This designer home filled with upcycled furniture proves that junk can be beautiful
Put those bargaining skills to good use
Stepping through the door of designer Karan Berry’s apartment is like falling head-first into an Enid Blyton novel. Checkered drapes draw elegant arches across the fluted glass windows. Tabletops and cabinets overflow with flea market curiosities. There’s a monstrous money plant in the balcony that has decided to single-handedly restore Mumbai’s green cover. And everywhere you look is a lesson in upcycled furniture.
It takes a hopeless romantic to look at a castoff in Chor Bazaar and envision a sexy houndstooth lounge chair with ebony polish. “Creating upcycled furniture is one of my absolute favourite hobbies. When it comes to home décor and redecorating, one person’s junk is another person’s eye-catching bedside table,” says Berry, creative head of clothing giant Being Human and one half of couture label Karleo. “You just need an eye for a great bargain and some DIY finesse.
Upcycled furniture : from junk to jhakaas
Karan and his architect buddy, Rashmi Kurup of design firm Apeiron Architects, undressed the 560 sq ft apartment down to her delicates. “The idea was to maintain the vintage charm of the old structure and add an Art Deco vibe to the home space,” says Kurup. Off came the butterscotch paint, quickly replaced with vintage-inspired wallpaper sourced from Marshalls. They even slapped some onto the ceiling, leaving the contractors to wonder if Berry had been sniffing the wallpaper glue. They ripped out the kitchen and moved it into the space formerly occupied by the bathroom. So now, there’s a study in the kitchen and a kitchen in the bathroom and it all makes complete sense.
Of course, part of the process is knowing when to stop. Berry and Kurup kept all the original door and window frames, just swapping out the glass and giving the wood a fresh lick of Dior grey. The floor tiles made the cut too, adding to the nostalgia.
If you’re looking for a budget makeover and don’t mind stalking the country’s chor bazaars, Berry lays down a few rules to separate the gems from the actual junk.
- If you happen to come across Art Deco furniture, particularly those made from Burmese teak, scoop it up while you can. The wood lasts a lifetime and stays intact even during the torrential monsoons.
- You might need to re-visit a shop multiple times for a bargain. That’s when the owners know the customer is here for serious business.
- Skip the obvious eye-catching items and scout for pieces in unkempt nooks and corners – only there will you find the coveted bargain. “The bar cabinet was in absolute ruins when we purchased it, but we refurbished it to now a well-polished statement piece in the living space,” says Berry.