Another summer of being locked down and work-from-home routines call for a refreshing summer makeover of the house. “Now that people are spending so much time at home, they want to add newer elements to eliminate monotony and the feeling of being stuck in the same space,” says Hyderabad-based interior designer Aamir Sharma of AANDH (Aamir and Hameeda Interior Designers).
Husband and wife Aamir and Hameeda are known for designing South Indian actor Allu Arjun’s award-winning, box-shaped farmhouse in Hyderabad, actor Nagarjuna’s restaurant N Grill in Hyderabad, Bangalore’s 2.9 acre microbrewery Ironhill Brewery, SK Car Lounge that houses pre-loved super luxury cars, again in Hyderabad, and the clubhouse of ultra-luxury residential complex SNN Clermont in Bengaluru. The designers, who recently launched design store One Dot Six in Hyderabad, are currently working on Nagarjuna’s son Naga Chaitanya’s 15,000-sq-ft home in Hyderabad and have just completed a 15,000-sq-feet home that has just two bedrooms, for Lakshmi Chalasani, of the Chalasani family, real estate developers in southern India.
Their evolved design philosophy right now, heavily influenced by the changing times and needs in the Covid-19 pandemic, focuses on minimalism, happiness, positivity, greenery and family time. Keeping in mind the new living needs for spaces in the home where the family can spend more time together, kitchens that are accessed by home owners, work and study set-ups, wellness and outdoor spaces and sustainability, Aamir Sharma draws a summer makeover plan for uber-luxe homes. “Cut out the clutter, keep it simple and elegant, make room for kids to run around, insert a lot of greens, pops of colours, hand-made maintenance-free elements like rugs and ceramics, and water sculptures to re-energise your homes and bring in the sunshine,” says Aamir.
And when it comes to sprucing up your home, never touch permanent features such as the flooring, walls or permanent pieces of furniture. Work around them. Summer 2021’s colours
Mustard yellow, olive green, aqua blue and bottle green are the colours of this season, a palette that has been largely used by fashion designers as well. “Bottle green is usually a winter colour, but it’s in vogue this season and when mixed and matched with neutral colours, it works well,” says Aamir. “The other colours too are soothing and pleasant to look at in this harsh season.” He suggests infusing a lot of these to create calm vibes in the house, especially important in these uncertain times.
Creative safety screens
Small, secluded spaces at the entrance of the house to store delivered items for a couple of hours or to receive visiting staff and other outsiders has become a necessity. Aamir suggests creating creative partitions/screens to mark and seclude these spaces instead of erecting walls. “Threads of colourful beads hung from the ceiling, a curtain of recycled, stone-carved jaalis, a curtain made from interesting bottles, again hung from the ceilings, are all interesting ideas to create a partition, which can be removed easily when you don’t want it,” says Aamir. “These also double up as interesting design elements in the house.”
Happy dry kitchen
Earlier, kitchens in uber-luxe homes were mostly accessed just by the house staff, but in the lockdown, many rich homeowners have taken to cooking. “In fact, it has become one of the spaces where the entire family gets together to cook,” says Aamir.
He suggests making room for a dry kitchen, maybe outdoors, with a counter the height of the bar kitchen, and throw in some bar stools to make it a space where friends and family can sit around. While you are at it, create a mini drinks counter here and decorate it with colourful cutlery, glasses and bar tools. “And don’t forget to add a high-end coffee machine. People want great coffees at home now,” says Aamir.
Another great idea for an indoor dry kitchen set-up is to decorate it with colourful wallpaper. “In one of our projects, we chose the Jungle Book theme wallpapers for the area, which is a kids’ favourite,” adds Aamir. Go handmade
Gone are the days of using expensive, maintenance-heavy carpets, made of leather or fur. “We have observed that the children of the house are driving the sustainability agenda and discouraging their parents from using any kind of animal skin products, neither for fashion nor for home décor,” says Aamir.
Moreover, as most houses have been trimming the size of their home staff to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infections, it is better to get something that is easier to maintain. “Handmade rugs in earthy tones, embellished with minimal traditional design, add a lot of character to a space. And for this summer, I would suggest a rug created by Indian craftsmen,” says Aamir. It’s important to use sustainable products and support artists and craftsmen who have suffered heavy losses in the lockdown. Pochampally dhurries and rugs made in Rajasthan from fine jute are good summer choices.Colourful art, even in the bathrooms
In contrast to the gloom and doom outside, you want your home to be a happy, positive space. “Most clients briefs insist on these,” says Aamir. One of the best ways to create positive vibes in a house is by installing colourful paintings and installations–symmetric or asymmetric, abstract, or geometric. “Anything that makes you feel good,” says Aamir. “Hameeda and I have been supporting many new and student artists and putting a lot of these works in our clients’ homes and even in ours,” adds Aamir. He believes that young artists and their newer, fresher works can reinvigorate a space.
And not just in the living room or the bedroom, Aamir thinks that a fun artwork can also be installed in the bathroom, above the WC. As people are home, they are spending more time following Ayurvedic wellness and beauty rituals at home or in pampering themselves, having long, relaxing baths, and overall spending more ‘me time’ in bathrooms. “If you are willing to do some more work, I would suggest getting a painting made on the ceiling of the bathroom,” says Aamir. If not, sticking interesting, minimal ceiling decals is also a good idea. “One can’t really do anything with the walls there, but paintings and beautiful mirrors in different shapes can elevate the look and feel of the bath area.”
One of the newer trends in home décor is also to create installations on the outer walls of the house. These could be metal sculptures in the shape of flowers or sculptures of men climbing the wall. These invigorate not just one’s house but the entire complex.
Green indoor islands
One of the biggest changes in home design in the pandemic is the demand for more open and green spaces. “We encourage our clients to build smaller concrete and cement structures, only as much as is required, and leave more room for lawns, gardens and verandahs, where you can work out, meditate, go for a run or even set up your office when you are extremely fed up of being indoors in the lockdown,” says Aamir.
He suggests having greens everywhere, even in the bathrooms. Creating a green island with indoor plants and trees within a home is in vogue now. These spaces add breathing space inside a house.
“And in your lawns, place wooden benches and minimal, moveable furniture, hang planters, made from recycled plastic or glass bottles, from the ceiling with colourful wires and make the outdoors look inviting. You can host your friends here and have a small, socially-distanced gathering here,” says Aamir.
Even coloured pots, like those made in Puducherry, provide an instant facelift for the outdoor area. He also suggests installing a water body, perhaps a manmade mini waterfall or a water sculpture in the lawns and inside the house. “It’s very calming and even therapeutic to have water bodies at home. It also keeps the house cooler in the summers,” says Aamir.
Aamir also recommends installation of water misting machines in areas that have minimal or no furniture. “These are usually installed in restaurants, but can be of great help in keeping the house cool as well,” adds Aamir.
Decluttered work corner
A small office set-up or a work desk have become integral parts of home décor today. Aamir suggests that this space also be as uncluttered as possible and filled with colours and little elements that make working here interesting.
“Interesting coffee mugs–made of bamboo, wood, clay or ceramic–in different shapes and designs, can spruce up your work desk, so can a small plant and colourful, customised stationery items,” says Aamir. A sports car fan, he has also placed miniature models of several sports cars on his work-from-home desk.