-what-is-modular-kitchen-and-some.html
http://www.homedesignbangalore.com/2011/08/home-design-vaastu-shastra-episode-2.html

Signing off

NM

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Home Interiors Maintenance Tips - The "Anti Wrinkle Cream" for your home

After spending a bomb on interiors in terms of resources, time and love -  it’s painful to see things slowly (sometimes not so slowly) coming apart as the home ages and matures. As a home making professional even I have felt this anguish seeing my creations going down especially when just basic maintenance could have ensured longevity.

Below are simple maintenance tips that I have learned over the years that should help you keep your interiors in top shape and you (...and me...for the homes I have done) feeling great about your now "not so new" but "matured” home.

1. The essential “Yearly” carpenter visit: 

Like how we need an annual health check up, your woodwork needs one too. The hardware that’s used nowadays (zero crank hinges, hydraulic lift ups, sliding systems etc) tends to gather play with regular use. You would have noticed the space between the shutters either becoming bigger or smaller with use – sometimes the shutters may clash, rub against the adjoining panel, wall or slab or bend/ get damaged if the issue is not arrested in time. The carpenter will tighten things back & it will take him no longer than a few of hours to do it – “quality” time well spent with your home I am sure.

2. The over enthusiastic scrubber: 

The maid under guidance from the super clean ma'am sometimes, in her enthusiasm, scrubs away the grouting along with the dirt. Grouting (for those not so enlightened) is the filler that’s put in between tiles/ granite slab or between the slab & the sink to fill the gap. The purpose is to (1) fill the gap aesthetically and (2) to prevent water leakage in wet places. A scrubbed off grouting is the single biggest kitchen killer known to man woman & child – it leads to water seepage from the sink, into the woodwork underneath leading to sure death. Also – the “artificial rain” in your bathroom due to the seeping ceiling is probably because of the over enthusiastic scrubber upstairs.
As you may have guessed already a scrubbed grouting has a simple solution – (1) Check for its absence on the floors (especially bathroom floors), between the kitchen slab & sink and where the slab meets the walls and (2) put the grouting back.

You can in fact do it on your own using white cement for the floor and silicone gel for the Kitchen

3. The “stuffed” drain pipe: 

Imagine yourself in the Kitchen drain pipe’s shoes….no, throat, and you will feel its bane. The spillage resulting from the choke also affects and spoils the woodwork around the drain. A monthly “drainex” down the drain (literally) will help avoid the quarterly choke providing respite to the woodwork around it.

4. Formal, Formal, Formal pest control: 

So many of us come under the spell of the humane (to the cockroaches) "herbal" pest control guy or are busy lining our homes with numerous “lakshman rekhas”. Trust me, nothing (with an underline) works better than a formal pest control treatment. Depending on the size of your place it costs between Rs. 3000 – 10000 annually and is worth every Rupee. 

The black “sand” that the cockroaches leave behind in your cabinets and drawers is their droppings – not only does it look messy, it also find its way into your utensils, cooking etc. etc.……you know where I am leading with this.  So fix it before it fixes you.

5. Lemonade & fizz for your bathroom fixtures: 

With use, you will find a frosty white film settling on your bathroom fittings. It’s a pretty stubborn piece of flab which, when attacked with regular cleaners, leads to the chrome itself getting damaged. The solution – a tiny yellow lemon. A scrub with lemon juice will melt away the film and bring the shine & smile back. If you are out of lemon then (this one is awesome…) use Coke…yes “Cocoa Cola” – in fact Coke works better than Pepsi for this one. A sure Thumbs up to Coke for winning "this" Cola war.

6. Corian Top - The 2 year itch:

If you have a Kitchen/ Breakfast Counter made with an Acrylic Solid Surface (called Corian in layman's terms) you may notice mild scratches on it within 2-3 of years of use. What a lot of folks do not know is that you can get the surface re-buffed (the guy who installed it will be able to it) this will make it looking as good as new.

That’s it from me for now but if YOU know any maintenance tips then please send them in a comment below and I will publish. Wish you all happy up-keeping.

Cheers

Nandita


PS: A large part of this article was written by me for the Elita Community magazine, Some of you may therefore have read it there already & sorry for the repeat.