Before & After: An Empty Shell Is Elegantly Dressed in Indian Influences

Oftentimes a design plan flows from the selection of one singular decor feature that sets the tone and inspires the aesthetic of the entire home surrounding it. For Delhi, India-based interior designer Shivani Dogra , this was true when she was entrusted with the full-home design of a modern 2,800-square-foot home in Noida, India for a young couple and their three-year-old son. By Shivani’s description, the newer build was “an empty shell,” and once the couple settled first on a vintage, printed panel of a view of Varanasi, India printed by Ananbô, Paris, the rest of the home’s design fell into place.

“This would take center spot in the living room,” Shivani notes about the panel. “The rest of the decoration followed organically from there. We combed through nearly every good carpet seller in town and in neighboring towns to pick the right hand-woven rugs — tribal kilims were chosen for the TV room, silk and wool mixed vintage rugs for the living room and the bedrooms. The colors for the upholstery, curtains and other soft furnishings were inspired by these intricately hand- woven, deeply hued pieces.”

For the couple, a news anchor/managing editor of a media company and a consultant, a restorative home that was both peaceful and elegant was a much-needed respite from the nearby bustle of the city. Shivani shares, “The compass on this project was ‘the feeling’ the clients wanted the space to [hold]. That guided us while making choices and though challenging, we made some interesting discoveries and all was well in the end. Choosing the art was an equally detailed, although time-constrained process. We were aware that we had only a small window to make a choice that was informed and within budget. Some of it was made by me with dried flowers that’d been preserved by my client years ago and had sentimental value. Other pieces were sourced from individual artists and Indigenous art from Indian tribes. Pieces from Africa and the US also found their way into the space. Furniture was made in-house as per the clients’ requirements or bought from dealers of older furniture. Campaign furniture, used by the British on travel and military campaigns in India, [was] specially sourced as my clients were from military families and requested that there be some part of that heritage retained in the design.”

In the end, Shivani was able to take a completely blank canvas and infuse it with rich color, texture, and culture — all based off of her translations of how her clients wanted to feel at home. All of this makes for no easy feat, and Shivani is grateful for the lessons she gleaned from this special project. “The process of decorating a home is a lesson in the importance of give and take,” she reflects. “It is important on these projects to listen — really listen to the client and channel their needs effectively without compromising on what you feel will work best for the space. I’ve learned through this project in particular, to absorb more of the client’s tastes and combine them with my own, as it results in a design that can be quite interesting.” — Kelli

Photography by Shivani Dogra / @ _shivanidogra

Image above: A piece of art picked for the living room dictated the design for the rest of the house, and from that choice came a style that blends traditional Indian influence with vintage sensibilities, clean lines, and global touches. “The clients wanted a space that was peaceful, elegant and semi-formal,” Shivani begins. “One that had deep, yet muted colors and a mix of modern and vintage elements. They also wanted the decoration to be influenced largely by India, with some influences from other parts of the globe they’d traveled to.”


Linwood wallpaper and a stunning four-post bed take this bedroom to the next level and is a far cry from the blank space it was before.


“The space was an empty shell when my clients bought it. It was one of the many new buildings coming up in and around Delhi and overlooked a golf course. They had some furniture to start with but needed to buy everything else. I started the process by understanding what the clients wanted the space to feel like,” Shivani shares.


Shivani said that before any of the more vibrant design changes took place, repairs needed to be made to fix major water seepage in the home’s walls. “Only after this were the walls ready to be treated with rich cream paint and wallpaper.”


In the entryway, Shivani created a space that is both neutral and wonderfully textured and intriguing.


Sandberg wallpaper uplifts a vintage statue in bronze and a modern concrete table.


The art that started it all and informed the home’s design: a panel view of Varanasi, India by Ananbô Paris.


In the living room, an Anglo Indian daybed pairs with an old urn repurposed as a coffee table.


Shivani reveals a big bump in the design journey: “In retrospect, some of the more interesting stories were the ones that caused near panic [at] the time. One such incident was when we’d ordered some rather expensive furniture from a new online store. The furniture and in particular, some bookshelves, looked great online and even in the zoom-ins. When they arrived, however, they had the appearance of mold growing on them and nothing at all like the pictures. A bit of a disaster. It took us a while to negotiate an exchange.”


Green hues play beautifully against the deep colors of the woven rugs in this TV room.


For the dining space, Shivani used this large cabinet to ground and add architectural detail to the previously flat-looking room.


Now in the dining room stands a concrete table while handwoven South African baskets dress the wall.


“When projects tend to ‘grow organically’ as opposed to following a fixed plan through approved drawings, they can be frustrating at times, as the end result is never completely determined almost until the close of a project,” Shivani says. “However, I choose to do them upon client requests, as they’re also more creatively satisfying.”


Where there once was no ambiance or detail to speak of, the patio now is a character-filled place to relax or entertain.


It’s all in the details: adding a bold paint color, unique backsplash and pretty rug took this kitchen from unmemorable to one-of-a-kind.


While the rest of the house features more traditional and organic hues, the kitchen is a great place to infuse an unexpected pop of color.



Wallpaper – Sandberg
Sweden Console table – Convow
India Light – Olde Brick Lighting by William Eichorst
Pennsylvania Carpet and statues – Cottage Emporium, India

Living Room

Wall panel – Ananbo, Paris, India
Campaign furniture – J and R Guram
Chairs – Shivani Dogra, carpenter Suresh
Upholstery – by ‘Masterji’


Wallpaper – Linwood, UK

Dining Room

Chair fabric – Christopher Moore
Table – Convow, India
Chairs – Shivani Dogra, carpenter Suresh



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