Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ganesh Chaturthi Wishes (2014)

Warm wishes to my wonderful readers on the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi !!! May this festive season bring to you happiness, contentment, health and prosperity.
Ganeshji looks on....... as the Diya works it's magic 

A festive glow...........
I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome the new members of TECD on Facebook and thank each and everyone of you who has been so supportive and encouraging of all that I share on my blog. My blog and me have a lot instore for you, so stay connected......Coming up next is the much anticipated home tour.........

Images: Clicked by SPG (my better half). Please do not use without prior written permission. 
Images are the property of Sruthi Singh and subject to copyright. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi in Glorious Technicolor

Ganesh Chaturthi, a celebration that I most certainly wait for year after year, is just round the corner. I love everything that is associated with this festival - handpicking the perfect Ganesha idol for the special puja, preparing the appetizing modaks that vanish as soon as the bhog ( offering to God during religious ceremonies) has been offered and glitzing up my decor to take the festivities to a whole new level. 

However, things have changed over the years. I strive to do my bit for the environment and do not indulge in the painted statues that are readily available in the market. In fact, we have gone from handpicking to homemade. We make ours at home with bio-degradable modelling clay. As for the modaks, I like to serve up South Indian delicacies and have bookmarked a few favorite go-to- recipes that are quick and easy (one of them being Sia's Vegan Avalakki Payasa).The only thing that has amplified with time, is my fervor to spruce up my home for the celebration. I do not curb the excitement and grandeur that surrounds this festival. Traditional but special touches like bringing out my antique brass collection and seasonal flowers, transform my home in no time. 

Let's start off with this dramatic color combination of Royal Blue and Red, with gold thrown in for the festive sparkle. I've used an inverted colored glass votive holder from World Market as a pedestal for my brass Natya-Ganesha. Moroccan tea glasses serve as votive holders. I've paired the Blue Chicory flowers (found in abundance at this time around in Virginia) with a simple brass vase. In fact, this entire vignette was sparked off with this fascinating wild flower in mind.
I love keeping things as traditional as possible and have brought out the antique brass puja thali, kumkum container and a few prints of Ganesha Tanjore paintings (I plan to frame  later), add color and drama to the festive celebration. 

Our next Ganesha vignette, revolves around the time tested analogous color combination of Orange and Yellow. The heart of this vignette is a very special "Ganesha". A new addition to our home, this detailed, hand crafted brass Ganesha was gifted to me by my parents on their visit this year. He sure looks happy in his new home:) To frame the vignette, I've used a Rajasthani glass work cushion cover and I love how the mirrors picks up the sun streaming in through a near by window and lend a festive shimmer to this display. 

Pass up the regular glass vases and bring in the traditional elements at play for a festive environment. A bunch of yellow Zagreb's from my garden displayed in a brass Kindi (Kindi is a traditional water vessel used in Kerala during various religious rituals and ceremonies) bring this vignette alive and help tie in the colors together.

Looking to create a quick regal ambiance this festive season, then this vignettes for you. Place a brass Ganesha statue in the center of a urli and float seasonal flowers to add celebratory atmosphere to your home. Working with nature's bounty, I've used Miss Molly Buddleia blooms to add a purple and mauve hue to this setting. Paired with matte gold, it's a regal affair alright. 

And finally, a look at the wooden Ganesha statue that graces my entryway this festive season. This wooden statue was sourced from Kallakurichi (Tamil Nadu, India). It was love at first sight. The trip (more than 20 years ago) to Kallakurichi with mom, dad and a dear friend (who is no more), was quiet an experience and we came home with car loads of these magnificent pieces. The whole purpose of our trip was to spend some quality time with a group of talented community of carvers out there and personally observe the entire process.

The whole trip is vivid in my memory. I remember interacting with one of the carvers as he explained that they adopted traditional methods of wooden carving process to this day. The art form, passed down through the generations follows the rules of iconography described in the Shilpa Shastra (which is the ultimate treatise on image making). He explained that the master craftsman is responsible for tracing out the blue print of the basic shape with a chisel onto the wood. The process is then taken forward by a group of assistants (family members) under the guidance of the master.
Gladiolas (from my friend, Vijaya's garden), a table runner used to anchor the setting and a traditional brass hanging bell, completes this entryway.  

I do hope you are inspired by these simple decor ideas, experimental color palettes and my infectious enthusiasm. Despite the incursion of busy schedules and appointments, do take the time to celebrate life and make it special for your family and you :)
Subtle changes from red to yellow make a huge difference in this vignette. So experiment and let the decorator in you take over.......
Wishing you and yours, A Very Happy Ganesha Chaturthi !!!

Images: Clicked by me. Please do not use without prior written permission. 
Images are the property of Sruthi Singh and subject to copyright.

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Home, a Personal Repository

When my friend and fellow design blogger, Deepa approached me to contribute towards the 100th post at Aalayam,  I was not only honored but also delighted as the task at hand was to capture the essence of what home meant to me. You'll know how passionate I am about my home and all that is associated with the process of decorating it that I happily hopped onto the band wagon with 7 other design bloggers from the Indian blogging fraternity to be apart of the celebration at Aalayam.   So here is my take on what home means to me :

" Home to me is any place that I can SHARE with the people who mean the world to me i.e. my FAMILY.........however I strongly believe that the ultimate objective of the home making PROCESS is to nurture the mind, body and soul of the individuals who live there. As challenging and delightful as this process may be, it is limited only by two elements, our time and imagination.

With no limitations on these two elements, my home is an ever evolving space that is not only reflective of the individual personalities and interests of my family but on a broader level, is a thumbprint of who we are, where we are from and provides us the creative landscape to tell our story of how we got here. Over the years, the process of diligently collecting, conscientiously curating and lovingly layering our home has resulted in a place that is a personal repository studded with inherited treasures, quirky finds uncovered while scouting the flea markets, objet d’ art found on our travels, and relics that talk about our life’s journey together as a family. I can’t but fall in love with this space over and over it provides the secure environment for my family and me to reconnect with each other, recharges our batteries for the next day and helps us realign and stay focused on our priorities that may be overlooked in the demanding hustle bustle of the daily grind. "

To read and see more of what a home = Aalayam means through the eyes of the other design bloggers, hop onto Aalayam and catch it all on their 100th post. Signing off for today and wishing Deepa and Supriya loads of luck and looking forward to many more inspirational and creative posts in the future....

P.S.: Coming up this week is a Ganesh Chaturthi inspired post. The preparations have already started at my see more, stay connected by joining The East Coast Desi's Facebook Page.  

Images: Clicked by me. Please do not use without prior written permission. 
Images are the property of Sruthi Singh and subject to copyright.

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Tryst with Burmese decor

While we are on the topic of Asian decor, I thought it would be in context to introduce my fascination with Burmese style of design. A late lunch at my favorite Burmese restaurant - A Taste of Burma (ATOB), gave me the opportunity to chat up leisurely with the lovely lady who runs the show at ATOB - Jona Davis. My family and I have been frequenting this restaurant for over 5 years now and it's an epicurean's delight. Authentic food and consistent taste served with an extra dose of hospitality is what leaves us begging for more..... 

On my recent visit to this place, I spotted some new additions to their decor. Jona had lugged back some distinctive Burmese decor from her recent travel to Burma. She was more than glad when I wanted to photograph it for my blog.
Burmese Lacquer ware tea pot
With my love for tea, it was no surprise that this lacquer ware tea pot appealed to my chai senses and it was the first one to be on the hot seat:) An antique, acquired by Jona's family and now hers is a prized possession. It's proudly displayed in the restaurant where Jona spends long hours and can enjoy it's beauty often.

The process of producing lacquer ware is an interplay of patience and collaboration. With most pieces taking upto a couple of months and the expertise of various artisans put to work at every step of the way, these pieces are more than a labor of love. Lac is the sap of an indigenous tree that is fashioned into these beautiful handicrafts by applying layer after layer to the core structure made of woven bamboo. The final stage is the one that puts the finishing touches on the object with the artisans engraving lines into the surface of the lacquer base and then, colored lacquer is applied to the lines, creating detailed embellishments such as scenery from every day life, figures, patterns, etc. 
Burmese lacquer ceremonial vessel (Hsun-ok)
The lacquer ware may be gilded and inlaid with glass creating an almost brass like effect as seen in this iconic Burmese lacquer pagoda shaped ceremonial vessel (Hsun-ok). It's used for presenting gifts of food as offerings to the Buddhist monasteries. It is a fascinating piece of handiwork and the intricate detailing is a work of art fit for a museum.

With my fascination for the Buddha and Asian decor, I was drooling over this set of wooden Buddhist monks. The aesthetics of Burmese design appeals to me as it's heavily influenced by it's neighboring countries like China and India to name a few and has it's deep rooted spiritual and religious references when it comes to art and architecture.

Love the patina on these Wooden Burmese monks
I wanted you'll to see how these beautiful Burmese decor elements have been incorporated into these Asian inspired living spaces. 

I hope you'll enjoyed the tryst with Burmese decor as much as I did. Have  a wonderful day and circle back with me for inspirational decor and fresh color palettes for the upcoming Ganesha Chathurthi celebration !!!

Images : (1,2,3 - Mine; 4,5 -Via; 6 -Via

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Zen is in the Details

Don't you think that our homes shape us as much as we shape them ??? Taking the time to create unique, calming and inspiring spaces, not only indulges ones artistic preferences but also feeds the inner psyche. Thus, the process of home making is an interactive undertaking that is ever evolving with the passage of time and our maturing tastes. I've found my design style and by sharing a few eclectic zen vignettes from my home, I'm here to help you explore and discover your own personal style and create enchanted corners in your home that pitch in towards the building of the ultimate sanctuary. So let's get started and peruse the compositions, colors, textures and design elements of the various eclectic zen vignettes from my entryway to the ones transforming my coffee table.
The entry way is a great place to build anticipation and set the mood for what's in-store, as you cross the threshold. My prized flea market find - a red Chinese console sets the tone in my entry way. Accompanying terracotta Buddha head (that was painted black to enhance the details of the Buddha) and an unpretentious orchid complete the entryway vignette and set the ball rolling for an eclectic yet zen theme.

The experimental streak in me animates this vignette that's laden with zen appeal. Consider combining things that strictly don't go together. You'll be surprised at the results. I've used only four elements in this vignette. The gold painted Buddha and the mani prayer wheel from Nepal bring the zen factor to the vignette. A traditional south Indian urli displaying a fresh cut dahlia from the garden adds color and contrast. A walnut wood box with iconic Kashmiri carving exemplifies the importance of textural charm and provides storage for unsightly objects that need to be stashed away.

Dedicating a corner of your dresser to decorative accents like the Buddha hand mudra presents a wonderful opportunity to add a little extra zen to your busy mornings. It perfectly serves it's dual purpose as a jewelry organizer and  secondly as the ideal zen decor accessory thus exuding emotional resonance to help you stay focused and get ready to tackle a day that's filled with tasks that battle for priority.

Dead spaces in the home, beg for your creativity. A surprising alternative to a console, is a bevy of books stacked together with a wooden plank to form a sketchy version of a console. At the center piece of this vignette, is a canvas stenciled with the  Buddha silhouette. It's not only an artful addition to your home but it also reinforces the theme of zen. (Read more about the artwork here.)

Bring your walls to life with a Tibetan Thangka Painting. The iconography on this Thangka painting referred to as "The Wheel of Life" is incredibly rich and epitomizes exclusivity that's associated with handmade. Intricately painted details (like the sacred images of the Buddha, Bodhisattva deities and other ritual symbols), in saturated tones not only brightens my home but also my very soul.

I had to pull up this image from the archives of TECD posts as it's one of the most popular images doing the rounds on Pinterest. This eclectic zen vignette breaks the rule that zen means neutral and minimalistic. You can sate your thirst for color and still achieve a Zen  vibe. My most cherished Buddha lends his presence to  this reading nook that's soaked in color and texture. 

Be off beat with your approach and let your creativity get the better of you. Transform a coffee table in a few minutes with a stone carving mimicking the Buddha eyes on the great stupa of Boudhanath,  together with a collection of river pebbles. Isn't this a a refreshing take on a zen vignette ??? 

I do hope that by visiting the TECD today, you have received your dose of zen inspiration. Do write in to me if you'd like to share your zen creative spaces and vignettes with us and I'd gladly 
showcase it here on TECD.

Happy decorating !!!

Images: Clicked by me. Please do not use without prior written permission. 
Images are the property of Sruthi Singh and subject to copyright.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Happy Krishna Janmashtami !!!

Be it the north or the south of India, Krishna's birthday is celebrated with much pomp and excitement. Images of local toli mandali's creating human towers to aim for the dahi handi, cradles being decorated to swing baby Krishna's pictures/statues or the ritual of decorating the floors in the house with footprints made from flour ( to symbolize Krishna's childhood sport of stealing butter from houses), stirres me up and I'm eager to ring in the Krishna Janmashtami celebration this year, in my own little way. 
Keeping our family and cultural traditions alive is important to my family and me. As I create my own Krishna Janmashtami ambiance at home, my bronze infant Krishna statue is given a place of pride and is nestled on a bed of dahlia petals. Come evening, the traditional terracotta diya's flanking either side of the idol are lit to add a warm glow to the celebration. Most of all I love watching my son cuddle up with his dad and intently listen to stories of Krishna being narrated to him. Oh !!! How I wish these moments would last forever....... 

Wishing my lovely readers peace, happiness and well being on the occasion of  Krishna Janmashtami !!!

Images: Clicked by me. Please do not use without prior written permission. 
Images are the property of Sruthi Singh and subject to copyright.     

Friday, August 15, 2014

Why Include ZENsational decor to your home ???

With my deep rooted Indian origin, I find myself drawn to countries that are steeped in history, culture, art, architecture……..When it comes to design aesthetics, it’s no surprise that my home is an eclectic reflection of all that I draw globally. However, a closer look will reveal that I do have my favorite and time and again I’m enticed by the striking simplicity and exotic charm that surrounds the Asian décor. By including elements like the Buddha himself, a hand mudra, thangka painting or an unpretentious orchid, the central objective is to bring ZEN vibes to my home and in the process create a space that helps sustain my spirit and soul

The Buddha statue serves as the anchor in this Zen vignette. 

I personally think that the word ZEN has been overused and somewhere along the way it may have even lost its true significance with people interpreting it in more ways than one. I’m not here to take on the impossible task of defining the word Zen. However, I’m here to share my perspective on why I include elements of ZEN to my home. 

An IKEA RISKORN Plant pot brings in the textural detail while the Kalanchoe that it holds, adds a punch of color and contrast. Finally adding the sensory appeal to the vignette is a candle holder from World Market. The glow from the candle helps create focus on the Buddha, while I seek a peaceful refuge from the day's demands.
I embrace ZEN because it helps me stay grounded in an environment that is stressful and helps bring about equilibrium, harmony and relaxation. I'd often find myself either worrying about the future or trapped in the realm of the past. Little did I realize that it is "NOW" that is important. With the inclusion of ZEN vignettes and decor to my home, I'm reminded of the essence of ZEN - "Living fully and authentically in the present moment i.e. being face to face with our true original nature". The past is past and an investment in the present will assure you of a happy now and an even happier tomorrow with memories of today.  

So the next time you decide to inject elements of ZEN to your decor, do take a moment to sit back and imbibe the real vibrations of a quintessence zen vignette. 

Have a ZEN day !!!
Images: Clicked by me. Please do not use without prior written permission. Images are the property of Sruthi Singh and subject to copyright. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Off to a Lazy Start.............

Good morning ???.......Hmmmm, Good afternoon Tuesday !!!
"I love how the colored glass catches the sunlight streaming in through my bedroom window and adds a warm glow to my bedside vignette." 
My summer vacation with my parents has come to an end and I can't seem to get over it.......they have gone back after their two month stay with us and it seems like it was just yesterday that they arrived. I'm trying to get back into our routine as a family of three and am taking things a little easy on the home and study front. Although I'm off to a lazy start today, I'm determined to get things rolling when it comes to blogging. This week on TECD, we are kicking off the series of posts on Zen decor. We have some wonderful Zen Inspiration together with a house and garden tour (you don't want to miss). 

So stay connected and here's wishing you a productive and creative week ahead !!!

Images: Clicked by me. Please do not use without prior written permission. 
Images are the property of Sruthi Singh and subject to copyright. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summer Coffee Table - Inspired by Gifts from the Sea

Coffee table displays curated thoughtfully can be as revealing as your fingerprints and can narrate stories about your design aesthetics, personal style and cherished memories.......My coffee table adorned with treasures from our beach vacation is bursting with happy tales and memories and is definitely a conversation focal point when we have company. 

Our growing stash of beach inspired accessories, is the result of a conscious effort that my family and I make, while on our vacations, to bring back evocative tokens of a summer gone by.
The dark stain on the wooden shell sculpture from Bali complements the yellow vase fillers from Michaels. They had a certain sea urchin look to them and thought they'd get along well with the other accessories. I scattered the fillers randomly on the tray to give my ocean inspired vignette a causal vibe.

These talismans of the sea are easy to work with and a grouping of them instantly creates a feel of a thoughtfully put together collection. However, I did not want to create a traditional beach house display as my entertainment room is a blend of modern contemporary style. By adhering to a particular theme (i.e. shell theme) and including shells made from different materials, I think I achieved the look that I set out to create. The display showcases our lucky finds from the beach to treasures stumbled upon while scouting the local shops while vacationing. 

Clockwise from left: (1) The rule that 3 + is considered a collection is something I follow. I've put together a collection that mimics my favorite shape in shells. The ones onto the right are sand based sculptures of seashells from Thailand. (2) A unique star shaped shell from South Carolina, a ceramic star fish and fossil Ammonite (Ammonites are invertebrate sea creatures that died millions of years ago) stone gifted by a dear friend   completes this grouping. (3)A granite sting-ray from Cayman Islands is the star of this troop adorning the coffee table.

As I sit back with my cup of tea and watch the sun bounces off the iridescent sea shells, I'm tempted to lean forward and pick one up and place it close to my ear. For a brief moment I'm transported to another place.......I can hear the waves gently crashing against the shore and can feel the warm salty breeze seductively tossing my hair against the nape of my neck.......I visualize my little guy's enthusiastic chuckle on discovering the perfect shell that would now be a part of our collection.......But then wait, is that a phone I hear ringing in the distance ??? In a flash I'm transported back to reality and as I attend the call I'm reminded that I have to get on with my next appointment for the day. I  put the phone down and as I hurriedly gulp the rest of my tea, I find myself smiling.......Moments like these make you realize, the importance of surrounding yourself with things that are meaningful to you and have a happy memory associated with it. With the vacation memories relived (even if it was for a brief moment), I find myself ready to tackle the rest of the day.......

A few stalks of Queen Anne's lace loosely tucked in an Italian Vinaigrette bottle completes the look....

On a different note, I'd like to keep you posted that August is going to be happening at TECD:) We have loads of Zen and global decor inspiration, a fresh twist to traditional Ganesh Chaturthi festive decor and never before seen Home Tours coming your way. So make sure you are connected via Facebook, Google Friend Connect or have Subscribed to our mailing list. 

We've also been regularly updating our Facebook page with impromptu decor inspiration and snap shots from my photography experiments. So make sure your connected and don't miss out on the eye candy !!!

And don't forget to drop me a line and let me know what has your coffee table been sporting this summer ???

Images: Clicked by me. Please do not use without prior written permission. 
Images are the property of Sruthi Singh and subject to copyright.