Even if you aren’t familiar with Naheed Mashooqullah’s name, you probably are familiar with her work. The award-winning architect and interior designer’s roster of projects includes everything from Atrium Cinemas to the chic Thai restaurant Fuchsia and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that she’s used to working with massive budgets when it comes to both commercial and residential interiors. But when Mashooqullah had to redo her own son’s bedroom, she didn’t restrict herself to shopping at upscale design boutiques in Karachi. Instead, she made a pit-stop at one of her favourite places for bargain-hunting — Sunday Bazaar of course — and redecorated her son’s room in under Rs20,000.
Now, when it comes to designing on a budget, the budget naturally varies from person to person. But irrespective of financial limitations, nobody in their right mind would turn down money-saving advice from those who design homes for a living.
The Express Tribune spoke to designers who not only have advice for our readers on how to do home décor on a budget, but also employed the same advice in their own homes.
Rather than turning to the coterie of art galleries in Karachi, Mashooqullah picked up two oil paintings for Rs 5000 from Sunday Bazaar for her son’s room. Architect Arshad Faruqui, whose design firm Copper and Steel features everything from pop-art inspired cushion covers to metallic washbasins also has advice on how to decorate walls without breaking the bank.
“I use a lot of black and white photography and it looks very contemporary,” says Faruqui, who is the former president of the Institute of Architects Pakistan — Karachi Chapter. “People can take their own photographs and then play around with them on Photoshop. A lot of cheap photographs and prints can also be purchased online.”
Faruqui frequently ventures outside of the typical home furnishing stores and reveals that he enjoys scouring Lines Area and Khori Garden for hidden gems.
Sometimes, when it comes to redecorating, you don’t even need to go shopping. Mashooqullah suggests that people can spruce up old, outdated furniture by bleaching or distressing the wood in more contemporary shades of taupe, white or grey.
Emerging interior designer Qurratulain Poonawala’s advice for working with old furniture is to not be hesitant in opening up the furniture, whether it is to tweak the internal frames or to reupholster the cushion. “Go for plain fabric and add some colourful cushions for a more contemporary look,” adds Faruqui.
The designers are unanimous in their advice that homes should be a reflection of their owners and Poonawala gives advice on how people can achieve it. “If you collect anything — music records, stamps, vintage photographs, bells, masks, etc. — find a way to display it in your home,” she says.
In every home, there are some areas which are notoriously expensive to decorate, namely bathrooms and kitchens. “Kitchens are expensive even if your favourite carpenter Rashid bhai is doing a bespoke job. But money can be saved on bathrooms by restricting the use of tiles — not all walls require them — and by using local fittings,” advises Mashooqullah.
Faruqui takes this advice a step further by getting rid of tiles in bathrooms altogether. “I did my own bathroom without using any tiles. Instead, I used cement plaster on the walls, as well as cemented floors. I’ve been using it for years now and it still looks nice.”
For kitchens, Faruqui suggests cutting down on cabinets and using open shelves instead. Poonawala acknowledges that it is hard to cut on costs in these areas because you don’t want to compromise on functionality. Her advice, which applies better if the home in question is still in its construction phase, is to have inbuilt niches in the bathrooms which would later save the cost of buying fittings such as soap holders and shelves.
Home decorating without the help of an interior designer can be overwhelming. Mashooqullah reveals some basic principles people must keep in mind when doing their homes: Follow an axis extending from an existing feature in the room such as a window or an air conditioning unit and centre your arrangement on it. She also emphasises the importance of creating a mood board. “Get a board and stick bits of finishes on it. Use them in the same proportion they will be used in the room. Play around till you feel you have the right mix of texture, colour and contrast.
Faruqui’s advice is to not overwhelm the home. “Use magazines for inspiration, but avoid using images from different rooms and styles and stuffing it all in one space. Keep it simple. Start from the basics. One can keep adding things, so let your home grow and develop with you, rather than doing it all in one go,” he concludes.
Homemaking: Create your own wall gallery
Wall Collages are fun, interesting and eye catching as well as being a reflection of your interests and likes.
Here are a few tips you can follow that will change around your home’s look and help you adorn your walls beautifully:
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2014.
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