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Converting a brick house into a beautiful home

Yes, that's what has been predominantly on my mind for the past many months now. From the time the first brick in our house got laid, the image of the home I always wanted to have started to form in my mind. Much like the gestation period of a baby, it was fuzzy in the beginning and then slowly acquired specific shape and colour. Only, it took more time than it would take a baby to come into the world!

Creating a home is truly a rich experience. The pun is intended. You need buckets, no, truckloads of money! It is a time-consuming yet satisfying process. There are a lot of ups and downs in this journey and it definitely becomes easier if you have the right people and resources to help and guide you along the way.

While my pockets have become much lighter, I've become richer with all the learning along the way in the whole process. For my own record and for the benefit of those who might want to venture into a similar project, I want to jot down the vital steps that I took to come this far.
The first part is all about planning and researching:

Understanding your needs: If you are someone like me who is starting afresh, that is building your first home and do not have any belongings of value to take along, you might need to do some heavy investment that will keep you in good stead for quite some time. We have pretty much zeroed down on this city and do not plan to move (unless stars destine otherwise), so our needs were also centered around this thought. So, if you belong to the nomadic clan, you might think on the lines of a more fuss-free and free-flowing decor.

Start off as early as you can: You cannot create magic with a limited deadline. If you truly want every corner to speak for itself, bring in a theme and thought for every space, allow yourself and the people you'd work with the time to weave the beauty. If your apartment or house is under-construction, you'd have a decent idea of the date of possession. Start at least 6 months prior to this date.

Research, research and research: This is of utmost importance because no designer can help you if you are unsure of what you like and want. So, start scouring the net for information, designs and pictures that will help you decide what kind of look and feel you want for your home. Some prefer clean lines, some like me like the Indian ethnic look. For me the Indian decor blogs have been my messiah. The home tours, the valuable snippets that the home owners and the design experts shared, and the helpful pointers that friends and strangers gave on friendly FB forums helped to give a definite mould to the rough idea that I had in my mind.

Find a good designer: If you are some one who has the right blend of aesthetics, good knowledge of the materials, ample time to work out the tiniest details and execute the project, has access to a good team of workmen then you can skip this step. If you are like me who falls short of meeting the criteria, invest some time in finding someone who can take your dream to the next level. It is also important that your sensibilities match with that of your designer's to some extent, so that you agree at least on the major aspects. So, talk to people, and spread your search web far and wide. In this matter, I've been truly lucky. I found an excellent designer, truly by chance, who perfectly understood my needs and dreams. 

Be frank and open with your designer: It helps to have a great rapport with your designer. From the tiniest concern to having a disconnect on major aspects, let your designer know what you think. You should ask my designer how much I've chewed her brains ;-) But it is good to be involved in every aspect even though you have professional help. After all it is your personality that has to reflect in the house.

Have a decent idea of how you want each room to function: I like the idea of every room to be self-sufficient and compact, functionality-wise. Depending upon the space available, plan for as much storage as possible. Always plan for a little more than you think is required. Every room must cater perfectly to the person(s) who might use it. For instance, in a kid's room, apart from a wardrobe and study table, plan for ample provision to store toys and books but without over-crowding the space. Bunk-beds or sofa-beds are ideal for small spaces since they allow the necessary moving space for kids. Again, a reading corner or library in the master bedroom was something I'd asked my designer to incorporate.

Customize whenever possible: Instead of opting for ready-made add-on(s) , do try to customize at least a few. to add that X-factor in your home. In a way my home is also an amalgamation of many small to mid-sized projects handled by a bunch of creatively talented people.

Tiles and hand-painted knobs make this unit a class-apart

Knobs from Varnam

The next part is that of execution. This part is the toughest since you have to break down the whole design into inches, cms and feet and explain every tiny detail to your contractor. Of course, for those who have taken the help of a designer, this part is taken care of. My detail-oriented designer would painstakingly explain every aspect step by step with 3-D printouts and dimension sheets to her team. It was a great learning experience for me to discover how much of detail goes into even 'seemingly' simple-to-execute designs.

The final stage involves deciding the lighting, furniture, paints and all the soft furnishings. Colours play a vital role in giving your house the right look. While some prefer brighter hues, some like neutral tones. Have your family put their heads together and decide on what works best for you. You can have one ascent wall in the room in a brighter hue and have the rest of walls in a lighter hue to complement each other. We went with none other than Asian Paints, the pioneers in painting solutions. No one offers more choice with colours and textures like Asian Paints Home Solutions. Their simple and user-friendly website allows you to play around with various looks for a room. They even have an unique feature called 'Try&Decide" where you can educate yourself on the various colour schemes and combinations, calculate your paint budget and even ask a professional for help. Their products are the best in terms of quality and variety. I especially liked the special effect products for a kids room.

Seeing every element come together to give shape to your dream is a feeling that cannot be described. This is the time to add tiny elements that will personalize your space; make it yours. These elements could be anything-something from your art collection, old furniture that can be restored to give it a new look, collectibles from your travels, anything that will truly make conversational pieces or reflect your personal style. Remember, trends are there today, gone tomorrow. My personal opinion is not to pay too much heed to what's in. Listen to your heart and include whatever makes you happy.

I've thoroughly enjoyed the journey so far. The real journey will begin when I move in and settle down in the space that has been built with much thought and effort. That is when my house will truly become my home :-)

Since this contest on Women's Web couldn't have come at a better time, linking this post to the Asian Paints Blogger contest on great ways to create a beautiful home.


  1. I was WAITING for this post...:):) loved loved loved it Uma :)

    1. RM, so glad you liked the post and at least somebody was waiting for me to post ;-)

  2. Uma, this post is wonderful! And coming at the most opportune time, when my new apartment is coming up! Need to pick your brain regarding this. Loved the detail which you have gone into!

    1. Thanks a lot, Shailaja. I'll be happy to assist you in your journey :-)

  3. Great post. I haven't done any of this myself and wow...that's a lot of work!!! Now waiting for some pics of ur home...mere teasers aren't enough!

    1. My builder ensured that I had more work than I thought..more on that later..You come home and see it in person :-)

  4. lovely post , Uma ..I am actually curious to see the fruit of all your labour.. maybe a home-tour post soon ;)

    1. Thanks, Bhargavi. I'd love to do a home-tour post but that will have to wait until I move in and get in some semblance :-)
      Btw, what happened to my copy????

    2. Have sent you a mail.. do see it soon :)

  5. Wow, a very creative learning process! I would've second-guessed all the time! Good luck with the final stage of it!

  6. Loved this so much! I have always wanted a home with my own design, I don't mind if it's small or spacious-I want it to be the exact picture in my mind. I have it right there in my mind. However, I am very scared about all the sky-rocketing prices if I will be able to create what's in my mind.

    Anyway, hoping that someday I would put this post of yours to use in my life :)

    1. Keirthana, long ago when I dreamt of my home, I was scared and skeptical too. I found lot of love and encouragement from friends on this blog and elsewhere. So seek help and do keep will come true.
      And, thanks :-)

  7. Loved your post so much! Two points where I completely agree are - starting out early to give yourself enough head;space and secondly, being really honest with your designer...
    All the best for the contest Uma :)
    Would be delighted if you could share your comments on my post on the same thread :)

    1. Thanks a lot, Canary. Good luck to you too :-)

  8. Wow ! great post.. I really do agree with you as you've presented it in a step-by-step manner. Finding a good,friendly and economical designer is of utmost importance I think. ATB with the contest.

    Would be happy to have your comment on my post ..:-)

    1. Glad you liked it, Maniparna. Yep, keeping a budget in mind is also important :-)

  9. Wow Uma!! The pics look great!
    Even thinking about doing so much of research and work has my head reeling :)
    Congratulations to you on pulling it off successfully. I can see you have thoroughly enjoyed the journey!
    And really nice to have you back in this space after long :)

    1. Hey Aarthy, thanks! However, except for one, none of the pics belong to my house :-)
      Are you still blogging?

    2. Oh yes I am still blogging. Only that am a bit irregular :(

  10. Love this post, makes it so obvious how much work you've put into this. Can't wait to see the final product Uma, waiting for a meet soon after you move in ;).

    1. You are by default invited, Aparna..and I had able help with me, so didn't feel the pressure :-)

  11. Ah Uma, I did most of what you've written here, except hire the designer. I knew I could do it and enjoyed the process too. But yes, it is not meant for the faint of heart. Wonderfully summarized. Good luck on the contest.

    1. Nice to know Blogwati gee about what you did for your house..I'm sure it was a fulfilling journey..and thanks for the kind words and wishes :-)

  12. Hi Mam, I am new to here, I like your blog post. Very happy and interesting such designing thought of your own explained here well. I like the your passion shown on here. Especially mused on children study room with innovative ideas, 3d effects etc., Thanks for the blog sharing ideas. Will be reading your whole blogs post updated.

  13. This is really nice. Your information about bricks is really useful for newbie’s those who want to start their construction projects. Thanks for sharing this informative article.
    Brick supplier in Chennai


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