The Mughal-inspired pieces, bold colours and eclectic accessories in Tara Lal’s two-bedroom apartment seem strikingly similar to those at a Good Earth furniture store. That perhaps is not so surprising, given that it was Lal’s mother who set up Good Earth and she works there as a designer herself. When the 31-year-old product designer, architect, art historian and aspiring film-maker moved into her third-floor apartment, just down the road from Khan Market in New Delhi, in March, she forbade her friends and relatives from visiting her till she had completely designed the space. Now that she’s finished, she’s more than happy to show it off.
Lal designs fabrics and accessories for Good Earth, so the pillows in her living room and the curtains in her bedroom come from a collection she has designed (Pillows cost around Rs900 and curtains range from Rs800 to Rs4,000 at Good Earth stores in Mumbai and Delhi). Plus, all her dishware comes from her experiments in product design. “I get all the prototypes,” she says.
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But her home does not just pay homage to her mother’s store. Instead, it’s a mishmash of items picked up on vacation, newly upholstered furniture that once belonged to her grandparents, her favourite paintings from her father’s art collection and various items cast off by Lal’s brother and sister as they moved homes over the years, and which had been in storage. “Almost none of it in here is new. Whatever is not being used is mine,” Lal says. “Instead of trying to plan it out as in ‘Will this go with that? Will that go with this? What’ll it look like in the end?’ I just picked up whatever I liked and then, when it was here, I started arranging it.”
The artwork ranges from Babu Eshwar Prasad (“he does these beautiful wild block colours”) to antique plates from Mussoorie (“These British families just left all this stuff there”). And her furniture ranges from a foosball table to black-and-white Kartell chairs. (Similar chairs can be ordered for Rs44,500 at Good Earth stores.)
But the dominant colour in Lal’s home is bright, bright pink. “It just comes pouring out of me,” she says. Her kitchen, the biggest challenge in redoing the home, since it “looked like it was a home for spiders and lizards”, now boasts bright pink cabinets and a découpage of pages torn from her favourite design magazine,Tank.
In her bedroom, she upholstered a heavy wooden-style antique couch from her grandparents in a bright pink quilted fabric. It matches a vanity table she designed for the room. “It’s really a bit Moulin Rouge-kitschy,” Lal says. “But it’s such a girlie room already that I said, ‘Just go with it. Make it as girlie-fun boudoir as you can get’.”
She even painted one wall pink in her living room, but as the room has little natural light, she decided it soaked up too much light and reverted to white walls. Instead, to bring pink into her living room, she covered the ceiling with gauzy layers of light pink fabric.
“I wanted it to be soft without anyone noticing it,” she says. “Also, when you turn on the lights at night, it gives a glow to the whole room.”
The apartment used to serve as the office of a friend of the family, so glass doors separate the back rooms from the main room. Due to the lack of light in the main room, Lal retained the glass and covers the doors at night with curtains.
The office also had blond hardwood floors, which blend in nicely with Lal’s light colour palate.
Lal converted the second bedroom into an all-purpose guest bedroom, rec room and office space. “This room is actually in all honesty where I spend about 90% of my time.”
She had a huge window seat/divan built into the wall under the window. Lal says her friends just come in and throw themselves down on the divan and hang out. She also has a big chair (with pink cushions, of course) that she lounges on to watch movies, read or just relax.
The room has a narrow desk, but Lal says that in this day and age, that’s all she really needs—just enough to fit her laptop.
The house may be a mishmash of objects, but the overall effect has a definite synergy. “I think because I didn’t plan the house—I literally did it a piece at a time—it turned out to be a collection of things I love,” she says.