Home is Where The Heart(h) is: The Traditional Indian Style of Decorating

Written By

Sheela Kedarinath

Home is Where The Heart(h) is: The Traditional Indian Style of Decorating Loading

Tradition is the transmission of beliefs or customs from generation to generation. And what can be easier to adapt to than our Indian tradition? As Woody Allen says – Tradition is the illusion of permanence. Remember the comfort of our old homes, with solid lived-in furniture – the rocking chair, the old china sugar bowl, the stout tea pot, the aroma of freshly ground filter coffee…the list goes on. That said, we will now look at some elements that go into decorating our home the traditional Indian way.

About 15 years ago, I did not really think too much about the style I wanted to dress my house in (not that I do now!). I was happy just having a neat, clean and pretty house. Come to think of it, I love kitsch decor, as I have various collectibles from all parts of India and some from the countries I have visited. As I also mentioned earlier, we got posted out frequently — for those of you who missed my previous articles — my husband is from the Air Force. So I would dress my house up one day and the next day, hubby would turn up with a posting order. The house would then be bundled into boxes — yes, artefacts and all — and off we would go.

One thing that I admired about officer’s wives was their panache for doing up their house. I found some of them to be naturals at decorating. With minimal resources at hand, they would bring about change and beauty that would leave me open mouthed. I remember one of the ladies using ropes for a partition (yes, the regular brown rope!) between the dining and living rooms. She had them dyed dark blue at literally no cost and I could have kicked myself for not thinking of it myself. The lovely multi-coloured cushioned seats from Gujarat, a tall, antique lamp shade; and bright cotton cushion covers were some of the things I remember from her pretty living room. Sigh!

The important thing to remember is to have a theme and then establish what you want in your space. For example, modern art may not go well with a traditional lamp shade and a rosewood finish!

The other point you must keep in mind is that you do not have to spend much money if you are smart and use google to a large extent. If you cannot afford it right away, set yourself a comfortable pace. And stick to your style. A few of these factors would contribute to traditional decor:

Living room

  • Walls: Cream-coloured walls with one wall in a different colour — say yellow, or burnt orange
  • Doors – rose, dark wood, oak wood finish
  • Curtains: Rich silk or damask with tie backs in a contrast colour
  • Cushions: Use brightly coloured cushions for the room to come alive

 Dining room – If you have a table made of rosewood, dress it with a silk runner. If you would like to cover it up, use a nice, thick cotton silk table cloth that goes with the chairs and walls. Stick to a plain table cloth if your chairs have a printed cushion cover. Bring out your old brass vessels and presto! You have a ready-made vase. Fill it with flowers and set it on your table.

Bedroom: Use a nice, printed cotton silk bedsheet or bedcover. Bring out your old lamp, old photo frames that have been lying in your attic and give them a good clean. A lovely Mughal painting above your bed could be the highlight of the room.

Bathroom: Use fluffy, thick bath and hand towels, which complement the bedroom.

Window treatments: Off white or dark/oak wood, if that is the general theme of your house

Floor décor: A pretty Kashmiri carpet to go with the theme or a tastefully coloured rug to offset the colour of the wall and sofas.

Accessorise with an Urli, small table lamps at corners and one or two traditional paintings (could be miniature paintings, oil, Madhubani, or a mix of anything Indian).

In the next one, we will look at the Modern style of décor for your home. Till then, enjoy shopping the traditional way!




Sheela Kedarinath has around 20 years of varied experience in the corporate world. She has worked in the Corporate Social Responsibility sector and has also been managing administration for an MNC for a long period of time. In her personal life, she is creative and passionate about the various aspects of interior decoration. Sheela’s home and garden are her pride and joy. She has added value to a lot of her friend’s homes and balcony gardens in the last 20 years.

See all Siya Writers




Let great stories find you.

Write for Siya

If you can write, you should do so on SiyaWoman.
Send us a note on Contact@SiyaWoman.com.