Light Up Your Life
9 ways to dress up your home this festive season
Entrance: First impressions always count. If you haven't had time to give your doorway that much-needed paint job, perk it up with potted plants. Additional touches of a lamp, a painting with nature echoes, a framed mirror or stone sculpture will complement the greens. The trick is to set out the ensemble, step back and see if the elements work together.
Rangoli: Let your imagination flow. Create art with organic colours and don't shy away from using powdered pulses or flowers.
Accents: Give the sofa a fresh look with an elegant throw. While choosing patterns look for brocade highlights or ethnic weaves and prints. Alternatively, use a bright shawl. Switch to vibrant cushions, runners or area rugs to energize your space. Bring out vintage sarees to drape over divans and jhulas (swing).
Decor: Include a single piece of furniture to add character -- a carved jharokha (window) to serve as wall decor, a jhula, an antique chest or even a traditional folding screen. For an easier fix, simply move the furniture around. Draw a rough sketch of the new arrangement before, to see what works best.
Lighting: Strings of fairy lights are dreamy and festive, as long as you don't overload the circuits! Use tiny white lights as they blend well with a variety of interiors and exteriors. Brighten dark corners in your garden or balcony with Chinese paper or metal tea-light lanterns. Transform dull corners with ceiling lamps strung at varying heights. If your space is small or has a low ceiling, put a floor lamp next to a mirror to create an illusion of expansiveness.
Candles: Cluster and place on an old mirror to reflect the flames, doubling the radiance.
Flowers: Urlis (decorative bowls) laden with flowers are eternal favourites and work well at entrances or lobbies. Use any flat, raised base to increase visibility. Take it up a notch with marigold garlands or even fragrant mogra or rose petal strings placed in flat baskets. If you have a small flat, bring in some green -- place the pots together and light up the arrangement with a lamp.
Fragrance: Choose the fragrance so it is uplifting, without being overbearing. Subtle traces and hints of perfume, that's the trick. Do not mix scents, but carry through the same in candles, essential oils and incense sticks. Here's a quick DIY: Cut a few pieces of orange and lemon. Don't peel, add a few cloves and basil, and simmer on low flame. Decant and spray along curtains.
Sweets: For unexpected guests, set up an aesthetic Diwali table. Use an organza tablecloth with a zari border. Place silver or glass salvers with sweets, chocolates and savouries around a large bowl of rose petals. Get creative while setting up platters and play with colours -- try dark green pista burfi, orange boondi laddus and white burfi. Small gift-wrapped potlis (pouches) of home-made foods or trinkets make great take-home gifts.
Darshan J. Singh has been a corporate housekeeper at leading hotels for many years and a former columnist for Good Housekeeping magazine.
Adapted from Good Housekeeping India. October 2009 Living Media India Limited.