Cover In this penthouse project, Valternative created a custom coffee table with a top that was originally part of an old door

Valentina Doncevic and Jyotsna Lakhamraju of Valternative share tips on how to craft calming, inviting spaces inspired by your travels and personal history

“Our homes should be an epitome of rest, relaxation, and comfort,” says Valentina Doncevic, who runs interior design consultancy Valternative together with partner and interior designer Jyotsna Lakhamraju. In the course of their work, the dynamic duo and their team have travelled widely, crafting beautiful homes and offices around the world.

“Our varied life experiences and journeys come together to make what is uniquely us; our approach to multicultural influences at home also stems from the same concept,” explains Doncevic. Lakhamraju agrees: “Magic happens when the ancient and modern are side by side.” They reveal how you can design a home that tells a story about your personal history and your travels.

See also: Home Tour: A Colourful Mexican House Pays Tribute To Frida Kahlo And Latin American Culture

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Bring the outdoors in

Freshen up your interior spaces instantly with a variety of indoor plants. “Use living plants in simple contemporary planters across the property to bring the look together,” says Lakhamraju.

See also: 11 Stylish Outdoor Furniture That Look as Great Indoors and Out

Pair these with weatherproof furniture such as the B&B Italia Erica outdoor sofa by Antonio Citterio from Space Furniture, which combines practical durability, comfort and a timeless design. For a playful touch, consider having a swing in your home, as Valternative did in this villa. “Installing a swing in your favourite area of the house gives relaxing an element of playfulness,” says Doncevic.

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Colour match your furnishings

Consider repainting decorative objects in the same hue for a cohesive, contemporary look. You can also pair traditional pieces with modern furniture in the same tones to create a harmonious interior. Top picks include the Poliform Stanford armchair by Jean-Marie Massaud from Space Furniture, which the designers adore.

“Classy and extremely comfortable, this swivel armchair comes in a few dark leather finishes, which makes for a piece that can be placed in halls, living areas or commercial settings,” says Lakhamraju.

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Keep the furniture designs simple

If your culturally rich pieces and travel souvenirs come with intricate details and various embellishments, it’s best to keep the rest of the interior uncomplicated so they can shine. Keep the other furniture, accessories and background very simple with straight lines and subtle colours,” says Doncevic. She suggests grouping items of the same theme together, particularly if you have numerous objects in a similar style.

Consider including the customisable Bellaire sofa from King Living and the Poltrona Frau Montera dining chair by Roberto Lazzeroni from Proof Living. Adds Lakhamraju: “The detailed stitching on the leather and simple curves of the Montera dining chairs, as well as their wonderful versatility make them a good match with most dining table designs.”

See also: Home Tour: This Minimalist House In Athens Combines French Design And Modern Art

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Make a statement

Order a custom piece with a local touch to create an eye-catching centrepiece unique to your home. “For example, if there is a local weave or design that you like, commission a large quantity of it to be used on an interesting screen door or to be framed and used as an art piece for a huge wall; this will make a traditional detail feel instantly current,” says Doncevic. “We once designed a large ceiling feature in the form of the astronomical constellations of the family members using the local metalwork buttons embedded as stars.”

See also: 11 Feature Wall Ideas That Will Instantly Transform The Look Of Your Rooms

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Give traditional pieces a new life

Instead of throwing away old furniture and traditional pieces, consider repurposing them. For a project in India, the firm rewired several old temple bells to use as oversized lamp shades for pendant lights; they suspended these lamps at varying heights from the ceiling to create a unique chandelier.

The studio also deconstructed an old wooden chariot to create shelves and picture frames for family photographs. “Personalised art pieces add a lot of character and bring a unique story to the space. These can be paintings, commissioned handmade items, interesting imperfect sculptures or installations,” says Doncevic.

This story was first published in the June-July 2021 issue of Tatler Homes Singapore, now available on Magzter and newsstands.