“Jasleen is an interior stylist and founder of The Ketli Design Studio. Today, she lets us peek into her beautifully curated apartment in Delhi that she shares with her husband and two boys. Her home makes the mundane seem fun while successfully combining old with the new, inside with the outside and masculine silhouettes with feminine style. She generously agreed to answer some questions for this design enthusiast, who was in awe of her style but now her writing chops too. So, without further ado, handing over the reins to Jasleen.”
Describe your style.
Contemporary with an Indian essence and sensibility. Earthy and textural. Lived-in.
When did the design bug bite you? Tell us your story.
I have always been interested in living spaces. We lived in a small shared home (a joint family) in New Delhi while I was growing up and I remember always trying to rearrange furniture to get the maximum out of the space. My sister and I loved to add plants and colourful cushions and artwork to enhance the family living space or our bedroom. At one point I considered it as a career but life took me elsewhere. I got into writing and joined a magazine as a feature writer. I worked with First City and later with Parenting magazine for over 20 years. However, my interest in interior design never waned. I see living spaces as a window to a person’s personality. It is always my endeavour to create a home that is cozy, cohesive and welcoming… something one looks forward to come back to every day. Recently I have started styling homes for other people who like my design style. However, when I style homes for other people, I always take into account their personalities. Their homes have to be a reflection of them not me!
Your source of inspiration.
I love glazed pottery, ikat, block prints, textiles, terracotta tiles and plants. These are what inspire me when doing up any space. I also love the colour grey and it somehow is present in every room in our apartment. Reds and corals also find their way into my spaces. Block prints are something I love and I am drawn to floral motifs.
Your secret design weapon.
Plants are my go-to decor tool. A space comes alive when you add a living green plant to it. I have plants in every room, wherever there is adequate light. Besides plants, pottery is something I like to display as well as use.
I also love posters as art!
How do you start a design project?
The first thing is to consider the space. Respect the space you have and plan around it; weave your look around the function of the space. Avoid clutter. Then mood boards are the best way to narrow down your choices and focus on the colours and the look you want to work with. Some of the design process is intuitive, of course, and things start falling into place once you put the first piece of furniture or art or favourite piece in that space.
Any design pet peeves.
– Poorly positioned art! Some people position their art too high or too far apart so that it makes no impact. Art should be at eye level, always. I can’t stand art hung too high!
– Overdoing the Indian element is also something that puts me off. We have a rich cultural tradition and it defines my sense of design but some people overdo it, for instance, with a display of too many brass pieces…
– Matching everything is another pet peeve.
Tell us about the Dining Area.
I love the dining area – it’s the heart of the house with the kitchen at one end and the family area on the other. All the bedrooms open into this area. The bench in the dining area is my favourite spot… a good place to keep an eye on my 13-year-old who enjoys cooking, or overseeing homework or reading. And this is where we get together for meals with family or friends on weekends. Our guests like to sit here and chat with us while my husband churns out something delicious (yes, he’s the cook in the house). The counter behind the dining table serves as the bar. Again, it’s not a very large area, but is comfortable enough for small gatherings. The dining area was actually the third bedroom which we opened up. One half of this room houses the kitchen and bar and the other half as the dining seating.
The bar is also an area I like. It’s very earthy, with terracotta tiles and funky posters. The posters have been collected over time and make it a fun space!
You have amazing window treatments.
I needed something to cover the windows yet filter light in. Matchstick blinds are perfect for that. I love the play of light and shadow that it brings in.
And these knick-knacks on the counter are so eclectic.
I love studio pottery and have been collecting mugs and jugs for years. None of the coffee mugs match because they have been bought at different times but I love that. The cheese platter is from Fabindia. The tin coffee and sugar storage jars are from Happily Unmarried. It’s a happy mix and match!
You have a very unique Kitchen Backslash, tell us about that.
We wanted an earthy look, so I was looking for handmade tiles but those were way beyond our budget. Instead, we opted for these terracotta tiles from Nitco. There was a variation in the colour, imitating the look of handmade tiles. We found a few small handmade tiles in the by-lanes of Kotla and used them in between the terracotta ones. The counter top is granite. It’s been over 10 years and there is no damage.
Our sit-out in the terrace is a favourite corner in our small apartment. It has some greenery and a swing chair. I don’t have a green thumb so I go for safer options that don’t require much work. Palms, ficus, spiders and money plants work very well. Fortunately, we get the afternoon sun so plants thrive here. It’s here that I try and steal some quiet moments with my largish mug of coffee every morning, before the rest of the family wakes up. And it’s here that we spend weekend winter afternoons soaking in the sun. It is a small space but it is just right for us.
Tell us about the DIYs here.
My husband and elder son are my go-to people for any DIY projects. My elder son helped me find and hang a bamboo platform in the terrace so I could hang several plants from it. Other than that I keep painting stencils patterns on walls here and there!
What comes first for you colour/texture/pattern?
There is no fixed order of preference. Any one of these can be the starting point and the others are usually added on.
Form over function or function over form?
Function over form. I think design has to be functional. Things kept merely for decor will never work. It is my constant effort to make my home look good, but living spaces cannot be merely pretty. They are meant for living and the clutter and chaos that comes with it. I do try to keep things organised and neat but the three men in my life have their own sense of order!
This is the perfect boy bedroom with an interesting color scheme and that cool end bench.
This used to be my elder son’s bedroom, who is now studying for a degree in Pune. He had a grey and black scheme for his room. The cupboards were spray painted grey. So when he went to college, his younger brother, 13, moved in here. It’s then that we painted one wall a burnt orange, to get some relief from all the grey and black. The posters were chosen by my son. The end bench is just an old tyre that was cleaned up and a floor cushion has been placed on it. But it’s surprisingly comfortable!
The mattress on the other side is used by my elder son when he comes home for vacations. My sons have always chosen things for their rooms, making it their own. I have just guided them.
People/blogs/designers you follow online
There are too many to list here. Apartment Therapy is a favourite!
What are your favourite places to shop?
The gypsies on MG Road, Fabindia, Good Earth, The Shop, Dastakar, Happily Unmarried and Sondha.
Share your designer’s mantra with us
Layer your home with your favorite things. Don’t get everything at once. The look created with things bought from a single store is not as charming as a cohesive lived-in look that comes from pieces added over time. Let your home show the signs of a life lived. I would hate for my home to be described as ‘perfect’. I hope it never is!
There are so many ideas running through my head while gazing at Jasleen’s carefully crafted home, it is a true feat of good design combined with great taste and functionality. If you too have a home to feature here, please drop me a mail with a few self clicked daylight pictures of your place/project at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photography by: Somya Yadav
Son’s Bedroom: Jasleen Singh
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