Designed for you

When it comes to designing your home, it pays to seek advice from the best talent out there.

     Print Edition: March 7, 2010

Whether you are about to start work on your dream home, or are planning on refurbishing your old one, how your house should look and feel is very important. So, for this issue, with the help of Design Today, we decided to bring you tips and comments from some of India's best interior designers and architects. Why settle for second rate advice when you can have the best? In this piece, you'll find important tips on all the nuts and bolts which go into making your house, as well as products that will make your home a world-class one. So, enjoy the issue, and look forward to a lifetime of happiness.

PLUMBING AND ELECTRICALS

By Vijay Kapur

Before one starts the construction of a house or an apartment, a little thought and planning given to plumbing and electricals can save a lot of damage and angst later. For example, the architect designs the electrical points based on a furniture layout that he conceives. But does that layout fit in with your lifestyle? What about your home theatre system? Are you going to have wires trailing along the walls of the room? A little planning could have put a couple of conduits in the walls for the speakers, thereby giving a neater look. Similarly, you want that signature W.C. for your powder room, but oops, the plumbing is just not proper for this particular fixture! So, I'm going to give a few pointers to help plan these two all-important aspects of your home.

Plumbing
It is imperative that you plan for your fixtures in advance. If you know you want a Moen faucet or a Kohler Multiple Shower System, then your architect and designer can put in the piping and arrange this most private of spaces to your liking. Never underestimate the importance of piping. If bathrooms leak, it's because of bad workmanship and the use of inferior materials. This is often a problem with builder flats. Instead of going for GI pipes with leaky joints, go for composite pipes like KiTEC, which have three layers with a core of copper which does not erode. Always insist on a pressure check before the pipes are plastered in. Any leak can be detected and corrected. For rain, soil and waste management, use uPVC pipes with joints sealed with molten lead.

Electrical Fittings
For the home owner, the most important thing about electrical fittings is the placement of points. The placement is based on practical reasons but is also tailored to one's lifestyle. All you need to do is look at your layout plan, and see how you would like to live. Are you a gadget guru? Do you have music in your bedroom? Or do you want a centralised Bose system that only needs a "receiver" (which needs a plug point)? A lot of thought needs to be given to the d├ęcor, like the art that you might have to put on the walls, the sculpture or art piece that needs to be highlighted. Public places like the living and dining areas tend not to have wall lights, simply because the walls need to be clear for art. And art needs ceiling lights/spots or LEDs to highlight them. Maybe you are the table lamp kind of person, who needs lots of lamp points. You don't want to be caught in an endless "what if" situation-something that can be easily avoided by setting a firm freeze on the design and layout of your house, so that wires and points can be laid accordingly.

- Vijay Kapur is Director and Principal Architect of Vijay Kapur Designs, a Delhi-based design company specialising in corporate and commercial interiors and apartment makeovers

SURFACES

By Mallika Kumar and Narayan Moorthy

When you look at wall treatments for any space, you should keep in mind the kind of space, the size of the space, the quality of natural light and ventilation, the fenestration details and the quality of artificial light provided. You must also keep in mind the type of interior fittings and furnishings you have as well as the functionality of the space. An easy rule of thumb- subtle finishes for your private spaces like bedrooms, and dramatic and bold statements for larger, more public spaces like the living room.

Living Room and Bedroom
Remember, often surfaces are all about layering. Start with a simple plaster of paris wall, and layer with a plastic emulsion paint in light colours like white or cream. Acrylic polymer-based finishes can be easily obtained from brands like Dulux and Oikos. Instead of paint, an interesting option is wallpaper, as you have many designs to choose from these days, including floral or geometric designs; subtle or bold prints; and even silk or jute finishes. A great option is going for natural stone in butchwork-plain polished, sand-blasted or flamed and cut in designs of your choice. Wooden cladding (the method of covering one material with another) is an excellent option and looks very good, too. Glass- be it lacquered, printed, etched or coloured-also makes for beautiful cladding. If you prefer something that is long lasting, then go for exposed concrete finishes.

Kitchen and Bathroom
To start off with, all the options listed above work in the dry areas of a kitchen or a bathroom. Or you can keep these areas, especially the bathroom, moisture free by using artificial ventilation. However, the majority of the area in kitchens and bathrooms should be clad in tiles. There's a wide range to choose from, so you're spoilt for choice there. One tip: Select imaginatively. Other materials that work brilliantly are natural or artificial stone; artificial materials like Corrian or Himac and stainless steel cladding are also good.

- Mallika Kumar and Narayan Moorthy are principal architects for Delhi-based Kumar Moorthy & Associates

UPHOLSTERY

By Ashiesh Shah

Ihave a passion for fabrics, and I'm always searching for new ways of using them. Couple great fabrics with great furniture, and what you have is a brilliant way of combining different colours and textures. An aesthetic juxtaposition always produces stunning results.

Chairs
Upholstery is also a way of integrating existing pieces of furniture into a new decorative scheme. Clients often ask me to include antique or inherited pieces, such as traditional wing armchairs. These take on an entirely new look depending on the fabric chosen. One of my favourite techniques is to have chairs "wrapped" in fabric, which creates something both witty and radical. Star pieces of furniture, such as vintage chairs, cry out for something special. I sometimes find I have a piece of fabric left on my board that I have not allocated a home to-using it for a focal piece is often the answer. In a neutral scheme, it can be fun to shake up the palette with one bright colour or bold pattern.

Cushions
Never neglect the humble cushion! Scatter cushions are so inexpensive and freely available in myriad colours and textures. Yet, they can transform the look of a room in seconds, taking it instantly from winter to summer or formal to informal. A signature look is "banding". Take the example of a coarse linen pillow banded in deep velvet. Not only is this another opportunity to bring in textural contrast, but it is also a simple way of completely changing the look. Take the banding off and you have plain linen, which is summery and relaxed; add the banding and you get a a wintry, cozy feel; swap the banding for a more masculine texture, such as leather, and you instantly create a more edgy ambience. What could be easier? You could even bring together great textural contrasts with embellishments such as buttons or stitching. Throws are a wonderfully quick way of changing the feel of a room.

Bed
The bed is the focal point of the bedroom, so it makes sense to make a big statement with the headboard. "Big" is the key word here. I like ones that are tall and imposing, because they draw the eye up, balancing the horizontal proportions of the bed.

If, like me, you enjoy sitting in bed to read or watch television, then you need a headboard that is comfortable to lean back on. Go for padded or upholstered designs. While it is tempting to use a glamorous covering, you do need to think about how you are going to maintain it. I often advise people to use wipeable faux versions of the fabrics they love, particularly suede and leather. Masculine designs are great, like using chocolate brown leather or caramel suede for the headboard. Finally, do get comfortable linens for the bed. Nice cotton sheets with a high thread count, preferably pressed, make you feel pampered.

- Ashiesh Shah is Director of Mumbai-based Ashiesh Shah Design. This award-winning firm specialises in luxury apartments

FITTINGS & FIXTURES

By Vikram Phadke

Nowadays, when quality designs from the world over are available, go for the best one.

Living Room
Ligne Roset offers a fresh design choice, like the Ruche sofa and the Noe centre table. The iconic The Mama, Peche de nuit and Bloom and Twiggy from Foscarini pay homage to the Arco lamp by Castiglione.

Windows
The days of relying on wood as a material for windows is over. Besides being environmentally unfriendly, wood poses a number of problems in our tropical positioning. As far as UPVC windows go, a number of international players are entering the national arena. The option from Lingel, Germany, has a highly sophisticated outer membrane in the texture and colour of wood, which overcomes our block towards a white "plastic" window. It's UV-resistant and perfect in terms of insulation.

Kitchens
The latest offering is The Porsche kitchen designed in collaboration with Poggenpohl. Being offered as a man's kitchen, this kitchen combines the superb technology of Porsche in terms of integrated lighting, motion drives for the operation of the cabinetry and electrical appliances that are operated by sensor keys. Marvellous engineering and cutting-edge design.

Toilets
When it comes to shower heads, gimmickry comes to the fore. The club master shower from Hansgrohe stands apart in terms of function and design and is undoubtedly the best in the market. A must-have. Another new concept of combining plants, flowers and everyday objects within the toilet in order to create a multifunctional and fluid space has been created by supremely talented Patricia Urquiola. The definition of the "toilet" has been redefined!

- Vikram Phadke, Proprietor Interspace Inc. Madras, is a landscape and interior design consultant with an interest in hospitality design

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