Friday, December 5, 2014

Selecting the "right" sofa for your home. My article in Deccan Herald today

The subject article was featured in Deccan Herald today. You can also read it at The free text is also pasted below

Thank You Deccan Herald team for helping spread the light :)

Deccan Herald Dec 05, 2014

Full leather, Half leather, Fabric, Cane, Wooden, Reclining, Sectional, Tuxedo, Chesterfield, Camelback ….whoa, the choice is almost limitless & often one is lost selecting which sofa will be “right” for one’s home. Since buying a sofa is a fair amount of investment & stays with you for almost a lifetime it’s important to do a bit of homework before choosing this companion for your home. The next few paragraphs will attempt to provide simple tips on things to consider when deciding the “right” sofa for you.

Thematic Alignment:
 You would have noticed some homes have a nice warm feel to them and surprisingly,  the reason for it is something that you really cannot pin point – such homes have what I call a “thematic alignment” i.e. they have each piece of furniture, lighting, colours, textures etc. that aligns with an overall theme of the home. The theme can be anything from Contemporary to Rustic to Victorian, the key is blending everything to this central thread; sounds something similar to notes in a musical symphony doesn’t it?
When selecting a sofa set, thematic alignment is perhaps the most important factor to keep in mind. The sofa should blend with the overall theme of the house and not clash with it. For example a Sectional (L Shaped) sofa may look great in a contemporary styled home but will be an eyesore in a traditional themed one. Similarly cane or wood sofas go well with traditional Indian as well as a laid back modern theme while a Camelback or Chesterfield with a Divan will be great in a Victorian or a traditional English theme. Thematic alignment just doesn’t end with the design of the sofa but extends to the choice of fabric and colours as well. While silken fabrics go well in a traditional theme, you may be better off with cotton in a classic or woody theme and with leather in a modern theme. Similarly if your living room is in a contemporary western theme with white & light grey walls you may go with a sofa in a darker colour just to add some balance.

As the bean counters will tell you, always measure. The wrong size of the sofa is the most common mistake that folks make during selection. This makes the living room look either too crammed or too empty.  A person sitting on a sofa seat occupies approx. 7.5 square feet of real estate – 2.5 feet in width and 3 feet in depth. Add to this a center table and sides. As a rule of thumb the square/ rectangular area where your sofa set is kept should have minimum 20 % open space. Additionally when going for recliners do measure the total stretch size of the recliner to ensure that you have enough space both in the front and behind the recliner
If on the other hand you have a very large living area, be sure not to overwhelm the space with the main sofa set. A good idea is to use a combination of seats by throwing in some puffys, a divan, high back chairs or a couple of low seats along with the main sofa set.

Traffic and usage
Is the sofa meant to house the teenager who loves to spend oodles of reading hours on this couch, your husband watching the match along with his plate of food or just the occasional twice a week guest that comes in – that’s what I mean by traffic and each kind will need a different perch (missed mentioning the 9 year old looking for a trampoline).
The traffic will primarily determine the type of fabric that you need on the sofa and trust me, the choice is not easy. While cotton may be the most comfortable, it wrinkles & fades quickly, leather looks great and can withstand a lot of abuse but is expensive and difficult to repair, artificial leather or vinyl will resist stains & spillage but starts to peel off in a few years. There are fabrics that attract dust and those which resist moths and no matter what you choose it will have both its advantages and its drawbacks.
Cognizance of “The Traffic” that your sofa needs to host will help you determine what matters most to you and to zero in on a fabric which delivers on that while being light on the negatives

Build and durability
Last… but not the least, it’s about the basics. If you visit the local sofa maker and see the wood that’s used for most sofas you will have second thoughts on whether your money is well spent. Though it’s next to impossible to make out what has gone into making the sofa once it is finished there are some basic checks to confirm if all is well inside.
Sofas that use good quality wood should “feel” heavy, so when you are at the furniture shop, try & lift one up by its corner if it feels light then this is not the right one for you. Also when you lift the corner by some distance, the adjacent corners should also lift up – if that is not happening that means that the wooden frame has too much play and is not constructed well or with the right wood.
If you are looking at leather sofas – look for the quality of the stitch and any open knots. In half leather sofas (leather on top & art leather on the bottom) check the quality of the art leather by looking at the seam where the art leather meets the real leather – the art leather should not be peeling in places around the stitch. And if you are looking for sofas in Fabric – check whether the fabric is thick enough & can be removed for dry cleaning. If you are the lazy recliner type, ensure that you check and recheck that the reclining mechanism works smoothly and effectively before cutting the cheque.
And just to ensure that you are covered even when you have not covered checking on everything or for any defects that pop up despite all the checks  - look for the fine print on the guarantee card. Ideally any defects, if found, should be reparable on – site rather than you having to ship the sofa all the way back to the store.

I guess this is as comprehensive as it gets, happy shopping and wish you a lifetime of comfortable hours on your new pew.

As always, will welcome your inputs & comments

Signing off

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Villa / Apartment Interior Readiness & Handover Checklist: Things to check on BEFORE you take the formal handover of your dream Apartment or Villa from the builder.

Lately in a number of my projects I found lacunae left behind by the builder and the customers running around struggling to get these rectified by the builder.

To help avoid this run around I have tried to compile a checklist of things below that folks should run through with their builder and rectify BEFORE they take formal possession of the residence.

If you find anything missing then please feel free to leave a comment and I will add for the benefit of all our readers

Here goes :-


  • Check for gaps between door frame and wall. Push the frame to see it is anchored firmly
  • Check for hinge fitting, ensure there are screws in each of the screw ports.
  • Check door catcher/ stopper for proper functioning
  • Check door knobs & locks for smooth closure & functioning.


  • Check Lack of alignment if any. Ensure that the doors open and close easily.
  • Check rubber beading for hardening, cracks
  • Check if the grills are properly painted
  • Ensure that the door/ window frame has drain holes
  • Check that the shutters lock properly
  • Ensure that the glass is fixed properly and the beading is intact and not coming off.


  • Check plastering quality, there should be no uneven-ness. Ensue that there are no cracks
  • Check for excessive dampness in the wall (if any)
  • Check false ceiling in bathrooms (if there), ensure that it is properly fixed with no cracks.
  • Check tiling even-ness & grouting. There should be no cement marks on the tiles


  • Check for any cracks or scratches
  • For Bathrooms, Utility and Balcony check the floor tilt to ensure correct water flow into the drain and that there is zero water accumulation anywhere.
  • Ensure that there is no hollowness in the floor. Tap each tile or bounce a ball on each tile to check for the hollow sound. A hollow sound indicates that the tile is not set properly & needs to be replaced.
  • Check for proper grouting of the tiles/ stone slabs especially in bathrooms


  • Check for working of light points/switches (carry a zero watt bulb & tester if possible). Especially check the AC points, builders sometimes leave the AC points dummy (with no wiring)
  • Check each point has cover plates & there are no cracks.
  • Check availability of light, telephone and cable TV points as per plan.
  • Check that all the plates are horizontal and not tilted
  • Plates should be clean and free of paint marks.
  • Check every circuit breaker.Switch off : Should switch off with a slight touch, Switch on: should not switch off while switching on.
  • Check each switch for correct contact and springiness. Click should be clearly audible and not muted when switched on and off.
  • Insist on getting the wiring diagram pasted on the inside of DB door Also check that the wiring of the home matches with the circuit diagram on the box.
  • Check that the smoke sensors work. An agarbatti will help to awaken the sensor :)


  • Check the sanitaryware (Wash basins, Sink, WC) for any scratches or cracks
  • Ensure Kitchen Sink is grouted properly and that there is no leakage.
  • Check the chrome fittings - ensure that there is no corrosion. 
  • Check whether the towel holders, faucets, toilet paper holders are provided as per plan.
  • Check pipes for any leakages
  • Ensure there is no blockage in any of the drains - I have personally struggled with flooding of the apartment due to this
  • Ensure that the flush works properly
That's it from me for now. Happy CHECKING :)


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The "missing" REAL value of an interior designer.

Sometime back on this blog I wrote on a couple of topics, one around whether you really need an interior designer and another on the "design" element in interior design. Interestingly, last night I came across an old TED talk that takes the above expression even further

The talk (it's more of a conversation) is between Saul Wurman (the co-founder of TED) and Frank Gehry one of the legendary architects of our time. The crux of  Gehry's talk is around the fact that most customers miss out on the real value of an architect.
I feel this is something that applies equally to interior design, when the customers expect just "carpentry" while the game is really about personal expression.

Gehry says & I quote

"Most architects when they present their work -- most of the people we know, you get up and you talk about your work, and it's almost like you tell everybody you're a good guy by saying, "Look, I'm worried about the context, I'm worried about the city, I'm worried about my client, I worry about budget, that I'm on time." Blah, blah, blah and all that stuff. And it's like cleansing yourself so that you can ... by saying all that, it means your work is good somehow. And I think everybody -- I mean that should be a matter of fact, like gravity. You're not going to defy gravity. If you don't meet the budgets, you're not going to get much work.

But my point is that ... and I call it the "then what?" OK, you solved all the problems, you did all the stuff, you made nice, you loved your clients, you loved the city, you're a good guy, you're a good person ... and then what? What do you bring to it? And I think that's what I've always been interested in, is that -- which is a personal kind of expression. And I think that's the issue, you know; it's the "then what" that most clients who hire architects -- most clients aren't hiring architects for that. They're hiring them to get it done, get it on budget, be polite, and they're missing out on the real value of an architect."

That's it from me for now
Signing off


Friday, May 2, 2014

A few photographs of the Eco Package (Budget Interiors) executed recently at Purva Highlands Kanakapura Road, Bangalore

I wrote about the Eco range of interiors for 2/ 3 BHK apartments sometime back. Here are a few photographs of the Ecopackage executed recently.

PS: The photo credit for these go to "yours truly" and to Samsung Cameraphones :)

Master Bedroom Wardrobe & Dresser - Purva Highlands 
Master Bedroom Wardrobe - Purva Highlands

Wardrobe Interior

Guest Bedroom Wardrobe - Purva Highlands

Wardrobe Interior

Purva Highlands Kitchen - Shutters are in Hi Gloss

Purva Highlands Kitchen - Another angle

Note that the Kitchen, while it looks modular is actually not a "modular" kitchen. It has a hand made carcass and factory made shutters. While this does not give 100% "modularity" it does help bring down the overall cost.

To know what a modular kitchen really  is please read

Signing off

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Master Checklist for Home Interiors: Things that you will need as you plan the interiors for your new home

I have often found that a number of things get left out when folks plan interiors for their home. This either leads to a budget creep or a last minute scramble to get everything in order before moving in and some of it gets left out altogether.

I have hence tried to compile below a master list of things that one needs to consider during the interior design phase. Am sure I would have missed out a few myself :), so if you do find anything off, do let me know and I will add so that everyone can benefit from it.

Here goes

Tall Unit/Pantry
Specialty Corner Units (Magic corner, Peanut Corner…)
Appliances (Hob/Chimney/Dishwasher/Microwave/ Refrigerator)
Size of the appliances - for space planning
Breakfast Counter/ Island
Tall Chairs/ Bar Stools
Light based enhancements (LED's etc)

Counter & Sink
Plumbing work
Storage Units

Living/ Dining Room & Entrance
Foyer Unit
Crockery Unit
TV Unit
Television/ Size of the TV for space planning
Pooja Unit
False Roofing
Wall Paneling
Sofa Set & Center/ Side Tables
Dining Table & Chairs
Bar Unit & Stools

Bedrooms/ Entertainment Room/ Study
Wardrobe (Sliding or Hinged)
TV Unit
Television/ Size of the TV for space planning
Dressing Space
False Roofing
Cot with Side & Head Units
Study Unit
Book Shelf
Sofa Cum Bed/ Couch
Children’s bed/ Bunker Bed

Storage units
Shower Partition
Bath Tub/ Jacuzzi
Other Sanitary-ware (Towel Hangers, Hooks, Faucets etc.)
Tiling & Flooring
Side Rails (for the elderly)
Electrical Work
Geysers & Fans
Air Conditioners
Light fittings
Changing location of the electrical points
Wall Painting
Wall Paper
Artwork/ Handpaint/ Themes
Wall Cladding
Other Miscellaneous
Staircase beautification
Storage/Play Area under the stairs
Specialty Pillars
Flooring - Wooden/ Granite/ Tiles
Grill Work
Furnishing - Curtains, Upholstery, Display Pieces, Wall Hangings
Curtain Rods
Air Conditioning/ Ducting
Sound Proofing
Security Systems

Whew...that's all I can think off for now. Shall look forward to your add-ons

Signing off


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

FAQ's on Home Interiors in the Comments Section: We crossed 1000 comments this week

Just to let you know - we crossed the 1000 mark in comments & questions under the 25 posts on this blog. These FAQ's on home interiors are probably as rich in information and inputs as the posts themselves and the best part is that these have come up through "live" issues & questions raised by "you".

So if you haven't done so already then I would strongly suggest you browse through the comments section of the posts.

Happy Reading


Saturday, January 18, 2014

My New Logo - The Studio: Homes, Kitchens & Wardrobes

Finally after long deliberations & doodling with friends and family the logo for The Studio is out...yooohoo :)

Based on customer needs, the brand will have 3 ranges of interior options under it

1. The Eco Range - Pocket friendly home interior packages for 2 & 3 BHK apartments
2. The Classic Range - Complete home interiors in good quality material and workmanship
3. The Studio Range - Hi End stuff - Complete Interiors or individual Wardrobes/ Kitchens

As always would welcome your feedback and inputs

Signing off

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Photographs of my recent Home Interior project at Yelahanka, Bangalore

It is a beautiful penthouse  - top floor, some 3000 sqft with a huge kitchen, party area and the works. Below are the recent clicks.

Nothing starts (and ends) well without the blessings of the almighty

This was actually a recess between two pillars in the center of the home and was converted into a divine showcase to bring a feeling of "presence" & "calmness" to the entire home.

Looking through the living room into the Kitchen

Another angle of the same emphasizing the overall lighting

The Sofa Units - from Urban Ladder

One of my favorites - got an artist to hand-paint the mirror - it shows maple leaves falling from the top

Dum Dum/ Bum Bum of "Night at the Museum" Fame

The TV Unit

TV Unit - Another shot. Wiring hidden behind the wall panel

The Crockery Unit. Breakfast counter in the Kitchen on the right

Crockery Unit - another Shot

Bedroom 1 - Sliding Wardrobe. The photograph doesn't do justice to the actual output as the lighting in the bedrooms was not enough for a good shot (same is true for all the bedroom photos below). The photographer ... who also happens to be a dear friend, was also bereft of equipment having left the same in safe custody at Kolkata during his recent shift to Bangalore :(

Wardrobe Shelving

Headrest - Haneef mian's (the headrest maker's) second iteration. The first one got rejected as the colours of the threads used for the stitching did not match the theme. He will surely give up on me some day :)

This one's a giant - 10 feet in width - and required quite a bit of engineering to make the shutters and ensure that they slide well.

Sliding Wardrobe - Shelving

Bathroom Storage

I was bored with horizontal mirrors on sliding wardrobes - this was the result

Haneef Mian at work again - this one was first time right :)

Edge handles for bathroom storage - helps your kurta to not get caught in the handle when you brush your teeth. Bet you never thought of that one :)

Partial view of the shower partition

What is this - Take a guess??

A rollaway bar :)

The kitchen. It has lights UNDER the bottom cabinets ... hee

Kitchen - another angle showing the corner sink.

Partial view of the breakfast counter

Full view of the Breakfast Counter

Breakfast Counter - Another angle. The hole is just for show and for the kids to have some fun.

This was a massive TV unit cum bookshelf. Was a bit of an experiment with random open and closed shelving. However ended up pretty satisfactory.

Bookshelf - Another view

Murali Manohar - Came all the way from Orissa to bless the home

As I said at the beginning ...nothing starts & ends without the blessings of the almighty.
... lights out

PS: The top floor lawn/ party area is phase 2 of the project...look forward...

Bye for now

Monday, November 25, 2013

Home Interiors - Thumbrules for costing based on market rates in Bangalore

While I have a similar post on "Costing your Woodwork" done earlier on this blog I got your feedback that the earlier post captures a method for costing just the woodwork and not complete interiors, also there is a need for broad thumb-rule costing that is quick and easy.

For some time now I have been using some thumb-rules myself whenever I have had inquiries from customers & felt no harm in putting these in the public domain - ofcourse this will have its detractors who may have strong opinions on how "correct" is this model and its output, however having used this model myself for my projects over the last couple of years I can vouch that it gives realistic rupee value estimates that you will end up spending even when executing the work yourself, provided the assumptions and scope (also mentioned below) remain the same.

Also, just like water taking the shape of whatever bowl you put it in, interior spends tend to take up any budget that one gives to them, hence there is really no upper expense limit for doing up interiors, especially with the range of stuff & brands available in the market today ... remember the old Indian saying ... "the more the Ghee the tastier it will bee". Hence what is below is an estimate for a starting range of decent quality Mid-Hi End interiors

Before we get into the model here are the assumptions

1. Woodwork has to last a min 7 - 8 years - hence there is no compromise on material selection and the material is not necessarily the cheapest available in the market
2. All taxes, government levies etc. are actually paid and not avoided
3. Workers are paid at prevailing market rates in Bangalore - they need to make a living too :)
4. Workmanship & finishes are similar to those seen in Mid to Hi end interior works
5. Designs are done in accorance with the needs and lifestyle and not with the sole motive of minimizing cost.
6. Wood used for the work is BWR ply - typically having an mrp of around Rs 80 - 90 per square feet
7. The material/ brand used is genuine and not fake

Now that we are one step closer to unveiling the model its time to define the scope of the work that the model covers (...and you are getting eager to get to the actual model...wait, wait we will get there ... anything worth having is definitely worth waiting :))

Ok, the scope covered is

1. The entire woodwork for a healthy and comfortable living i.e. Wardrobes with lofts, TV unit, Pooja, Foyer, Modular Kitchen (including chimney & Hob), Study unit, Crokery Unit, work in the bathrooms etc. etc.
2. Painting in mid range paints
3. Light fittings - again mid range
4. False roofing - to support the lighting effect planned
5. Hardware assumed is Hettich throughout, kitchen drawers are soft closing - no cheap and troublesome thali baskets etc. assumed..that's what is meant by mid-hi end mentioned earlier
6. Copper piping for cooking gas

And here is what is NOT covered in the scope (now you really really want me to get to the model:)...I will, I will just a bit)
1. Grill Work
2. Geysers & fans
3. Furniture including Cots, Dining Table Sofa sets etc.
4. White Goods
5. Furnishings/ Curtains & Upholstery etc.
6. Any Civil, Electrical or Plumbing Work
7. Kitchen Slab Work
8. Anything else that you can think of here it is ...ladies & gentlemen, keep your fingers crossed


Take the super built up area of your residence in square feet
Multiply it by 800

...and voila...what you get is what you will end up spending on your interiors...that was easy, wasn't it? :)

Here is a sample calculation for those of you whose maths skills are not exactly something to talk home about

If the super built up area of your imaginary residence is 1000 sqft.
You will need 1000 (which is the super built up area of the residence) X 800 (which is the multiplier) = Rs 800000 for the interiors

There is HOWEVER a way to do it cheaper - at a multiplier of 600 instead of 800, but that would mean using Commercial Ply (& not BWR) and compromising overall on the stuff used. this will also ensure that your stuff will demand major repair around its fourth birthday. This "may be" an option for those who are using the residence purely for renting out and financial returns.

Also - remember what I said at the beginning - the more the Ghee the tastier it will bee bit  "there is really no upper expense limit for doing up interiors especially with the range of stuff & brands available in the market today. What is below (now above) is an estimate for a starting range of decent quality Mid-Hi End interiors"

The cat is among the pigeons now...recall I used this ending phrase in another of my blog posts...just that this time the cat is bigger and more hungry.

As always will welcome your bouquets & brickbats@#$%#^ ... time I took out that helmet :))!!...

Signing off


Monday, November 18, 2013

The Studio Range of Wardrobes - Frequently Asked Questions

I have been getting a number of questions from you on the Studio Range of Wardrobes post the launch & though that a FAQ was in order ... so here goes. Feel free to ping if you have something that is not already in the Q&A below.

Q1. What is The Studio range of Sliding Wardrobes
Ans: The Studio is a range of Hi End sliding wardrobes in international finishes and quality. Each Wardrobe is custom built for each individual customer based on his/ her individual taste, lifestyle & requirements

Q2: What do you mean by International Finishes & Quality
Ans: The Studio range comes in finishes and quality yet seen only in imported wardrobes available in India – this includes
1.       Door options in Hi Gloss, Glass & Mirror
2.       Metallic Edge Handles
3.       Soft Closing
4.       Use of the best sliding system hardware available globally
5.       Top running sliding systems
6.       Optimized door height, width & weight for trouble free sliding action
7.       Customized Shelving
8.       Dust proofing using specialized brushes and pelmets.

Q3: Is there anything “better” in these wardrobes compared to imported wardrobes.
Ans: Yes there is.
1.       The wood that the imported wardrobes use is HDF or MDF, all wardrobes under the Studio range are in BWR ply to ensure longevity and the ability to withstand Indian conditions.
2.       Price: The price of a  “Studio” wardrobe is more than 30% lower than the price of a comparable imported wardrobe (scroll down for more on the price)
3.       There is no lead time for procurement/ import – the only time needed is that required for understanding the needs, customized design construction & fitment.

Q4: What sizes are these Wardrobes available in?
Ans: The Studio range of wardrobes is 100% customizable and built to match the exact space available

Q5:  Will the Wardrobes be fixed or stand alone
Ans: They will be fixed as that enhances the look and leaves no spaces between the wall and the wardrobe. If however the customer wishes to have them stand alone then that is also possible.

Q6:  Are loft options available?
Ans: Yes loft options are available. Unlike in the West we folks in India do prefer to have lofts and the whole point of the Studio range is to cater to our blended needs around finish, material quality and utility

Q7: Will it need any work on the site?
Ans: About 90% of the work will be done at the factory however depending on the complexity of the door design chosen there will be some work to be executed onsite.  However the max assembly/ work time on-site per wardrobe will not be more than 2 days.

Q8: Most important question – what is the price??

Ans: The price depends on the design, finish chosen (Hi Gloss, Glass, Combination etc.), shelving and the size. The idea is to have a price point where even if the customer decides to make the wardrobe on his own using the same material, he ends up spending equal or more. In looking through the supply chain efficiencies and bulk discounts available to designers I do believe that this is possible.

Q9: How to order
Ans: Get in touch with me over e-mail (

Signing off

PS; General best practices for Sliding Wardrobe design are available here

Update July 03 2014: The dedicated website for The Studio Wardrobes is now up. Please visit