Quiet Retreat


http://archive.deccanherald.com/Content/Jun82007/realty200706076169.asp

A study room or a corner where you can retire for a quiet read can be beneficial in many ways, writes Radha Prathi.
The British left Indians a lot of legacy, some prominently visible and many that have integrated into Indian life and living in such a way, that one can no longer see anything exclusive or alien about the concept. For instance the homes we live in, in urban India happen to be a quaint fusion of traditional Indian homes and colonial homes built by the British while they were here. Perhaps the concept of having a compact home with all the necessary rooms under one roof came into being during this point of time.
The colonial homes always housed a study no matter what the size of the house to help the inmates spend a few cosy hours browsing through books or simply spending sometime in solitude mulling over matters that interested them the most. A study room in Indian homes was incorporated during their time and ever since it has remained a part of most homes who value their books and private niche.
While bungalows built in sprawling areas of land can afford to have an exclusive study room, houses built in smaller areas should walk that extra mile to find space to create that comfort zone.
Yet if one considers the benefits that can be derived from having a private space that can contribute to the enhancements of ones calibre, the effort will be well worth it. Study rooms can inculcate reading habits which can have an invaluable effect on minds.
Remember a study is not to be confused or integrated into the children’s room, on the other hand it can be considered to be one’s own private library hence make sure you carve a special niche as your den in your home.
Once you plan to have a study as an integral part of your home, allot a room which has lots of privacy with enough lighting and ventilation, you could build book shelves or buy readymade shelves and cabinets to house your books.
Polished wooden shelves will certainly lend an old world charm to your library but they are a little expensive and require to be polished once in two years to keep their shine and keep away book mites. The laminated ply wood shelves appear to be the contemporary favourite at homes and offices and they can be customised according to your needs and they are pretty easy to maintain. The steel almirahs, shelves and cabinets sold by leading companies will last several generations without much ado hence you will not regret investing in them. These storage aids have a good resale value too and hence will not translate into a dead investment if at all you decide to do away with them.
While open shelves encourage people to reach out for the books more easily than closed ones, this arrangement is likely to get dustier soon hence transparent fiber glass sliding doors or a glass door will be a better option.
Furnishing the study room need not be very formal for it is the comfort zone in your home. You could place a couple of dissimilar comfortable chairs or your favourite rocking chair or the reclining chair in your study to lend it that sense of comfort. If you have a lot of floor space you could place a divan in your study to make it easier for you to lie down and read when you feel like it. During times of necessity the study room can double up as a guest room too. The colour of the walls and curtains in this room should not be too loud and should not interfere with the joy of reading in this room.  Make sure that your study is free of the music system, television, computer or any other appliance that is likely to distract your attention from books. Posters with thought provoking lines can be put up in the room which will help you relate with them while reading.
If you do not have any such room you could invest in readymade cabins or engage a carpenter to build a wooden cabin in sizes of your choice in such a way so that they can be dismantled and taken away when you are on the move.
Since books have a tendency to attract silverfish and mites the shelves have to be cleared out and sunned on an annual basis at least and after wiping them clean and wipe them all over with neem oil or eucalyptus oil before storing the books. If you have in-built shelves, clear them out totally and apply one of these natural oils which will preserve your books for you. Moreover you could toss in some camphor or the Vibhuthi, the sacred ash, wrapped in paper in the rear corners of your shelves. This will help you to keep away the insects, absorb moisture and help the books remain dry besides making your shelf smell clean and fresh. Lining book shelves with old newspapers is not really a very good idea.
If you successfully organise a private library for your family, soon you will find the members of your family and yourself making a beeline to the retreat.

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