Variety is the spice of life, and one would be hard-pressed to find another culture more diverse than India’s. The world’s second most populous nation is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, history, language and tradition—all of which are reflected in its exotic yet complex interior design. The tricky part lies in finding a balance between these distinctive elements. The sheer size of the subcontinent has led to an equally massive number of tastes and deviations in decor. Too much of the mainland and you could end up with an overly flamboyant, kitschy look that’s out of step with your place of residence.
Nevertheless, we managed to pin down the very essence of South Asian style to create a home fit for a Rajah.
#1 Splash some colour. A motley mix of bright shades is the calling card of Indian households. While it is difficult to resist the temptation of a vast palette, an excess of hues can bring about visual chaos. Opt instead for earthy tints—examples include brick red, warm grey and burnt sienna—for walls and floors. Swatches occupying the fluorescent and vibrant sides of the spectrum should be reserved only for smaller items such as pillowcases and vases. Or play safe with a monotone theme by using a neutral as the base coupled with bursts of a lively primary accent for interest.
#2 Unfurl tapestry. Patterned fabrics are another must-have staple of an Indian dwelling. The former British colony is famed in the textile arts, boasting a centuries-old heritage of block printing, tie dye and even their own version of batik. Quintessential motifs include paisley and mandala as well as a kaleidoscope of flora and fauna. Drape them over windows, set up a canopy above the bed or simply throw a sheet on the armrest of the sofa to inject a homey, fluid feel to any room.
#3 Trust in wood. Timber furnishings are a great way to call to mind romantic visions of the Indian countryside. For that extra rustic charm, make the most of their stunning craftsmanship and choose traditional handmade objects. We suggest anchoring your layout with one or two statement pieces and complementing them with other more subtle furniture. Expand your horizons beyond the obvious and take your pick from a wide range of the oft-overlooked like chests, folding screens, jhoola (swing) and jharoka (indoor balcony window).
#4 Go artsy fartsy. No Indian abode is complete without a sculptural tribute to a Hindu deity. Whether they’re carved out of terracotta, stone or metal, miniature depictions of Vishnu or Ganesha can bring an ambience of calming spirituality to your living space. If the idea of religious idols don’t float your fancy, go with animals representative of the region; namely tigers, monkeys, elephants, and peacocks. Add a further dash of awe with painterly products done in the unique styles of the countless cities dotting the Indian landscape, from the gold-leafed works of Thanjavur to the eye-catching intricacy of Madhubani art.
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