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Smarten your home without spending too much

When you have a bad hair day, you may try a bit of retail therapy to feel better. This could be expensive and not really a cure. Similarly, when you hate the way your apartment looks, buying a sleek centre table won’t help. There are some things you can do to make your home look good and not hurt the wallet at the same time.

The first thing is to get rid of clutter. This means cleaning and that includes the sugar dispenser and meds on the dining table. One of the simplest ways to make your home look good is to clean it thoroughly. Open your windows – let the air in. Yes, this means the curtains need a wash as well; the flower pots in the balcony need a scrubbing too.

Getting rid of clutter is easier said than done. A wise old lady once said, if you haven’t used something in your house for the past four months, you can be sure that you are not going to use it at all. This includes all the empty glass jars you stored to make pickle in the unforeseeable future; the plastic takeaway boxes you saved up, the old newspapers, the empty cartons in the loft et al. At such a time, you should also tackle the bottom shelf of your cupboard – heaven knows what you will unearth there.

One thing that makes the entry point into any Indian home is the foot rack with dirty shoes and dirtier socks. This not only smells bad it creates bad chi in the house. Paint the shoe rack or invest in one of those which are covered. Clean and deodorize your shoes before your put them in the rack. Those not in use everyday can go into shoe bags.

Rearranging the furniture really helps to give the room a new look. You could paint some walls, especially the ones which are worse for wear. You could do this yourself and it will not cost as much as painting the whole house. Paint companies help you with advice on colours and painting techniques. They also provide you an online tool for a screentest and a DIY feature that gives you a virtual view of how your walls would look like and you also have the option of trying out various colour combinations.

Don’t forget the curtains. You could move them to other rooms if you have the same size windows. It would also be a good thing to get them washed and ironed.

Every home must have a piece of art in it. Big or small, the size of it does not matter. It must be something you love. It could be a mural you picked up on a holiday somewhere or it could be a photograph taken by a friend. This should be something you could gaze on everyday and not be bored. Once this is up on your living room wall, you can match some cushion covers to some of the prominent colours in the picture.

If you are lucky, you may have a family heirloom – something treasured, loved and passed on. It could be a vintage teak storage box used to store rice in the old days or a Chettinad painting your grandmother brought from her ancestral home or it can be your grandfather’s ivory chess set. This piece, cleaned and polished, should also be displayed in the living room.

Get rid of the kitsch in the living room- that means all the objet d’ art from various places which are now gathering a lot of dust. This exercise could be a tough one, but you have to be ruthless about it; oh yes,  swipe away those gold laughing buddhas, the Eiffel Towers, the plaster of paris Taj Mahals, to name a few. Just keep the ones which have some sentimental value.

A lot of people have a book case in the living room. If you are into reading, then this is not a good idea as every man jack and his brother who visits you will want to borrow your books. It’s best to keep your treasured books in a room meant for your private use. As part of the spring cleaning, you could dust the books and clean out the book shelf.

Fresh flowers, scented candles and a changed light bulb can really brighten up the room.

The kitchen will really need reorganizing, especially if it is cluttered and all the surfaces are sticky with oil.  Clear out all the shelves and line them with fresh newspaper. Make sure you terminate all creepy crawlies. Empty out jars with mould and old masala.  Keep the kitchen counter free of clutter and the stove scrubbed clean. Brighten up the kitchen with better lighting.

The bedrooms in most apartments are dark and dingy. First clean the fan, wash the window netting and get fresh bed linen. Cover the bed with a lace or printed counterpane which matches the curtains and rug. Clear the clutter on the dressing table: throw out the empty perfume bottles, cream jars, half-empty tubes and so on. Clean the mirror with newspaper. Put away all the clothes lying around and wash the dirty ones.

And finally the bathroom! Until very recently, in most Indian homes, bathrooms were never a priority. Bathrooms in apartments are generally small and poky but bright lighting can remedy that. Towels should be clean and smell fresh. Use a deodorizer in the bathroom. Keep the counter tops clutter free and store away personal items. A piece of art won’t be out of place, here too.


Nina Varghese for pbytes.indiaproperty.com

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