Friday, February 28, 2014

Home tour - Part Global, Part Wabi Sabi, Part barefoot living (Part 1)

One little corner and a million little details- Kamini Raghavan's home!

"Fill your house with stacks of books in all the crannies and all the nooks" - Dr. Seuss
and that's exactly what our home owner today has done! But then again her home is an envious mix of treasures (not just books) - treasures that stimulate one's senses - warm colors, exotic textiles,  interesting knick knacks, one of a kind vintage accents and art work at every turn!

 Welcome to Kamini and Raghavan's sun drenched Seattle home!  
She lives by the quote-“Unless a home becomes a love affair, it is not a success. You have to love every single little thing—if it doesn’t have a memory, a story, it doesn’t count." I agree!


going back to your roots - textiles are a great option.

 Ask her about her style and she remarks"Maybe Global? Maybe Wabi Sabi? Or maybe Barefoot Living? Or hopefully a combination of all three!" 
Piqued? Read on! Gawking at the jaw-droppingly beautiful pictures of her home has become a nightly ritual these past few days and you will soon see why I am so hooked! With so many gorgeous images to chose from, I decided to do a 2 part feature. I had to . This home is beautiful. I could move into her home tomorrow and live there happily ever after. There is nothing cookie cutter about the inside of Kamini's home! 
stairwell rails to display handcrafted textiles - now there's an idea! also look at all her gorgeous rugs!
 Many of you may already know Kamini through her decor blog Saffron and Silk. In fact, that's how I got to know her too. Her seemingly kind, friendly and warm-hearted online personality encouraged me to reach out to her. I was spot on with my instincts! I loved working with her and had the most fun collaborating on this long distance project. 

Create greater impact through custom art work - in this case Kamini's own artistry is meaningfully displayed!

An interesting conversationalist, she enlivened what would have otherwise been a mundane online Q and A exchange. Her anecdotal responses about all the favorite pieces in her home was a treat to read after a long day at work! 
Her previous homes, also peppered with treasured family heirlooms and striking artifacts, have been featured before on several blogs and Apartment Therapy (!)
Intricately woven rugs, heirloom furniture and soul stirring colors- all mixed in perfect proportions!
 
But here is an up, close and personal look at Kamini Raghavan's life and home- Aalayam style!

Layer by layer a living room comes to life!
 
In her own words, here is an introduction -

"The love for moving furniture around, arranging things and decorating my room was evident even during my younger days. I hoped to study design or the Arts after school, but my parents and grandparents refused to send me to JJ School of arts in the big bad city of Mumbai. Instead, I settled for BA in Economics from St Francis College in Hyderabad.  Born in Chennai, but raised in Lucknow and Hyderabad, I consider myself to be more fluent in Hindi and Telugu, than my native Tamil. I met my husband when I was 16, ignored him, he pursued me, we got engaged when I was 18 and was married at 19!! I became a mother at 21! 

She is now a mother-in-law too. Meet her adorable family - her husband, son and son-in-law.

As an immigrant to the US in 1984, I stayed home till my son started school. Through my various stints as an employee at my son’s school, the post office  etc, I realized my unwavering passion for design.  Finally in 1994, with much support and insistence from Raghavan, I went back to school in Seattle to study Interior Design. 3 years later and armed with a degree in ID, I started working at a marine design company. It was very interesting work, designing and furnishing boat interiors. Seattle has a big maritime community being right on the water and I got to really see some amazing boats, some even bigger than houses. I held several other work assignments in retail design including Nordstroms, Polo Ralph Lauren and J crew. I learned very early on that residential design was not my cup of tea -too many temperaments and personalities to deal with!
My final stint at retail design was Starbucks stores in Southern California. If any of you are ever in a Sbux store in SW California - Thousand Oaks, Ventura, Oxnard, Simi Valley - there is a good chance I had a hand in the design :-)
Besides design, I love painting and my interest in it began with an oil painting class I took back in 1981. In fact, I am happier and more at peace when I am painting than when I am designing!  For many years, painting remained a dormant interest and I finally revived it again when we relocated temporarily to India in 2006. 

an interesting concoction of color and greenery enlivens a sunny corner -inspired yet?

Pottery fascinates me too. I tried my hand at hand building and wheel throwing and loved it enough to bookmark as an activity to pursue. My other hobbies include cooking, yoga, hiking, biking, reading and music. I am passionate about vegan-ism and wish I had turned vegan a lot earlier in my life. I love animals and children maybe because they are both so vulnerable and defenseless, but all my charitable causes are towards these two groups. I am also a bit of a fitness/health freak but if you asked my friends to describe me- the words  “impulsive, hot-headed, irreverent, slightly OCD” would all be fair game…"

Her home has many amazing layers and brilliantly put together compositions and yet it doesn't overwhelm the viewer. It also manages to retain it's sense of clarity about the overall style. I asked her to tell me what makes her home "her home" and here is her response -

cherished handy downs are proudly displayed.
"I love love love old things, the beauty of tradition, and the stories that make an object more than what it is.Things that have been handed down from generation to generation.....furniture, kitchen items, my grandmother’s silver comb, my father-in-law’s rocking chair, the copper water boiler we used as kids to make hot water in the cold Lucknow winters. They have so much history behind them. I scrounge around my mother’s attic looking for things no one uses. Chips, cracks don’t bother me, they in fact add to the value and make an object more interesting. I surround myself with things I love to see. People often ask me what the “ consistent theme” behind the decor in my house is and I always say “they are all things I love”. So it must go without saying that they all work together"
More treasures! I love the use of colorful textiles to anchor compositions throughout the home.

Personally, I favor a home where every room evokes an emotion, carries a worn feel and bears a personal stamp. I asked her to tell me what HOME means to her and in her own words.. 


"Home is a place where I am surrounded by things and people I love. People are important but things really do matter 'coz they are what I see and  touch every single day. I love to travel  but after every vacation, no matter how much I have enjoyed it, I long to come home. Its my sanctuary. My travel finds ( small inexpensive memorabilia) - instantly remind me of my vacation and my journeys and the people I care about and love. Most of all I want my home to feel comfortable. Not a place where people are afraid to touch and feel things. I want people to walk in and feel like “Ahhhhh”. Once a friend from Norway came home and told me my house was “koselig”. I looked it up later and it meant “cozy”. Now, that makes me happy!"
Rooms that evoke an emotion - sculpted coffee table, kilim cushions and kamini's painting. Happiness is in the details!


Free spirited, colorful and bohemian, I think Kamini's home is an extension of her personality and her interests. I asked kamini to elaborate on her personal decor philosophy and here is what she had to say..

pretty patterened pots call for an open display - add more color to your decor in novel ways!
 
"I am drawn to earthy colors, I love global artifacts that have an Indian or Eastern vibe, I love colorful textiles, I hate clutter, I like colorful artwork....so I think by default my home falls into the eclectic category. I am particularly attracted to Moroccan influences and would love to make my house look like a Moroccan Riad :-), but like everything else, I think a balanced mix is best.

sigh!
 I appreciate modern minimalist design, but it is not for me. I need more warmth and color around me. I have old old things and new things; I have modern clean lined furniture alongside an old teak “easy chair”; I have South Indian brass coffee filters next to Turkish pottery; I have Indian prayer books and design books on my coffee table. But they are all things I love so I suppose that must be the consistent theme running through them. 
block printed bar stool covers, hand painted fruit bowls and a bright hued table cover - Kamini works her magic on an industrial kitchen!

I think my style sort of evolved. I experimented a lot with different styles when I was younger. I’d see pictures in magazines that looked lovely and would try to recreate those rooms not giving any thought to whether I would feel comfortable and at ease in those spaces. I did the all-white clean monochromatic Dania look, the checked sofa farmhouse look, and the all Indian look with brass urlis and wall hangings...and then finally found my niche. My home reflects me. I hope when someone walks into my house they get a good idea of what kind of person I am just be looking around" 

Move over rattan baskets - copper container + cheery cushions = trendy!

Given her keen eye for aesthetics, Kamini's collection of art work is to die for. From original Jamini Roy paintings (I know!!!!) to personal creations, her walls host a gorgeous array of artwork that infuse her space with vibrance! I asked her about her thoughts on curating art work and incorporating amateur art work into one's personal space and here is what she shared..


This is where I am staying when I go to Seattle - to sleep blissfully under original Jamini Roy paintings - there's a treat!

"No, absolutely not - you don't have to own expensive art work. You just brought up a pet peeve of mine. My house is full of amateur artwork (some of it mine).  I cannot justify buying expensive art work. The most I ever paid was Rs 4,500 for 3 original oil paintings at a craft bazaar in Hyderabad. I browse paintings by famous artists and try to reproduce them for myself. Not only is it a fraction of the cost, but it is so much fun. OK, so they are not anything like the original, but when I look at them, it is satisfying to know I did them. If you want to fill your house with art, buy prints from museum stores and gift shops and get them framed. I mean,  if the artwork - meaning the subject and the colors and composition - appealed to you, why does it have to be an original? A print is exactly the same! Getting stuff framed in India is not expensive, but in the US it can cost a bomb. Places like IKEA and Michaels sell inexpensive frames." 
A kalamkari runner brings depth to this console vignette - brilliant once again!


Dear Aalayam family, I am in conversation with Kamini Raghavan- mom, interior designer, vegan lover, book collector, home decor enthusiast, ex-blogger and a woman of substance! Hope you've enjoyed our dialogue so far. Stay tuned for part two of our conversation as I bring you more of her thoughts on "home", on embracing individuality as well as more gorgeous images of her intimate 

home!
to be continued.......
 
 

Cheers!
~Deepa

P.S: All images in this post belong to Kamini Raghavan and may not be used without permission.

44 comments:

  1. A beautiful home radiating with warmth and genuine style......every corner is a treat!!! Thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the tete-a-tete with the woman of substance, Kamini Raghavan. Lovely post Deepa, can't wait for the sequel.......

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    1. Thanks Sruthi - kamini's pride of ownership shows in every turn. Yes, distilling the pics for part 2 as we speak - so many to choose from!


      ~deepa

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  2. Thank you both. Deeply appreciated.

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    1. again, the privilege is ours! thank you kamini.

      ~deepa

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  3. What a lovely home...and I simply have fallen in love with the corners. Being a jewellery designer myself, I know exactly what a splash of colors can do to one's day-to-day existence. A very refreshing post on homes. All the very best Deepa.

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    1. Jane - welcome! yes, colors have a way of doing that to your spirits- check out some of our previous posts - you will see that both Supriya and I are big on color and I mean BIG!

      Thanks for your kind words on Kamini's home

      ~deepa

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  4. Simply beautiful, this home tour! Great job, you two! And Kamini, I was thrilled to see your home again!

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    1. Hey sharon! Thanks for commenting.. Isn't it a treat to see her home again - I have loved all her previous homes as much - she does them up with so much passion and diligence!

      ~deepa

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  5. Okay I was always a fan but this just takes it over the top :) Kamini every corner of your home seems like a reflection of your personality. I am thrilled to have met you though briefly and hope to get to know you better. I loved corner of your home but the rugs/shawls on your staircase railing just stole my heart. Great job Aalayam.

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    1. Anu - you got it! it's her unique touches that make this home stand out! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      ~deepa

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  6. The Indian in me just woke today( once again) to realize that yes! no matter how contemporarily I decorate my home ,the touch of India is always home for me . Kamini I simply loved the way u have decorated your house. We just moved in to a new adobe few days back and I am now inspired with ur ideas and views of turning a house into a home.

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    1. Kavitha - that's precisely what this series is meant to do - serve as a bookmark for people who want to dress up their own homes. i am glad you find this resourceful. Kamini will be pleased to know. I am inspired by a few of her ideas myself and will replicate :)
      stay tuned for part-2

      ~deepa

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  7. Very nice post (as always), Deepa! Such a beautiful, warm and inviting home.

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    1. beautiful, warm and inviting indeed!
      Prathiba - thank you again for being a regular Aalayam reader.

      ~deepa

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  8. incredibly gorgeous home Kamini has...! I do adore her style and infact her as a person...! she is truly an inspiration..

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    1. welcome! and I barely knew her before we collaborated and yet she struck me as an inspiration and like i said I was absolutely right!
      stick around and make sure to catch some of our previous posts.

      ~deepa

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  9. Warm and vibrant home, loved all your home tours Deepa , you pick the right ones !Great going girly.

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    1. Asha : Kamini will appreciate your kind words. Thanks for cheering me from the sidelines. I value your encouragement immensely.
      Part 2 coming up soon.

      ~deepa

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  10. Beautiful, just beautiful ! Kamini happens to be my favourite person on FB and in the blog world for so many reasons. I love her aesthetic sense and every corner of her home is a true reflection of her own personality. Thank you for this home tour :)

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    1. Reshma: ) You are very welcome. Like I said, with her passion for her home and the gorgeous pictures of her home - i hardly had to do anything, the home speaks for itself!

      ~deepa

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  11. An amazing home... so colorful and eclectic, but most importantly so inviting! Kamini has a great sense of style. Really nice post Deepa...

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    1. Shalinii: Kamini's keen sense aesthetics, of being able to find perfection in imperfection, of treasuring her travel finds, seeing value in heirlooms, maintaining a string to her roots - so many lessons here!
      I am glad for the all the interactive feedback this post is generating!

      ~deepa

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  12. I am in awe of Kamini's home Deepa. I've followed her blog and love her style .Even though she stopped blogging I'm just glad that she did not delete her blog. I still look at her pictures and get inspired.

    Pinky

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    1. Pinky, that is so sweet of you. Every time I go to my blog, which is once i month or so, I see people still visiting and I wonder...what do they find interesting? So glad it still inspires people. :)

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    2. pinky : thanks for commenting!
      i do too, stop by her blog some time...a thing of beauty is a joy forever - perhaps?

      ~deepa

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  13. There is much to love about his home! the colors, the textures, the nick-nacks and treasured finds! Simply amazing. Thanks for sharing Deepa...looking forward to part 2!

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    1. indeed div - many inspirations from a well lived home! part 2 in a few days :)

      ~deepa

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  14. Oh lovely lovely home. What a beautiful way to start my sunday. I have seen Kaminin's home featured in other blogs too. The home is so vibrant, warm, inviting and inspirational to say the least. Looking at her home, I can imagine, what a fascinating personality, kamini is :)

    Can't wait for part 2, Deepa. Good work.

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    1. Radhika: thank you for all your kind words! And that's what I figured when I approached kamini - even though her homes have been featured previously I would share it again even if only to shed light on the passion that goes into the creation of a beautiful home - this is such a labor of love!
      part 2 is cooking - stay tuned!

      ~deepa

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  15. I saw one of this picture on Housedelic page.. A tour of the entire house is breathtaking. Awesomeness home-ified. :)

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    1. Thank you parama ! Yes, she recently used the first picture for housedelic and it is a colorful snapshot that captures the essence of the rest of her home! Yes, we are indeed lucky at Aalayam that kamini agreed to share her beautiful home with all our readers.
      Come back for part 2.

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  16. Deepa, Thanks for sharing Kamini's home here. I used to be a regular on her blog till she stopped and do visit her often just in case, she starts writing. Her design style is simple yet eccentric. Her home has so much warmth.

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    1. Reshma,

      Thank you for your comment. Another kamini fan - welcome to the club! Indeed it was a pleasure her home - casual elegance + a few quirky touches = a winner!

      we are live with part 2 - hope you like it.

      ~deepa

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  17. Lovely! Modernity and tradition blend super well in Kamini's home. Love her eclectic style, choice of furniture, artwork, textiles, colors, lighting. And her family photographs ooze happiness, I love this lady :-)

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    1. I couldn't have said it better Ambika! Thanks again for being an Aalayam regular reader!

      ~deepa

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  18. hi kamini , a very soulful house i must say !! my name is mansi and i am a student of interior design , CEPT university , Ahmedabad , india. Well i hoping if you could permit me to use some of these images for my thesis , which is going to be a student work and will be submitted to the university only , and wont be published commercial. ofcourse if permitted the images will be given due credit and the source of access. thanks - mansi

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    1. Mansi,
      This is Deepa. I authored this post. Thanks for writing to us. Let me check with kamini and see if she is agreeable to your request. Could you please email us at aalayaminspiration@gmail.com, so I have your contact in case Kamini agrees?
      And thanks for reading. Do join Aalayam as a member - we love welcoming new readers.

      ~deepa

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    2. Thank you for your reply. I have done the needful. And sure i will sign up for Aalayam. - Mansi.

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  19. Such a beautiful house!!! very colorful and warm....This is a real traditional house. I love the way of designing and furniture used. Kitchen area is simply the best.
    Mamta Bajaj
    Interior Designer
    http://www.futomicdesigns.com

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  20. After going through various designing ideas, style and stuff i couldn't arrive at what i really like , what is my style of designing and what i really want.But after going through your blogs i am much convinced and you truly inspired me kamini !!!.

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  21. Thanks mamta and rathi! Yes, i never get bored of looking at Kamini's beautifully done home. Her aethestic is timeless in appeal. I am glad you like this feature!
    Please join the Aalayam family- I am sure our content will appeal to readers like you :)

    ~deepa

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  22. This was such a wonderful and pleasing rendezvous

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