By Punam Kalra
New Delhi, July 13: The monsoon season brings with it a dual feel when the exterior feels fresh and renewed but the interiors feel clogged with moisture. While there is a constant call for the warm daylight and wide-open windows at one time of the day, but at the same time there is a strong urge to shut down the door and windows at the other. The entire shell of the space looks out for a fresh aesthetic that delves into practical, reimagined layouts, along with an indulgent choice of décor that speaks for the vibe of the season.
The mood awakens our inner self to go in search of new design elements in the space. It offers an increased indoor time that only gives us more opportunities to revive the look of our space, preferably with colourful palettes and tidier statements that help us enjoy the slow, self-reflecting time we get. It’s the perfect time to sit back and fade into the ambience and make nothing but effortless ways to go with the flow of the season.
While it moves around leaving its hints of the humid air, it calls for exclusive care for our statement pieces. The unreliable weather and its take on the interior ambience may land us to make hasty decisions for our beloved pieces, especially the climate-sensitive finishes—for which we need to prepare ourselves with a material care routine. From quick fixes to smart spatial alterations, here are a number of things you can do to keep your material palettes well protected.
Looking out for the wooden elements:
Wood, being a naturally-sourced material, tends to absorb moisture and swell up—changing the aesthetic picture of wood which endears us to the material. There is a high chance for the wood statements to show up with visible cracks and cuts that make them further prone to termite attacks. As a counter to these cases, you can seal the wooden floors, give a pesticide control measure to the built-in furnishings and add a layer of coatings and sealants to retain the originality of the wood. Much of this treatment should ideally be done before the monsoon season hits.
Making changes in the layout:
Walls become the gateway for every material damage that can come your way. Wooden installations turn dull and worn-out, wrought iron furnishings turn red with rust, copper accessories turn green and every other material has its own way of falling into the ill effects of moisture when they share close proximity to the easily-moistened walls creating damp corners and surfaces. Changing the layout of the space by introducing ample clearance between the walls and the furniture can save the day in such a situation. Try bringing more of island furniture setups that create a point of focus—the sofas, tea tables and floor lamps can come together as the central elements and create a stage for your best pieces. Well ventilated rooms can further help in moisture build up inside the house.
Embrace romanticism with the colours
Bringing romanticism in the monsoon style is another way of looking at the season’s character. You can take it forward with vivid natural colours, floral patterns and soft textures in a number of interior elements. Go for dainty wallpapers, textured flooring, canopy beds, arched closets, clustered luminaires, curved chaises, embroidered cushions, plush rugs and more that bring a charming yet restful mood into the space.
The saturated air of monsoon becomes a breeding ground for termites or other décor predators that are waiting to devour those wooden consoles and metal seaters handpicked by you. Certain varieties of polishes and paints can come and become a second skin for the furniture to not only keep the pests at bay but also reimagine the look of your favourite pieces. Bring out the textured wood tables in a classic walnut brown, handwoven wicket seaters in a boho white and the antiquated wrought iron luminaires in a caviar black. You can also bring in some cheerful palettes to balance the dull monsoon mood with fresh corals, understated peaches or even bold neons as per your taste.
Retaining the fresh look in the fabrics:
The interior textiles owe their radiance and freshness to the air around them. The still air of the season gets heavy with dampness and simply refuses to flow through the fabric, making more room for trapped air. This particularly affects the denser fur rugs, heavier velvet drapes and others that have rigid layers of weaves that are known to be fungi-favourites. While the easier way is to replace these fabrics with fresh breathable ones like sheer cotton, you can still choose to retain their fresh face with regular vacuuming rituals, linen spray routines and other that help them stay dry. You can also take the upholstered pieces closer to the window, balcony or any other space that invites good sunlight to keep them warmer and tidier. To exaggerate the warmth, more of white can be brought in the handloom door curtains, tasselled macrame décor and other light-hued elements that reflect light and make the most of every ounce of warm light you get.
Monsoon gloom is something no one wants to fall into. You can escape it by keeping the space bright and open to natural light. Try going lighter with the curtains and drapes—drop your valences and other layers and go for neat trims of sheer cotton or organza silk that come with a beauty of their own as it lends a breath of fresh air in the spaces.
Adding resilience to the spatial layers:
Walls, floors and ceilings are equally falling prey to the heavy downpours. The damp patches, withering surface finishes and the foul smell from the infestation become almost unavoidable when the space is left as such. Try giving an added layer of protection like textured tiles on the balcony floors that also help you have a skid-proof walk on the balcony or a fresh set of blinds, a row of moisture-absorbing plants or a simpler runner by the doors, French windows and balconies to mark the dry envelope of the interior. The indoor moisture levels shouldn’t ideally be more than 50% and this can also be prevented by using dehumidifiers allowing the indoors to remain crisp and fresh.
Add a dose of fragrance to the still air
The petrichor of the seasons can be ethereal and overwhelming at the same time. The changing nature of the interior materials and the mere absence of regular airflow can affect the sense of smell and bring the interior game down a notch. This is where the scented candles in vintage candle stands and reed diffusers in exquisite glassware come into play. You can also go straight for a dehumidifier to counter the dampness or take the green route with moisture-absorbing houseplants like a flowering peace lily or a scented purple orchid in textured ceramic planters.
Sink into the mood with relaxing furniture
Monsoon time is a reminder of comfort. Embrace it with relaxing furniture pieces that make a statement with their ergonomic backrests and inclined silhouettes. You are free to include more of hefty recliners, cocoon swings and more that give a cosy vibe without being loud and characterful. You can also go for bean bags, floor cushions, fluffy beddings and more that adapt to your posture and keep you snug inside out. Try accessorizing these with windchimes or dreamcatchers that sway with the wind and keep the hygge vibe alive.
Make a minimal, spruced-up statement
The season is all about going light with everything. You would want to go back to minimalism styles that celebrate the voids and make more room for the air to flow through. It is time to bring boxy statement seaters, sleek line-profile tables, freestanding wireframe lamps, floating open shelves and more that show off their lean profiles and seamlessly blend into the space.
Prioritise your shades
Indian monsoons are seen as beauty and rage, all in one frame. This is the time when the windows call for all those outdoor shades, indoor blinds, multi-layered curtains and sheer shutters designed to watch over your space. The cloudburst and drizzles are cloaked in all different forms—intricate finespun drapery, clean-lined bamboo louvres, woven jute rollers and quilted curtains have a unique take on the interior persona. The sheer choices befit the spaces overlooking good vistas and lighter shower, while opaque alternatives become the first choice for a rougher micro climate. With an aesthetic overlay of motifs, botanical prints or chintz patterns, these shades are everything we need on a rainy day.
Keep things dry and free from clutter
The palettes are easy to get muddled with the still air of the season. Ward off the damp patches with drier, spruced up finishes that comfort you inside-out, amidst the stubborn gloom from the outdoors. Mattified textures, dainty brush strokes and uniform palettes signal the counterpoise of austerity in the space. Furniture pairs break up for accommodating a decluttered layout and there is more room for standalone bespoke pieces, esthetically spaced-out for an airy ambience. Humidifiers further promise a dry vent while rugs and carpets vow to guard the floors. More air and less drear makes a stunning monsoon home.
The once-in-a-year experience can be overwhelming and indulgent at the same time. It is the time for introducing an artisanal coffee table along the balconies, relaxing reading nooks along the window bays and a close-knit furniture setup staged in the living. Share the cheer with your plants that love the overdose of moisture, bring them closer to your seats and give a whiff of rejuvenating scent from the flowering, aromatic houseplants. Snake plants, Boston Ferns, jade, palm and other hydrophilic greens soak up the excess moisture, leaving ambient indoors. More of interior indulgence comes from a dose of nostalgia reflecting along the souvenirs lining the shelves, lore hidden in the artistic centrepieces and everything bespoke. Listen to the mood and go with a free flow of choices that rewrite all the thumb rules in design. The sensorial connection with the outdoors tops the list.
(Punam Kalra, Creative Director of I’m The Centre for Applied Art)