THE SMALLEST FEET TAKE THE MOST ROOM IN YOUR HEART

A new baby is like the beginning of all new things – wonder, aspiration and a dream of possibilities. Being a parent for the first time is an emotion that can seldom be defined in a few words. You may get caught up in a whirlwind of new-fangled exhilaration and joy, a state of mind where you could become susceptible to overlook some pragmatic aspects, especially when designing your little one’s room.

While planning and executing the interiors we tend to get too caught up with gender defining color themes and other stereotypes that provide little comfort and functionality to the child. To curate the room considering the child’s safety, security and learning; all clubbed with a bright and airy undertone is of utmost importance to me.

Picture Courtesy: Circu Magical Furniture

Picture Courtesy: Circu Magical Furniture

FLOORING

The smallest feet can make the largest footprints. The child’s days is filled with important floor activities like spinning in circles, running around aimlessly and colliding frequently. Hence we need to give them enough space to crawl, tumble, and explore whilst keeping the ground unencumbered from the clutter of sharp edged wooden furniture!

Since I know it is impracticable to constantly monitor them while they are scampering about and playing, I would desist from using any hard flooring i.e. marble, mosaic, porcelain tiles etc. in the main play area for my little one as I would be incessantly worried. My recommendation would be to use softer flooring options like inter-locking foam or rubber tiles. They can be fused over smoothly finished flooring and can be removed when the child comes of age. This non-slippery option is also conducive to deep cleaning as hygiene can never be compromised while we are still building on their immunity.

WALLS

Children have a full time occupation and its called “play”. Playtime helps a child grow and discover – in fact it helps them learn how to learn. We as parents can help them in this by giving our tiny tots the freedom to explore. In this situation I would invalidate the idea of using wall papers (even though they look stunning)

as walls can be the canvas where the messy scribbles turn into wonderful memories!

Egg shell or satin finish latex paints on the walls are a great solution for keeping grime and stains away from the activity den. When the child engages in spontaneous “Juice Wall Decor,” you’ll be glad that these paints can be scrubbed and that most blotches will dissipate with sponging of water and mild soap.

We also need to make sure that the paint we use has low or no VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds- it’s the stuff that gets released into the air as the paint dries and can cause headaches and dizziness).

We are living in times of equality, striving every day to expunge gender bias. Gone are the days when blues were for “cool boys” and pinks represented “cute girls”. Dropping discrimination is the flavor of this year’s trending concepts just as much as renouncing bright hues of primary tones.

As far as my take on colors of the room is concerned, I prefer keeping the walls neutral and airy. I would resort to casing the room with soft clay whites teamed up with monochrome shades of a mellow pastel to spruce up the space.

Picture Courtesy: Circu Magical Furniture

Picture Courtesy: Circu Magical Furniture

LIGHTS

Most kids love to chill in bed expending their time ceiling gazing while latched on to their bottles for their daily dose of lactose, water, juice and other liquid nourishment.

The best way to know that there is good lighting is when they don’t notice it directly. Flashy and glaring beams are a complete no-no for the mini humans but we have to ensure that the room is bright and adequately lit at the same time. The function driven era of tube lights and jarring spot lights have finally lost relevance to the more thoughtful era of sensitive energy saving lighting plans. Dimmable hidden spot lights, tray coves lit with strips of warm LED and wall lights seem to always work. Decorative pendant cloud lights suspended from the fifth wall of the room are trending at the moment and are also my personal favorites. Tech- savvy parents are indulging in rotating projector lamps. These projectors come with filters that can create fascinating images in the room ranging from the mysterious under sea world to the enigmatic space lit up with stars to always keep the precious little ones engaged and in awe.

FURNITURE

One can furnish a baby’s room luxuriously by taking out furniture rather than putting it in. The ‘less is more’ concept is flawlessly decorous when we draw out the fittings and fixtures plan for a tot’s room. Children need room to romp around so we should apportion them space to spread out their “play du jour”.

The mini munchkins sleep about 14 hours a day. Keeping that in mind, the single imperative piece of furniture that needs attention is the bed. I would highly recommend large, low upholstered beds over wooden ones or bunk beds. The low height ensures the inevitable tumble will not be a disturbing one. You can further break the fall by providing a soft cushy rug on the side. The bed size could be double to accommodate an adult with the child making it apt for storytelling or when they need company.

Modular cupboards and other storage units can be wall mounted, preferably a meter and a bit above the floor level which can be re positioned lower when the child is older and does not need any crawling space. I prefer upholstered convex storage systems than acute fringed hard wooden ones. If you must have wooden furniture then remember to strap the edges with child friendly rubber corners to avoid unnecessary accidents.

Picture Courtesy: Circu Magical Furniture

Picture Courtesy: Circu Magical Furniture

DECORATION IDEAS

Activity Corner

It’s so true what Aristotle said eons ago “the quality of life is determined by its activities”. Our task is to prepare the children to climb their own mountains. Your baby's activity centre needs to have a wide range of toys that help them with strengthening their muscles and working on their fine motor skills. The list of options is endless ranging from large building blocks, lego, a mini slide to a mini ball pool. The paraphernalia of toys could all add up to being a part of the decor or you could choose to tuck it away post play time.

Accessories

Accessories make everything prettier. It is always the small pieces that make the big picture. The way you accessorize the embellishments, define your vision for your child’s room and all things you love.

Wind chimes, pastel pom-pom cushions, dangling stuffed puppets in baby colors, neutral color soft toys and glow in the dark stickers are some of my favorite picks in this section. Make sure you select the ornamentation that accentuate and blend in with your chosen color tones with the rest of the room.

Picture Courtesy: Circu Magical Furniture

Picture Courtesy: Circu Magical Furniture

CONCLUSION

We need to remember that a new born does not necessarily need a new room as they are happy nestling with their parents. It is only when they become toddlers do they need their designated spaces. Designing a child’s room is not child’s play! We need to exercise caution while drawing up budgets which guide you to allocate your funds before-hand rather than squandering your resources. The challenge lies in creating a meaningful and comfortable surrounding that balances between nurturing, protecting and guiding on one hand and allowing your child to explore, experiment and become independent on the other.

Picture Courtesy: Circu Magical Furniture

HOME IS NOT BUILT IN A DAY

The variety and spice that city dwellers today are seeking in doing-up their homes is fast retiring the concept of “Home Sweet Home”. The growing number of home owners and first time buyers have created a stir in the real-estate ancillary markets over the past few years. New-age functionality modular concepts, contemporary designs and state of the art Artificial Intelligence smart gadgets have all become well within the grasp of the modern Indian middle-class. With a plethora of options to lure your creativity, the question now is – Where & How do we begin?

Breaking the stereotype always makes a project more exciting and when budgets are limited, what we don’t do is as important as what we do. Doing up your house is like building up a versatile and interesting wardrobe. You have to give it time and you cannot have it all at once. When you plan the interiors of your space, Research & Budgeting are the only two real reference points which will guide you through this treacherous path strewn with potholes of make-believe standards and impractical design.

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RESEARCH

Research will help you identify with the design and feel that resonates most with your sense of being, keeping in mind both functionality and modern trends. Each individual’s sense of style is actually a concoction of elements of various genres. You may discover that your taste in flooring maybe contemporary bamboo tiling while your choice in furniture or wall hangings may be more inclined towards archaic Victorian. For people doing this for the first time, looking through popular interior design magazines, look books and other print media is a great way to start off. One must always save images or make notes for future reference. After the preliminary exercise one can consider graduating to more detailed and diverse digital platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and the internet. The reason I suggest people should consider digital media at a latter stage is because of the infinite options available online. This is detrimental to the formation of a clear preliminary design identity and often derails the entire process of discovering one’s true preferences.

BUDGETING

On the second stage of Research we have to start drawing parity with our Budget. A budget is subjective in nature and will change from person to person based on their interests. Every interior designer, consultant or enthusiast will have their own school of thought based on their experience; personally, I am of the opinion that we should draw up an interior budget based on two primary facets – Immovable & Movable sections. Immovable sections comprise flooring, walls, permanent lighting etc. while Movable sections on the other hand comprise Art, furniture, plants, decorative lighting etc. Moving on, majority of this budget should be allocated to the immovable sections. This section is obviously a pre-requisite to the latter and therefore will take precedence. Also going back to the earlier comparison of creating a respectable wardrobe, the best parts of the movable sections will probably be acquired over a period time and not instantaneously. This would include various artifacts and quirky pieces that one collects through their travels and experiences. So getting carried away stressing about these elements may be futile, instead one should consider concentrating on the basic requirements

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ARCHITECTURAL SCIENCES & MYTHS

People who follow architectural planning sciences such as Vastu or Feng Shui, should be proactive with their layout. Moving walls and relocating toilets can be an expensive, cumbersome and time-consuming proposition. It will invariably result in time and cost overruns. Some may take comfort from the fact that several real-estate projects across all budgets have started incorporating such sciences in their architectural and structural orientation.

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COLOR TRENDS

There are several myths that are being shunned aside today. People are no longer resigned to theories such as white making the space look bigger and vice versa for black. They are liberal in the selection of their color palette and are choosing neutral colors such as grey, browns and fades which easily absorb the vibrant or definitive colors of furniture and art. There is no cost escalation on account of color selection so experimenting with such options have become much more viable. In my personal experience, I like to keep the palette very neutral and splash color through art, linen and accessories.

HELP AT HAND

Whether you choose to employ the services of a turn key contractor, interior decorator or an interior consultant, you have to be well prepared to deal with coordination and execution difficulties. It is hard to predict the end costs of labor intensive jobs and rectification related works. Making allowances or provisions for such incidentals is always a prudent approach.

On the other hand, for those who would rather design and execute the whole plan all by themselves or for those who are not tech-friendly, my word of advise would be to consider hiring a freelance digital visualizer. Such professionals are capable of bringing your vision to life well before the actual commencement of works.

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LAYOUT & THE COZY CORNER

The budget only makes sense when we let it amalgamate with the overall layout of the space itself. There are areas of the house where we tend to spend a lot more time in comparison to others. For instance, every person has a separate concept of The Cozy Corner and I firmly believe that the budget and layout should also reflect that. If one is single, married, an avid reader or even a wine connoisseur; one should have a dedicated space to unwind and indulge. Accounting for such space with a reasonable degree of generosity always makes the exercise of research and budgeting a touch more interesting and also enriches your quality of life. This is a space where one can either keep a generous allocation of the budget or even consider building on bit by bit over a period of time.

THE STARTING POINT

After the research, budgeting and completion of the basic layout, one might still be left with a simple unanswered question - where do I begin? Which aspect of the home should I touch first? Well, in my experience, it works out for the better, when I start a

project by selecting the wall finishes and the flooring options simultaneously. This will be helpful because these two aspects will set a theme that will cover the entire area and set the basic undertone for your space.

SIMPLE MEASURES

* Strategically planning windows and open spaces would help you maximize the affects of natural light, breeze and the best possible view. This is essential to optimize the efficiency of air-conditioning and ventilation as well.

* With the reduction in size of columns and beams in modern day housing architecture planning, the canvas of wall space available to work with such options have significantly increased and can be utilized to the maximum.

* A layout which is meticulously planned at the very outset and not subject to whimsical changes, will avoid the incidence of rectification works such as exposed or capped wiring and ugly air-condition piping.

De-cluttering is another aspect that can be achieved partly by including wall coves and smart storage solutions. Coves, bays and indentations help to cut through the monotony of plain walls and can be also utilised to create space for memories, portraits, worship, collectibles, books etc. The presence of these niches, can be further highlighted by incorporating simple fixed lighting to illuminate such spaces.

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MODERN CONVENIENCES

There have been several advancements in various fit-outs and modular systems. This has simplified tricky sections like the kitchen and cabinets. I would highly recommend the use of modular kitchen solutions as they help us maximize space utility with their efficiently engineered hardware selection.

People have also found cost and service relief on the furniture front with the advent of several online furniture sites. These sites accurately describe their products and purchasing, where the installation and returns are all fairly hassle-free.

SMART HOME for SMART PEOPLE

Artificial Intelligence, automation, security, surveillance, connectivity and insurance are all aspects that form a part of the home budget. This is a value addition for people who like to do more with their time and have control over their home-systems right at their fingertips. As Canadian Journalist & Critic - Carl Honore says, “Technology enables us to work every minute of every day from any place on the planet.”

Product related information, specifications and costs are all available online. There is great diversity in all these products and most of them can be tailor-made or customized as well. These can all be considered in the second phase of budgeting and planning. These products are generally available on Equitable Monthly Installments (EMI’s).

CONCLUSION

As the American Interior Designer & Stylist - Nate Berkus rightly said, “Your home should tell the story of who you are and the collection of what you love.” Through my experiences working with people across the world I have come to realize that there is never a day where we truly complete our homes. It is in reality, a picture of us, on the canvas of time that we constantly strive to finish but seldom do.

NEW YEAR HOME re-SOLUTIONS:

The saying “your home is a reflection of who you are and a collection of what you love” is quite true, which is why people’s personalities inherently lend themselves to the aesthetic with which they design their homes. Just like in the world of fashion and art, styles in interior concepts change according to cultural developments and various other influences. Over-sized glares were the rage in the sixties but then, as with all fads, they weren’t. But in the last decade retro, vintage, and nostalgia were in, and so were the voluminous goggles! Similarly, variations inspired by Scandinavian minimalism may have been the obsession for the last two decades, but it has now made way for maximalism with its loud, busy, and vibrant projections.

Staying up-to-date with these trends is no easy feat given the myriad of design choices as well as the different facets of decor like art, furniture, lighting, and color palette. Home decor may seem intuitive, but a little help from experts in design always goes a long way in ensuring that your home is not only beautiful and functional but also dynamic and reflective.

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COLOR TRENDS

Possibly the inherent element of any design is color because it has the power to turn heads and influence the soul. It is through the color tones we communicate the intent that dominates the abode. The choice of hues contribute to the vitality and vibrancy in our daily lives. Sometimes choosing the right tint is so complicated because we think it is so banal and lucid.

Saturated green is the color of 2019. It symbolizes nature squatting at your home and it symbolizes gender neutrality. To complement the viridescent tones I have also included dusty pinks, exuberant mustard, misty blues, muted gold, soft clay, oxidized grey, somber blacks and rich jewel tones. Refer to the mood boards to see the various concoctions I have curated in these palettes using all bits and bobs trending this season.

ART

The paraphernalia in your home isn’t just decor, but a big contributor to the vibe your home emits. It transforms a space and is responsible for creating an atmosphere. You spend more than half your time at home, and these gubbins affect your mood and general well-being. To me, art is the focal point of any space that immediately attracts attention hence it needs to be carefully curated.

The glorious era of minimalism has finally succumbed to the glamorous movement of maximalism where More is More! Diverse and extravagant range of sculptural and floral patterns and bold strokes is the way forward to saturate a space. Art is now defined with focal

personality forming a busy balance with bright and vibrant colors. Store-bought signage of “Keep Calm and blah blah blah....” are so outdated, as is fabric and tribal art. Abstract designs as well as two and three dimensional geometric shapes are the flavor of 2019.

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UPHOLSTERY

Somehow, we always leave the choice of upholstery towards the latter part of the project even though we know it plays a major role in enhancing, distinguishing and defining a space. It needs to complement and reflect the general vision of the room and contribute towards tying all loose ends rather than being the focal point like it used to be. While the possibilities are endless, the new times have shied away from dull neutrals and cool grey and are now leaning towards rich jewel tones in mushy velvet, daring floral printed jacquard and mix-and-match printed fabrics as they add diversity with varied motifs and hues. All of them used together in the right balance, team up very well to create intrepid, indomitable and indulgent space.

LIGHTING

Lighting is not just about function. It is about creating the mood that one would like to bask in. Illumination affects everything it falls upon. It creates ambiance, drama, and intrigue in a room. In my world it is the magical ingredient that makes or breaks a space.

Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication. The times when the opulence of a space was defined by crystal chandeliers has now been conquered by assorted pendant lights stationed together using the bohemian method of carelessly careful balance. Also trending are functional uncluttered linear formats, exposed chords, handmade ceramic domes, celestial rings and minimalist wall scones that strike impact with controllable temperatures. My personal favorite is sculpture lighting, which double up as statement pieces. The dual utilitarian prong of art and purpose is the way forward for lighting up the new era.

FURNITURE

The process of converting a brick structure into a cosy domain, involves mixing a whole lot of unrelated pieces into one homogeneous blend. Buying appropriate furniture for a house can be tricky as it needs a sense of balance, comfort, functionality and beauty all put together to make it a home.

Linear minimalistic, glossy furniture has now sublimed to introduce us to the world of metal laced curved pieces which raise the comfort bar with their enveloping nature. Fascinating and enigmatic faceted furniture is still around and trending as they never let you get bored of looking at them. This year we will also see the rise of the printed acrylic furniture which adds a dash of airiness, quirk and simplicity to areas which were ruled by wicker in the last decade.

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HOME ACCENTS

The difference between something good and something great is the attention to detail. It is always the small pieces that make the big picture. The way you accessorize the embellishments, define your relationship with your home and all things you love.

Prone to our fast pace lives, anything in excess brings in complexities and chaos. In the past decade we loved the pandemonium created by eclectic clutter which has now become redundant giving way to sustainable and solo statement artifacts.The fetish to hoard all heterogeneous inheritances and display colorful family portraits have now been over taken by antique sculptures and modern origami inspired silhouettes.

BEDROOM FINISHES

We are living in times of equality striving every day to eradicate gender bias. Gone are the days when blues stood up for dominating strength and pinks represented girly grace. Dropping discrimination is the flavour of this year’s trending concepts. 2019 Interior detailing has taken inspiration from this thought and incorporated it into our daily lives by refraining from making gender defined statements while decorating.

Bedrooms are spaces where you relax, think, meditate and dream. Dark monochromes and saturated muted hues help keep the mind focused and collected. The comfort element will be induced by placing cosy beds with generous upholstery, velvet linens, thick, fluffy, and mushy pillows and assorted mix and match cushions. With minimalism on its way out, grand, vintage mid-century luxuries are back with four-poster beds teamed up with floral walls and art deco storage solutions.

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FLOORING

Flooring is like the foundation of any house. It is one of the most difficult things to replace hence choosing the perfect material with utmost care is obligatory.

In a world full of trends, Marble has and will always remain a classic because it is irreplaceable! Yes, the conventional way of just cutting the most coveted Italian Marble into slabs and polishing them are mediums and methods that are becoming archaic and they are being swiftly replaced by Turkish and Spanish marbles cut in geometric patterns, laid with inlay detailing and finished with matted leather finishes.

The real wood floors which are high maintenance (though I personally love them!) are being defunct by gorgeous laminates which come in stunning oxidized shades that are affordable and effortless to preserve given the hot weather conditions in the sub-continent.

Vitrified glossy tiles are passe’and my new fetish is Matt, 3-D textured porcelain tiles in fifty shades of grey. One classic that has not lost its position through the century are the rugs, as they intensify and elevate the flooring and its surrounding lending a momentous warmth to the room. The heavily floral rugs have been ousted by dauntless geometric patterns and shaggy varieties have been expelled by daring and audacious colors.

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KITCHEN

Kitchen is the heart of the home and rightly so because it’s a place seasoned with love. It is a place that should be organised, functional, durable and easy to perpetuate. Kitchens may be designed keeping the above in mind but that doesn’t mean that they cannot be reflective of the latest swing. Home-made cherry cabinets have also had their day in the sun and now we are looking forward to using modular, factory finished storage units in dark and burnt shades of grey. All the stand alone gadgets are outdated with integrated versions of them being used for a clean line finish. The old-school, speckled, solid colored granite counter tops are obsolete and are swapped by stunning scratch proof, stain resistant man made composite stones which can take up to 200 degrees centigrade of heat.

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BATHROOM

How long a minute is depends on which side of the bathroom door you are on! A bathroom is a place for thinkers as they say and all great ideas come from sitting in the toilet. Bathrooms, like kitchens, are spaces that primarily need to be functional but this area deserves special treatment and attention as it is the most private space of the house. White bathrooms are soon finding their way out of the door welcoming gallant spirited dark gutsy blacks and dainty pinks. Chrome accessories are now considered ancient and non- fashionable as the most stylish fittings are now fostered in matte black and brushed dull gold.

What once was old is new again and nothing proves that more than the recent resurgence of the classic mid-century terrazzo. The color choices and speckle patterns for this mosaic are limitless and ageless. It has finally pushed the numero uno to a lower slot grabbing the spot light in the bathrooms which once belonged to the Italian marbles.

CONCLUSION

2019 will be the year of a paradigm shift in the realm of home decor. It will be the year when minimalism goes out of fashion for the first time in twenty years launching a new era of maximalism where we experience the vintage, the retro and the art deco in tandem with the futuristic styles sprucing up our homes.

Picture Courtesy: My concoction of images from Pinterest!