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.

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

Decorative unit in the Living Room
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.

False Roofing Design and Lighting
Looking through the living room into the Kitchen

Curtains and Lighting
Another angle of the same emphasizing the overall lighting

Living Room Seating
The Sofa Units - from Urban Ladder

Mirror Decoration
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

TV Unit Design
The TV Unit

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

White Crockery unit with Lighting
The Crockery Unit. Breakfast counter in the Kitchen on the right

Lighting inside the crockery unit
Crockery Unit - another Shot

Glass and Laminate Wardrobe Doors
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 :)

Sliding Shutters with beading
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

Painted & Mirrored sliding doors
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??

Stand Alone Bar Unit
A rollaway bar :)

Kitchen with Lighting
The kitchen. It has lights UNDER the bottom cabinets ... hee

Kitchen - another angle showing the corner sink.

Partial view of the breakfast counter

Breakfast counter in solid surface
Full view of the Breakfast Counter

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

White and Green Book Rack and TV Unit
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.

Duco painted TV Unit
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

PS: If you have a question to ask then please note: On Nov 15th we have launched the Q&A module on The Studio website. The Q&A interface on this blog was unable to scale to the number of questions that we have been getting - you would have noticed being unable to  scroll down to a question once the number of questions below a certain post increases beyond a certain limit. 
Hence if you have a question then please post it at 

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 in Bangalore 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

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sliding Wardrobes Bangalore - Launching "The Studio" Range of Hi End Designer Wardrobes

Dear readers…this is just a short announcement that I am launching my own range of Hi End DesignerWardrobes under the brand name “The Studio”. While more details will follow (hopefully on a separate site dedicated to the product…still struggling to find a good web designer, any takers :) ?) I did not want to miss the auspicious occasion of Diwali for this soft launch, so please wish me luck :) 

This endeavor encapsulates the experience and best practices in making sliding door wardrobes learnt over my 6 long years in home making. While each wardrobe under “The Studio” brand will be custom built, it will incorporate best practices such as

1.   Material – BWR Plywood, Hettich Hardware
2.   Finish – In UV Hi Gloss, Glass/ Mirrorred, Veeneers, Duco, Laminates or a combination with metallic edge handles
3.   Practicality & Ease of Use – Dust proofing with dust brushes, customized shelving based on individual lifestyle & needs, soft closing and no banging sliding system.
4.   Engineering – Top running sliding systems, framed shutters, optimized height, width & weight of shutters for smooth and trouble free running.

Also refer  for things to keep in mind while making sliding door wardrobes

Feel free to reach me at for any queries and feedback, signing off for now

PS: I have recently posted a list of FAQ's around The Studio wardrobes - before you pop a question you might want to check the FAQ's available here

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

Sunday, June 23, 2013

More Photographs - Home Interiors Bangalore

Living Room
Wooden theme
Dining Area
Living Area Highlight Wall
Dining Area - Lighting & False Roofing
Bar Unit
Bar Unit
Bar Unit
Teak Wood Shutters
Crockery Unit
Specialty crockery unit
Crockery Unit - Pebbles

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Car is not "Just" a Car - The element of "Design" in Interior Design

The thought and the topic of this post came up during a recent drive to Ooty with my sister's family. On a sharp turn the car felt as if it would not straighten up, kind of steering on its own & my husband (an automobile engineer by training) commented "Cars that are designed well do not over-steer & this one isn’t (…designed well)". Don’t expect me to explain what that means as my expertise in automobile engineering is limited to being able to telephone Zakir the mechanic whenever the tyres feel plumpy or the bonnet smoky.

Driving with two men who shared common interest on the subject of Cars, the discussion did move further to things that go into hi end automobile design. Here are a few that I learnt - In hi end cars all the 4 wheels turn when you turn the steering to optimize the car’s turning movement, in some the lights too turn with the steering, some have programmable seating that optimizes your driving position based on your body structure. “Some manufacturers spend considerable time, money and effort just to optimize the interiors of the vehicle and ensure right storage in the right places – ever noticed the space for sunglasses in a Honda, right under the rear view mirror … perfect” said my brother-in-law excitedly. “I do that too when I design my kitchens & my homes” I say…..and that was the moment when it dawned.

A well designed home is EXACTLY like a well designed car – you just know it 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 customer who commented “you know whenever the neighbors come in they say that my home somehow feels different and more balanced” – in that project we 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 aligning the tile lines (the lines made by the floor tiles) throughout the house as they enter from the living room to the bedroom, from the corridor back into the bedroom, 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. All these things and more is what I believe to be the “Design” element in Interior Design and it is especially important when doing “Home” Interiors because a Home needs not just to look good but also be built SPECIFICto your lifestyle & needs (Commercial interiors mostly need to look good & that’s it).

The other aspect to consider while thinking of the Design element in Home Design is around “Visualization & Designing to BUILD”. Some of you who have walked this path would have experienced this when you designed something, and when the carpenter delivered, it looked something entirely different

“Bhaiya, see there is this small gap in the shutters when they close” – Possibly because the thickness of the shutter that the carpenter kept was more than what the hinges he used could handle.
“This line I see in the front – where did this come from” – Because “Bhaiya” made the shutter Inlay while you designed it Overlay.
“When I look from the side, the shutter looks odd on top of the carcass” Because he made the shutters OVERlay while you designed it INlay

Don’t worry – this happens even to the best designers in the field. The point I am trying to make, which you would have guessed, is that the Design needs to incorporate the limitations of both the hardware and the workman. While the limitations of the workman can be managed with over-communication or by getting a new workman, it is extremely important to know the material & HARDWARE that will bring your design to life. With the HUGE Hardware range that’s available in the market today -- Hinges – butt, piano, inlay, overlay, half overlay...  Sliding Systems - Top Line, Slide Line, Wing Line, Inset, Overlay etc.etc. & the Hettich Hardware Manual running into some 1560 pages, this is one research that one HAS TO do before embarking on a design journey.

Colours & Lighting add an interesting dimension to the "design element" as well which is perhaps the most under-rated & under thought. 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. While choosing colours bear in mind how you want the room to look - warm, bright, spacious, ethnic or contemporary - once done, choose colours of the walls, textures, furniture, furnishings that complement that requirement - the colours themselves could actually contrast & this part in my view is more "art" than technique. There are some apps available nowadays that help you play around with different colour selections for interiors...look these up.

Lighting on the other hand is a unique design element. Did you know that the a simple spotlight with an LED will give a completely different effect compared to the same spotlight with a CFL? Same applies to yellow lighting versus white lighting. A painting or a highlighted wall lit from the top will give a different look compared to one lit from the bottom?. I recently purchased a basic LED rope from 2 different vendors/ brands & noticed that the effect of one was much warmer that the other...just goes in to prove that there is really no end to learning in this field. A good amount of time spent in a lighting showroom will hence stand one in good stead when planning your home interiors.

Well I hope that I have not ended up confusing you than clarifying and will look forward to your comments and always Happy Homemaking

Signing off

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Do You "Really" Need an Interior Designer

Odd topic you would say, right? You will say "everyone needs a designer provided one can afford it".
You may find it odd hearing this coming from someone from the fraternity (a.k.a. me) that.

1. Not everyone who can afford a designer actually needs one &
2. Every one can actually afford an interior designer

Let me explain what I mean. Over the last few years having been in this line & having met & spoken to multitudes of people making their homes I feel one can categorize home makers broadly into the following 3 groups

Type 1. Folks who know exactly what they want, have the time and a deep desire to be closely involved in each aspect of home making, love spending their weekends looking out for stuff for their new home & possibly have someone or can themselves supervise daily construction.

If you belong to this category then you definitely DO NOT need an interior designer to help you, simply because you are mostly good enough to help yourself. What you DO NEED however is a good Carpenter to execute what you have already created in your mind.

If you are the Type 1 described above but do decide to hire an interior designer you run a serious risk of  (1) "Clash of the Creative Juices"  and (2) "the designer is the carpenter syndrome" a situation which you as well as your designer will hate to be in. What will suffer in the end will be the work and the final output.

Type 2: Folks who know what they want, don't know how to do it and don't have the inclination or the time to learn how to either.
If you are type 2 then you are an ideal case to benefit from hiring an interior designer. The designer will bring in explicit expertise to fine tune your thoughts and specialist workmen to ensure that those thoughts end up in matching output. Also the fact that you ride on the supply chain efficiencies of the designer will ensure genuine material, timely execution and lower cost (...more on the cost later).

Type 3: Folks who don't know what they want.
If you are Type 3 and making a home then STOP. First spend some time to think through what you want. Make a list of the things that you need in your new home & have a broad budget based how much you want to spend on your interiors ... with a little bit of stretch.
Once you have done that, identify whether you now belong to the group Type 1 or Type 2 above and proceed (this is somehow starting to sound like computer programming logic:) )

To my second point - "Everyone can actually afford an Interior Designer".
In my analysis, most designers, given they are scrupulous and actually use the material they promise, would make a pre tax margin of between 10 - 15% on an average because if they are over 15% they will be priced out of the market & if they make less than 10% (= 7% post tax) then its not worth it.

A designer's supply chain efficiency itself balances out this payout. What I mean by that is that if you were to go into the market to purchase the material & quality labour on your own, you will end up spending 10 - 15% more than what your designer will spend because of the designer's established supply chain. So in effect the designer's service is coming to you at zero cost.

Additionally, if you were to do it - add to this the cost of

1) Your time & effort
2) The risk of spurious material
3) The risk of a mess up leading to rework.
4) The designers expertise built over years brought in for your project
5) Time delays due to the workers running off [the designer running off is still comparatively lower risk : )]

Net net - if you are Type 2 then hiring a designer is a Win - Win. However if you are Type 1 - then don't risk it.

The cat is among the pigeons now... as always would look forward to your comments & feedback.

Signing of