From Attukattil jhulas and Athangudi floor tiles to carved Chettinad pillars, Kolams and traditional fabrics, we show you how to bring that quintessential South Indian flavour into your home design
South Indian homes are so unique; the architecture is immediately recognizable and incredibly beautiful. We cannot do justice to South Indian culture and design in one article because each region has its own exceptional features. However, what we have tried to do is list out some of the most popular architectural features and South Indian house designs that are common to most. These beautiful elements can be reimagined and replicated in your own homes, whether it’s a sprawling bungalow to a cosy apartment, to add layers of South Indian style to your dwellings.
Read on for popular décor and architectural elements from traditional South Indian houses to replicate in your homes.
South Indian home designs vary from region to region, however, an airy verandah with a sloping, tiled roof and columns is a fairly common architectural feature across the board. Known as a thinnai, this is a shaded verandah or sit-out with built-in seating at the entrance to the home. Sometimes this verandah would wrap the entire exterior façade of the home. In certain cases a covered walkway leads up to the main entrance of the house; this walkway has a tiled, sloping roof with pillars for support.
Red Oxide flooring is actually seeing a resurgence in popularity today traditional south Indian house design. It used to be a very popular choice of interior decorators in Bangalore for hundreds of years in many parts of Kerala, Chettinad, coastal Karnataka and Goa. An eco-friendly option, red oxide flooring is made from a non-toxic oxide of iron mixed with cement, giving it a distinctive red hue. Different shades can be achieved with different ratios of red oxide in the cement.
Now considered antiques, a typical main door for South Indian homes is made from wood with intricated carvings and metal detailing. Burma teak was usually used by interior decorators in Bangalore to make these opulent and striking pieces usually embellished with historic images, mythical scenes or images of deities. You can replicate the ornamental door or even restore one for your own home. Another feature common to traditional South Indian interior design for home is metal idols placed at the front entrance.
One of the most recognisable architectural elements of South Indian style house design, especially Kerala homes, are the pitched or sloping roofs covered in clay roofing tiles. These terracotta-hued roofing tiles, like the Mangalore roof tiles, are hardy and durable.
Just like the entrance door and pillars, furniture in traditional South Indian homes was usually heavy pieces in wood featuring intricate details and carvings. Rosewood, teak wood and jackfruit tree wood are the most popular ones used by interior decorators in Chennai for South Indian style furniture. Rather than upholstered seating, traditional South Indian home décor items included seating made from wood with rattan, cane or jute detailing.
Richly patterned and hued Athan gudi tiles are a flooring staple in South Indian home design. These stunning masterpieces can be used as a periphery border to neutral or solid floor tiles or even across the entire expanse of the room. These handmade tiles come from the Athangudi village in the Chettinad region but you can also replicate the look with cement tiles.
South Indian fabrics, especially silks and fine muslin, are extremely sought after. Add a touch of traditional south Indian style house design with these exquisitely woven fabrics reimagined as drapes, throws, cushion covers or even wall art.
Typically, the colour palette in South Indian style homes featured earthy, almost rustic shades. Rather than splashes of bright colours, shades of terracotta, brown, tan, beige, creams and yellows were chosen by interior designers in Chennai. Drawn from their natural surroundings, these colours work very well with natural elements, ethnic fabrics and wood details.
Another architectural feature typical to South Indian house interior design used by interior decorators in Bangalore are intricately carved pillars, usually of wood, stone, cement or granite. A modern south Indian house design version sees metal being used in a similar fashion. These carved pillars lined the entrance walkway, verandahs and central courtyards but one can also use these in modern homes for terraces, balconies or even in apartments as a visual room separator. Most traditional South Indian interior design for homesfeature a central courtyard, usually open to the sky.
Sitting exactly in the centre, this courtyard divides the house into four sides. Modern versions include a small internal courtyard filled with greener, usually next to the staircase, with natural light flooding in through a skylight.
A great way to add traditional South Indian flavour into your home décor item is a table setting. Whether it’s a festive family gathering or an evening of entertaining, a well-designed tablescape can be quite the centrepiece. Take inspiration from this elegant table setting and add elements like ethnic fabrics used for table runners and mats, stoneware serving bowls with brass details and, of course, a lot of banana leaves.
During festivities, homes across South India are adorned with traditional rangolis in Kolam patterns. A Kolam or Muggu is a symmetrical, geometric line drawing composed of straight lines, curves and/or loops which drawn around a grid pattern of dots. As seen in the image, this Kolam pattern has been used by interior decorators in Chennai on the wall to bring in a touch of traditional South Indian interior design.
Another key element in South Indian traditional house design is the Attukattil jhula or swing. Interior decorators in Chennai usedthese traditional swings that are made from wood with intricate brass supports. In this living room, it has been used as not only to increase seating but as a visually unobtrusive room divider.
If you are inspired by South Indian home décor ideas and looking to add these traditional touches to your own homes, it is always a good idea to consult design experts. From eco-friendly materials to architectural features, these experts will be able to reimagine the traditional elements in your modern homes. These basic tips will help you choose the right architect or interior designer in Bangalore and interior designers in Chennai or interior designers in Hyderabad for your home.
It is important to choose someone who will give the proper time and effort to your home like the Beautiful Homes Service by Asian Paints. You will get the benefit of a panel of expert designers along with a dedicated project manager to work out each step of the way for a fuss-free solution. You can also peruse the Beautiful Homes online shop or retails stores in various cities for furniture, lighting and décor.