The festive season of Diwali is upon us and soon enough we would want our homes to reflect the mood of the season in all earnest. I face this urge unfailingly this time of the year with Autumn setting in and as the fragrance of the jasmines wafting in the breeze reach and kindle my growing-up memories. For me, this somewhat nostalgic urge is about making the home speak the language of the festival of lights – fresh, warm, inviting, happy, awash in colours and patterns and above all as special as it can possibly look.
I, however, don’t wish to take away from the seasonal dalliance of re-hauling and redoing of homes – new wall paint, new curtains, brand new furniture - and all the purchasing that we wait to indulge in during this time. The numerous Diwali Melas, the Dussehra and Christmas sale and discount options are innumerably great occasions to buy and sate all pending wishful and inspirational buys.
What I suggest here are some handy tips, an easy checklist and some simple Do’s that all of us can easily access to glide into this happiness-setting inside-out:
1. Get your entrance Diwali-ready:
Place the Urli filled with water and float fresh flowers and diyas in it. If you are using white flowers drop some kumkum and haldi in it to make the water colourful in contrast. Place the traditional lamps (in brass or terracotta) to be lit up during the evenings to create the most welcoming entrance for good energy to glide in.
2. Make fresh flowers the centrepiece wherever you can:
Place floral arrangements in vases, quaint ceramic cups and tumblers, floaters in every shape and allow fragrances to linger within the walls of your home through these months. Torans & paper lamps will lend the added bohemia of colours and celebration to your balconies and hallways.
3. T-light holders and fairy lights:
The home sections of all department stores sell a variety of T-lights in various fragrances. This doesn’t mean all T-light holders have to be new too. You could recreate from the old as well.
DIY: Indulge in some DIY accenting and retouching of old T-lights with acrylic paint, some additional glitter on some and you are set to place them all around the house.
DIY: Last year’s Fairy Lights can come out again and you can create a fairyland doorway, hallway or dress up the balcony banister by stringing a line of fairy lights entwined with a string of beads, charms or any such items readily at hand.
DIY: Get some empty wine bottles and rid the exterior of the sticky-branding stickers and drop a bunch of fairy lights inside and place it in corners, plug in and get the dreamy, fairyland effect in every desirable corner.
4. Get cosy with rich textiles:
Bring out the cushion covers in Brocades and silk, warm-rich colours, in hand embroidered Suzani, Phulkari orKantha work (all that you could perhaps not bring out during the warmer months). The weather allows for richness in colours and warmth of textiles and furnishing. Place bright new table-runners across your dining tabletops and consoles, in rich prints and textures. Get some bright coloured Throws and place them around for that added touch of casual warmth.
5. Polish up all your brass, copper and silverware:
Create imaginative tablescapes on your coffee-tables and sideboards. It’s a great time to make all the glassware shine and sparkle with a nice bit of cleaning and polishing. You can glam up the glassware with beaded necklaces and baubles that you stopped using. Place them around and let the light shine through and reflect the glitter.
6. New pictures and Art on walls:
Frame up some pictures from the last vacation you took with family or friends and perhaps relook at some of the old ones and replace those (you can reuse the old frames).
Frame up the pieces of local art, scroll or painting that you might have purchased on vacation and find a place on the wall to place and highlight those holiday memories.
7. Carpets & Rugs:
Nothing cosies up the living areas like rugs do! I am a huge lover of soft, warm, textured or hand-woven rugs, in cotton, wool or silk. I love how they feel under my feet as the days start feeling that magical nip even in the most warm or humid parts of the country. Rugs do not always have to cover the entire floor, not always need to be expensive or in wool and silk. They can be simple cotton or Jute dhurries. In fact, the cotton dhurries stay warm in winters and cool in summers.
Place the rugs diagonally or horizontally anywhere where you wish to give some definition or just to make a seating area more inclusive and intimate. This is also the season to welcome guests at home and that added warmth of a rug under the feet adds to the welcoming cosiness to make the guests stay a bit longer.
8. Curtains and Drapes:
If you have provisioned your rooms for replaceable curtains you can put up the bright, festive, floral options -the readymade curtains available in organza or malmal are gorgeous options that you can buy from any of the boutique furnishing outlets. If you have the fixed ceiling-to-floor curtains you don’t need to feel stuck. Buy some colourful curtain tassels and tiebacks to bring a splash of colour to a backdrop of curtains.
DIY: If you have old parandis lying at home use those for the same effect.
And finally buy that one piece of Magic: For a dramatic addition to the decor, buy that one piece – an accent chair, a piece of Art, a set of exquisitely hand embroidered cushions – anything that you have yearned for through the year and can finally make it a part of your home and bring a happy smile to your lips!
Nivedita Das Narayan