Hi you all ! The past four days have been beautifully sunny in Dublin- a very rare phenomenon ! With my friends and motivators, Manel and Irene, I have trekked many kilometres in this period in the Wicklow mountains–feeling exhilarated and rewarded !
This post on our house is overdue. Many of you have asked for pictures of our home in Dublin and I am only too delighted to share ! Actually, the past days, I was trying to get (Debashish to get)good pictures. Some were taken a few days ago, some just yesterday. Now that I finally have them -I can happily post !
Just to mention- that unlike many of you who have chosen your homes, chosen your own furniture and drapes- I have not. People like me never have. We, in embassies, simply go to the city we have been posted to. Rather, we accompany our husbands or wives to the places THEY have been posted to. Then we pray fervently that the designated house(often government of India property) is a decent one and pray more fervently that the furniture and curtains are alright(even holding up in one piece!) . You see, our government gives us furnished houses abroad. A boon- but can turn out to be a nightmare in case you land up with a house or furniture you don’t like.
As property of the Indian govt., every piece of furniture has a ‘life span’- so you cannot change it just because you don’t like it. You simply live with it till it’s life gets exhausted. Then you can be the lucky one who requests to buy a new piece! Meanwhile, you hide the piece/s you don’t like. Or you cover them with throws. Or camouflage with cushions. Or stay in that room only in the evenings when you can light lamps(only lamps)to camouflage at least their colour. Or pretend they don’t exist.
That is why you pray that the pieces bought by someone else should match your taste or at least be in neutral colours. Sometimes they are not and you can end up with ornate sofas in never-get-dirty-patterned-beige-brown or maroon or purple ! In the end -such things are all about personal taste, aren’t they?
Before arriving in Dublin, we already knew, to my great relief, that the embassy residence had been painstakingly restored and renovated by our predecessors so we would have something good and in wonderful working order. We arrived here and saw that it was ! Thank you, Raghavan and Barbara !
It turned out to be a 1930’s-built, protected house. A modernist-Cubist structure- avant garde for it’s time. In a bold, conscious decision, the architect of the time( no-sadly there are no records of who he was or who commissioned it)had gone against the rule and turned the house 90 degrees to the road . So unlike all the others on our road-it faces sideways and south. And-you guessed it- through its innumerable, large windows gets light almost through out the day. Well, the architectural part will take up a whole new post.That will be for another time.
But for now I’ll take you inside the house-a cup of tea,anyone ?
Here is the main door to the house with two stone Nandis(the bull that is the mount of the God Shiva)-
For a before and after- this is the before-
Take a look at the large, empty reception room- it had to be emptied out because the floors were being polished. It worked well-because it allowed me the freedom to think how the existing furniture should be placed.
Now,for the after-
A corner of the reception room-our own divans handcrafted in Bangladesh out of two headboards I found lying in a bad state in a village near Dhaka. And the table made to match. We have carried these around with us to all our postings-
An old dowry chest we bought in Bangladesh is in the background-
Here it is- with– you know what’s coming– pieces of embroidered fabric(where would I be without my fabric ?!) from Rajasthan- gifted to me by my dear sister, Uttora.
A Banaras silk saree given to me by my mother-I have placed on the arm of a sofa.A small collection of kansha(bell metal)prayer utensils that belonged to my mother-in-law. In the background, outside, is a small water feature with a stone Buddha-looks beautiful from this room-
More embroidered fabric and pieces of government silver(wish I had polished them!) on the coffee table and the sofa with the saree and cushions. All my fabric and the cushion covers have also traveled the world with me. I find a few pieces that I love, placed around a room, go a long way in making a house my home. Of course, they work well ONLY when sofas and curtains are neutral in colour. I feel, very strongly, that our embassies should make it a rule to buy ONLY neutrals and with SIMPLE lines unless it is all antique and protected and goes with the house.
A group of my own paintings and that of two artist friends on the wall behind the sofa-
Another grouping on a side table–so with the low lines of the pots(they are from Rajasthan in marble with gold relief work) I have a plant -but placed a little higher. Lows and highs- complement one another-don’t they ? The pot with the plant is also a kansha utensil and the brass box is my mother-in-law’s paandaan (a box for holding paan(betel leaf)and its dressing)
A wood carved panel from the state of Tamil Nadu-(beautiful, aren’t they ?)-government property-in the foreground(the doorway was the perfect place for these narrow,long pieces), an antique dressing table from Bangladesh with a few pieces of blue and white antique porcelain from China, a jamavar woven fabric from Banaras and three beautiful Rajasthan miniature paintings(also govt. property)– and a view of the reception area-
A view of the other side of the dressing table with two of my paintings , ‘Angry Farmer’.
A beautiful ‘Pichwai’ painting on silk from Udaipur, Rajasthan (I am always amazed at how many different kinds of beautiful works of art are made in just Rajasthan !). I had wanted it to cover the ugly plug points but it just did not work in that position. The wall was large and had to be broken up by furniture and sets of paintings. The pichwai -which I HAD to have up-worked well only right next to the cabinet-and nowhere else !
In the evening, the lamps come on and transform the room–hiding imperfections. I am a firm believer in lamps– just a few lamps and a green plant or two can transform any insipid room ! And yes, sofas and armchairs work BEST when placed in small groups. I have seen many embassy residences with sofas lined up along walls as though they are waiting rooms in provincial airports! You do need ample seating but it is alright-some people prefer to stand anyway- or, if you must have every person seated, simply bring in extra chairs-dining chairs are great, I think .
The beautiful, simple staircase leading up from the lobby to the bedrooms and study upstairs from where I am writing this –
One of my most favorite pieces in the house- a bronze Vishnu from Tamil Nadu acquired by our govt. The art of bronze cast sculptures in India dates back to 2400 BC. The tradition of casting bronzes from the Chola dynasty in the South of India, from the 9th to the 13th century AD is, amazingly, carried on till today. What do you think ?
Two beautiful Mughal miniatures( painted in recent times in the tradition of original Mughal miniatures), on either side of the doorway, carved wood panels inside the doorway and a dancing Ganesha bronze (all are Indian govt property)-
A view of the sofa and paintings with the lamps on-
The two large carpets are in wool, from Kashmir-and govt property.
So there you are ! Rooms where I have tried to make the most of what there was(like so many of you !)–there were some things added and some subtracted–and there you have my version of the total. Wonder how YOU might have done it ??
Linking this post to Suburbs Mama.
Between Naps on the Porch. Do take a look !
Thanks so much for coming by to my place ! ‘Bye for now and hope you have a wonderful weekend !
I would LOVE to hear from you–so do put in your comments and please do share ideas you have used in your own homes. We are all learning !