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When Meghna Venkatesh shared 2-3 pictures of her living room, I wanted to see the rest of her 2,200 sq.ft home in the Bay Area. Every inch of the living space is decked tastefully with wooden artifacts and chests, brass lamps, Tanjore paintings, and handwoven dhurries that reminded me of some treasured finds at Cauvery Emporium or Cottage Industries from the late ’90s.

Meghna went on to confide that the living and staircase are decorated in the Indian ethnic theme while the rest of the home is predominantly modern functional. And, for a change, this home tour is narrated in first person by Meghna.

About the home:

Who lives here: Meghna Venkatesh, Swaminathan, Pranav Swaminathan, our 6 year old miniature schnauzer Ludo.

Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Year built: 2013

Size: 2,169 sq.ft

Type: Single family home comprising 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms

Designed by: Meghna 

Budget: approx. $3000-$5000

We are a family of three and we also have a dog. My husband, Swami is an engineer and works for a tech start up. I teach in the local elementary public school district, and Pranav is currently in elementary school. Although the selection of decor and the final design decisions in the home are mine, Swami has always been supportive of my desire to create a home that reflects Indian values. 

The home is part of a beautiful community located in a valley. There is a lake at the end of the street and we have a view of the mountains all around. 

Our 4 bedroom, 3-bath two-storey home was built in 2013. It is located in San Jose, California. We are the first occupants of this home. At the very outset, as I visited the construction site to watch my home being built, I started visualizing different kinds of interior arrangements for our home.

I had always wanted to sculpt the interiors of my home to reflect the culture and traditions of India, especially so that our son Pranav could experience what is meant to grow up in a traditional Indian home surrounded by symbols of Indian culture. 

Layout

The house has an entryway which leads to an open floor encompassing the living room and the kitchen. There is no family room. The space that would have been dedicated to a family room is instead used to provide us with a gourmet kitchen and a large bedroom and bathroom downstairs. The other three bedrooms and two bathrooms are upstairs. The third bedroom has been converted into a home office and library.

Entryway

As you open the front door to the house, you walk into this space. I believe that the entryway sets the tone for the rest of the home and you set the right vibes for your home by creating an entryway that is welcoming and vibrant.

My mom used to always showcase greenery in her decor, and money plants were an integral part of her living room. Using pothos in my decor always takes me back to my childhood. 

 A huge Kawana mirror from World Market adorns the wall to the left. An entryway table from Pier 1 Imports stands below the mirror. Two annapakshi twin lamps stand on either side with a Ganesha uruli in the center.   A dasavatharam bell hangs next to the entry way table in front of a Ganesha Lamp and under the bell is a standing Lakshmi lamp on a small pedestal I purchased from a Rajasthani artisan.
A huge Kawana mirror from World Market adorns the wall to the left. A dasavatharam bell hangs next to the entry way table in front of a Ganesha Lamp and under the bell is a standing Lakshmi lamp on a small pedestal I purchased from a Rajasthani artisan.
An entryway table from Pier 1 Imports stands below the mirror. Two annapakshi twin lamps stand on either side with a Ganesha uruli in the center.

Down the entryway, just before one turns to the living room I have an organizer for keys and wallets, and on top of the organizer is a wooden Ganesha statue from Poompuhar, Mahabalipuram flanked by two mini diyas hanging from wooden carved brackets. 

A wooden Ganesha statue from Poompuhar, Mahabalipuram flanked by two mini diyas hanging from wooden carved brackets
A wooden Ganesha statue from Poompuhar, Mahabalipuram flanked by two mini diyas hanging from wooden carved brackets

On the floor is a large brass uruli from Kerala with a Saraswathi idol seated on a decorative brass stand. I have placed the uruli on a three legged carved elephant table from Novica. As one enters the living room, you can see a Madhubani wall clock which I bought on my India trip with two warli lamp holders on either side. 

A large brass uruli from Kerala with a Saraswathi idol seated on a decorative brass stand
A large brass uruli from Kerala with a Saraswathi idol seated on a decorative brass stand

Living room

The living room and kitchen are adjoining each other in an open floor plan. I have placed the entertainment center which houses all my artifacts and collectables on one side of the room.


If you liked this home, you may also want to check out Preethe’s 640 sq.ft home in San Francisco.


The entertainment center holds art pieces collected along the journey my husband and I have shared together over the years. Some of these are the vase my husband  brought back from his business trip to Shanghai, the urulis bought at a small artisan shop in Bangalore, as well as the vase we bought on our trip to Jaipur when we visited India last year. I have tried to position my art pieces in a way that they tell a story.

 The pieces around the entertainment unit weave a story of their own. dancing Ganesha spoon mounted above the entertainment center is flanked by two gold foiled paintings of musical instrument to symbolize Ganesha dancing in joy and harmony to the music.
The pieces around the entertainment unit weave a story of their own. dancing Ganesha spoon mounted above the entertainment center is flanked by two gold foiled paintings of musical instrument to symbolize Ganesha dancing in joy and harmony to the music.

On the other side, I have a beige colored fabric couch as well as two arm chairs. Cushions from Cauvery emporium and Pier 1 Imports line the couch. The coffee table has an antique trunk look.

Coffee table decor consists of a Dhokra work tray with brass fish handles, on top of which I have placed a dancing Ganesha, a Krishna spoon, and a brass vase with pothos and a mix of seasonal flowers.
Coffee table decor consists of a Dhokra work tray with brass fish handles, on top of which I have placed a dancing Ganesha, a Krishna spoon, and a brass vase with pothos and a mix of seasonal flowers.

My son’s piano is against the wall by the windows that overlook the backyard. The piano has a couple of artifacts on it as well, one being a Bastar vase from Chatthisgarh.

The Pier 1 side table holds a peacock diya and other artifacts like an uruli, a kamandalu, and a peacock bell. There is a side table with a wooden statue of Saraswathi and a kamandalu also filled with pothos and seasonal flowers. A winding corner shelf on the wall holds other traditional brass artifacts. A peacock diya stands on a decorative elephant table by the side of the entertainment center and a dancing Ganesha statue stands on a brass stand by the piano.
There is a side table with a wooden statue of Saraswathi and a kamandalu also filled with pothos and seasonal flowers. A winding corner shelf on the wall holds other traditional brass artifacts. A peacock diya stands on a decorative elephant table by the side of the entertainment center and a dancing Ganesha statue stands on a brass stand by the piano.
The Pier 1 side table holds a peacock diya and other artifacts like an uruli, a kamandalu, and a peacock bell.
The Pier 1 side table holds a peacock diya and other artifacts like an uruli, a kamandalu, and a peacock bell.

A staircase connects the first floor/ ground floor to the bedrooms upstairs. I love having floating shelves on the walls lining the stairway where I can display decor which can be viewed closely as one walks up & down the stairway.

A stairway with yazhis and Tanjore paintings.
A stairway with yazhis and Tanjore paintings.
A Tanjore swan painting and lamp each on two floating shelves on one of the walls in the stairway.    The other wall has a Tanjore painting of Saraswathi with two smaller Tanjore swan paintings on either side. One of the lamps on the floating shelf is of Lord Brahma, whose consort is Saraswathi. Hence, the idea to place the Brahma lamp close to the Saraswathi Tanjore painting was to signify the connection between the two gods.
A Tanjore swan painting and lamp each on two floating shelves on one of the walls in the stairway. The other wall has a Tanjore painting of Saraswathi with two smaller Tanjore swan paintings on either side. One of the lamps on the floating shelf is of Lord Brahma, whose consort is Saraswathi. Hence, the idea to place the Brahma lamp close to the Saraswathi Tanjore painting was to signify the connection between the two gods.

As one continues to ascend the staircase, the entire wall to the right of the staircase is lined with my son’s paintings converting that wall into his own private gallery. Many visitors to my house comment on how much they like to pause at each step to take in the sight of the paintings as they ascend the stairs to go upstairs. 

A gallery wall of hand-drawn paintings.
A gallery wall of hand-drawn paintings.

There is no formal dining room. We have placed a pottery barn round table in the kitchen to create an eat in kitchen environment. We have an eat-in gourmet kitchen.

Kitchen with granite countertops and cabinets in  deep amaretto color.
Kitchen with granite countertops and cabinets in deep amaretto color.

The master bedroom in on the second floor. As you walk up the hallway, you will find my son’s paintings on the wall to give it a gallery feel. The master bedroom has a king size bed, an attached master bathroom, and a walk in closet. Large windows line one side of the room and look down into the back yard. Kalamkari art work lines the wall behind the bed. A large dresser and mirror are on one side of the room. The master bedroom has a nook in the wall in front of the bed where we have installed a TV. 

The guest bedroom is on the first floor and is to the left of the living room. The bedroom is rectangular in shape and has a queen size bed. A large Padma mirror from World Market hangs on the wall. The bedroom has a closet with sliding doors for guests to store their belongings. The guest bedroom has a nook under one of the windows which we have converted into a workstation with a computer for guests to use. 

Son’s room: Son’s room on the second floor has built in shelves and a study area from Container Store, all built into the wall. His bed is from Ashley Furniture and has a pull out trundle which he can use when he has friends over for sleepovers. The closets also have shelves and drawers bought from the Container Store. 

There is no separate entertainment room in the home. Most of the entertaining happens in the open space shared by the living room and the kitchen. 

We have a backyard that was designed along the lines of a Japanese zen garden. We have a river of rock with a feng shui accent at the corner as well as Japenese plants like a Japenese maple tree and a weeping maple bush. Next to the weeping maple, we have a fountain. A Buddha adorns the corner of the garden next to a bed of Japenese forest grass. 

A scuplture of Buddha in one corner of the Zen garden with Japanese forest grass in the front.

My Design Aesthetics

As I was designing spaces within my home, I kept two principles in mind- I wanted to create spaces that reflected my culture, but also served a functional purpose at the end of the day. I kept in mind that within my home, we were raising a boy and a dog, and that there were constantly going to be playdates, sleepovers  and group study sessions happening over the years. It was important for me to marry beauty and functionality while I worked on the interior decor of my home.

A lot of the color schemes for the cabinets, flooring, walls, etc. had already been selected and ordered by the builder’s designer even prior to the start of home construction. Since the builder’s designer had predominantly  selected warmer colors like burgundy or amaretto for several of the built in cabinets and flooring, I had to pick color schemes for the rest of my furniture and fixtures accordingly. Luckily, I tend to gravitate towards darker shades of warmer colors too and hence you will find deep hues of brown and rust in several of my furniture pieces and fittings like my blinds.

Designing homes with an emphasis on Indian decor is a passion for me. Nothing relaxes me more than to browse for Indian decor ideas and customize them for my home. Though I may not have the bandwidth to decorate someone’s home entirely, I will be happy to share and exchange decor ideas with anyone who is interested in having their home reflect Indian aesthetics. 

Shop Meghna’s Look (Product Sources):

Lights: Provided by builder

Paints: Sherwin Williams

Furnishings: Pottery Barn and Hammary for the furniture. Indian decor primarily from parents , in-laws, exhibitions in india, online from Etsy, the Indian Weave & Novica

Sofas: Flexsteel

Dining table: Pottery Barn

Flooring tiles: Provided by builder




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