Saturday, October 6, 2012

house to home transformation

Dilemmas of Decorating a Rented House

Moving into a rented place is always a huge challenge when it comes to decorating or as we say 'doing it up'! The rented house is going to be your home, but to really make it feel and look like your signature home it might demand huge sums of money. Its happened with me twice previous house, which I had rented, had a beautiful balcony and a large terrace with huge design potential. Each time I tried to set up a pergola,  the contractor would run up a so-called 'conservative' bill of my next 4 months' rent!  This went on till the rains of 2009 ruined the walls completely and I moved to a bigger place...happy I should be ...right...? But guess what....despite no balcony and nor a demanding terrace I could still see huge bills looming, again. I had wanted to change the flooring, to repaint all the walls etc etc. Just as the list was being drawn-up, my friends who were helping me with the shift, put their foot down...."you are not spending on a rented accommodation"!!! Period!

My experience says that all expenses told, your new house to home transformation will need you to spend substantially extra and it is only wise to plan for it and phase the expenditure. Of course there is no one shoe size that will fit all requirements but as a thumb rule if we follow a flow-chart of prioritize, allocate, execute and maintain, we are on a logical and an efficient track.

A few weeks ago, my friend Keya Chatterjee, who I had been meeting at several social occasions invited me over to her place for a coffee. The coffee was of course great but more exciting was the walk-through that she took me on. What really struck me was the look and feel generated vs. the expenses incurred, in this rented apartment. No doubt endowed with a good plan with lots of natural light but it had little besides clear white walls. Keya had quite a few fixtures put in to give the apartment interiors a shape, and these were all on a super budget! I couldn't help but return, this time to have it photographed.

Says Keya: "Since this was not to be a permanent home, it made no sense to invest in expensive furniture and artworks. " This single statement holds the key to what she has created using her years of experience in interior design.

 Let's walk through the house and see what exactly she has done...
Keya of course made the right decision when she rented this public areas and lots of natural light.
A well lit kitchen got new handles for its cupboards.
The tables, both corner and coffee were designs developed by Keya out of materials she found easy access to: recycled wood and painted glass. The white sofas were made at the Hidden Gallery and the Man sculpture was also directed by Keya, made of paper and slurry.

Here is reference to the context: Keya has lived in almost all the fashion capitals of the world. Moving with her late banker husband Keya has been practicing interior design both residential, and institutional in New York, California and London. Earlier still, living in Dubai in the early 80s, she was designing chandeliers and ran her boutique Le Chandelier.
Moving to India after 35 years, her first home in Gurgaon was a 5500sq ft Central Park apartment which was completely a Ralph Lauren home. When she moved to Beverly Park she wanted a completely different look. "Even though my personal style is more towards Ralph Lauren, I set myself a new challenge: to create a very NY look with a museum quality pervading all through. I wasn't going to spend much but I couldn't find anything worthwhile within my budget. I knew then that I would have to find my own design solutions. Neither was I going to spend on art. All the art that I have belongs to a totally different genre. There was no way it would fit in with this look. Hence I fabricated my own pieces for this apartment. ....And so this is it...!"


Built-in dining console

Main Foyer  Arches and such a flooring wouldn't work for a NY look. Keya does a block stacking in one corner while the other gets a row of numerical calligraphy...from a salvage yard. (see pic below)

To the right of the foyer is the Living room and to the left is the dining room. Both have balconies with glass doors that allow an abundance of natural light.

Keya had this wall unit built-up and added a artwork canvass that she developed herself.

A simple headboard with cushioning that does a great job.

Powder room has a NY magazine cover framed.

And when we were done going around the house listening to her story and taking pictures with Atul,; Keya surprised us with this lovely lunch......

What is more, she even agreed to share the recipe for our readers.....

1/2 a package of any kind of pasta

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon roasted chilli flakes

2 avacados cut  into largish cubes

1 teaspoon cilantro chopped

3 tablespoon lemon

3 tablespoons pine nuts roasted 

Bring a large pot of water to boil.Cook the pasta tender yet firm.Drain.

In a large bowl toss in the pasta with all the ingredients except the avacados,chilli flakes and the pine nuts.

Just before serving mix in the avacados.

Garnish with chilli flakes and the pine nuts.


We will be inviting Keya to respond to questions or queries that some of our readers might have.
And in case you wish to ask Keya to customise artworks or furniture-on-a-budget she said she would be more than happy to do so. Just post us request and we will get back to you....! 
Cheers to a new way!!


  1. Really nice and pleasant.....Any idea as to how much this would cost if I want it done for my home.


  2. Hello Hardeep
    Thank you for writing in.
    The cost will depend upon area of the house and the elements you want to put in. Keya suggests that you give her your budget and she will work it out accordingly.