South Indian house design and interior décor of traditional homes

In this article, we discuss some of the common characteristics of south Indian home design and and south Indian interior design tips to recreate this ambience in small homes

Many of you may be fascinated by the depictions of south Indian homes and would like to replicate the same, without having a clear idea about where to start. This article is for those of you who wish to understand the architecture, characteristics, décor and must-have elements of south Indian traditional homes.

 

Traditional houses in Karnataka

The Bunt community of Karnataka, to which former Miss World Aishwarya Rai belongs to, lived in homes with ‘khamb-wooden’ pillars and these are called the ‘Guthu mane’ homes. Architecturally, these types of houses in Karnataka are large homes in a square shape, with ample space for storage around the house. Such traditional houses are seen across Tulu Nadu in Karnataka.

From the outside, a Guthu mane would look like a temple. Common among the matrilineal families of Mangalore, these homes symbolised the wealth of the family. The sloping roof, the tiles and the paddy fields outside these homes, were just the perfect setting for families, amid the scorching heat in the region.

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

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Traditional south Indian home design in Tamil Nadu

The courtyard and the raised verandah in the home’s interior, usually called the ‘thinnai’, is a common sight in most traditional homes in Tamil Nadu. Used as a site for social gatherings, it was also an area where people could unwind and relax.

Note that irrespective of the social standing, lime plaster on the walls is a common practice. It helps in reflecting the sunlight and allowing the homes to be cooler.

 

South Indian traditional house decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

Traditional house design in Kerala

Kerala’s traditionally rich had homes with a ‘parambu’, which means farm area or big open areas. This allowed homes to be distanced from other properties. Also called the ‘thodi’, the open areas around the house were used for the cultivation of various fruits and vegetables.

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

See also: All about Kerala house designs

 

Interior courtyards are common in Kerala, as well, often with a well in the house. There would also be an outside courtyard, for the men of the household to socialise.

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

See also: Traditional Indian house designs that are inspirational

 

Traditional south Indian homes in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

The open courtyard is a familiar feature even in Andhra. Additionally, homes in this part of the country would also have large halls running through the length of the house. Traditional homes in this region, probably owing to the influence of kings who ruled here, show an appealing mix of Muslim architecture, along with local architectural flavours. Use of black slate stone, arches in the house or carved screens and even Urdu calligraphy, are common sights.

Chuttillu or Middillu are circular-clustered homes that you could see in the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh. While traditional homes are giving way to modern homes, the use of red bricks, teakwood and elaborately decorated entrances, are still preferred by many households.

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

See also: Arch design ideas for your home

 

State Traditional south Indian house design
Tamil Nadu Chettinad homes, Brahmin Agraharam
Kerala Nalukettu
Karnataka Guthu mane
Andhra Pradesh Manduva logili

 

South Indian interior design: How to decorate your home the south Indian way?

Décor items can make your house look like a traditional south Indian home. You may be a south Indian, away from home, hoping to recreate childhood memories of home or you may be a connoisseur, collecting fancy south Indian décor items, to do up your place. In either case, we look at some things that you can use for south Indian interior design.

 

Wooden furniture

Furniture in good quality wood is unrivalled. From chairs and tables to swings, south Indian traditional homes have always used wood. Such furniture imparts a traditional and yet, plush look. Many of these furniture pieces that are now handed over to the younger generations, may still be strong, without any hint of damage. If you are buying these today, make sure you research about its quality. The really good ones are expensive.

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

Elaborate and ornamental doors

The entrance doors of many traditional south Indian homes were ornamental. Today, such doors are replaced by modern-looking, premium teak wood doors but the royal look can be recreated if you want it.

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

Paintings

Paintings are quite common in traditional south Indian homes. The theme of these paintings were often mythology and religion and the colours used in these paintings added a traditional charm. You can definitely rely on traditional art, in your quest to create a south Indian traditional home.

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

Puja rooms in south Indian homes

Every Indian household tries to fit in a prayer or puja room. While modern day homes are smaller, this was not a challenge earlier, when puja rooms were sometimes big enough for the family to assemble and spend long hours offering their prayers to God. South Indian puja rooms have an aesthetic appeal. Built with Vastu Shastra in mind, the room, its ornamental door and placement can add a unique look.

See also: Vastu tips for a temple at home

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

Brass décor items

This is a must-have, if you want a fabulous looking home. Only one or two pieces of such décor items, can give a royal look. You do not need to clutter up the space. Try using lamps, bowls, candle stands, mirrors, figurines of deities or other showpieces made of brass.

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

Nilavillakku or lamps

Be it south Indian Christian, Muslim or Hindu families, all of them used lamps in one way or the other. The ‘nilavilakku’ or ‘kuthuvilakku’ or ‘thookkuvilakku’, were all central to puja and worship at homes or religious spaces. These lamps are still used in traditional homes but in the modern households, these have primarily become showpieces.

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

Bharanis or big jars

‘Bharanis’ are big jars in which pickles and such other items are kept and preserved. In the modern times, bharanis have become a décor item.

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

Oonjal or swings in south Indian homes

If you happen to visit some of the traditional families or their generations in south India today, you can spot the ‘oonjal’ or swing in the living room. Large homes, where space is not a constraint tend to have an oonjal. If you have space to spare, try adding an oonjal!

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

Pillars in the house

South Indian traditional homes had pillars and modern-day homes can recreate that look with the help of architects. It lends a grand look to the house.

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

See also: House pillar design ideas to add a luxurious appeal to your home interiors

 

Hand-painted tiles

If you are renovating or reconstructing your house, you could lay hand-painted tiles too. Many traditional homes of south India have some great designs on the floor. If you are confused, you could also use a combination of tiles available in the market today, plus the traditional hand-painted design tiles.

See also: Tile flooring: Pros and cons

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

A look into south Indian traditional homes and interior decor

Source: Pinterest

 

Red oxide floors

Red oxide flooring is a feature of the traditional south Indian homes. It had been a popular feature of the houses in Bangalore, Kerala, Chettinad and Goa for hundreds of years. The flooring has a distinctive red hue as it is made from non-toxic oxide of iron mixed with cement. One can achieve different shades using different ratios of red oxide in the cement.

traditional south Indian homes

Source: Zingyhomes (Pinterest)

 

Patterned flooring

Flooring in some traditional south Indian homes featured eye-catching patterns, typically on the periphery border. Other popular flooring designs included solid handmade floor tiles.

traditional south Indian homes

Source: Pinterest

 

Use of traditional fabrics

Fabrics such as silks and fine muslin were widely used in the interior design of the traditional south Indian style house. You can include them in modern interior design with drapes, cushion covers and throw pillow fabrics.

traditional south Indian homes

Source: Jaypore.com (Pinterest)

 

Reasons for shift from traditional to modern homes

With the rise of nuclear families, traditional Indian house designs have made way to modern homes. These days, home owners can only think of retaining some aspects of their glorious, cultural past. Land costs have increased manifold. Hence, to own a traditional house in any of these states, is now difficult. Also, many families prefer smaller homes that are easy to maintain, even in the absence of domestic help. However, parts of our rich culture always make a comeback in one way or the other. Interior décor is one such way. If you are someone looking to recreate a south Indian traditional house in smaller space, we help you with some traditional decor tips.

 

FAQ

Are brass lamps expensive?

Very small lamps may cost Rs 1,000 per piece but if you are looking at big ones, prices go over Rs 10,000 per piece.

Do people use the Nandi cow in brass as a decor item? Is it good?

Yes, in most south Indian homes, you can see a brass décor piece of the Nandi cow.

What is the traditional architecture of South India?

Dravidian architecture is the Southern Indian style temple architecture. The Chola era temples featured porches or Mandapas, Gopuras or gate-pyramids and pillared halls. Moreover, most south Indian houses have spacious courtyard and front porch.

What is the traditional house of Tamil Nadu?

A typical house in Tamil Nadu includes red clay roof tiles, an arched entryway, wooden carved pillars, verandahs, red oxide flooring and traditional artwork.

What is the traditional house of Karnataka?

In Karnataka, a traditional Guthu Mane structure was built by the Bunt community. These house were used by joint families. Sloping roofs with Mangalore tiles and large courtyards and verandahs (Mogasale) were the main features of these houses.

Which is the oldest architecture in South India?

Some ancient South Indian temples such as the Shore Temple were built during the Pallava Dynasty from 275 CE to 900 CE. The classic south Indian temples such as the Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur were built in early 11th century around 1003-10.

What were traditional houses made of?

Most traditional style houses were built using natural materials including wood, stone and brick.

Got any questions or point of view on our article? We would love to hear from you. Write to our Editor-in-Chief Jhumur Ghosh at [email protected]
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