Home Refurbishment Diary Part 3: Garage Converted Into My Study

I hope you have all recovered from this weekend of super sports – regardless of who you support, between the cricket and the tennis, I think my heart is worse off from the stress it has had to endure as a spectator over the last few weeks! I think it’s best I get back to blogging; a much more mundane sport that my poor heart can handle more easily.

I have previously written articles about the decision to renovate our home ( Home Refurbishment Diary: The Start of the Renovations of my New Home and Home Refurbishment Diary Part 2: Hallway and Master Ensuite Bathroom Interior Decor and Design).  I have also written many blogs on how much I love interiors (hence the interior section in this blog) and how interior design is a passion I have pursued for almost two decades now.

Our home had a garage in the front and the back wall of the garage is where it met the existing home structure.  It was our hope to convert the garage into a study (and then some) if we got planning permission to do so.  Sometimes the universe works as it should – permission was gratefully received and we decided to move ahead with the conversion.  In this post, I present the results of that conversation with the hope that perhaps some of the ideas I have implemented may be of some help to others who are considering their own renovation/conversion process or just provide enjoyment for those of us who love interiors as much as I do.

Our overriding intention with this garage space was to use it to its maximum potential and make every inch of space work hard for its existence.  This ‘maximum space utilization’ plan influenced all our decisions with this conversion, including these key ones:

1)  ‘Underfloor Vault Storage’: The garage sloped downwards in the front where it met the road outside, so the floor had to be raised to make it level.  This allowed us to do something that I found very exciting  – create some storage space in the floor.  There was much debate and contribution about possibilities until we hit on the correct one – a ‘wine cellar style’ vault for bottles that would provide useful space and a unique feature in our home.  We decided to cover this with a walk on glass door that opens on gas struts.  We then decided to line with it with the same brick slips used in other parts of the room to tie it all together. We both love the results of this experiment and the raw brick and concrete floor is the icing on the cake!

2) Crittall Style Doors: I am a huge fan of Crittall style doors, windows and panels. My initial plan was to get Crittall style doors that covered the expanse of the new opening created by knocking down the back garage wall. This endeavour was looking like a prohibitively expensive proposition and then fate intervened.  Once we tore down the wall, my husband and I realized that we loved the openness of the space and didn’t want any doors there after all. We did still, however, need a partition on one side of the room as a staircase started below it – so we decided to go for a Crittall style partition that is firmly embedded into the side and above walls.  This has proved to be a great decision practically and fulfilled my desire for a Crittall feature in this area.

3) ‘The three doors’: the unconverted garage was ‘normal size’ but my husband and I were in agreement that the resulting room needed to be more than a study – it also needed to house our washer/dryer, a ground floor washroom and a storage cupboard for the hoover etc.  It made sense to house these extra functional spaces on one side of the room and that decision seems to have been the right one.  A special shoutout to the black door handles that I got on Amazon; they are solid and so beautiful.

3) Brick Slips: I have long been a fan of exposed brick  – I love the earthiness and unfinished vibe it brings to a room.  Unfortunately, there was no original brick wall to be uncovered in this area.  So we decided to go for the next best thing – brick slips! These are basically real old/vintage bricks that have been cut in half and can then be applied on existing walls with adhesive and mortar.  I was hell-bent on having the brick and many a person tried to talk me out of it. They now admit that my conviction proved to be right – they all love the character it adds to the room!

4)Bookshelf: On the opposite long wall to the doors, there was an internal garage door that lead into the corridor at the entrance of the house.  As this door was no longer needed, we decided to use the closed recess of the door space to create a bespoke bookcase.  I am proud to say that we also cut up and used the original door in this space to make the ledge that separates the washer and dryer – it felt good to recycle and use older materials practically instead of dumping them.

5)Washroom Details: I have long been keen on a black and white decor and my new little washroom provided the perfect space to try it out.  I know that black hardware is all the rage and I am a fan; hence my black tap (and black mirror)  which I love. The monochrome decor also allowed me to use the big brass light covering I bought on our trip to Morocco last year; which frankly I had no idea what to do with inititally.  I love the juxtapositioning of the huge light in the small room – it’s one of my favourite features in this garage conversion.

6) The Desk and Chair: The leather-topped traditional walnut desk in the room has a special place in our hearts.  My husband’s first job after university was with a company that operated out of a beautiful old listed building. One day, the employees were informed that all the furniture in the building was being sent to an auction facility over the weekend as the listed building needed to be emptied for renovation works. There was, however, a catch. Before the contents were shipped off, if any of the employees had a favourite piece of furniture – they could put in a sealed bid to purchase it and whoever won, could have it.  My husband loved this desk and won the bid for it and has had it ever since.  I love how it dominates this study space and it works perfectly as a work desk.  The modern classic black Eames style chair (bought on ebay) is the perfect partner to this old bureau. I have tied the brass and chrome together by adding a brass and chrome desk lamp from Andrew Martin.

7) Decor Details: I love being reminded of our family travels when I look at objects/furnishings in my home. One of my favourite pieces is this beautiful Kashmiri (qum/gum) carpet that we bought on our trip to Kashmir.  We have kept it wrapped up ever since, waiting for the perfect space to unravel it and we have finally found it’s home.  It is lovely to look at, soft underfoot and the weave ensures it is two different colours depending on which side you look at it.The beige chair near the Crittall partition is from our expat stint in Mumbai and the leather pouffe in front of it is from Markesh. The striking geometric cushion is from Oka and available currently in their collection.  The four turban pictures (made from egg and sand) were bought at the affordable art fair many years ago and are still a firm favourite. The huge oil canvas on the wall by the desk is done by (@revati_sharma_singh) who is a good friend and artist extraordinaire! I bought the old brass box on my books from Oshiwara market in Mumbai  – the shopkeeper stored his keys in there and I begged him to let me take it off his hands. Finally, I bought the antique wood mirror on a fleeting trip to Delhi and it now takes place of pride on my brick wall.

 

My love for interiors is well known and I derive immense pleasure in designing spaces that appeal to the eye and the heart of the occupiers in equal measures. In my opinion, a well-curated space cannot be bought; it needs to be assembled with objects close to our hearts and provide a functional space that works on a practical level.  I hope you enjoy this blog post and please feel free to reach out with any questions/comments that you may have.  I am always game to discuss interiors and I enjoy nothing more than getting stuck into designing a space and making it come alive into a fabulous living area.

I have also added a before picture of the garage.

Have a fabulous week ahead and thank you so much for supporting me and reading Isha’s Verdict.

 

 

 

 

My Take: On Injecting an Ethnic Flavour Into Your Home Decor (Part II)

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!