Contemporary Classics
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Contemporary Classics

Open up the storehouse, bring out the heirlooms and antiques, redesign and refurbish with a du jour touch. Voila! It’s trendy. By Vivani Khurana

india Updated: Aug 01, 2011 16:14 IST

“It is just as disastrous to have the wrong accessories in your room as it is to wear sport shoes with an evening dress.” Dorothy Draper, an influential American interior decorator of the mid-20th century, could not have said it better. Our homes reflect our personalities, moods and, often, our wardrobe choices. So if you’re following trends in sartorial matters, why not give your personal space a quick makeover with a little bit of reinvention, recycling and recreating?

From collecting decorative items to place on your mantelpiece to creating a Zen-like linear look, decor has come a long way. Hoarders will sigh with relief because it’s time to bring out what was put away for later. “Whenever a popular trend makes a comeback with a contemporary twist, that’s reinvention,” says Gautam Seth, who, along with Prateek Jain, runs Klove Studio, a brand that specialises in hand-blown glass light installations and accessories.

Silverware, too, is back. Though it’s exorbitantly priced nowadays, if you have any locked away, it’s time to bring it out. Use it as a decorative piece on your coffee table for a classy and rich look. Brass statues are a good idea as well, perfect to place in a corner – keep the oorlis filled with water and petals to create a traditional setting.

“An old planter’s chair or chaise longue can be given new life by getting rid of the wicker and upholstering it with some bright, printed fabrics,” suggets interior designer Asim Merchant. You could scrape and paint antique, carved, wooden chairs, vintage tables and pelmets in a striking colours to enhance a room. Also try recycling knobs, handles and locks of broken furniture to create a piece that’s a conversation starter. Traditional pieces can easily be lent a contemporary look with concepts such as digital printing on upholstery and linen. Once you get started, it’s easy to customise themes for your space.

“Put any fabric lying around at home to good use by playing with bright colours that have a mood-lifting effect and textures that can come together to create patchwork pieces,” says upholstery designer Anita Dalmia. Colours such as fuchsia, orange and yellow brighten up any space. Give it a slight edge, if you want, with metallic fabrics or objects.

However, don’t overdo it – strike a colour balance with a little coordination and keep ‘declutter’ in mind to maintain the sophistication.

“The Indian-Indonesian weave called ikat is setting trends for home linen,” says Sarita Handa, founder and creative head of She Home. Handlooms again are great for adding an Indian touch to contemporary furniture. A little bit of this fabric, tastefully used, breaks the monotony of similar prints across the house and gives it some character.

If you have inherited furniture or accessories with nacre (mother-of-pearl) inlay, ensure that you display it differently. “Nacre as a material can be cut into shapes and laminated on to a ceramic tile and marble base,” points out Dimple Kohli, owner of Qboid, a decor boutique. Use nacre-inlaid coasters on a dark wood coffee table for both class and striking contrast.

Furniture designer Urvashi Kaur has some interesting tips for using a mirror. “Put mirrors on coffee tables and pillars instead of just hanging them on walls to create the illusion of extra space.”

Lighting is one of the basic and most significant aspects of refurbishing. Floor lamps for a casual setting, chandeliers and crystal drop lights for an opulent look, and a dramatic installation in the centre of a living room as a statement piece against a simple backdrop – there are numerous ways in which you can illuminate your space.

Drifting to drapes, go sheer! It brings in natural light and makes the space look airy. This season, floral curtains have made a comeback. Go in for pleated curtains against solid-coloured sheers or curtains hung from ornate brass rods. They fall very well against a long window. You have the option of keeping your old pelmet, too; it goes with the vintage theme and adds a cosy touch.

Screens are another decor element that offer enormous scope for flexible use and reinvention. Traditionally, they were used to maintain privacy, but designers are now revamping them, using new materials to recreate the bygone-era look. Use a screen as a colourful accessory to perk up a room.

For a more Western old-world charm, bring in a touch of English vintage. Floral accessories in pastel colours – candlestands, tissue boxes, trunks and mirror frames can make a huge difference. “Let the house look like it’s lived in – collect photo frames and make a collage on the wall,” advises Priya Grewal, concept designer.

The four-poster bed, another iconic piece of furniture from older times, is finding its way back into modern homes. Have yours repolished and then drape a dainty lace valance in cream or pastel over it for a princess-like feel.

“Beautiful, handcrafted, decorative items – bedside lamps made of cut glass or retro-chic kitchen appliances – are a few must-haves now,” confirms Prateek Jain of Klove studio.

Once you’re done with the interiors, head to the backyard, garden and terrace for a revamp. Cane furniture, an old favourite, has a minimalistic feel and is highly weather-resistant. Wrought-iron seaters are as durable as they are stylish. To make them stand out, paint them green or white. Place old paintings on any walls facing the open areas of the house and be generous with potted plants. Your home is an extension of your life, a window to your personality. So long as you find a balance between your own sensibility and the trends, you can’t go wrong.

First Published: Aug 01, 2011 15:53 IST