Custom Search

Anoop and Dorrie's homestay in Kochi

exterior front gate bougainvileaAnoop and Dorrie are pretty well-known in Kochi. Their artistic ventures Kashi Art Cafe, Kashi Art Gallery, and Kashi Art Residency in Fort Kochi which they ran for 15 years, are frequented by the culturati of Kochi.

In 2006-07 they built their home Jade Garden in Kochi on eco-friendly principles. Dorrie, although without formal training, did the architectural plans and designed the structure and interiors.  Anoop acted as the contractor and oversaw the procurement of all materials.

Here they tell the story of how their home was built.

orange bedroom homestayThe house is constructed with at least 80% recycled building materials, many collected and stored for years prior to the construction.  The walls are built of laterite stones, sourced from locations where old English bungalows were being torn down.   
red room homestay
blue bedroom washroom homestayAll wood, beams, rafters, window, doors, inner and outer terracotta ceiling tiles, stair cases and railings are all recycled from the district court building during their demolition.   The house was designed and fitted incorporating all of these found items.

The interior is designed to allow natural light in from the roof to make the whole living space bright and cheerful, while saving energy.  The double storied living/dining room, encourage hot air to rise and there are old “air release” tiles at the top to keep the area comfortably cool. 

 furniture old antiques, joola, bhavnagiri, bodhi tree, colonial furniture

The furniture was collected from resale and second hand shops in our locality that we repaired and refinished as necessary.  Our art collection was built slowly over the years that we owned Kashi Art Gallery.  

The open office area allowed us to keep an eye on what was happening with the children and made us easily accessible while we did our work.  The light fixtures in the house are all low consumption LED’s and many of the actual fixtures were sourced from Italian lighting companies.

antqiues bhavnagiri joola, painting, table antique

 The decor is kept light with an eclectic collection of antique furniture, including sofas that are actually Gujarati  swings, second hand re-caned chairs.  Other furniture pieces, that were not sourced, were designed by Dorrie and built with the help of many talented craftsmen in the area.  Contemporary Indian art is highlighted throughout the home, in every room and hallway.  The collection includes works from Anant Joshi, Prajakta Aher, Zakkir Hussain, Gopikrishnan, Siji Krishnan, NN Rimzon, Ratheesh T, KG Subramanian, and more.

work area, upstairs, homestay, wood features

The large verandas and gardens were designed to bring the outside as close to the inside as possible.  The garden is laid out with assorted flowering trees and plants.  The garden paths were laid with stones, once again- sourced from discarded materials from nearby old bungalows. 

Our life style has always incorporated environmental values and considerations and we attempt to tread lightly, leaving only the faintest of footmarks.  We are not hard core environmentalists, but we do make our sincere efforts toward sustainability.

wrap around verandah, garden
I loved those old-world elements like the bench in the wrap-around verandah, the bhavnagiri jhoola, and of course the profusion of art in their home. Thank you Anoop and Dorrie

Foot note:Recently, Anoop and Dorrie sold their business and moved to Munnar where they live a quiet life and run their home as a homestay Jade Munnar. Jade Kochi is still with them, and it is being run by a lovely couple. 

All photos courtesy Jade Garden Kochi

Designer Lagan Budhwar's Rented Home in Gurgaon

It was a boring Saturday for me. Everyone was out in the sun, but I was waiting for an important email, and didn't dare move from the comp. To while away my time, I started looking at Facebook posts when suddenly I saw a pic that drew my attention. It depicted what looked like a post party scene  - there  they were, 4 males, sprawled on a beautiful bed in distressed green, in a very charming bedroom. While the males were interesting, my decor blogger's instinct honed in, and I took in the beauty of the room. The bedroom is featured above, and I have taken care to keep it male-free, because ahem! all of you may not have the same restraining powers as me :)

I quickly realized that I didn't know these people, and the only reason it was showing on my timeline was because my friend had commented on it. I lost no time contacting her, and to make the story short, here we are, with a complete tour of this home! :)

 Lagan Budhwar, the smart, talented owner of this home is a freelance photographer, and she owns a home decor accessories brand called 'aलग' which she runs along with sis-in-law Amika Kler.


Here's Lagan introducing herself and telling us more about her work, her design style and her decor mantras.

"My husband Gurpratap and I, currently live in a rented apartment in Gurgaon. Our home is constantly evolving. I buy things and then decide what to do with them. In fact I still consider most of the house 'work in progress' because there's so much more I want to do. But there are always limitations when you're renting. Nonetheless, there is loads on the agenda :)"

 I've actually fallen into all this under very opportune circumstances and by frequent motivational pushing by friends, family and my husband. I always had a knack for photography and interiors, and always wanted to do something creative, but never had the confidence and to be honest I'm generally very lazy :) I left my job in HR when my husband got posted to Calcutta and that's when I started exploring these passions further.


Here's a bookshelf that Lagan made more or less by herself with the help of a carpenter. She collected different material from different vendors. She painted it herself.  The mirror is actually an old door frame, now re-purposed.

The garden bears Lagan's stamp, with its beautiful mix of DIY and quirky finds

Oh! Where did this load of cuteness come from? Bourbon is one of two dogs owned by Lagan

The master bedroom is the simplest room of the house because its still work in progress, says Lagan

 The interest in decor has been there since childhood and I think it stemmed from the fact that my mom always had stunning decor. Be it an accommodation called 'Two rooms' in army lingo or a big colonial bungalow (my dad was in the Army), her home interiors were impeccable. Whatever my dad's rank or salary might have been, she managed to set up a gorgeous house in the given budget. When people go abroad they shop mostly for clothes and all, but my mom would bring back beautiful lamps, fabrics and decorative items :) 

She always gave me the freedom to do up my room whenever we moved to a new house (and we moved around a lot!), even though her taste and mine differs quite a bit. Since I couldn't experiment with the furniture because my room invariably was also the guest room, my main canvas was the walls. That's the first thing I can remember about doing up my rooms, that the walls had to be packed and every wall had a story to tell. I used to make collages, sketch, paint and put up the photographs that I had taken (mostly of my friends back then).

Lagan commissioned the painting of the furniture for this gorgeous guest room to her carpenter. However, he messed up the distressed look so badly, that she had to do an extensive repair job, and finally managed to get this look!

 My taste in decor is vintage eclectic. I'm drawn to and crazy about everything old and rustic :) I love colours and vintage postcards. I also love travelling! To the effect that if I don't take a trip in every 3-6 months an alarm starts to go off. While travelling I've collected a lot of stuff (since I was 18 I think) and my house is a museum in terms of varied items signifying something or the other about our lives as a couple. I've incorporated my husband's interest like sailing and flying, my memories from childhood, our love for movies, our travels and my love for money plants. There is literally a little garden on my fridge :) 

The travel wall in the lobby which was last updated two years ago.
The TV room cum second guest room with pull out bed

Thank you Lagan, it was lovely having you over. And you dear readers will be glad to hear that Lagan has also done up her mother in law's home and it will soon be showcased here!

Key takeaways from Lagan's style

  • -Upcycle, re-create, innovate and keep the charm while you do it
  • -Handpick pieces, don't go to the regular stores. Walk around in the old markets.
  • -One person's trash is truly another's treasure.The yellow stool that you see in the guest room is actually an old stool that the painters left behind when they finished her painting job. Lagan painted it yellow and there it is, bursting with new life and enhancing the decor.
  • -It's your home - so personal touches are very important. The travel wall in Lagan's lobby is a wonderful example. Instead of the usual souvenirs, she updates the wall with a picture of every country she visits.
All images courtesy Lagan Budhwar

Designer Aarti Verma's Stunning Self-Styled Studio in Mumbai

purple vase pink flowers

Aarti Verma
Aarti Verma

I have been an admirer of Aarti Verma's work for the longest time. Her brand Art Meets Fashion is proof of her creativity, and I love the thought and attention to detail she puts into every one of her designer pieces.

 It was no surprise to me therefore, when I glimpsed pictures of her recently refurbished studio. Aarti has waved her creative wand over every item in this room. Her signature drawings, and the quirky-lovable decor touches make the place vibrant and welcoming. She was kind enough to let me post them on my blog, to share with all of you.

handmade wall quotes, terracotta wind chimes
Terracotta wind chimes; the quotes are hand painted on a wooden frame with acrylics.
flowers, pink, real, fabric
Real flowers and DIY flowers
yellow wall, child art, fish bowl
Colorful hand embroidered sling, the cat painting is made by a 5 year old kid.
papier mache, fish, cow
Papier mache yellow cow stands quietly on the wooden cupboard,
machalis inspired by Indian folk art painted on the door.
artists tools, egg basket wire, parrots
The tools of her trade are arranged in a colorful melange; handmade parrots
in an old egg basket are absolutely adorable!
rawsilk hand painted dupattas
Hand painted raw silk/cotton silk dupattas on display.
Thank you Aarti, it was wonderful showcasing your work on my blog!

Aarti's unique decorating style follows no rules, it doesn't conform to traditional decorating logic. Yet, it works! In particular, I love the way she has put together colors that traditionally do not complement or go well together, and made them work! What did you think of Aarti's studio?

You can connect with Aarti on her facebook at

Images courtesy Aarti Verma

Home Tour: A fantasy writer's loft house in Madh Island

blue computer table
When designer Jaya Peter of Livinart wrote in to me with photographs of their latest low budget project, I was intrigued. To add to the thrill, the owner of this loft house in Madh Island is fantasy writer Samit Basu (author of The Simoqin Prophecies, The Manticore's Secret and The Unwaba Revelations, the three parts of The GameWorld Trilogy, a fantasy trilogy published by Penguin Books, India). As an aspiring writer, and as an appreciator of art and aesthetics in modern design, this is probably the dream home for me to feature!

dining table eggshaped

A bit of background about Livinart - they are a trio of creative people - Anu, Shalini and Jaya, with complementary strengths. Last year I featured another gorgeous home done by them. They believe in usable, need-based design, and want to make memorable pieces of furniture that become special to people who own it! In this project, everything including the lamps, curtains etc have been custom made for the client.

Says Jaya, "The first thing that stuck us about the space was the sense of scale, it is a loft house and the height of the ceiling is around 20 feet, looking out into the Arabian sea 260 degrees....stunning blue sea...". Mental notes were made immediately about an aqua theme reflecting indoors as well. hence the blue curtains and the sea green kitchen and TV unit.

It is a bachelor pad and Samit  being a graphic novelist wanted them to see the space from that perspective.
graphic frame custom madeThe bedroom
loft, upstairs bedroomThe flight of stairs that leads into his room has a sliding door which they wanted to treat like a page out of a graphic novel. After quizzing him on his favorite characters, they made  a storyboard with an interesting array of  characters. The fact that the railing and stairs were black, white and grey helped in creating an interesting graphic frame.

bedroom, ombre curtains, sea viewHis writing desk needed to look into the sea, but the space in his room upstairs was barely enough for a bed, hence they decided to give him their classic space saver computer table (featured in the cover pic above) that would perfectly in his space.

They also wanted to treat the doors of his wardrobe not merely as wooden shutters but a framed art work. They ran the idea of using ancient maps by him. After brainstorming , they decided to use maps out of his favorite fantasy fiction/ comics e.g: Asterix  map of Gaul), Terry Pratchets Discworld map, Lord of the Rings etc..
map wardrobe custom made

On choosing the lighting
pacman lighting custom made livinart

Samit likes gaming and is a fan of pacman. hence the team decided to surprise him by making Pacman lights for his house.

The rest of the accent lights, were custom-made in various shapes and sizes because it was near impossible to pick up lights from any store since the sense of scale in this loft house demanded really big lights or a cluster of
custom made lighting
different lights in sizes and shapes.After some trial and error, they hit upon the correct cluster of black and grey lights that were conical, helmet shaped etc..

Says Jaya, "Now hanging the lights and fans were a production in itself as we needed to make long rods( like in high ceiling churches) to hang the fans and lights at a decent height."

The soft furnishings

20 feet long curtainsThe curtains had to be a blue ombre, in keeping with the sea-views.19 feet cutains cannot be bought in shops but had to be made to scale so that the point where the white moves into light blue which moves into indigo is at the correct place.

beachview apartment double length curtainsShalini  custom-made a print in which fish move from one side of the ombre to another in the central panel. Anu had worked with some artisans from Rajasthan who would be able to achieve all this.

Hence the 20 feet long curtains got made. This is a classic example of the synergy this design team possesses!

Custom-made furniture
Most of the furniture was custom-made or sourced from Liviart's own design studio.The trio spent a lot of time in the flat at different times of the day to truly understand the play of light, and the feel of the space.

Says Jaya, "We needed to give him a nice big book shelf. The ideal space was below the staircase.While spending time in the flat we noticed that in the afternoon, the sunlight  created nice shafts through the staircase on the wall. We decided to follow these lines and make a book shelf along that wall."
green and blue couch and side table
Most of the furniture has a zen quality to it. The egg shaped dining table with its eclectic mix of chairs, the pull out japo day bed (featured here in both its avatars), the sofas with a hint of an upward curve etc.

kitchen functional bachelor pad chalkboardThe side tables have a detachable tray which can be carried to any part of the room. Here they conceded to a splash of color and print. The kitchen is a functional yet well-designed space with clean lines and masculine colors.

So keeping the space masculine, with splashes of indigo, green, they  maintained the theme of a writer in residence by the sea.

Images via Livinart. Click on images for a better view