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If you’re wondering how to transform your compact urban living room, Aditi Rao Hydari’s Mumbai home, featured in the Asian Paints’ Where the Heart Is episode, serves up a variety of ideas
“One of the biggest compliments for me is when people say they love the energy of this home. Because you cannot create that with objects. You can only create that with your heart, and your intentions,” says actor Aditi Rao Hydari about her coolly inviting Mumbai pad, showcased in an Asian Paints Where the Heart Is episode. The pure white palette is as striking as the patterned sofas and unmissable art in her cosy living area. “I inhabit this room a lot. Even though it’s my living room, it is also a very intimate space.” Everything about her home, she says, reflects her personality, from the “playful yet classic artworks” to the generous natural light flooding the room. “I love light; there are a lot of windows in this home and that is one of the reasons I picked it. And this sit-out. In Bombay, to have a little open space is really special.”
Hydari’s home, particularly her living area, is a crisp yet warm space. Decorated with the lightest of touches and impressive restraint, it is a good source of inspiration for creating a living room that may be small in size but big on style. Here’s how you can get it done.
It is a universally acknowledged commonsense notion that a small space can only benefit with a pared-back aesthetic. And what could be more about less than a minimal interior design. It not only gives a crisp and clean look to your living room but allows you the freedom to layer on the warmth and soft colours as you see fit without the space looking a bit too crowded.
Open layouts where the living and dining area or the living room and kitchen are seamless and fluid is a great way to make the space seem airier and larger.
A jali screen that demarcates the two zones, or a slight elevation as Hydari has in her home (where the dining area is a step up from the living) adds an element of interest and helps segregate spaces. You can also add a rug under the living room furniture to anchor the space and serve as a soft sectioning off in your open layout.
It is that ultimate forever-in-vogue shade that is at the heart of a minimal aesthetic. Neutrals, greys, muted hues and pastels are as relevant but there is a certain element of restraint in a pristine white interior that simply calls out to the minimalist in us. It’s versatile enough to be a backdrop for absolutely any kind of drama or style you’d want to express. It also has the added benefit of creating that illusion of breadth and makes your space look sharp. Hydari’s living room channels the white look to create a wonderfully airy and light space.
There’s the cool minimalism that can tend to verge on the impersonal and then there’s the Scandinavian minimalism that’s all about warm colours, natural textures, lots of light and the predominance of wood. So if you have a small living room and are worried about minimalism making your space lack warmth, the Scandinavian aesthetic is the answer to your prayers. Hydari’s wooden flooring, warm-hued furnishings and decor accents, not to mention, a living room that receives bountiful beautiful daylight, achieve that effortlessly.
If you have a particular love for bright colours, let them come through in the accent pieces and colourful upholstery in vibrant prints. While Hydari did go all-out with the sofas, you can opt to let the colour come through in more restrained doses—through cushion covers, smaller-sized artworks or even an accent armchair. In a small living room, bringing in the bold shades and dramatic prints and patterns makes a more effective impression if it’s in smaller forms.
Given the limited area you may have to work with, don’t go overboard with the furniture you select. Sure, you may want that sofa along with the cushy overstuffed armchairs but bring them together and your space might look too crowded. So opt for visually light furniture, with slim legs that are visible. Also consider adding multifunctional pieces—an ottoman that doubles up as a coffee table and seat, or a coffee table with storage space. Be sure you use lightweight materials too, or lighter-coloured wood; acrylic centre tables, for example, will disappear into the background, giving your space a lighter look.
Long curtains that extend from the ceiling right down to the floor gives the illusion of length, as your eye gets drawn upwards.
Curtains that are light coloured, sheers or even those with smaller prints, are the way to get this look right. And while we’re on the topic, use your walls well by adding open shelves where you can display accessories so that your floor is left free and wall sconces instead of table or floor lamps.
Nothing works quite as well as a space flooded with natural light to make a compact room seem bigger than it is. Hydari went so far as to only opt for sheers in her space. “I had this in my head that I wanted sheers. There’s a kind of lightness and a lot is happening with the furniture over here. But it was an instinctive decision,” she says. If only sheers aren’t your thing, lighter curtains, in weight and colour, are a good compromise between letting in all the light and blocking it all out. But be sure your small living room has generous windows and openings for daylight to pour in.
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