India is known to be a melting pot of cultures, with each state brimming with its own unique traditions and native festivals. Though North and South India have a common unifying heritage, design styles and art patterns vary greatly. Each part of our country comes with its own distinct identity—and if you are looking to decorate your home in traditional South Indian style, there are some elements that must find their way into your interior design!
Every traditional South Indian home will welcome you at the entrance with the ubiquitous Rangoli. Rangolis are said to invoke divine blessings and welcome everything good into your home. These rhythmic patterns were originally a form of roadside art, created using synchronously aligned grids and dots to create perfect symmetry. Creating a rangoli has an intrinsic deep meaning; it is a process that seeks to align the humdrum of everyday life with the mystic cosmos. Every South Indian home will have a rangoli at the doorstep, in the pooja room and in the courtyard as well. Elaborate rangolis that are created using rice powder or paste play an important role in the heart of the home during festivities and religious rituals.
Heavily ornamental doors
Typical South Indian entrance doors are intricately carved and embellished with metal, and you can give your guests a taste of what is in store by replacing your mundane entrance door with one that is perhaps rescued from an old house and restored to its original glory. South Indian craftsmen are well known for being adept at painstakingly carving out a kaleidoscope of historic images from age-old myths and folktales.
From centuries gone by, metal statues have found pride of place in palaces, temples and homes in the South. Metal sculptures, in particular brass or bronze figurines, are a common décor artefact in South Indian homes. Idols of Ganesha (the roly-poly, elephant-headed God), Buddha and Nataraja are particularly popular choices amongst South Indians. Artwork that has metal accents, such as Tanjore paintings which use real gold leaf, can be added for a rich look in the pooja and living room walls.
Lighting the lamp
Lamps hold a special significance in religious rituals in the South, and lighting the lamp is a well preserved tradition. The glow of the lamp is said to dispel darkness in all its forms. Many traditional families choose to keep a tall brass lamp or an ornately carved brass hanging lamp at the verandah or entrance to their homes, and this lamp is duly lit every morning and evening to usher in positive energies into the home.
Filled with water, flowers and floating candles, the ancient bell metal uruli has reinvented itself as a lovely decor accessory that is popular in South Indian interior design. Placed in your foyer as a centrepiece with a rangoli around it, this uruli is said to purify the environment and welcome guests to a home.
Heavy carved furniture
Beautifully carved pieces of furniture, usually in rosewood and teak wood, are a hallmark of South Indian décor. Very often this furniture is embellished with metallic accessories, like a hanging oonjal or swing that is a must-have in a South Indian living or family room. Sofas are not usually upholstered but are simple pieces with a lot of wood on display, often consisting of intricately woven seats in rattan or jute with carved wooden legs.
South Indian fabrics
South Indian handicrafts and handloom fabrics are spectacularly rich and meticulously woven. Ikats and Pochampally fabrics from Andhra, Kanchipuram weaves from Tamil Nadu, Mysore silks and the elegant white and gold mundus from Kerala can be repurposed in the form of innovative window drapes, upholstery and cushion covers to give your home décor a very authentic flavour.
Natural elements in the flooring
Terracotta and Athangudi tiles used in the flooring can transform your home interior in a stunning manner. These richly patterned tiles gain added polish and look more beautiful with age. These tiles are traditionally used in South Indian village homes in combination with traditional elaborately carved pillars, doors and windows.
Earthen colours, patterns and textures
The South Indian colour palette typically leans towards earthen shades that are subtle and blend in well with the rest of the décor. Shades of terracotta, brown, tan, beige, creams and yellows are much preferred over brighter tones, and bring out the beauty of the ornamental wooden furniture and ethnic fabrics.
We hope we’ve been able to give you some unique interior design ideas to recreate your home in true South Indian style. The true spirit of the South lies in following the ‘less is more’ philosophy, with the emphasis on openness and an abundance of natural elements and colours that bring out the deep cultural heritage of the four Southern states.