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While many of us are drawn to the clean simplicity and simple lines of modern interior design, there are two factors that might make you shy away from using this style throughout your home – namely, when used alone it may come across a little too cold for your taste, and you may have family pieces that you would like to incorporate into your home design, but they don’t really suit the modern style.
In such cases, a combination of styles is still very possible! In fact, the blend of Ethnic and Modern is often known as Indian Modernism, and is considered a well-established style choice of its own. To achieve this effect of modern ethnic interior design in your own space, you just need to know the best ways to marry these two unique aesthetics together to realise a balanced and tasteful whole.
While ethnic home décor tends to be rich in colour, pattern and a mix of materials, this is essentially the antithesis of a modern house design interior. Influenced by Art Deco, Indian Modernism upends this idea and is a style that blends the intricate design elements of ethnic décor with the cleaner lines of western minimalism. The overall effect creates simple, straight-lined spaces where smaller details, decorative aspects and traditional patterns are allowed to shine.
Plus, while typical modern house interior design focuses on a neutral palette, here there is a more lenient acceptance of colour, permitting a deliberate and restrained use of brighter shades within the slightly more austere design mores of contemporary styling. The basic concept of Indian Modernism is that placing the focus on a few key aspects of ethnic or modern design trends helps create a more cohesive outcome and a better overall flow within the space.
Keeping specific do’s and don’ts in mind, you can craft a space that balances the inherent functionality of modern design with the charm of ethnic motifs. For example, say your aesthetic sense tends towards a more ethnic living room décor but you want your space to allow for easy movement under furniture so the robot-cleaner has room to move. Here, you could choose to stick with the “Do” of fabrics and patterns that showcase Indian heritage, but follow the “Don’t” of picking heavy, short-legged traditional wooden furniture.
Instead, choose pieces that carry the straight, clean lines and longer, narrow legs that are a staple of contemporary design trends, and you’ve got a space that perfectly fits your needs!
After all, when it comes to the best modern house design – with or without the traditional elements – your décor should still always revolve around your lifestyle and comfort.
The best place to start is by cutting the clutter. Since modern house design is all about simplicity, open space and clean lines, making sure your home isn’t crowded, with sufficient lighting, air-flow and room for movement, is a must. Never be afraid to get a little ruthless – while you don’t have to pare down to the bare minimum, sticking to the pieces you actually use and need can make a big difference to any space.
In blending two diametrically different styles, an easy way to accomplish a cohesive effect is by having a single area or piece be the focus of each room. Think about what you consider the essential elements of ethnic house design and try to place that as the focal point of your room. For example, when you think of “ethnic décor” the first thing that comes to mind may be tall brass temple lamps, a traditionally carved joola or maybe your grandfather’s wooden reading chair. Any of these could be the focal point of your room – add electric diyas to those temple lamps and they become a unique, modern lighting option; place the joola on your deck along with wicker furniture in a more contemporary style; and that old wooden chair – with the addition of cushions and a rug in a neutral colour palette, and a modern standing lamp besides it – makes a perfect, cosy reading nook that’s not at odds with your design scheme.
Love the practicality of the contemporary aesthetic but still want your heritage to shine through? Go functional and modern in your furniture choices, but appoint a large, traditionally woven rug as the hero of your ethnic living room décor – drawing the eye and adding a splash of colour and pattern to a sleek space. Or place a couple of Ikat embroidery cushions on your modern couch to make it a little more cosy and inviting. Adding texture and pattern through your soft furnishings and upholstery is a great way to add a hint of handloom charm to an otherwise more simply designed living room.
Remember that using fabric doesn't just mean cushions, curtains, rugs and upholstery. One of the most common uses of traditional fabrics is as beautifully woven, embroidered or worked wall-hangings – from Kalamkari print scrolls, to elaborate mirror-work tapestries. Adding this style of ethnic wall décor as the focal point in a room is a great way to bring a sense of traditional luxury to any space. As for material, you could also play around with bamboo, rattan-work or cane furniture and décor, to bring an extra aspect of texture to your space. Introducing traditional wooden doors or a beautifully carved jali into the space can also help showcase an ethnic influence without detracting from your modern décor theme.
Details are always important when it comes to ethnic home décor, and never is this more so than when you’re blending the ethnic with a modern look. Incorporating small elements of Indian heritage through brass statuary or traditional crafted ceramics and stonework is a great way to hint at an ethnic influence without overwhelming the eye. Place a mini stone urli on the table at your entryway to collect keys, hang a trio of small brass temple bells as an ethnic inspired wind-chime on your balcony, or place indoor plants within terracotta pots for a green space that still blends seamlessly into the simple lines of a contemporary space.
A major no-no when incorporating ethnic home décor ideas into a modern house interior is to go crazy with colour. As previously mentioned, a hallmark of contemporary styling is a more restrained, neutral palette, therefore it’s still a good idea to shy away from being too bold with colour when adding in your ethnic elements.
You could play around with pattern and texture, but stick to the combination of black, white, neutrals and pastels that characterises the modern style, or add in a few extra pops of brighter colours – Indian design trends do tend to luxuriate in the more vibrant shades – but make sure you don’t go overboard. Sticking to a minimum of colours and hues will help to keep things looking clean and cohesive.
If you have a lot of ethnic pieces that you absolutely love and want to feature in your home, just don’t use all of them at once. Instead, place certain pieces in storage and bring them out when you get bored of what’s currently on display – this is a great way to ensure no room is overcrowded or cluttered with stuff, and that you’re sticking to the simple look of modern house design. Plus, by constantly refreshing the statement pieces of your modern ethnic house design, you’ll keep your décor looking new and fresh; you’ll never get tired of how your home looks!
Hopefully this has sparked some ideas and given you a better idea of how to create a perfectly balanced and harmonious blend of the modern ethnic interior design aesthetic. If you’re all fired up to build your own sanctuary in this style but aren’t sure where to start, then we’re here to help.
Here at Beautiful Homes Service by Asian Paints, we partner with you to craft the home of your dreams – from making those first design decisions to delivering the ideal final outcome, we’re there for you, every step of the way! We even make it easier for you to source the latest in furniture, home accessories and décor styles with our curated collection. So, if you’re eager to get started on creating that perfect haven, and live in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Pune or Kolkata, now’s a good time to get in touch with our team.
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