Friday, March 30, 2018

The 5 Elements of Interior Design and what separates good design from the not so good

A lot of people wonder what makes a well-designed home different from, well, one that is not. I have dwelled over this question for many years and have finally concluded that there are 5 key design elements that each home needs. Each of these 5 need to be blended together in balance to get that warm & nice feel that some homes have. While making their home, most home owners usually consider just 3 or 4 of these elements and most often than not find it difficult to bring these together in unison.

To dwell further into these elements let’s give you a glimpse into what goes on in a designer’s brain as she does a recon of your home to create a visual in her mind that finally leads to the design blueprint and the final output.

So …broadcasting live, right from the studio in the designer’s mind…10…9…8…7… goes.

What do I see…I see space, empty space, it needs furniture. What theme should the furniture be in, how do I place it to avoid clutter. There is a French window…cannot block that with furniture. The light from the window is causing a shadow…light…how did I miss that.
Light, what’s the direction of the house, is there enough natural light. The living room is well lit…can use dark colours for wall finishes & furnishing. But not in the master bedroom…it hardly has natural light, will use lighter shades in the bedroom. The living room will need a false ceiling for the spotlights.
Big empty walls…maybe a painting, ledge, recess or wallpaper on them…will need to highlight … more light points on the wall for accent lighting.
Kids room, 10 years old, hmmm. Bunk bed here? Maybe not, the kid will grow over it in another year. Hobbies? Ok, cricket theme then. Avoid clutter - Place for school bag, books…space for lots of books
Parents room, what age? 70 plus – needs to be elder friendly

I could go on, but I guess this gives you a broad picture. If you were observing, each of the five essential elements needed to design a home are mentioned in the commentary above. Now that you are bleeding with desire to know what the 5 elements are … here goes

The Five elements of good interior design

1.     Furniture
2.     Lighting
3.     Painting/ Wall Finishes/ Floor Finishes
4.     Furnishing
5.     Décor

But wait…. there is an elusive sixth element. An element that is most often overlooked in the hunt for a good carpenter or readymade furniture. And that ladies & gentlemen is - you. Yes …YOU - your lifestyle, age, habits, hobbies, aspirations and needs. A good designer would weave each of the 5 elements around YOU to create a space that you are most comfortable living in and proud of.

Each of the 5 elements is an independent field of study within Design. Take a simple example of furniture – it includes the shape, material, colour, theme, placement & size. In relation to YOU and your lifestyle one would add height, comfort, kid & elder friendliness and more.

The field of Lighting on the other hand includes how much total lighting is needed for the space to ensure that the home is comfortable (ambient lighting), places that will need more lighting or dimmable lights such as next to a study table or a lamp at the end of a sofa set (Task Lighting) and spaces that need to be emphasized with focus lights – such as wall paintings, décor items etc. (Accent lighting)

Similarly painting/ wall & floor textures – just entering some of the fancy tile showrooms in Bangalore can send your head spinning with the volume and variety of material and finishes on display. Natural lighting in the home as well as the overall theme planned for the home play a key role in choosing the right wall colours and textures.

Most folks plan the furnishing and the décor right at the end by when budgets have overshot the initial estimates and any expense seems heavy on the pocket. I missed mentioning this earlier but balancing out the budgets to cover the last mile details with zero budget creep is another trick that designers learn early and something that DIY home designers need to imbibe.
Back to the furnishing and décor. As the designer is creating the interior blueprint in her mind, the furniture is resizing itself, the walls creating the recesses and the spotlights aligning themselves to accommodate the décor items. What I want to convey is that décor is a forethought and not an afterthought. I remember this episode where we re-arranged just 2 pieces of furniture and added some décor to a living room and the output turned from ordinary to stunning.

So, in summary, the next time you are out doing up your new home remember to look beyond the furniture on how you want to play the 5 elements around your life and lifestyle for that complete home

Signing off

PS: An edited version of this article appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 30, 2018. You can read it here

Friday, February 23, 2018

Looking for an interior designer in Bangalore? Not sure of the value that an Interior designer may bring? ... then read on

Today's edition of Deccan Herald hosts an article on the value that an interior designer adds to the home making process as well as tips on how to go about looking for the right designer for your home.

The author has encapsulated views from prominent interior designers in Bangalore to make a comprehensive presentation.

The article is available at , do read. It will be helpful to folks setting up or getting ready for their new home.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Our Residential Interior Design Experience Center coming up off Kanakapura Road

Exited to share the first pics of my Exclusive Residential Interior Design Experience center coming up off Kanakapura Road. The inauguration is planned on Ugadi day - Mar 18th.

The center will provide a space to display best practices in residential interior design, different material finishes etc. and will provide the much needed touch and feel combined with good advise to customers who have undertaken their home making journey... something that I have been deeply passionate about since the last 10 years.

More pics will follow once the place is ready.

Wish me luck...I will need it as I embark on this fresh new journey


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

New Q&A Module for you to ask your questions

This blog today hosts over 3500 Q&A on home interiors under different posts. For some of the more popular posts there are over 500 questions underneath and the blogger tool has been found incapable to handle such volume.
We therefore launched a stand alone Q&A module on yesterday that will allow you to post your question and provides a better visual interface to browse through previous answers.

Will welcome your inputs and feedback on this new functionality. The Q&A module is available at


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What is a Modular Kitchen, what you will need to install one and how it compares to its traditional counterpart

My first article on this blog in the year 2010 was on the same subject. To make it more relevant to today's needs I spent some time updating that article and including fresh perspectives and experiences to it. Read on, and as always will welcome your questions, thoughts & comments

Most people associate a Modular kitchen as one that looks great, is made in the factory and is installed onsite. However there is more to a Modular Kitchen than just the good looks.
In this article we will look at what really is a modular kitchen, what kind of site preparation is needed to install a modular kitchen as well as the comparative advantages and disadvantages of a Modular Kitchen against its carpenter made counterpart. So here goes

What is a Modular Kitchen - The 3 Core Elements. 

1. Modularity
As the name suggests a "Modular" Kitchen consists of modules that are assembled together. Each module consisting of the Carcass (box) and the shutter is independent and can be taken in and out of the full unit separately. This also helps in easy repair when the kitchen ages -  for example you can completely replace the wet unit (unit under the washbasin) if it spoils after some years of use without disrupting the rest of the kitchen.

2.  Installation
The Carcass or the box of a Modular kitchen rests on 3-4 inch adjustable legs, typically 4 legs under each module. It does not rest on a wooden plank. The legs are hidden behind a PVC (not wood) skirting. The legs & the PVC skirting help because 
(a) As mentioned in point 1 earlier the unit/ module can be independently moved in & out and
(b) the wood does not touch the ground, hence no chances of any damage caused by water, mop etc. and
(c) since the legs are adjustable they help on levelling the kitchen carcass irrespective of a minor slope or an undulation in the floor. This helps ensure that the countertop can be laid properly.

3. Accessories
Top quality Modular kitchens do NOT have wire steel baskets and accessories in the drawer chambers. Having wire baskets is a local Indian concept and has been continuing since the days when manufacturers did not have better options available. However nowadays soft closing drawers along with matching drawer storage accessories are available in India. Steel wire baskets also come with their own set of problems such as the cutlery & plates peeping out of the wire frame and interfering with the drawer movement, robustness of the joint between the shutter and the wire basket etc.

Site Preparation for installation of a Modular Kitchen

Bare is better:
Space for a modular kitchen needs to be 100% bare - that is - NO Pre-Installed Countertop, NO raised platform on the floor, NO pre-built shelves. While most big builders in Bangalore have started offering a bare kitchen space with the assumption that the customer would go in for a Modular Kitchen, smaller builders still include the Countertop and / or a Floor Platform pre-fixed at the time of possession. Hence if your builder gives you a choice and you are looking to install a modular kitchen then do ask your builder to deliver a bare kitchen to you, else you will need to spend extra time, money and effort to demolish the platform & remove the countertop.
The reason why a modular kitchen cannot be installed under an existing counter top is that despite best efforts there is likelihood of a space between the existing countertop and the carcass installed below it. This space not only leads to pest management issues but also affects the overall finish as an uneven gap may show from the front. Also, the brackets on which the countertop is installed come in the way of the carcass limiting the design and space options of the cabinets. In a modular kitchen, the countertop is laid on top after the carcass is installed hence the finish is clean and slick PLUS the design is limited only by creativity.
A platform on the floor also incurs similar issues as above. Due to the presence of a concrete platform on the floor it is not possible to install the “legs” that we spoke about earlier. Since now the carcass sits directly on and touching the top of the platform any water accumulation between the two leads to early wear of the carcass. Also in absence of the “legs, it becomes difficult to level the carcass. Carpenters try to level the carcass by providing packing between the floor counter and the carcass but it is really not a long-lasting way of doing this nor does it lead to a clean external finish.

Plumbing & Electrical:
Ideally the design of a modular kitchen needs to be thought through before the plumbing and electrical work is done. This leads to the kitchen seamlessly fitting into the space without any redo of the plumbing or electrical points saving both time & cost. In addition, it avoids the wires showing messing up with the overall look of the Kitchen. Planning for plumbing & electrical includes decision on where the wet area should be and appropriate plumbing for the same, provision of electrical points for the Hob, Chimney, Water Purifier, Oven, microwave and other appliances (especially important if one is planning a built in Oven/ Microwave). LED Lighting within the cabinets and on the backsplash is also quite popular nowadays and electrical layout planning for the same is also a key requirement while site planning.
Another thing that usually gets missed during the site preparation stage is planning for the chimney exhaust. Most builders have the Chimney exhausts opening into the utility which, if closed, leads to the smoke landing right back into the home. Not only is the exhaust piping required to be aligned such that it opens up to the outside, it also needs to be hidden with a loft or false roofing so it does not interfere with the look of the Kitchen.

Advantages and Disadvantages

While a lot has been written about the advantages of a Modular Kitchen over its traditional counterpart there are places where the old school, carpenter made kitchen fares better. Below is an exhaustive list of advantages & disadvantages of each

Where a Modular Kitchen beats a Traditional Carpenter made Kitchen
  1. Better Fit & Finish – since it is factory made
  2. No hassle on site – only site preparation is required
  3. Modularity – Wet unit can be taken out and replaced in case of wear
  4. Installed on Legs that protect the carcass from water & wear
  5. Quicker to build & install

Where a Traditional Carpenter made Kitchen beats a Modular Kitchen
  1. No choice in case of pre-existing countertop or a raised counter on the floor
  2. 100% Control on the ply that is used. Most modular vendors do not provide this choice
  3. Uses less plywood (since each unit is not separate) – hence costs less

So, if you are out in the market hunting for a kitchen for your new home the above should prepare you well to make the right decision.

Signing off

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 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Recent Press coverage of our work

We have been getting some love from the press lately :). Please read about it here



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 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Interior Design Project Pictures - This one is a stand alone Modular Kitchen in Bangalore

While this project was completed quite a while back, we were able to take some good pics just last week. Posting a few of them here. This one is in Acrylic finish

Modular Kitchen - Full View

View from the Breakfast Counter

Kitchen Corner Unit Storage

Kitchen Drawer Storage


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Plywood Fakes in the Bangalore Market and a brief interaction with the Kitply Management on the same

A few days back I happened to get an email from a senior member of the Kitply Management team acknowledging the issue of Plywood Fakes available in the market. The gentleman also mentioned some of the things that Kitply is trying to do to weed out the fakes.

I am reproducing the communication below as this will be of interest to the readers of this blog. Note that this is not a recommendation nor an endorsement of Kitply's products or the company.


From: Gaurav Goenka 
Date: Fri, Aug 18, 2017 at 4:23 PM
Subject: kitply fakes

Dear nandita,

I write to you as a senior member of the kitply management.

I happened to come across your blog and congratulate you for the wonderful work you do and respect your views that you don’t want to be associated with any product/brand and as you very rightly said it will defeat the purpose of your blog.

I reached out to you as I see that though you have recommended kitply but as you very rightly said there were many fakes in the market of our brand.and this very feedback has come to us from various sources.keeping this in mind all products sold by us in south india now carry a special hologram with a QR code which can be scanned by downloading an app on google play store/apple store.once a customer scans this he shall come to know if its a original kit ply product or a duplicate.we track all searches from the app and if there are any hits in the app for duplicate products we follow up instantly and also have a customer care helpline for the same.i have enclosed a recent ad we published in toi bangalore for your reference.currently we use our partners app which we will be upgrading after the phenomenal response we have received.i am enclosing the same for you the understand the technology.

For your info we test marketed this in karnataka and are launching our own kitply app and the qr system all over india by next month in order to eradicate this problem which happens with all leading brands.we shall be the first and only plywood brand doing this as most leading brands are faked by major dealers/distributors themselves.

I thank you for your views and help which you do by your blog  and please do let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Sincere regards



Sunday, August 20, 2017

Elder Friendly Home Interior Design

This subject has been close to my heart and I had written this article a long time ago. Glad to announce that the article was featured in Deccan Herald last Friday.
I have been of a firm opinion that Interior design is not just about the woodwork nor the decor but really about defining the life and lifestyle of the residing family. Making one's home elder friendly through intelligent, insightful and practical design is one such area where the real value of residential Interior Design stands out.
The detailed article is available at
Do read and share as this is something that everyone who has an elderly person at home should know.



Thursday, August 10, 2017

Acrylic Versus Hi Gloss Laminate Versus Duco– Which one to use for that perfect Hi Gloss finish for your Modular Kitchen, Wardrobe and other Furniture

I have been getting a number of questions around Acrylic versus Laminate finish, where to buy Acrylic Laminates in Bangalore and how to use them for Modular Kitchen & Wardrobe Shutter construction, hence thought of penning this down as a dedicated post.

Even before we get into a discussion on Acrylic versus Laminate Versus Paint its important to step back and understand what the discussion “really” is about. What I have understood from customer interactions is that when they say that they need an Acrylic finish what they really mean is that they are looking for a “Hi Gloss” Finish.

A Hi Gloss finish can ultimately be delivered via using acrylic, laminate, Duco Paint, UV Coating, PU Paint etc. etc. and, mind you, none of the above techniques are superior or inferior than the other. The usage of one over the other really depends on the application (Kitchen or the Wardrobe, or the Cot or somewhere else…), the design (whether the surface is plane or curved), the level of maintenance that the user can manage and finally the choice of colour and whether the specific colour that the customer desires is available in the chosen finish.

With that preamble let us now look at the characteristics and suitability of each finish

1. Acrylic: 

This is sold either as 1 mm sheet that can be stuck on top of MDF/ Ply or as readymade 18mm board, pre-laminated with the 1mm acrylic sheet. Modular vendors cut these boards to the required size, apply the edge bands in matching colour and deliver the finished shutter to end customers/ designers. The thing to note here is that both Acrylic sheets and Pre laminated acrylic boards available in Bangalore are direct imports, usually from China, and none of the regular brands in India (Greenply, Century, Euro etc.) produce these. Hence the sourcing and sale of acrylic based products is largely unorganized with really no standard pricing. You will hence find prices of the finished shutters ranging from 600 per sqft all the way to 1400psft in the market with little or no marked difference in the product.
That said, acrylic gives a great hi gloss finish especially when the shutters are factory made from pre-laminated boards. Pasting of acrylic sheets on board on site is not recommended as this leads to waviness due to non-uniformity of the surface of the board or of the layer of adhesive.

Application & Use

In terms of its application, acrylic can be used only for plane/ straight line applications such as Kitchen and Wardrobe shutters. It cannot be used for profiled shutters nor in other "non straight line" applications.
From a maintenance perspective like any other glossy surface Acrylic tends to catch finger marks as well as scratches. Its scratch resistance is however higher than that of regular Hi Gloss Laminate.

Colour Shade Availability 

Acrylic is available in limited colours and the shade book of each vendor varies – hence it is quite an effort in case you are particular about the specific colour you want

2. Hi Gloss Laminates: 

These are similar to regular laminates but with a Hi Gloss finish. They are available from all the standard laminate manufacturers in India, some of them offer two varieties – the standard range and the hi scratch resistant range. In addition, the colour option availability is fairly exhaustive.
Here again it is best to go for factory made shutters as waviness is a standard issue in all Hi Gloss surfaces. At the same time, on site pasting is possible with Hi Gloss Laminates as carpenters are conversant in its use. Care needs to be taken to apply a 4 mm MDF sheet on top of ply to minimize the waviness. Also in case of shutters made on site the shutter size should be limited to 4 feet as longer shutters may bend due to the difference in expansion coefficients of ply, mdf and the laminate sandwitched together.

Application & Use

Due to the relative ease of use, cost & availability Hi Gloss Laminates can be used in a variety of application from Kitchen Shutters, Wardrobe shutters to Wall Paneling etc. When using for making shutters take care to find the matching edge bands so that the edges can be seamless. Matching edge bands are NOT available for the entire range and personally that has been one of my biggest complaints with the laminate manufacturers.
Also, as with Acrylic, the use of Hi Gloss laminates is limited to plane/ straight line applications. Hi Gloss Laminates do catch finger marks as well as scratches like other hi gloss surfaces. The Hi Scratch resistance variety is preferable but it is available in limited colour shades

3. Duco Paint: 

Duco is the most versatile method of achieving a hi gloss finish. It is the same paint that is used for painting cars and hence works great on angular, non straight line & curved surfaces. While Duco can be sprayed on well prepared & smoothened Plywood, it is easier done on plane MDF. Applicators hence insist on pasting a thin MDF sheet on Ply go get a smooth finish without having to do as much preparation. On the other hand, the “Glossiness” of Duco is lower than that of Acrylic or Hi Gloss Laminate. Duco also tends to crack up along the joints, it is hence best to minimize the number of joints in the furniture or hide them under the MDF packing or via a bit of smart design

Application & Use:

Due to its versatility Duco can be used for most applications including cots, book shelves, partitions, shutters and wall panels. However, Duco is not recommended in furniture & spaces that see hi traffic such as the Kitchen & Wardrobes. This is because even with a small hit or scratch the paint peels off and over time this results in an unkempt look.

Colour Shade Availability

Since Duco is a type of paint, it is available in almost infinite colours. You even get metallic shades that can be quite unique but need a fair amount of judgement - more around where NOT to use than where to.

That covers I guess, as always would welcome your comments, questions, suggestions & inputs

Signing off

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