Friday, March 18, 2016

Objects of Art for the Home

My article above was published in Deccan Herald today. You may read it here

However.....since, as readers of this blog, you are special - I am posting the unedited, original and the much cooler version of the same article for you below. 

As always, will welcome any thoughts, inputs & suggestions

Art for the Home and a Home for Art

I remember my elder sister, long number of years back, never coming back empty handed from any of the home improvement fairs that used to be a regular affair in our neighborhood. Be it tribal art, handicrafts, monkey faces made from coconuts, wall hangings, stone carvings from Orissa, we saw it all.

You may ask what this bit of family history has got to do with our topic on Art for the home. When I started thinking through the topic I went back to the core question of what defines “Art” for one’s home and the thought that resonated was that it’s something that gives a certain “character” to one’s home…be it the MF Husain that the rich amongst you hang on your wall to that tiny water fountain you bought to put under the staircase, including all those coconut monkey faces, handicrafts and stone carvings that my sister collected and dutifully showcased in her home all these years.  That definition also makes each one of us an Art Collector … ladies & gentlemen - welcome home to art.

Aligning with the theme of your home

When choosing art work for your home it is important to think through the “character” or the theme that you are looking to give your abode – is it contemporary or is it traditional. If yours is a villa or an independent home then the theme is highly dependent on the overall architecture. The theme decides the kind of artwork it can accommodate. Just to give you an example – terracotta vases would go well with a traditional theme while a contemporary theme would need classic white ones. I recall a customer who got this beautiful madhubani type painting done from a well-known artist in Bangalore. The home on the other hand was designed all contemporary with straight line and minimalist furniture. We struggled placing the painting in different parts of the home as it just did not gel in. In the end we had to redesign the bedroom in traditional brown with curvaceous and flowery light fittings just to accommodate the painting.

What goes where – the fitment puzzle?

Pieces of art find a place just about everywhere in the home - from the foyer till the balcony, the walls to the ceiling and the flooring. At the same time over doing it may make your home look….well, overdone while under-doing it may make it look barren. Below a guide you can use to decide what kind of art work goes where in the home.

The main Door-The place where it starts:  

One might argue that the home starts with the front porch and the entry gate. However the architectural style of the home is not part of its interiors and hence not covered here, maybe part of a separate discussion. Coming back to the front door – There are 4 things to play with here – the door itself, the door knobs, knocker & the name plates. If you are not builder dependent and do have a choice to customize your front door then both hand carved as well as slick machine made doors are available in the market today to suit your character – you can even get customized carvings done on the door. Based on the style of the door one must select the handles and the knocker. On top of this an arty name plate gives your guests an idea of what to expect when the door opens.

The Foyer  

This is the hi-traffic part of your home and the place that creates the first impression of your abode. Depending on the space you have the foyer can have anything from carved murals & paintings on the walls to sculpted artwork in metal or stone in spaces specially created for the same. Artwork encased in glass with proper lighting looks especially appealing. Murals in metal and stained glass are also becoming popular nowadays, a lot of these are good old China imports. At the same time there are local artists in Bangalore doing their own works in metal and glass that might appeal.
Hand painting the foyer wall is another option, if there is an artist in you then this may be the best place to showcase your talent, if not then there are artists who can hand paint it for you. Though expensive, this does create a unique “creative” signature for your home.

The Living Room

The living room can really take all you’ve got, from Jaali work on the ceilings to Mosaic and marble cut work on the floors – nowadays with artisans available in Bangalore from Rajasthan and other parts of the country, there is exceptional beauty and creativity that can be laid out especially on the floors. At the same time artwork on the floors typically requires large spaces over 20X20 feet, in small sized Living rooms the look may not be noticeable and the outcome may not justify the investment
The quieter walls of the living room - the ones along the line of sight such as the passages & internal staircases can be done up with the family photo album while the prominent ones should host your collectibles or paintings to your liking. In general a showcase for curios from travels and all those impulse purchases (recall the coconut monkey face…) is also recommended in the living room.
The corners in the living room are places that can host sculpted artwork in wood, stone or glass. Make sure to highlight these with appropriate accent lighting

The Bed Room: 

While some may like their bedroom to be arty I somehow feel that too much art in the bedroom comes in the way of a good nights sleep, maybe just a painting to undo the barren-ness of the walls is enough. I remember this hotel room that we checked into sometime back that had these carved faces in wood hung on the walls. The kids felt that someone is watching them and could not get any sleep in the night. The next morning we had to ask the hotel staff to take the faces off.

The Study and the Hobby Room

If you have the luxury of dedicating a space to your hobby - could be a full room or just a space in your study – then do up the space in the theme of the hobby – this could be sports, music, dance, philately, coin collection, even software, electronics, architecture, woodworking, pets … the list can go on. I know of a friend who in his younger days used to collect matchbox labels – I just looked it up on Google and found that nowadays it is recognized as a formal hobby called Phillumeny. I myself had a collection of soft drink bottle caps. Haven’t each of us collected pebbles or sea shells…. I guess what I am trying to say is the each one of us has something that we feel or have felt passionate about at some time in our life. As Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day once said…”Take the photographs and still frames in your mind, hang it on a shelf in good health & good time” – that to me would be true art for your home – of your self, by your self and for your self -  the “Character” of your home that we discussed earlier….your Character.

Signing off


  1. Hi nandita,I hope it's okay to post a query here as per your 'about me' section? And I hope you would be reading this too,=]. I am making a shoe cabinet for my foyer,and for now I have selected on red oak veneered gurjan plywood.Now my carpenter is saying,plywood is not termite proof,and it might be prone to termite attacks,I have done some internet surveys and so far there has not been any site which states that plywood has this specific concern.Though I did find out that plywood might warp at longer sections,for example when the length is more than 7 feet.Now I am a bit confused what to go for,and I don't have much time in hand.Do you have any suggestion on this regards? Should I go for oak veneered plywood or not? Can the buckling problem be solved if I use shorter cross sections? Though two of my doors are consecutively 3'4" and 5'6" in height.Or should I go for materials other than Plywood?It would be a great help if you could kindly give me some recommendation on this matter so I could choose wisely.
    Thanks and regards.

    1. Pre veneered ply is usually not of the best quality hence there are chances of termite/ borer issues. You can always use good quality ply and stick a veneer sheet on it - the net result will be the same with the advantage that the ply will be of standard quality. For the door sizes you mention you should not face any warping issues. If you still have doubts then you can use blockboard instead of ply as block board has better resistance against warping


    2. Thanks a lot Nandita,I am using gurjan plywood [and red oak veneer would be pasted[machine pressed]on the board ,so hoping it's close to what you've suggested,[almost].
      Also,yes block board has been in my mind as I read your other post on how block board is more appropriate for greater lengths.I don't know if we have block boards though here in Dhaka,sourcing is a major problem in case of maintaining a standard,as not always all the materials are available.Anyway thanks a lot for your advice.And your blog has been a very important added bookmark to my list of all do's and don't.Keep up the good works and thanks again.

  2. Iam planning to get a stone cladding done to one of walls of foyer and get wall fountain fitted 5x4 ft - what would be the cost

    1. Costs vary depending on the design and finishes. Please check your nearest store...there are good sales ongoing at most outlets such as lifestyle and Homestop and you may get a good deal



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