Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Artist feature and a home tour - "Traditional Indian with a dash of Kitsch"

Welcome to another year of inspiring posts! It is a new year and we are hitting the ground running! That’s right! 
An intricate brass Ganesha lamp  from Arthi's treasured brass collection.
We kick off 2015 with an artist feature and a home tour. Let me introduce you to an artist whose influence has touched the lives of many. She is known for her vivacious smile, her mesmerizing energy and her penchant for story telling!

 Story telling is an art, one that relies on the power of communication to translate words into artistic visual images that can then send the listener on a journey to an imaginary world. And our artist today is an amazing storyteller.  Story telling is only a part of her identity. She is also a mother, a full time corporate employee, a volunteer, an author of two children’s books and a blogger! I have never met her but I am thoroughly inspired by her tenacity! It is an honor and a privilege to host the amazing Arthi Anand Navaneeth on Aalayam today. Her story is beyond impressive and she was gracious enough to invite us into her beautiful home.  
Hints of orange play peekaboo with the warmer earth tones.

We love telling the story of people who make a difference and inspire us with their commitment to a cause as much as we love showcasing beautiful homes. So, to be able to do both in one post is always a bonus! Arthi is an eloquent conversationalist and I was blown away by her answers to my questions. The clarity and simplicity with which she spoke evoked an unmoored joy in me. I hope you too find our exchange engaging.

The striking architectural details, warm wood tones and an open floor plan accented by ambient lighting

We have showcased several homes on Aalayam already and you know that we love telling the story of passionate homeowners who decorate with confidence.  The homes featured on Aalayam define  the home owners' personality and what they treasure. Arthi’s home is another classic example of that philosophy. Pay attention dear readers, every corner of this home has been lovinlgy nurtured and filled with things that Arthi and her family treasure. The end result- an innately nourishing space with remarkable visual appeal!

Arthi’s Chennai home was featured in detail in Times Of India Property Times. Deccan Chronicle Bangalore focused on Arthi and Navaneeth’s mask and kettle collection and other bloggers have featured Arthi’s beautiful home in the past.

I am proud to tell Arthi and Navaneeth’s home story - the Aalayam way! 

Below is our conversation on home and décor and her story-telling platform (Art’s Tales) with Arthi’s insights on soulful decorating and pursuing one's dreams. It is a new year and we are all full of aspirations for personal and professional development. I hope that Arthi’s work will inspire you to reinvent yourself and follow your heart's desires!

 Who is Arthi Anand?
A typical working woman of today- a daughter and mother of two, wife to one, friend to some, foe to none (hopefully), Interested in music, dance, food, travel, craft and home décor.
During the week, I am a marketing professional with a fragrance MNC and on weekends I turn into a storyteller for kids.
Art’s Tales with Arthi Anand was born out of my interest in picture books and organizing get-togethers for my own kids.
The artist at work..
I am known as Art among closer friends (especially the blog ones) and hence the name Art’s Tales.
When my first picture book (Tulika’s “Have you seen this?”) was launched, the promotional events acted as a catalyst to my growing desire to narrate stories to a larger audience.
I had attended a workshop by Jeeva in my Chennai days, I drew on that learning. The wonderful Saffron Tree where I review books along with a lot of other contributors is a ready resource for multi cultural stories.

Not sure when but what began as volunteer work with slum kids, turned into an avocation. I still ensure I do at least a couple of volunteer sessions (largely with cancer patients at Kidwai Hospital and the slum children in Ejjipura)

So many stories waiting to be told....

To have people value what you do and pay for attending your session is gratifying. I have been a part of Bookalore, Bangalore Lit Fest, Conservation Express, Neralu, Soul Santhe, Kitsch Mandi, Hamleys and Krispy Kreme. This is apart from the sessions that happen in schools, libraries and across activity centers – all usually on Saturdays.

Family and a couple of friends were very encouraging and after two years, I also launched Art’s Tales on Facebook. The page is a year old now! I try and share interesting book links and crafts when I can.
Arts Tales sessions are interactive and informative without being moralistic. They are a mix of song, dance and story peppered with trivia and questions ideal for the 4- 10 yr. old group. Though parents are known to have been as engaged as kids, I close most sessions with a theme related craft ranging from up cycling to origami to even food art.
Art's Tales FB page is where you can keep yourself updated on the upcoming events and also book information
There is no dearth of stories or storytellers. I am thankful for where I am today. But when I ready to give up corporate life, I hope Art’s Tales can travel places literally- so that I can share and listen to stories there!
Merry little teapots- another of Arthi's favorite collections!
 What makes your home "your home"?  Does the decor in your home fit the bill for any one particular style - if so, what drove you to that style? Who calls the design shots in your home?   
Just yesterday I asked a visitor whether our house was traditional or modern. He felt it was a traditional look provided by a modern mind. I am still interpreting it!
Our family and their warmth, our memories and our hopes for the future translate in to our home.  It reflects our love for handicrafts and handloom, our travels including where we stayed.  We are fairly organized, fairly neat, fairly arty and fairly well travelled. Our home has always represented us and we believe no decorators or professionals can capture that.
More hints of rust and orange

So yes, it may seem a bit too lived in and look like a mish mash of styles but it tries to be “Indian with a dash of kitschy drama" and stories from our (and our friends’) travels.

Vintage collectibles showcased lovingly

I am the collector and the curator (a skill that needs further honing!) while the rest of the family does their bit to keep things in order. My father is extremely handy around the house and helps execute ideas on lighting and placement and more. My hubby and mom are the cleanliness buffs. I inherit my love for Indian crafts and fabric from my mother.  My girls, though young, help clean up their room once playtime is done. They contribute a lot to the festive décor with art and craft!

What are your favorite places to shop for your home? Are you budget savvy or would you rather own pieces that truly strike a chord with you even if they are expensive?  
Arthi fondly included a picture of these rattan stools (20 yrs old and from Bangladesh! she said)

I like going to the local markets and santhes when we travel. The closer one gets to the artist the more authentic it is.
Art/ craft is difficult to put a price to. Sometimes if you value it enough, you pay up. And sometimes low priced items fit in beautifully.
If I had to name shopping haunts, Dastkar, Santhes, 100 hands, Ambara, Asmara and Tribes in Bangalore, Khadi in Chennai, are good bets for curios. Of course there are online options too now- Jaypore, itokri and so on.
Blind Love worked well for blinds and Dakshini, Zen and Be Vintage are good for furniture.

It is good to always be on the lookout and pick up whenever something catches your fancy, your budget and a corner at home.

Where do you draw your inspirations from - stores, blogs, magazines?
If the curio fits one of the various collections at home or is quirky in some way and affordable, I get it.
I do recall browsing for a unique book shelf though when we moved to this home and that is how the Yin Yan shelf came about. We were fortunate to find a good carpenter to do it for us.
More treasures from their collection displayed with panache
Home decorating is an arduous process – one that takes patience and a keen eye. What advice would you like to impart to our readers that want to create a cohesive, magazine like look without professional help? 
Don’t go for a magazine look or any other person’s home.  
Home has to reflect you and your family. Let your home be a mix of aesthetic and comfort. 
Keep it clean and put things back in place.
Keep wardrobes closed and odd and ends inside.
Keep one wardrobe rack/ draw free in every room for super duper spring clean to use when you have unexpected visitors and then do remember to clean it out once they are gone!!
Bathrooms need to be dry, real flowers are always welcome
Decide and stick to your color scheme within a room, experiment with accents, be bold and change placement for a change………..
De-clutter is something I could advice if I learned it myself!

What’s next for your beautiful home? 
Some seating in wood embellished with old ceramic tiles, but first I need space!!
How does your home decor style incorporate the needs of your two beautiful girls? 
Every room has some floor space, where they are encouraged to work / play. The hall is large and obstruction free. They have a small study area in the balcony, which is enclosed and their room has lots of storage for their ever growing collection of books and toys. The girls donate and clean out toys and clothes every now and then. This really helps. Art work is displayed on the fridge or on their room doors and changed as needed. The girls are involved in décor and crafts during all festivals so that they feel ownership towards the same.

You are big on collecting items - what kind of things do you collect? And what drives you to them? When do you say enough? How do you manage to keep your house so impeccably clutter free despite owning a cornucopia of beautiful objects- any tips on storage and display?
Ganeshas, masks, kettles, quirky small brass/ metal antiques, Indian folk art, bedspreads… oh too many for the limited space we have. If you think our home is clutter free, then open the wardrobes and lofts and you will know!!

And there you have it, my rendezvous with the bubbly Arthi Anand.  She calls it “Traditional Indian with a dash of kitsch” and I say, “Punctuated with personality”. It is a labor of love and the home is as exuberant as the home owner! Thank you Arthi and Navaneeth for sharing your beautiful home with all of us. Thank you for joining us on this home tour. Please leave your comments and questions for Arthi. Tell us if you are inspired by this space. Our home owners, who graciously share their homes with all of us, would love to hear from you.

To find out more about Art's Tales - stop by her Facebook page


P.S: All photos belong to the homeowner and Art's Tales. Please do not use without permission.


  1. Thanks for having us over Deepa and Aalayam!

    1. Oh arthi! the pleasure was all ours. It is so easy to make excuses given our busy schedules but to follow through on your passion and successfully juggle multiple roles and carve out sometime to those who are less fortunate than us - I respect that! So hats off to you! And you know, I love your home...i covet your brass, kettle and can collection!!


  2. Lovingly, tastefully curated home! Loved the tour Arti and Aalayam. The Yin-Yang corner is my favourite among several other spots in the home.

    1. Happy New Year Ambika! Isn't her home so well organized despite her vast collection of objects? I am impressed! Thanks for reading!!


  3. Beautiful home with lovely collection! I wish to see closeup of that showcase which is full of idols, may be some other time in her blog or face book. :)

    1. Sou p- Hello and welcome to Aalayam. You are our first new member in the New year! Yeah, maybe she'll share a picture on her blog. I have seen her do a fully brass dasara golu one year - so gorgeous! She is quite the collector, isn't she?

      Come back...the year has only just begun!


  4. Serene! this is the only word that I cud think of when I saw and read through your house Aarthi . I also loved the fact that you have maintained it so well with such a busy and hectic schedule. Kudos to you for taking some quality time out of ur life and do volunteering.

    Deepa , I have always enjoyed reading your blog . Supriya and you both make, narrate or showcase houses in such a beautiful way that I always feel that I am a part of the story or rather touring along with you girls. Such a joy to read your blog. Keep it going . You girls continue to ROCK!

    1. I know Kavitha - we can appreciate what it means to be busy and still make time for meaningful activites right? I am so inspired - there is a lesson here for all of us!

      And thank you for your kind words on Aalayam. Every once in a while our blogging mojo tanks and comments like these perks us up!! With comments like these we start feeling the connection to the community that Aalayam has burgeoned into- so keep them coming folks!


  5. Deepa & Supriya.. Happy New Year to you..

    Her home is truly stunning... and one of the most awesome places I've ever seen.. Both quirky and ethnic at the same time.

    1. Patricia - Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Yes, it was a privilege sharing Arthi's home again - i know you have shared her previous home. I love how passionate she is about art's tales as well as her home - it shows, doesn't it? Her passion inspires me!


  6. This is such a remarkable home.......the teapot collections is my favorite along with the reading nook :) Great job again Deepa. Wishing you and Supriya a fabulous year !

    1. Thank you sruthi! a very happy new year to you as well. I know! I covet her teapot collection too - what a merry little collection it is!
      Stay tuned - we have a great pipeline for 2015 if I may say so myself.


  7. Thanks all for your encouraging and generous words.

  8. This is one of those which no matter how many time you see it always keeps pulling you back. Loved taking your home tour again Arthi. Amazing!!


  9. Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u.

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