There are times when you visit a home and the décor seems borrowed from a particular region or a period. India as a country has deep rooted culture and rich heritage. Each region has its own design sensibilities and it often happens that as we set out to design the home of our dreams, the architecture and interiors are strongly influenced by the region we belong to. Or we try to re-create the design specialty of a particular place.
There are certain architectural elements and design specialty, that we often find ourselves drawn to. Today let me tell you 5 of such design preferences that I love and would want to incorporate at my place.
1. The wooden pillars (thoon) and sitting space beside a window (thinnais) from Chettinad, Tamilnadu
One of the most elegant feature of Chettinad homes ought to be the wooden pillars or what they are popularly called in local dialect are the thoons. These are majestic. Chettinad homes generally have open courtyards and these are flanked and supported by these wooden pillars. It is a sight beyond expressions to sit lazily in such spaces and enjoy the rain drops falling from the roofs. These pillars not only enhance the aesthetic value but also support and provide strength to the beams.
The pillars can be either made glossy or given a raw appeal. Similarly, sometimes we do find them in colours such as royal blue, oceanic green or in teal colours. They are also made beautiful at the top and bottom with intricate wooden carvings.
The ‘thinnais’ are another marvel of architectural element that is sure to make you incorporate these features in your home. These days due to rising cost of living and space constraint some of these design features which existed earlier are experiencing a phase out. The thinnais are small sit-out like spaces adjoining the windows. Thinnais are making a come-back in the form of extended benches made of granite slabs even in places like Mumbai. Ideally a wall space which has been given away to accommodate large French-windows can be enhanced suitably by projecting a sitting area and may be even have a storage underneath.
2. The Arches and Jharokhas from Rajasthan
Rajasthan is one of the most vibrant states in India. Rajasthan has a mixture of both Hindu (Rajputana) and Islamic architecture styles .Rajasthan is well known in history for some of its splendid and outstanding forts. Some of the design elements such as the well carved arches and jharokhas (windows) will always remain etched in our memory.
The jharokhas are the overhanging balconies, characteristic of the Rajputana era. They were built in stones and projected or jutted out from the wall planes and offered architectural beauty to the balconies. One of the main purposes of these jharokas was also to offer unhindered view to the ladies, cleverly hiding the events happening inside. Now a days smaller wooden version of exquisitely carved jharokas are available in mango wood and rosewood. Incorporating them in one‘s décor can lend a unique, traditional touch.
Arches can be seen in old havelis and if space permits they can be a magnificent feature in décor creating a mansion like feel in our humble homes.
3. Wood Work from Kerala
Kerala is very much acknowledged for its wood work. Timbers are extensively used in designing homes down south. An ancient art of carpentary called as ‘Thatchu shastra’ is practiced still in this state. It believes that since wood is derived from tree, a living form, therefore it is crucial to seek the permission of the tree before cutting and using it for construction so that longevity of construction was ensured. The master carpenter would therefore perform rites and the indication that the tree was ready to be cut, came when all the birds and small animals residing on the tree would vacate the same. The walls as well as the roofs are covered in wood with fine detailing on them. The ceilings are enclosed with ribbed wooden panels. The most distinctive visual form of Kerala architecture is the long, steep sloping roof built to protect the house’s walls and to withstand the heavy monsoon, normally laid with tiles.
To incorporate these elements of designing in our city homes would be a challenge but nevertheless a satisfying experience.
4. The Chowk (Central Courtyard) & niches in the wall from Gujrat
If you have been to the pols of Ahmedabad, You will know exactly why am fascinated by them. These pols are clusters of home in one large area, probably having only one or two entrances with large courtyards, having intricate wooden carved facades with columns and fresco work done around court walls or ceilings.
Another popular feature in the architecture and design in Gujrat and places like Kutch are small niches that are provided in the walls to place lamps in the evenings.
These niches can be beautifully implemented in our décor in our Pooja rooms too!
5. Latticed Windows (Mughal Influence in the North)
The Mughal influence introduced the latticed windows or jaali work in our architecture. These become immensely popular down North. Jali (screen) were used extensively in Indian architecture as windows, room dividers, and railings around thrones, platforms, terraces, and balconies. They are ideal for cutting down glare while permitting air to circulate. During the day, the reflection of their patterns moving across the floor would double the pleasure of their intricate geometry.
These features are timeless and are not bound by any specific period. By incorporating at least some of these elements in our existing décor, we help in preserving our rich architectural heritage.