HomeGoods for the India Apartment

I could live in HomeGoods. Everything you need is there:  food, drink, towels, sheets, pillows, and fresh underwear. Even candles for cooking and lamps for light. And of course, other life essentials like new handbags. Just move me right in.

Barring that, because it may result in a visit by the police, we can bring HomeGoods to our home. And we have. Here’s the HomeGoods haul waiting for our next trip to India:

HomeGoods Goods to go to India Apartment

It’s quite a pile of stuff waiting to go to Chennai. We fly Etihad to India so we can haul a bunch of stuff back and forth with no extra charges.

What you see here from HomeGoods is:

  • Copper pots n’ pan. I wanted a dash of copper to play up our copper  kitchen farmhouse sink. We’re also taking unused pots and pans from our Chicago home. All will hang on a wall-hanging pot rack (from Sur La Tabla).
  • Dish towels that coordinate with our Tuscan kitchen colors.
  • Ceramic rooster, all-important accessory for a Tuscan kitchen.
  • Yellow ceramic dish that coordinates with yellow, red and green cannisters from Sur La Tabla.
  • 222 Fifth “Kashmir” pattern plates, bowls, mugs and serving pieces. I love this pattern because the olive, red and yellow in it creates a “bridge” between the Tuscan elements and colors of our kitchen and, of course, India style! Finding this pattern and color was total lucky serendipity.
  • Marble bathroom accessories
  • Toilet bowl cleaners for each bathroom, because these cleaners in decorative containers are hard to find in India.
  • The most beautiful blue! I don’t know where these will go yet. Surely somewhere, I love the color. Purely decorative.
  • Hot pink tealight lanterns! I purchased these in the spring, then returned them because I thought hot pink was too much color for me. They were still there months later. Now that our guest room is shaping up to include hot pink, it was fate. I got them again and kept them. Be brave with color in India!
  • The most fabulous ceramic elephant. Because you gotta have an elephant.

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IKEA in India?

I visited IKEA to pick up things for my husband’s trip to the India pied a terre next week. With IKEA’s contemporary aesthetic, penny-pinching ways (even the A/C was on low you could feel the need to crank it up) but quality value for the money, and DIY delivery, why are there no blue and yellow buildings all over India yet?

Perhaps there’d be too many big cardboard boxes sticking out of rickshaws, with many of them heavy enough to tip over rickshaws! As I sit in our home office lined with six of IKEA’s iconic Billy shelves all with glass doors … I could only imagine how to get them home in Chennai … no, I can’t at all imagine how to do it.

But there may be opportunity to try soon enough. IKEA wants to go to India.

For our Chicago home, we outgrew the IKEA phase and moved on to investment pieces that last a lifetime. We’ve moved our beloved no-longer-available black-and-birch 5×5 Expedit three times across homes in three states, and I fear it wouldn’t survive a fourth move. But IKEA products are a great value for a second home in Chennai that we visit occasionally.

IKEA is legendary for its cost-effective but quality kitchens. Now that’s value. Many IKEA choices deliver the contemporary feel that it seems so many in India want in new modular kitchens.

Kitchen shared by a poster in online forum discussing IKEA kitchens:

From IKEA Kitchen Installation:

IKEA kitchens are very economical with space. IKEA’s roots are in Europe, not the U.S. where our mentality is “bigger is better.” IKEA designs very well for small spaces. They have a ton of kitchen accessories that help you squeeze more into a smaller kitchen. Of course if you have the space, you can just have more IKEA kitchen stuff, it expands to fill whatever space you have. Materials are also manufactured to certain environmental standards, which I appreciate.

Our Chennai kitchen will be more like a Chennai Cucina — Tuscan country style — but IKEA will be present in the kitchen, that’s for sure, even if it’s via a wooden lazy Susan rotating our wares in a cupboard, glass spice jars, or the flatware organizer in a drawer. Yep those are among the basic necessities — all small enough to fit in suitcases — that I picked up today. Despite all the eye candy I’ve consumed in this blog, basic boring lazy Susans have their place too!

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Chennai Here We Come

[Edited 6/17/11: OK, I’m not going at this time, perhaps later in year. Next time I say “I really mean it” won’t blame readers for not believing!]

Yes! This time I say we’re going, I really mean it. We’ll hopefully be running around Chennai in late June and early July, making purchases and decisions about the bathrooms, kitchen, furniture. Can you tell I always arrive in India with expectations of how much we’ll do, but within a few days I give in to the slower pace. That’s the charm of India. Plus how fast do you really want to move in the summer months of Southern India, anyway.

We’ll make a short trip to Kochi to wander through the wonderful antiques warehouses there, as I blogged about previously.

The thing is, our “pied a terre” is not the ultimate vision of a getaway place yet — it’s only “very barely there.” We’ll have working toilets and shower (with glass walls and doors!) by the time we arrive, but I refuse to settle on sink vanities now. So, no sinks yet. That’s OK, we would use bottled water for toothbrushes and not having faucets is a foolproof way to prevent a foolish mistake I made on a previous trip to India. In Sikkim, I totally forgot where I was. The place felt like home. So I drank from the faucet. Yeah. That’s really all you want to know. That’s really all I want to remember. We’ll just skip  memories to the good parts of that trip, after the, um, “recovery” which followed the “oh God just kill me now please” phase.


If we do need a sink, we can just run a few flights down the stairs to the in-laws place. That should be enough to remind me that I’m not drinking from my Chicago home’s well water tapped right into a crystal clear aquifer.

So. Our first order of business in Chennai will be to get a mattress to sleep on, sheets, pillows, towels, etc. Staying in a hotel doesn’t make sense when we have our own place there, unfinished as it is. Plus, that leaves more to spend on furniture and other critical things, like saris and fabrics at Nalli. Truly, it’s super critical. We need curtains.

So for the time being, we’ll have a super classy set-up: the ol’ mattress on the floor. Yeah. Nice, huh? Here’s how others have done this austere style …

Mattress on the floor, via ohdeedoh:

Mattress on the floor, via Popgadget:

Mattress on the floor, via Apartment Therapy  (Eames chair and nice floor detail does make the low-living look more palatable):

Mattress on the floor, again via Apartment Therapy (actually pretty stylish):

Mattress on the floor, another from Apartment Therapy:

This isn’t looking so bad here. I’m feeling a bit better about the situation. But  enough of the pics of mattresses on the floor. Makes me feel like I’m in college again and that’s half a lifetime away now!

It’s all a very temporary situation and part of the process of building your own place. There are some really funny pics of my parents eating dinner at a card table in their basement in front of their washing machine when they entirely gutted their kitchen to renovate it. They definitely weren’t laughing in the pics, but maybe now they would look back and find it funny. Somehow I think that’s what a few weeks in Chennai will be like for us soon.

And always remember, I know in my mind’s eye what this place will look like when it’s done and it’s going to be fabulous.

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Antiques in Kochi

I am bursting with anticipation for our next trip to India, as we’ll revisit the antiques warehouses in Kochi that we first saw a decade ago. On our shopping list:

  • Small cabinets to repurpose as bathroom vanities
  • Old windows or other “frames” to use for bathroom mirrors
  • Lazy lounging chairs
  • Tables (side, coffee, possible dining)
  • A few old tall columns
  • Bookcases
  • Blue chippy painted wardrobe to achieve my guest room vision

We did not take any warehouse photos on our previous Kochi trip, but here’s photos from others who visited and shared their photos online …

Visit this link to see a photo very similar to the warehouse we visited from Flickr user eenar_6, a photo of an enormous urn and a photo of a “chair hospital.” There’s a place in Chennai with hundreds of chairs hanging like this. We’ll revisit there too, possibly for dining chairs.

Check this out from Flickr user thovie333 — piles and piles of stuff to wade through:


From Sri Lankan Airlines website:

From Wikimedia, Old Kochi:

From Virtual Tourist:

Most of the antique warehouses and shops are in Jew Town. Wandering through them is a real trip. Sometimes you see the most fantastic visual feasts, like this is a whole boat on display, photo via Travelpod:

From Metro Spiritual blog:

From Elizabeth in India blog:

From the away we go blog, more travelers to India:

These photos give you a sense of what it feels like to be there. Shopping success depends on not getting visually overwhelmed by all the stuff, and being able to zero in on a few special things. Survival of the visual fittest?

While in Kochi, we stayed at Bolgatty Palace.

Lovely place, quiet with beautiful gardens and expansive grounds to make you feel like you really got away. It’s on it’s own island and you take the boat jetty to get to it. However with all the time required to get to Old Town via the boat jetty, taxi, walking to Old Town ferry, taking the Old Town ferry … if you plan to spend most time in Old Town, it might be best to stay in Old Town.

We did not ship any purchases home from this trip. We purchased only what we could carry on the flight home. In Cochin, I got an urli with Lakshmi on one side and a gecko on the other side. Love it! But what I was really seeking was a lounging chair like this found at The Lockhart Collection:

And I found one, for US$100. We lived in Minneapolis at the time, and when the warehouse owner heard that, he mentioned a buyer for a shop in the Minneapolis area (which of course we were familiar with as it carried India goods) had visited the previous day, looking at the same chair. We did not purchase the chair immediately, but returned a few days later. By then, the Minneapolis shop had already purchased the chair. I found it on their website a few months later, of course at US retail price, and it was painful to see. We’ve had several businesses so we fully understand the need to cover costs and make a profit, absolutely no problem with that, it was just knowing it could have been mine for much less including the shipping. This time, I will get my lounging chair …

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