Conventionally, most Indian homes especially in large cities suffer from lack of space. Nevertheless, everyone would like to make their living room a safe and comfortable haven where they can receive visitors and generally spend their own time. In order to conserve space and yet make for an aesthetic appearance of the living room, it is essential to look at ways of means to give the living room a spacious and commodious look. This would help in the effort to make the guests feel at home without giving them the impression of having intruded into someone’s privacy.
An essential part of the furniture in any living room is the careful planning and provision of space for cupboards to store items of daily use as well as those that may be required when the seasons change. Cupboards, in this sense, should be for utility items and not a storeroom or dumping ground for rarely used items which you may or may not be in need. Clutter not only takes up valuable space but also goes against the very concepts eulogised by Vaastu shastra. A clean and impressive living room not only exudes sophistication and good taste but also adds to the aesthetics and decor of the house. This gives a clue to the personality of the entire household and its inmates.
Some of us might think that it will cost a fortune in order to give the living room an opulent look. However, as we shall see, a little careful thought in the choice of cupboards might make the whole exercise a pleasurable and yet economical experience. The in-built cupboards that merge with the wall or wallpaper are ideal.
The living room will really look roomy, airy and still be a place where optimal use has been made of the space available and conceal space that stores small rugs , doormats or prayer mats, cushions for the purpose of storing less used items.
To buy or to build : An advice sought from the designer
Like in most situations most people, especially those buying a new house, are caught in the dilemma of whether they should buy items off the shelf from leading brands or have an experienced interior designer who would even advise on what would make a living room sync with the rest of the house. One can argue for sides, the builder's & the buyer's. Customise the cupboards to suit individual needs of the household and perhaps, save some money in the bargain.
Separate cupboards – for the adults and the children. Care should also be taken for future growth of the kids and their needs. Usually, closets and cupboards can be gender-neutral this helps the son/s and the daughter/s of the house to easily switch cupboards according to taste and needs.
Almirahs or cupboards
If a decision is made to build cupboards instead of buying them from a furniture mart, one could think of making use of the maximum space from the floor to the ceiling giving adequate room for cleaning and maintenance. The key to give the living room and the furniture placed in it a clean and fresh look is maintenance and that should not be compromised always.
One must be cautious to build such floor to ceiling cupboards or shelves only one wall of every room in wood. Although wood has this unique elegant look it is also prone to secrete termites and gather fungus in a moist surrounding. Wooden flooring offers ample scope for wooden closets and almirahs. Nowadays few opt for wooden infrastructure due to expensive maintenance.
Wider range in pieces of furniture
One could look at several options for buying pieces of furniture like coffee and dining tables and comfortable sofas from the leading brands.
However, wall-mounted units are also a good option for making optimum use of the floor space. These are uncomplicated, versatile and several modular kitchen designs that can be wall-hung are available.
Care should be taken to ensure that these items serve their purpose and also blend well with the rest of the items in the living room. Such wall-hung units of course give a contemporary look to the living room and match without appearing to be gaudy. The key to shopping for such pieces is to have a good imagination instead of having a buyer’s remorse - that is regretting a costly purchase and you are forced to buy but does not fit in with the rest of the pieces in the living room.
Iron: A sturdy option
Furniture in Iron may sound obsolete but if economy is the criterion , wrought iron has many choices to offer that may not stretch the budget. They come in elegant designs and the durability of having small and big almirahs , painted to suit the taste of the buyer comes as an obvious choice.
PVC shelves or Cane Shelves
Nowadays for the ever mobile tenant who opts for light furniture goes for small cupboards or shelves in PVC or cane .These are economical and easy to move. They also look chic and compact to suit the modern buyer. Artefacts in the same material are available for relevant decor.
The material used for making the cupboards
Another question that needs to be addressed is the material that needs to go into the making of the cupboards. Should it be purely wood or mixed with synthetic material. A tropical climate has its own hazards and an appropriate choice needs to be made.
Stand alone cupboards obviously occupy space and this can be avoided in order to conserve space and still serve the purpose for which a cupboard is required.
Instead of standalone cupboards one could also think of having built-in cupboards so that the overall decor has an aesthetic appeal and blends with the general appearance of the living room. Some living rooms which are badly designed often giving the visitor the impression that make shift cupboards are placed as a filler item for the room. Symmetry in placing cupboards in the living room should be planned and must not cover the window space. This happens even if the closets are properly shut and the cupboard doors are properly aligned and safely latched. The inlet of air into the living room gets blocked.
However, one clear risk in having a built-in cupboard or closet is that these cannot be moved since they are fixed. Hence, great thought needs to be put in before choosing this option as the only way the built-in cupboards can be removed is by dismantling them. In such an event, the money spent on it is virtually wasted.
Uses to which the cupboards are put
The next question that needs to be addressed is the use to which the cupboards are to be put. Is it for clothes or general utility items. Ideally, clothes should be in the closets or cupboards in the bedrooms of the occupants and not occupy prime space in the living room. However, if that is not possible, such clothes should be kept in an inconspicuous place in the cupboards as you may not be able to open the cupboards in the presence of guests who may be having tea. That would be a distraction and inconvenience besides being an embarrassment for all concerned. A chief attribute of a properly designed living room making space for cupboards should be utility combined with aesthetics. This is where a good interior designer can contribute her expertise as there are several ways in which the twin objectives of space conservation and elegant look can be achieved.
To ensure safety of children in the house, it is essential that the cupboard or closet doors do not open in such a way as to cause hurt to the children. A small cupboard which children can use to keep their toys and other items can also be thought of. This would however, have to ensure proper height and smooth movement of the drawers/shelves as a preventive measure against injury.
Another aspect to be kept in mind with children in the house is to keep the electrical fittings and power sockets out of reach to ensure children’s safety while playing. The advantage of having a small cupboard exclusively for the kids would also help in inculcating in them the habit of de-cluttering. Such habits if started at a young age will help them to organise their lives better. They should also be encouraged to clean out stuff that is no longer useful and make space for things that really require. Proper maintenance would ensure that the cupboards last a long time and children can be taught the essentials of a proper clean-up at regular intervals.
Thus, elegantly made cupboards for the living room while serving as a comfortable and safe storage place for the various household items can also lend panache to your dream house. You will be surprised how a little care, creative thinking and time spent on cupboards, cabinets and closets can truly transform your living room and the potential to be the envy of your guests.
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