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If everything royal is your style, then Amrita Gandhi’s book, Live Like a Maharaja—How to Turn Your Home into a Palace, is your guide. Gandhi, who has written and presented Royal Reservation, a show on how the families of former kings and queens of India live on NDTV Good Times since 2007 (the last season of 13 episodes ended in 2013), says that in six years she has met over 30 royal families across India. “The show initially started out as a travelogue but over the years we have covered living, style and even décor of these households," says Gandhi. Apart from décor ideas, the book has style tips from designer Raghavendra Rathore and actor Saif Ali Khan. “I wanted the book to be guide to everything royal and how it can be incorporated in our daily lives. For the décor ideas too, I have written in a way that some of the concepts can be easily adapted to a small city flat," says Gandhi. In the chapter, Personal Living Spaces, Gandhi speaks to two men whose living rooms “exhibit oodles of style ideas not just because of their royal provenance but also because of the individuality of the owners." Edited excerpts:

The luxury of excess: Adil Ahmed

An interior decorator to several royal families, whose most recent workshop is Rajmahal Palace in Jaipur, Adil Ahmed is an expert on both creating a palace in a contemporary home and transforming a contemporary home into a palace.

Live Like a Maharaja: By Amrita Gandhi, Penguin, 197 pages, Rs 699
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Live Like a Maharaja: By Amrita Gandhi, Penguin, 197 pages, Rs 699

He tells me the story of how he came to own two hundred yards of ikkat that is, for now, the signature of his ever-changing home.

A friend of Adil’s introduced him to a National Award-winning weaver from Andhra Pradesh who took up the challenge of creating an ikkat pattern inspired by Adil’s desire for flamboyant colours. Adil had forgotten all about the conversation until the day bales and bales of pink, black and green ikkat arrived at his doorstep.

He slept over it for one night and the next day, he got to work, covering the walls and reupholstering the sofas in the same fabric.

Mad as he is about pattern and colour, Adil takes great pleasure in breaking all the rules. He shows me how an old throne which was once upholstered with brocade was transformed with an impertinent faux fur.

While the backrests of his sofas are layered with embroidered ceremonial quilts, the seats are lined with cushions sourced from different places. One cushion, in pastel shades and cream-gold, is made from antique brocade which, he says, could have been left over from a blouse piece. Another cushion with a Samarkand pattern was bought from Good Earth and, bookending them all, are the ends of an antique bolster.

One of Adil’s most interesting sources of furniture and other decor pieces is an antique seller who comes to his home. Antique vendors don’t necessarily only sell you antiques, they can also bring you new pieces made in old techniques, like a cheerful pichvai in yellow and blue.

A pichvai is a painted cloth draped behind the idol, usually in a Krishna temple. A pichvai, Adil explains, can be displayed as strikingly as a piece of contemporary art.

Adil’s tips:

u Go big with wall pattern. It works to create a huge impact, thereby giving a small space an important appearance. Feel free to cover all your walls with the pattern—as Adil did with ikkat.

uOn a prominent wall add a large tapestry of, say, a tree of life, which could immediately give the feeling of bringing the elements inside, even in a windowless space.

u Add big, ornate mirrors to two walls facing each other to give depth and dimension to the room.

u Use identical, big sofas with built-in bolsters that fill up the entire space.

u Mix hues and patterns on the walls and cushions so you can keep your sofas neutral.

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Hanut Singh says wallpaper perks up a space; a Chinese vase in Singh’s living room; Singh uses Louis Vuitton vintage luggae as a base to display things

Hanut’s strongly individual streak greets you even before you walk through his front door. Murals in a distinct, surrealist botanical tone that, like creepers, accompany you up the three flights of stairs to his front door are insufficient preparation for what you will see inside. This is a home that cherishes the luxuries of yesterday with the attitude of today.

Hanut feels that too many homes today resemble hotel lobbies or are devoid of personal touches when, in fact, they should be intimate, lived-in spaces.

No maharaja portraits are displayed anywhere in Hanut’s one-of-kind home to emphasize his royal lineage.

Literally up on a pedestal, against the glass windows overlooking the terrace garden, sits a Chinese vase, white with a delicate pattern of birds and butterflies in varying shades of citrus. Its gleaming, pristine condition belies its antiquity. He loves the chinoiserie vibe and this vase is a perfect example of it.

Hanut’s seemingly reckless display of this beloved piece makes it vulnerable to tremors, dogs and an irresponsible elbow, but it looks like he’s willing to take his chances. He has it where he can admire it every day—on one of a pair of acrylic Corinthian pillars he bought in Italy.

When you have Louis Vuitton vintage luggage emblazoned with the crest and initials of the Maharaja of Kapurthala, even a trunkful of nothing is a trunkful of plenty. Lucky Hanut has several of these trunks which have withstood the wear of time, travel and envy. Upon them are set more one-of-a-kind objects, part bought, part inherited, each and every one of them with a story of its own.

Hanut insists that you must use things that interest you or something that you are passionate about to decorate your home. For example, he specifically chooses not to have Indian art hanging on his walls because it doesn’t excite him at all.

For all his precious heirlooms, the biggest design feature in Hanut’s home is actually the wallpaper. It is quite like the skin of his house, splashed as it is on every single wall in every single room. Hanut admits that he loves how wallpaper perks up a space and how you can play with it.

Hanut’s tips:

u Don’t be afraid to mix several patterns. Select objects that you like, colours and patterns that appeal to you. You will find that they all work together beautifully.

u Wallpapers are a commitment. Invest only if you are feeling adventurous.

Choose a wallpaper that appeals to you personally, something you are unlikely to tire of easily.

u Look after your inherited objects more carefully than anything that is store-bought.

No royal ancestors whose pictures can hang on your walls? Try botanical découpage instead!

u Give a special piece pride of place so that you can enjoy it every day and create a corner for things that hold special significance.

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