India has long fascinated Westerners with its multitude of different cultures, languages and religions and its exotic flora and fauna. Today, as the world becomes more and more a global village, decorating styles from other lands are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Indian style is now a recognized decorating choice, and it is easier than ever to buy Indian goods in import stores. Here's how to get this look in your own home.
Although many westerners think of Indian style as a sultry layering of fabrics, brilliant colors, and piles of candles, figurines, mirrors and other ornaments, actual Indian decor is often more subdued than this image. Although India is a huge country with great variety in climate, much of it is hot, so the purpose of much of the decor is to evade the hot sun and admit cooling breezes to the home. Floors tend to be made of wood, stone or ceramic tile, and because heat rises, rooms are often built with high ceilings for the heat to rise into, while most living takes place on or near the floor, where it's cooler. Traditional Indian furniture is often built low to the ground: low cushioned couches or divans, floor cushions and woven rugs are typical. Lacy, perforated screens let breezes enter the home while preserving privacy.
If you live in a cold climate, you will have to adapt these features for your home. Using lots of cushions, on the floor as well as on your furniture, and throws on a low couch, chaise or daybed will help create a relaxed, informal feel. Handwoven rugs on wooden floors enhance the decor.
Color and Pattern
Color and pattern are your best tools for creating a specifically Indian style in a western home. Walls may be brightly colored in jewel tones like hot pink, indigo, turquoise, lime green, orange or mango, or they may be neutral, in white or warm earth tones like curry, sand or taupe. Jewel colors may be added in curtains, cushions, carpets, or other accents. You can make bed hangings, pillows or window curtains from saris, for example; these beautiful garments may be brilliantly colored, sheer, and ornamented in gold thread.
India also has a long tradition of making beautiful cotton fabrics block-printed with floral or animal designs or elaborate paisleys. Using these fabrics for bedspreads, pillows, curtains or wall hangings will help you create an authentic Indian atmosphere that's quite different from Hollywood's idea.
Indian furniture is often made of dark, ornately carved wood, solid and rustic rather than dainty. Adding even a single carved wooden piece, such as a table, chair or chest, will help achieve Indian style.
Animal motifs are common on small articles and fabrics because the Hindu religion venerates all animals--cows and antelopes, elephants, peacocks and parrots. Cushions or boxes decorated with these motifs will help create the style.
Ornate arches are a typical Indian architectural element that may be reproduced in mirrors and headboards.
Wooden boxes or other items with bone inlay, and furniture or fabric decorated with tiny mirrors are also typical of different Indian regions.
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