Nepaliarchitecture is an exceptional blend of aesthetics and functionality known for making the best out of the locally available resources and craftsmanship. In the earlier days, people lived a communal life and spent most of their time outdoors, giving little attention to interior decoration. However, with changing lifestyles, modern adoptions are apparent and light has been shed upon the traditional art forms which can be incorporated into the interiors.
Currently, the influence of international style with its sleek modern interiors and imported furniture is in demand. However, it is the transitional design approach that has stood out and is becoming more sought after. It is basically a marriage of traditional and modern furniture, finishes, materials, and fabrics. This duality of styles has become the contemporary scenario as evident in numerous boutique hotels, restaurants and even residences in Kathmandu. The result is an elegant design, both comfortable and classic.
The credit to the revival of traditional interiors goes mostly to ‘NewaChen’ in Kulimha, Patan, a traditional Newari accommodation with modern amenities which was restored as a joint effort of GTZ, UNESCO and Patan Tourism Development Organization (PTDO). It was inaugurated in 2006 and is undoubtedly appreciated and loved by tourists and locals alike. The trend slowly spread among the numerous new accommodations targeting tourists.
Today,there is a trend of incorporating traditional style in interior designing. Many natural materials like wood or ceramics are amalgamated with more industrial ones like metal and glass with a touch of traditional upholstery and decorative accessories. The seemingly opposite visions can be blended beautifully by picking one as the dominant style and employing the second style as subservient.
The color palettes used in this style are very subtle with the emphasis on natural colors like ivory, beige, and tan. In most cases, the originality of material is not concealed. The walls are often left un-plastered and the brick walls add a rustic feel without overpowering other textures.
The prominence placed on moderately scaled pieces of decorative accessories like a simple copper vase, an embellished wooden chest ‘Sandook’, a mirror with wooden carvings or a metal statue can exude a refined style. These organic elements blend beautifully with contemporary accent lightings, which set warm undertones.
The flooring is clad in wood paneling to give out a warm and cozy ambiance. Beautifully designed carpets and rugs are manufactured locally and can be employed to add an interest on the neutral wooden floors. ‘Sukul’, a traditional and local hand-woven carpet made of straw can also be used. Fabric and upholstery can play an indispensable role in layering the interiors. Different textures and material can be experimented with. The use of ‘dhaka’ fabric, a colorful textured fabric can also be incorporated with the cushions, bolsters, and curtains.
In traditional houses, ‘dhalin’, wooden joists were placed horizontally on the ceilings for structural integrity. However, these wooden joists are reiterated in the modern ceiling design today. The carved wooden columns, ‘tha:’ are also used for defining and segregating spaces. These are intricately carved and add beauty to the interiors as well. These elements add warm tones to the interiors. This is evident in Boutique Heritage Hotel, Saugal where these wooden columns are used to create colonnaded spaces for outdoor dining along with the use of long glass windows on the other side.
Design firms like Metal Wood Nepal have ingeniously created unique designs of furniture and lamps keeping the traditional essence but adding a modern flair. The designs are clearly influenced by common household materials. As the name suggests, the combination of these two elements has resulted in elegant and sophisticated designs. They are used in most boutique hotels and restaurants and the general public is also gradually showing a keen interest in these designs.
Through the use of simple lines, neutral color schemes, appropriate lighting and well-appointed furnishings we can get the best of both traditional and the modern. This design approach is slowly catching up even in residential homes. It reflects Nepali craftsmanship and opulence which not only create a beautiful and cozy ambiance but also helps in the promotion of local craftsmanship.