Designer Ranji Kelekar shows us how to recreate a rustic look for table décor with vintage pieces and fresh florals. And don’t miss his signature chandelier decorated with local leaves and flowers from his village
“The best way to find flowers is if you live in a village then go on a walk, take a pair of scissors and just cut things that you find all over. If you live in a city, either ask your local phool wala or the person who comes to deliver flowers to you at the temple. But there is nothing like going to a flower market. Go early at 6 am, take a bag and just pick your flower décor. That’s mainly what you need.”
Designer and interior stylist Ranji Kelekar makes it sound as easy as that. And if you believe in his philosophy, recreating his signature rustic look can just be put down to a few simple elements. One of which is to not overthink—leave room for the imperfections and your personal taste. For the rest, read our interview with him and watch the two videos we shot in his Goa home taking us through his process of styling:
Ranji Kelekar: I think, entertaining means a beautiful table. A table filled with lots of things from all over, the vibe of a world traveler. You probably have things in your home or your mother's and grandmother's home, some of which you just don't know what to do with. But in time, you realize that these are all things beautiful. And, I think, putting these things together and creating one's space is something that is very unique. The few important things that I think create a table are mixing and matching all different kinds of crockery and cutlery. There's no rule that you cannot use a silver bowl with a glass plate, or a kansa thali with a Wedgwood Jasperware bowl. There are no rules, you can just mix and match beautiful things to just create and form your table.
RK: I think setting up a table is like an art. I personally love tablecloths. So, I always have a tablecloth on my table, it's like the base of your canvas. You can use something vintage, for example, a cross-stitch tablecloth or crochet, I have even used an old kantha quilt, or an old Banarasi saree. I personally love to do a formal setting with a plate, a side-plate, cutlery. I mostly have sit-down dinners whether it's four guests or 15 because I think it's a little more personal. Don't hesitate to mix and match things. Pull out whatever you have—two white plates, three blue plates, and some red and white plates. Put out some nice glasses on beautiful coasters. One idea for coasters is—don't throw away your saucers if the cup is broken and over the years you will see that you have 12 coasters. Try and light a few candles, add some bowls of fruit as décor. Use everything that is in and around your vicinity like local fruits and flowers. Pick up some lemon from somewhere, some beautiful dried red chillies. Fill bowls with spices and put them around your table.
The other thing is in India, when we entertain, we serve a lot of food and the table is used up most of the time with food. So, I think, keeping the table slightly freer in the center is better. Instead of decoration you can put cheese in the center, or achaar and chutney. You can place bread with different kinds of butter. I think that is something that is really, really interesting and nice to do.
RK: It is not very difficult. I don't like to have a very tall arrangement in the middle, because you can't see the person on the other side. I prefer to have things that are scattered around. I like to have a beautiful cheese platter on the table with a few candles, flowers, and shrubbery. Sometimes, I even use a whole tropical vibe of putting a banana leaf on the table. I will add a striped tablecloth, put lots of local fruit, avocado, dates, black water chestnut, all these things add a little bit of color to your table. Your food also adds the color, be it continental, Asian, Indian, there's always colour in food that adds to your tablescape visually.
RK: My take on decorating a light or decorating a ceiling rather than decorating a table is something that probably came up when a friend of mine gave me the skeleton of this light. And we decorated this light together. I have done different things with the skeleton—I have added paper, old tablecloths, flowers etc. It’s my interpretation of décor. And because in India when we entertain the table is full with food, so this another way to add décor.
RK: All you need is cast iron or wrought iron skeleton of a light. It can be any shape—a star, a round light, or even a lantern. The main thing is to have a skeleton and you put a beautiful light inside it. Now, for when we start filling the chandelier, you need to collect a lot of foliage that is around you. You can collect different kinds of leaves on a branch. We cut out stalks of this Moringa or Fig tree to start filling the skeleton. Then we found these really pretty baby pink flowers that were growing around here and we cut them and started hanging them. I picked up a whole bunch of baby’s breath in the market. Baby’s breath is one of the prettiest flowers you can have. It just fills up any space, any vase, any chandelier. Since we were doing this for Beautiful Homes today, we also brought some Heliconia from the market. The trick of a chandelier is to basically see that it really fills a large part of your table on top. And it looks beautiful when you're sitting at the table and you look at this from below.
All images by Anubhav Deka
Speak to our design professionals