This blog post is long overdue. I published the first instalment of this blog post many months ago – My Take: On Injecting An Ethnic Flavour Into Your Home Decor (Part 1) and have been meaning to write a follow-up ever since.
I am a huge fan of incorporating an ethnic vibe into my surroundings and I love rooms where ethnic pieces blend seamlessly with modern elements. Below are some tips on how to acquire and incorporate ethnic elements into your home decor that work well for me:
- Buy interesting pieces when you travel: We are blessed to live in times where domestic and international travel is easier and more popular than ever before. I love picking up interesting finds on my travels and I always make that extra effort to visit antique markets, furniture bazaars, art galleries and old furniture sellers if possible (you can imagine the look on the kids faces when I ask if they want to go and look at old furniture). The best part of travelling is that you don’t even have to go looking for treasures – sometimes you just run into them. The most important lesson I have learned is not to dither about a purchase (a painful mistake I have made many a time). If you like it and it is in your budget; just buy it. You may never get to go back…I bought this beautiful silver and amber bowl in a random shop in Gangtok, Sikkim, that I walked into just by chance. Every time I look at it I am reminded of the beauty of Sikkim and looking at Kanchenjunga (the third highest peak in the world) from the hotel garden. I purchased this stunning hand-painted box in Srinagar and it always reminds me of the beauty of Kashmir and the trip of a lifetime. Finally, I bought the black Chinese inspired mirror in Mumbai – it was in the corner of a shop on SV Road covered in dust. I asked them to paint it black, they thought I was strange but did it any ways. I think the result is stunning! Last but not least, no trip to Mumbai is complete without buying some old movie posters.
- Raid the family home for cherished finds: The black ‘kurmandal’ (kamandal) was lying in a cupboard in my parents home and when I heard the story behind it – I begged my mother to let me have it. A ‘kurmandal’ is usually an oblong pot used to carry water by yogis and sages. When my paternal grandfather was a young 10 year in Sialkot, before the partition of India, the family brought a 10-year-old orphan named Sainath into the household as a play mate. Then, partition happened and the entire family left their home behind and made their way to India and settled in Ludhiana. The little boy had become a family member of sorts by this time and accompanied them to their new home in India. He lived in the same house and later in life, one day appeared in orange clothes and announced that every one should call him Sai Baba as he had decided to become a holy man. He hand carved this kurmandal from a ripe pumpkin and would carry it with him as he visited and blessed people around town. He continued to live with the family till he died; in the same year as his childhood hood playmate, my grandfather.
- Group similar objects: Displaying similar objects together, such as my old ethnic boxes, makes a great decorative statement. In my opinion, this works particularly well for ethic objects as it draws your eyes to the collection. I have grouped many of my old boxes in my open bookcase.
- Except and highlight imperfections: Sometimes older objects are far more beautiful than similar brand new items. The level of intricate detail that can be found in an older object may not be cost-effective in today’s world. I love the knocks and dents found on old pieces as they add character and I always wonder about their individual back story. I bought the brass box in a dusty shop in Oshiwara market in Mumbai. 50 hours or so of scrubbing (certainly felt like it) revealed a beautiful box. Similarly, I bought this beautiful lamp in Mumbai from an antique dealer (ok more like an unknown guy I used to call brass man). I love the details on my brass lamp and I also use it as a candle holder on a daily basis.
- Explore local shops with a keen eye: You don’t have to travel far and wide to find beautiful ethnic pieces for your home. I bought the black pot for my fireplace many years ago at T.K. Maxx for a tenner and it has served me exceptionally well ever since.
- Incorporate ethnic fabrics and patterns: Using beautiful ethnic fabrics and prints is the easiest way to give your home decor an ethnic flavour. I absolutely loved this silk Ikat runner the moment I laid eyes on it. I am a huge fan of Ikat and find it one of the most gorgeous dyeing techniques ever invented. I also have a beautiful cushion with the pattern of an old car in my hallway that always puts a smile on my face as it reminds me of the cars in India from my childhood!
I hope you enjoy this post and thank you so much for reading!