15-21 February 2013 #643

Home improvement

Middle-class Nepalis are not only paying greater attention to interiors but demanding simple, smart decor that is durable and easy to maintain

For years, the beauty of Nepali homes was only skin deep. Urban Nepalis would indulge in the exteriors of their houses, but neglect the insides. At the start of the new millennium bright garish colours, flamboyant columns, gaudy chandeliers and drapes became hugely popular and turned into immediate status symbols.

Today’s middle-class Nepalis, however, are not only paying greater attention to interiors but demanding simple, smart decor that is durable and easy to maintain. “People no longer want furniture and flooring that their friends or colleagues have. They want something unique, yet minimal and are willing to pay for it,” says Sunaina Shah of Urban Design. “The mantra today is simple is elegant.”

Pressures of modern life mean that many Nepalis don’t have much time or energy to take care of their homes. As a result, bulky wooden furniture that take weeks to make and assemble are making way for easy to assemble and dismantle, light-weight furniture. And despite the higher costs, people are opting for parquet flooring instead of rugs and carpets because they are harder to upkeep.

Improved internet and more money for travel, mean Nepali youngsters have easy access to designs from all over the world at their finger tips. They do their homework and know exactly what they want. High-end furniture like leather sofas, waterproof furniture for outdoors, and walk in closets are particularly popular among this age-group and the premium price tag does not seem to deter them.

As hundreds of boutique furniture outlets mushroom across the Valley, clients are spoiled for choice with local, imported, contemporary, and antique goods. Most showrooms have mock ups, or model structures like the one above to make decision-making easier. If buyers still feel lost, in-house interior designers will work with them to come up with customised plans that suit their budget and space.

With rising purchasing power and more sophisticated tastes, interior decor is no longer about practicality for most middle-class Nepalis. And in their quest for the picture-perfect home, they are eager to splurge on aesthetics and luxury.

Cindrey Liu and Sulaiman Daud

Talking furniture

“A generation ago, people would simply visit their local carpenter and bring home whatever was on display or whatever was the cheapest. Today’s consumers have a very clear idea of what they want and come to us with a detailed list.”

Devraj Sharma, Karuna Furniture

“Minimalistic design and easy to maintain furniture is the rage today.”

Nikhil Tuladhar, Index Furniture.

“Buyers need to do a little bit of homework beforehand so that they can make an informed purchase. Also it’s always a good idea to ‘work backwards’ by choosing things they really want, and then getting the rest with whatever is remaining.”

Rajat Sarawagi, Ambience Lifestyle

“Customers want the best-quality interior products because they feel their house is a reflection of their personality.”

Rahul Sarawagi, New Madan Furnishers

“More and more young Nepalis are splurging on the most contemporary and unique products because they want to stand out and make a name for themselves.”

Saurav Joshi, Furniture Land

“Home decor is a one-time investment so customers are willing to spend as much as it takes so long as the products are of good quality.”

Sharmila Joshi, Sumo World

“Furniture can cost anywhere between Rs 5,000 and Rs 50,000. But middle-class buyers are not fazed by the heavy price tag.”

Raju Karmacharya, Life Style Decor

“When clients are spending thousands on interior decor, their biggest concern is to make sure the products last them a lifetime.”

Pradesh Shrestha, CP Interior

“Our clients want furniture that can be set up in a few hours with the help of screwdrivers.”

Hitesh Golchha, Fusion

“Five years ago very few Nepalis would think about parqueting floors in their homes because it was too expensive. But since those floors are easier to clean and maintain than carpets, everybody wants them today.”

Akhil Chapagain, Akhil Trading

“We counsel our clients from the design phase to delivery and make sure the plan fits their budget and space available.”

Pravin Mittal, Emporios

“The wide range of readymade furniture available in the market today is attracting new and old home-owners.”

Jacqueline Silvera, SB Furniture