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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Malayalam Article on Cost-effective House Construction

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Panel Doors & Flush Doors

Panel Doors

Panelled doors can add elegance to an entrance.
Panel doors consist of stiles (the vertical pieces) and rails (the horizontal pieces), with different-sized panels that fit between the stiles and rails. The rails and stiles are glued together, but the panels aren't; they're loose, so they can expand and contract with temperature and humidity changes. This is essential for exterior doors.

Flush Doors
Flush doors are practical. Flush doors, which are smooth, can be solid or hollow, but a solid-core door is safer and keeps the house quieter. Because flush doors are easier to make than panel doors, they can be mass produced. Panel doors are usually more decorative than flush doors.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Types of Doors

Doors are a very important feature of our homes. The way a door is operated and the material used for making the door are determined based on the spatial configuration of the rooms and the security and budgetary aspects.

Passage doors swing open and close on two or more leaf hinges, and are the most commonly used doors in Kerala homes. Traditionally, they are made on site and installed by local carpenters.

Louver doors are essentially standard passage doors in which all or some of the panels have been replaced by angled wood slats. Louver doors are typically used for cupboards, toilets, laundry rooms etc because they provide ventilation and privacy. A full-louver panel format offers the most ventilation, but a louver-over-panel format offers the most style because it looks very similar to solid panel doors.

Sliding doors or bypass doors are typically used on areas that have wide openings like a cupboard or master bathroom and slide from left to right. Since they don't swing open you don't have to worry about placing furniture, but only half the opening is accessible at one time.

Bifold doors are generally used to enclose a cupboard, store room, or laundry area. The doors typically have four panels. Bifold doors pivot on pins inserted at the top and bottom edges, which allow you a greater opening space than a sliding door.

French doors offer a dramatic focal point in your home. They hang on hinges located at each side of a wide door opening and swing toward each other, meeting at the center. When both sides of the door are open, you have an unobstructed view.

Pocket doors are interesting architectural elements, and saves on floor space. Basically, a pocket door is a door that is not set on hinges to swing open, but that slides in and out of a space hidden within the wall. Pocket doors come either as singles, which slide open and shut from either the left or the right, or double pocket doors, which slide together and meet in the middle from both the right and left sides.

Type of Construction
Once you decided the type of doors you want to use, then you need to decide how you want your doors constructed: hollow-core, solid-core and wood.

Hollow-core doors are made from thin veneer plywood or hardboard faces with a cardboard core to help keep the door rigid. These doors are lightweight, inexpensive, easily punctured and ineffective as sound barriers. However, the benefits of hardboard is it resists shrinking and swelling, offers a wood-like appearance, is easy to paint and highly affordable.

Solid-core doors look and feel like solid wood doors, but they feature a wood fiber core. They offer greater sound proofing than hollow core doors and are much more durable. Most solid-core doors are designed with the same style and properties of a wood door, but without the high price tag.

Solid wood panel doors can be stained or painted for a rich finish and provide a natural sound barrier. These are the usual exterior doors that offer security.

It is easy to mix and match the types of doors you use throughout your home to complement your home's d├ęcor and to economize. You can specify the type of door you want used for each room and space in your new home based on the utility.
More links on Types of Doors-

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Choosing the right Ceiling Fan for a room

Ceiling fans have been an essential feature in Kerala homes for a long time. The tropical climate makes ceiling fans the cost-effective and healthy option in cooling the interiors of a well-ventilated Kerala Home.

In recent times, ceiling fans have become much more technologically advanced and appealing. They are often a large part of a home's decor. They help to cool the home in the summer and warm it in the winter by circulating air within the rooms. Fans are used throughout the home in main rooms, kitchens, verandahs etc. They add to the rooms appeal and lower dampness.

Choosing the right ceiling fan

Ceiling fans vary based on the quality, style, and size. Check over the differences before making the purchase. If you purchase an inexpensive one, it may seem good when you first use it, but over time it will warp, become off-balance, and wear out. Choosing a good fan to start with is a better idea. You can enjoy the comfort and beauty for years. What you should look for in a fan is the quality, motor, durability, performance, design, and warranty.

Choose a fan that fits in with the style of your home and room that suits your taste. There are many colors, finishes, blade designs, sizes, accessories, lighting, and styles to pick from. Options to choose from are polished brass, antique brass, iron, copper, nickel, pewter, chrome, black and other vibrant colors.

Details to consider before choosing a new fan for your home:

Fan Size:

To utilize the most efficiency the fan needs to fit the size of the room. A general rule to follow is 29" to 36" fan diameter for a room up to 75 square feet, 36" to 42" for rooms up to 144 square feet, and 50" to 54" for rooms up to 225 square feet.

Height from the ceiling:
The fan should be more than 7 feet over the floor in the middle of a room to get the most comfort, circulation, safety, and decor from it. The best height is 8 to 9 feet from the floor.

The blades create the circulation, so their position is very important. The blade brackets should hold the blades at a 12-15 degree angle. The weight of all blades should be the same. This allows optimum circulation and avoids fan wobble. Less than 12-degrees on the angle will lower the circulation, higher will increase it.

The motor is the most important part of the ceiling fan. A high-quality motor should have heavy-duty windings and sealed bearings with permanent lubrication. This will insure quiet operation and long life.


Lights on a ceiling fan can add to your decor and create the final touch to your room lighting. There are various styles of lights to choose from on ceiling fans. They range from classic to antique to contemporary. You can also add opal, marble, crystal, glass, and hand blown glass on the fitter, or shades. You can often choose a fan and light kit separately to satisfy your taste and compliment your room's decor. You can also choose between up and down lighting to add ambiance to rooms like your living or bedroom. But the cheaper option would be to buy fans that have built-in light fixtures on it.


To avoid blistering, fading, corrosion, and tarnishing, be sure that the blades have a high quality finish. If they are not high quality, the blades will quickly peel, bubble, or corrode. Brass is long lasting and scratch resistant does not need polishing and the painted finishes are thick and durable when properly coated.

A good warranty is always the best option. If you choose your fan carefully, you will find that many manufacturers with high quality fans offer a long warranty period and even in-home service.


You can usually install a ceiling fan on your own. The installation is not difficult and the fans come with step-by-step instructions. Support systems are normally provided to allow hands free wiring. Just be sure the fan and home wiring is compatible.

There is a wide range of prices in Kerala when you go shopping for a ceiling fan. The price will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and depending on the ceiling fan's features. The old saying "you get what you pay for" definitely applies to ceiling fans.
More links on Ceiling fans-

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Feng Shui for a Soothing Bedroom

Feng Shui (translated as- 'Wind Water') is an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics believed to use the laws of both Heaven (astronomy) and Earth (geography) to help one improve life by receiving positive energy.

A good Feng Shui bedroom is a bedroom that is inviting, exciting and soothing at the same time. Whether you are there for a quick nap, good night sleep or a pleasant evening, there are a variety of simple, practical and cost-efficient ways to create the perfect feng shui bedroom.

Bring good energy into your bedroom with some of these basic feng shui bedroom tips.
  • Let go of the electronics like the TV and computer or exercise equipment.

Good Feng Shui energy is destroyed when these items are present in your bedroom.
  • Let in the fresh air by keeping the windows open whenever possible and/or using a high quality air-purifier.
You can’t achieve good feng shui if the air you breather in your bedroom is stale and full of pollutants. While plants enhance the look of your room, they are not good Feng Shui, unless your bedroom is large enough to have the plants far from your bed.
  • Use a dimmer switch to adjust the energy accordingly or have multi -levels of lighting in your bedroom.
Since light is one of the strongest manifestations of energy it is very important to have good lighting in the bedroom. Of course the best Feng Shui lighting is candles, but be sure they are organic and properly placed.
  • Use soothing colors to achieve a good feng shui balance in your bedroom.
A true Feng Shui has a balanced decor to promote the best flow of energy for restorative sleep, as well as sexual healing. Best colors for the bedroom are considered the so-called “skin” or natural colors, and which range from pale white to rich chocolate brown.
  • Choose your images cautiously, since images carry powerful feng shui energy.
Best Feng Shui advice for bedroom art is to choose images that represent things you see happening in your life.
  • When it comes to your actual bed here are some basic guidelines:
Be sure your bed is accessible from both sides, have 2 bedside tables and avoid having your bed face the door. Having a well-balanced, good-looking bed with a solid mattress, high- quality organic sheets and comforter helps create a positive, harmonious energy.
  • Keep all the doors closed at night.
Be sure to have your closet, bathroom and bedroom doors closed to keep in the natural flow of energy you need to strengthen you body and mind while you sleep.

Creating the perfect Feng Shui bedroom depends on personal taste, but the goal of each item you choose should reflect love, healing and relaxation.
More links on Feng Shui-

Monday, December 7, 2009

Design of a Kerala Nalukettu

Nalukettu is typically a rectangular structure where four halls are joined together with a central court yard open to the sky. The four halls on the sides are named Vadakkini (northern block), Padinjattini (western block), Kizhakkini (eastern block) and Thekkini (southern block).
The outer verandahs along the four sides of the Nalukettu are enclosed differently. While both the western and eastern verandahs are left open, the northern and southern verandahs are enclosed or semi-enclosed.
Designated Functions
The designated functions of the four halls are as follows- Kizhakkini is for prayer and pooja, Thekkini for keeping wealth and for human dwelling, Padinjattini for storage (crops and grains in the olden days) and Vadakkini for Kitchen.
The courtyard created at the centre by these four halls is auspicious and is called Nadumuttom or Ankanam. As the Ankanam is usually sunk it is also called Kuzhi(pit)-Ankanam. The protruding roofs of the four halls formed shady verandas and protected the rooms from direct sunlight, keeping them cool even on the hottest of days. The inner verandah around the Ankanam is open.
Advantages of the Nalukettu Design
In the Nalukettu design, all the rooms are open to a common court yard which helps the family to interact more often. The open courtyard provides natural ventilation as well as adequate lighting for the household, offering a healthier environment. Abundant sunlight falling inside the house through the open central courtyard acts as a natural disinfectant and limits the presence of bacteria and fungus inside the house. The inside open verandah with open court yard provides ample space for children for their activities.
Ettukettu and Pathinarukettu
For larger homes and wealthier families, there are more elaborate forms of the Nalukettu, called the Ettukettu (eight halled with two central courtyards) or Pathinarukettu (sixteen halled with four central courtyards).
Thachushasthram, or the Techniques of Carpentry and Traditional Vaastu, is the governing science in the architectural form of Nalukettu. This branch of knowledge was well developed in the traditional architecture of Kerala and has its own branch of literature under the titles- Tantrasamuchaya, Vastuvidya, Manushyalaya-Chandrika, and Silparatna.

Modern Nalukettu Design

‎'Nalukettu' is our Traditional house design concept and suited to our climatic and topographic conditions. In modern Nalukettu designs, architects try to incorporate aspects of modern living into the traditional design structure.

For example, in ancient times, Keralal homes did not have the modern plumbing and sanitation systems that we now have. Hence the need for an adjacent well or pond. Upon the advent of water pumping systems and efficient waste disposal methods, these elements have ceased to be essential factors of a house.

Likewise, other aspects of Nalukettu design have to be analyzed so as to ascertain their relevance in today's setup; as well as provision for including modern appliances have to be introduced in the design.

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