The sari is one of the most elegant pieces of clothing. It is versatile and can be passed off as both a traditional and modern artefact. Saris have been recycled many a time to serve different purposes such as creating different outfits or home decor essentials. In a day and age of creativity, innovation and sustainability, it is only befitting that we recycle and create wealth from waste. Thereby, what better way to than to use old saris to create innovative decor pieces.
Many, many uses
For a Victorian look for the windows, weave a pleated chiffon sari along the curtain rod lengthwise. Adjust the length of the sari so that it falls equally on either side and fasten it with a clothespin. Then, equalise and ease out the curved portions in between and pin them firmly at the back. Make corrections where the proportion is concerned.
Make fancy string curtains using colourful synthetic saris. Cut them into strips of about four or five inches wide and picot the edges. Then use a double thread and sew through the centre using a simple running stitch. When you reach the end, push the cloth back gently and allow it to twirl around till it achieves the floral garland look. Then knot the stitch to a close. Keep attaching strips till you arrive at the desired length. Attach a loop at one end for it to slide across the curtain rod. When the stitches are equally spaced and considerably closer, the results will be better. You can play with colour combinations if you’re planning to use a number of saris in the project. You can hang them up as borders of your regular curtains, or hang them all at equal intervals at doorways and open windows.
Make your own fancy foot rugs, telephone mats and table mats by cutting a sari lengthwise into three parts. Picot the edges, place the three pieces one over another and stitch them firmly at one end, and plait it all the way until the end. Stitch the plait close by placing the three pieces one over another. Coil the plait in the shape of your choice and glue it on to a Rexine sheet of the same shape.
You can also create your own corner table using a spare cooking gas cylinder. Make a skirt of the unused saree and drape it around the cylinder and conceal its neck as well. Place a large brass or fibreglass tray on top of the cylinder. One can also use cotton saris for the all-purpose cloth in the kitchen. One simply has to convert them into little-pleated skirts. Attach a Velcro to one of the open ends and fasten them in places you might require them in.
Every creature on earth worth its salt has carved a niche for itself in some portion of the earth by way of shelter to see them through the inclemency of extreme weather conditions. Such being the case, can man, the most intelligent creation of them all, be left behind?
Archaeological surveys across the globe have revealed that ever since the evolution of man, he has felt and acknowledged the need to be sheltered from extreme conditions exuded by natural elements. Natural caves chosen as residence by the Paleolithic man had all the makings of a rudimentary home. Gradually, he gleaned know-how from the natural life around him and learned to build secure liveable homes deriving his sources from nature.
We have come a long way since then. Today we have the know-how to build state of the art buildings with every possible facility under the sun. Yet there is much to be desired in terms of planning and having equal accessibility to these conveniences. Startling realities of life like congestion and pollution are wreaking havoc especially in Indian cities.
Alarming urbanisation on the one hand and the need for cost effective housing on the other is pressurising architects and builders alike to construct homes for just about everyone who chooses to live in the cities. Every prospective house owner dreams of having a sleek, functional aesthetic contemporary home that is reinforced with strength sourced from premium housing material at an affordable price.
The expectations of the public appear to be reasonable and the builders are only too eager to fulfil them but in the process. Hence, homes are built all over the place without really ploughing through the pros and cons of the issue. The housing sector is riddled with chaotic posers from environmental, economic and ethical issues. There are a plethora of other related aspects that need to be sorted out.
It is high time man realised that global warming across the world is not a coffee table topic of the “eco-friendly lot” anymore; it is a serious issue that needs to be reckoned with. Conservation of natural resources and abstinence from using non-biodegradable materials should become the sovereign duty of each and everyone who walks the planet earth.
This does not mean that man does not have the right to enjoy his life, build his home or do it up the way it pleases his aesthetic sense. Yet if man remembers the words from the “Good Book” he will understand that “Charity begins at home.”
Dignity of labour
Home builders, owners and users should realise that the strength of eco-friendly architecture can go a long way in replenishing or at least sustaining the natural resources to a large extent. For starters, we can circumvent the use of extensive machines in the building industry and rely upon skills of people, thereby attempting to revive dignity of labour besides empowering labourers economically.
Eco-friendly ideas span across several possibilities like building materials, construc-tion technology, attitudes towards workers, alternative lifestyle, passive solar cooling, embedded energy, localising the act and such others. No construction can have all these possibilities explored in one, but may adopt as many ideas as possible towards a greener future.
Using natural building material tempered with technology can prove not only to be cost effective but can revive several traditional time-tested building techniques by master artisans across India.
If this measure is taken seriously by architects, builders, interior decorators and prospective house owners alike, we will not only be supporting the livelihood of several masons and artisans but will indirectly promote and rejuvenate a dying art which is eco-friendly and the need of today.
These days, space is a constraint in growing cities hence most people have to compromise on translating the home of their dreams on terra firma and look forward to realising them in one of the floors of a high rise building. Strong and light materials will prove to be invaluable companions in providing more floor space and letting in light and air in good measure.
When we take practical realties into consideration, it is obvious that one cannot turn the wheel of time back and undo all the damage that has already been wreaked on earth yet, if the decisions we make while constructing or renovating homes can be examined philanthropically, it automatically becomes our duty to switch over to eco-friendly building material.
Urban India is being riddled with lifestyle diseases. Doctors vouch for the fact that this problem can be contained to a large extent if people get to exercise enough. People who have the time have many options to burn those extra calories, but the ones with time limitation will do well to swim for at least twenty minutes three or four times a week for a complete workout.
If one does choose to swim, the tall task of finding a pool in the vicinity of one’s residence can prove to be the next challenge. If you are lucky enough to have one nearby, then the availability and cleanliness factors of the pool can prove to be bothersome.
It is perhaps keeping these factors in mind, that engineers have come up with the concept a Smart Pool, which is compact, can be personal, needs very little maintenance and serves the purpose all the same. Initially, Smart Pools were designed to be fitted out into the penthouses on skyscrapers, cruise ships and caravans to cater to the needs of the super rich. However constant redesigning and addition of attractive and practical features have made builders and even owners of villas consider introducing a Smart Pool in their premises.
For those of you who are wondering what a Smart Pool is all about, it is a modestly sized swimming pool, mostly linear. which operates on electricity. It can be fitted indoors or outdoors. Smart Pools can be installed above the ground like a giant bath tub or within ground like a regular pool. It can be fitted in your basement, roof top or even in a room.
It is a place where you can swim against an adjustable water current of your choice. The pool can give you the variations in depth, breadth, smooth and harsh waters, according to your requirements. In other words, you can set the tone of the kind of water that you need to swim in, by operating it on the lines of your washing machine.
The features of Smart Pools can be compared with that of a conventional pool. The water can be filtered, heated and chlorinated automatically as and when you want. If you want to give your Smart Pool a touch of class and optimum utility, then it can be fitted with underwater lights and Jacuzzi jets.
If you want to give your Smart pool the conventional look, then, go in for sitting benches which can be fitted within the water to help you soak up or to attend to your therapeutic needs. These very benches can also used outside or around the pool.
One of the interesting and useful accessories of a Smart Pool happens to be the insulated pool cover. This large pool lid can serve multiple purposes such as retaining the heat of the water; preventing dust and dirt from falling into the water between uses and keeping the empty pool clean and dry when not in use.
This variety of pool has been quite popular among the rich across the globe. Of late, the practical and medical utility of these pools have made spas, old age homes, hospitals, physiotherapy centres and even apartment complexes consider such pools fitted out in their premises.
These pools can double up as hydrotherapy aids and rehabilitation pools to soothe the nerves and give relief to aching bones and muscles by just soaking up in them at the prescribed temperature. It is possible to add bath salts, oils and fragrances just like one uses teabags to infuse the essential ingredients as and when necessary.
High-end Smart Pools also known as fitness pools fitted in body building studios have in-built underwater treadmills and resistance therapy jets which can increase the stamina of the user. Its manageable size and optimum utility has the ability to make even sport complexes of a moderate size and school and college campuses
consider having one in their premises.
Of late, quite a few Indian entrepreneurs have been working on the production of these pools and its attendant accessories. Even as more and more people start considering this novel facility, there will be an increase in demand for the pools.
Since in-house manufacturing is likely to bring down the price all the while offering more options, Smart Pools will prove to be the apt way out especially when negotiating with space constraints.
Did you know that the showcase that adorns your living room is perhaps one of the features that is almost never missed by your guests and visitors? They pay special attention to the showcase because they are aware that it is the hotspot in the house which conveys a lot about the residents.
The trophies that assert one’s success, the souvenirs that stand witness to your travels around the globe, the antique piece which speaks about your aesthetic inclinations, the family heirloom that display your affection for your grandparents and so on and so forth, jostle with one another and proclaim your collective personalities as a family.
It is true that all of us who have arranged our showcases must have spent some time giving it our thoughts and exercising our creativity. However, we may have noticed that not all of them are always appealing or exotic. This does not for a moment mean that your stuff is not good enough nor does it mean that your showcase has become redundant. All the same, the lacklustre aspect could be attributed to several reasons.
For one thing, it may have collected dust and grime. Otherwise it could be overcrowded or sparsely filled up. Sometimes, we leave essentials like keys, bills, torches, money, matches etc in some section of the showcase for easy access, not realising that they could be an eyesore.
If you think that the above reasons are not applicable to you perhaps, you have never changed the arrangement over the years, giving it a sense of predictability, which will fail to garner the attention of your visitor. So, here are a few tips that will ensure that your showcase attracts renewed attention:
Remove all the contents of your showcase and clean them thoroughly.
Clean the showcase and the covering glass using soap and water. If the walls of the cabinet have yellowed or scaled due to age, rub the surface with sandpaper and scrape it completely.
Get a small quantity of white acrylic paint and colour the insides. If your cabinet is made of wood, a coat of ready-made wood polish will do the job.
Check if you have one too many articles that will look good when hung. Take stock of the number and fix little sticks on hooks (easily available in the market) on the ceiling of the partitioned area.
Sort out your showpieces either in terms of size or theme. If you are the sort who likes to rearrange memorabilia time and again, it will be a good idea to stick to a theme. On the other hand if you want to take things easier, identify a few things that you always want to display and change only the other items from time to time.
Make sure that all the unsightly wires that run through are carefully stapled and hidden away.
Toss in a few pieces of camphor in every shelf to keep it pest-free and fragrant.
Use an old newspaper to wipe the glass clean from both sides before sliding it over the showcase. Make it a point to wipe the glass clean at least once in a fortnight.
Repeat this exercise and bring variations in the display once in every three or four months.
Do not place damaged pieces, picture postcards or family photographs amid other things, unless it happens to match the theme.
With buildings constantly rising vertically every year, it is becoming increasingly difficult for homes that do not go beyond the first floor to get their fair share of ventilation. Though not much can be done, a little thoughtful makeover can actually lighten up the place. If you want your home to glimmer at all times of the day, glass is the way to go.
With so many varieties of glass available today — ranging from bulletproof and transparent to smoky and featured with visibility from one side — there are innumerable ways in which you can incorporate the material creatively into your living space. And with some imagination and professional help, you can transform your home or office into a state-of-the-art premises with a fine mix of glass.
It’s possible to transform any area into a roomy, well-lit and expandable place. Let’s take a look at a few practical solutions that can help you incorporate glass effortlessly into your home. For starters, how about using glass partitions? They prove to be cost effective in the long run as they are low on maintenance.
Open & spacious
Old buildings take up a lot of interior wall space. When renovating such places, take a careful stock of the walls that can be done away with. For instance, you can consider the walls that can be brought down to make open kitchens, dining areas, corridors and foyers.
Once you have decided which walls are coming down, ensure that the entire wall is not affected. It will be wise to leave about six inches of it from the floor upwards and about two feet from the roof downwards. The wall should be immediately plastered and allowed to cure for a couple of days before proceeding with any further work.
While leaving the space open is an obvious choice for open areas, it is something that is not feasible in an old building. A plain or stained glass of your choice can be fitted between the bracketing walls of the ceiling and flooring, allowing for ample light and extended space. Additionally, you can paint these glass partitions, if you wish for privacy in the rooms.
There are times when we feel the need for a temporary wall, say near the wash basin or in the drawing room — a bit of privacy can be the need of the hour. At such times, a portable glass wall can come in handy as you can move it easily from room to room.
And if you don’t want it to be made entirely of glass , you can have it fitted into a metallic or wooden frame. You can also customise it to your taste. For example, you can have frosted or stained glass put in. And to make it truly portable, you can attach small wheels at the bottom and a little stopper.
For those who do not want to use glass sheets, glass pillars are a good option. These are available readymade in various sizes, designs and colours. Additionally, you can get them customised to your preferences. These can be placed in various parts of your home, according to your need and necessity. For an ethereal look, you can add appropriate lighting to enhance the effect.
However, keep in mind that these pillars cost more than the glass sheets. If you are apprehensive about the cost factor, it can be a good idea to have a pillar or two on either end of the space or in the middle and have narrow panels of glass fitted in
between. This will take care of the ventilation needs as well.
Putting glass on your home’s exteriors allows you to brighten up the space by bringing in a lot of sunlight and making it look spacious. These can be in the form of a wall, large windows or as a part of your balcony, porch or sit-out.
However, if the area is facing busy streets, it can prove to be a perpetual problem, courtesy the dust and noise. Such places are best covered with a strong and suitable variety of glass. These can range from stained glass to glazed glass. However, ensure that the glass can be slid open and closed easily to let in air as and when necessary.
Using glass at home may not just be limited to these; there are numerous other ways that you can creatively incorporate the material into your abode. Versatile and easy to maintain, glass is a perfect medium to enhance your home’s interiors and make your home look striking. Not to forget, the natural light that it can get in!
How to paint on glass
If you are looking to paint on the glass you have bought, there are several things you need to look at. But first, ensure that you do a practice run on the readymade glass painting kits that are available easily in the market.
Once you have got a hang of it, decide on a design for your glass and take a printout of it in the exact dimensions you need. Place the sheet on the glass.
Procure a small sample tin of black acrylic oil paint and a set of pearl paints. You will also need some thinner to erase mistakes that you might make, and two round-tipped brushes numbered triple zero and one.
Keep in mind that the outline for your design must be done in one sitting. Hence, set aside around two hours or more to complete the task.
As for filling in the colours, it can be done over many sittings once the outline has dried. What you are actually working on is the design’s backside.
If you want to give special effects like shading and dimension remember that the colour applied first will be seen first. Hence, you need to work backwards while using your glass painting techniques.
The ever-rising urban buildings are making it increasingly difficult for the vintage homes that don’t go beyond the first floor at best to get their fair share of ventilation, despite the fact that they have not flouted a single rule about leaving enough space around their homes.
Though not much can be done about the new buildings, a little thoughtful makeover can actually lighten up the place. If you want your home to glitter and glimmer on all days and all times of the day, glass is the way to go. You don’t have to actually construct a new building to integrate glass in your building. A little imagination coupled with some professional help can translate your home or office into a state-of-the-art premises.
These days, we get glass sheets that are as strong, if not stronger, than corrugated sheets. They can be bullet-proof, transparent, smoky or featured with visibility from one side. You can make an educated choice about this. Once fitted, these partitions will prove to be cost effective in the long run. The number of walls to be maintained will come down. Plus, the new walls will spell low-maintenance rates. If your electricity bills come down because you don’t reach out to switch on the lights, fans or air conditioner as often as before, then consider that to be an additional bonus. Here are a couple of practical and economical glassy solutions that can transform any area into a roomy, well-lit and expandable place.
Bring them down
Old buildings take up a lot of interior wall space. When renovating such places, take a careful stock of the walls that can be done away with. For instance, you can consider the walls that can be brought down to make way for open kitchens, dining areas, corridors, foyers and service areas.
Once you decide on the walls that are going to come down, remember that the entire wall should not be affected. It will be wise to leave about six inches of it from the floor upwards and about two feet from the roof downwards.
The wall should be immediately plastered and allowed to cure for a couple of days before proceeding with the work. Plain or stained glass of your choice can be fit between the bracketing walls of the ceiling and the flooring. Those of you who value their privacy, can unleash their creativity and paint on the glass.
One of the best ways to make glass an intrinsic part of your home decor is to bring in glass paintings, specifically, DIY glass paintings. First of all, decide on a design and then, simply print it out in the exact dimensions you need. Place the glass on the sheet. Procure a small sample tin of black acrylic oil paint and a set of pearl paints. You will also need some thinner to erase mistakes that you might make and two round-tipped brushes numbered triple zero and one.
You could fill in the colours in a series of sittings. When you draw the outline and paint, you are actually working on the reverse side. If you want to give special effects like shading and dimensions, remember that in glass painting, the colour applied first will be seen foremost. In other words, it makes perfect sense to use your shading techniques in the reverse format for best results. Make them portable
There are times when we feel the need for a temporary wall, say near the wash basin or one corner of the study room or even in the drawing room. At such times, a portable glass wall can come in handy. Glass walls need not always extend from top to bottom. Nowadays, you can have frosted or stained glass cut and fit into a metallic or wooden frame. If you choose to use plain glass and then paint on it, your very own personalised wall will be ready. You can fit small wheels at the bottom and a little stopper to make it portable.
Matter of strength
For those of you who do not want to use glass sheets because they might obstruct air circulation, glass pillars happen to be the next best option. Long, slender, readymade columns are available in all circumferences, heights, designs and colours. There are some firms which also take orders and make customised pillars that can be installed around the home, according to your necessity. Lighting between the pillars, either from the top or bottom, can actually add an ethereal appeal.
The cost of glass pillars is certainly much more than glass walls. If you are apprehensive about the cost factor, it can be a better idea to have a pillar or two on either end or in the middle and have narrow panels of glass fitted in between. This measure will take care of your ventilation needs too.
Balconies, porches or sit-outs that face busy streets can be a perpetual problem because they keep gathering dust. Such places can be best covered with a strong and suitable variety of glass. Ensure that the glass can be slid open and close, to let in air as and when necessary. You can also go in for translucent glass, wherein, you will get plenty of light and also avoid people peeping into your homes. There’s a ‘glass solution’ to almost every decor challenge at home!
Long, long ago, in ancient India, when people grew older, they took up Vanaprastha. The elders would go away to live in the forest by themselves and spend their time in spiritual pursuits. When living in civilised societies became the order of the day, the members of an extended joint family shared the responsibility of caring for the elders in the family. With industrialisation, India urbanised in a big way and paved way to nuclear families.
Over a period of time, the young population has been finding it increasingly
challenging to take care of its senior family members at home. Nevertheless, the need to protect our elders and to be there for them when they need us has not changed.
Architects and interior designers have come up with some brilliant ideas to cater to the needs of senior citizens. Although some of us may have introduced one or two of the elderly-friendly features, it will be a jolly good idea to incorporate them all at least in one room of the house. After all, everyone of us has to go through the norm of getting old and feeble at some point in the future. Here is a list of features that can be introduced in your homes, elder care centres and geriatric wards in hospitals and nursing homes:
The first step forward would be to hire a creative carpenter, electrician, plumber and a good mason to make some necessary and useful alterations. A fairly large room with an attached bathroom can be allocated for the purpose. It will be ideal if windows and doors are situated either in the east or west, if not on both sides. This measure can ensure natural and healthy ventilation and lighting. Fix mosquito nets for all the windows and ventilators.
Having staircases, steps or threshold within the house should be avoided as far as possible, to facilitate free movement. It will be a good idea to make provision for a lift or a wheelchair-friendly ramp instead of stairs, to prevent this problem. A lovely carpet along the incline can prove to be a boon to everyone in the home. The toddlers, if any, around the home will also find it a lot easier to move around without the fear of tripping.
Moreover, moving furniture and other heavy objects around the house will become a cakewalk. If you think that it is a tall order, then at least make it a point to remove the steps or threshold of the assigned premises and make it easier for the resident. Fix door knob grippers for all doors, including that of cupboards and lockers. They are user-friendly and can be operated without strain. These grippers, if stained or soiled, can be washed clean and left gleaming.
If you are renovating existing premises, check the wiring and rewire the room if necessary. This step can help prevent accidents. Bring down the height of the switch box (which houses the switches and plug points) so that it can be operable even while sitting on a wheel chair or crouching over a walking stick.
Fix glow tapes on all switches to enable night vision. Make sure that emergency calling systems or bells are fixed on all the switchboards, which when used can be heard in all rooms of the house. One such bell can be fixed along the bedstead for increased convenience.
The latest trend happens to be the tablet-enabled services calling and video calling system, which can help the distressed call for help during times of emergency. A little protruding rectangular plank of wood along the bottom of the switchboard can make it a charging station for electronic gadgets.
Make sure that you fix two-way switches for electrical appliances like the geyser, fan, air conditioner, computer, television, music system, among other such gadgets present in the room, so that you can shut down the device from outside the room if the person has fallen asleep while using them.
A modern method would be to fix motion sensor lights in the room and the adjoining bathroom. Introducing smart electronic remote system for all switches is another way of keeping tabs on your electricity usage — some of which may be a result of fatigue or forgetfulness. Though we have come a long way from using landline telephones and intercoms, it will not be a bad idea to install a telephone connection in all rooms to facilitate emergency calls.
Fix grab rails along the walls of the room, especially the one leading to the bathroom. Make sure that these rails do a round on the insides of the bathroom. The rails should render good grip besides being strong and reassuring. Wooden, fibre glass or plastic railings can prove to be a good choice. Try and avoid metal railings for the simple reason that they can be cold and unfriendly, especially when someone is in need of warmth and comfort. The towel rod, the soap stand, the little shelf, among other such paraphernalia, should be shifted to a lower level so that they can be reached out from the wheel chair.
Make it a point to lay anti-skid tiles across the living and bath area. These days you get them in a plethora of materials, designs and colours. In fact, you can redo the flooring of the entire home with anti-skid tiles and save yourself a hefty hospital bill that you might incur because of your super smooth shining floors. Place anti-slip mats in wet areas to make it doubly safe.
Once the alterations in the room are done, pay attention to the bathroom. Change to anti-skid flooring, fix switch boards as suggested and fix wide doors that open on the outside to enable wheelchair movement.
If you visit a state-of-the-art shop that sells sanitaryware, it will not be difficult to find senior-friendly health faucets, shower chairs, smart toilets with seat raisers, seat warmers et al. Ensure that the grab rails go around three sides of the toilet which will give immense confidence to the user with slow reflexes.
Do not forget to fix effective electronic pest repellent in every room of your house. Once the spadework is done, give the room a fresh coat of paint. Using glow paints on the bathroom door and in corners can avoid accidents at night.
Finally, attend to the furnishing and decor of the room. It will be ideal to use much loved possessions, which bear the emotional imprints of sentiments and memories for the peace and happiness of the older residents. A collage of family pictures, a favourite music play list that can be easily accessed, a television and a magazine stand that appeals to their taste can make the elderly feel loved and honoured at home.
Sometimes small gestures like introducing an easy chair or a rocking chair — if you do not have one already — can make them feel at ease. All it takes is a little enterprise (and expense) to bring a smile on a loved one’s face. And every effort is certainly worth it.