The artist is in the house

Dressed in torn jeans and an oversized old T-shirt, event consultant Moneeta Chainani, 28, has tied her hair up into a bun, the kind we imagine she would have had while dipping a roller sponge brush into a bucket of red paint and running it all over the bedroom wall of her two BHK Andheri apartment in an unrehearsed stroke, back in October 2011. Today, she looks at it and smiles.

Andheri-based event consultant Moneeta Chainani, 28, painted her wall last October. Pc/Rane Ashish

“For the past four years I wanted to create something on my wall, and didn’t want to hire a professional to do it,” she says.¬†“In the course of my work, I get to see a lot of different venues. In September last year, I was in Kolkata for a setup that included painting the walls in texture. When I came back, I had finally found the courage and motivation to go ahead with my four year-old plan,” she laughs, adding that she completed her masterpiece within three-and-a-half hours.

“I started without any theme or concept in mind. I knew what colours I wanted and had some basic tools for it. It all fell in place as I progressed,” she chirps. The only thing she says she had to be careful about was to clear out her things and cover up her bed, cupboard and cabinets. While her mother loved the splash of colours, her father took a while to come around. “He thought it looked like a five year old’s painting. But he had to live with it,” she smiles.

Like Chainani, many home-proud Mumbaiites are taking the plunge and making a conscious choice to style their homes without professional help. And to find their way through, they are turning to home décor magazines, imported stores and the Internet.

On my own
Bandra-based Dipika Singh, a freelance home stylist, says, “There are innumerable products available, and so many stores that spoil you for choice. Disposable incomes have increased and a lot of young couples are moving out of their parents’ residences. No one, today, wants their homes to look like a clone of someone else’s. This is the home-proud generation that is not shying away from experimenting with new looks for its abode.”

Last September, Juhu-based business development executive Shweta Mehta, 26, put up pictures of courtship and marriage in her bedroom. Pic/Mahesh Chafe

Professionals are called only to make structural changes, but the idea, colour and texture belong to the home owner. “When we go out, we style ourselves, so why should it be different for our house? Laying the table, focusing the lighting, arranging artifacts in a unique fashion and playing with fabrics are some of the things people are trying their hand at,” says the 26 year-old, who conducted a workshop on home styling last week.

Beer coasters for art, anyone?
No course would have taught 35 year-old research analyst Nitin Bhasin, however, to use his love of beer to decorate the home. Thanks to his official trips to Europe and the US, where he makes sure to taste the local beers not available in India, Bhasin has ended up with a unique collection of coasters, of which 24 now hang, framed, on his wall.

It all began five years ago, when, along with his wife Ruchika, he began to collect mementos of every beer tasted abroad — which was soon narrowed down to coasters, as they were the easiest to procure. In July 2010, when he was doing up his home, they were confused about one empty space near the bar. “We had earlier decided to use the coasters while entertaining, but were afraid of ruining them. Then, we asked the interior designer to incorporate it under the glass of the bar table, but it didn’t work. We wanted something that reflected our personalities and was something unique. That’s when I decided to turn the coasters into a mural,” says Bhasin.

Goregaon-based Ruchika Bhasin, 33, (right) and her husband Nitin, 35, put up beer coasters that he collected from all over Europe and the US, a year-and-a-half ago. Pic/Nimesh Dave

His favourite coasters were then handed to a carpenter to mount on a wooden frame. “I’m glad we decided to experiment and make a collage of coasters,” he says, pointing to coasters of Heineken, Bluemoon and Stargazer, among others. “I remember having Bluemoon with oranges in Venice. When guests come, they are intrigued, curious and excited as they haven’t seen something like this before,” says a satisfied Bhasin.

Wall of fame
Just like him, 26 year-old Shweta Mehta, a business development executive, also felt that her bedroom needed some pepping up. While planning the renovation of their Juhu home with her to-be-husband in 2008, she asked him to leave one wall in their bedroom empty “to add a personal touch”. After four years of pondering, in September last year, she finally knew what that touch was going to be. She made a collage of 20 frames, selecting pictures from their courtship period. “No interior designer could have created the feeling of togetherness that the collage does,” she smiles.

It took her three days to scan a stack of albums, select the right ones and get the frames made. “The idea of decorating my own room was more exciting than letting a professional do his job. I didn’t want it to be too formal, so I had frames of different sizes and types and put them together according to my liking,” says Mehta, who wasn’t bothered about how professional (or not) it would look. It’s certainly warm — there’s even a movie ticket of the first film — Yuva — which the duo watched together in 2004.

Work in progress
Shruti Shah, 53, and her daughter Tanur, 26, have been working on their home for the past three years, ever since they moved into their home in Theosophical Society, Juhu. “All an interior designer would have done is put up some beautiful looking frames and the matter would be closed. After a point, it gives you no pleasure even to look at them, as they blend into the routine setting of the house,” says Shah, who created an installation on the first floor landing of dog collars, medals and trophies, as a tribute to Milo, their cocker spaniel who died of tick fever in 2008. “He was a showdog and had won many trophies and prizes. We also decided to place his collar on the stair railing, so that we remember him whenever we hold the railing,” smiles Shah.”
“My daughters used to visit the Birmingham dog show every year, and bring home beautiful frames and mementoes. They are all part of our installation,” she adds.

The Handbook: How to do up your own home
> Bank on magazines, stores and the Internet to help decide what you like
> Never finalise everything at one go
> Go with your intuition
> Start with one focal point and match the rest of the things to it
> If you get confused, do not opt for too much colour. Keep your furniture basic in colours like white, beige and brown, and play with the accessories 

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