Designer Kiki Norval gives a shabby chic makeover to a bare “barsati”, with budget ideas and trips to flea markets

If you believe redecorating costs a fortune, then think again! With a little imagination you can achieve miraculous results, whatever your budget. Designer Kiki Norval has an easy going, simple chic style. She loves working with whites and greys and has styled homes around Delhi and Capetown. For her winter residence in Delhi, she found the most basic barsati, and transformed it into a bohemian shabby chic paradise. Kiki picked up simple second hand tables from roadside flea markets, painted them and used them as coffee tables, kitchen counters and side tables.

Interior design

Chairs from tentwalas have been given a stylish French makeover, just by changing the upholstery and adding detailing with paint. Her restroom wall has a vintage antique finish, just with the use of some simple foil. She has also designed the chandelier that greets you as you enter the home. Simple and inexpensive rugs and candle stands add warmth and charm. Finally, gorgeous art work completed the look. Over a delightful cup of coffee with Kiki, we got her to answer some of our questions.

Room design and ideas

What was your starting point for designing the layout and decorating your rooftop home | I always start by asking myself what would be most comfortable and yet visually pleasing. I cannot live in a space that is purely aesthetics; I need it to be welcoming and practical as well. I then spend quiet quality time in the space, allowing it to speak to me. Each space has a voice.

What was your biggest challenge | Being a typical barsati, there was no logical layout. One had to walk through each room to get to the next, which made privacy non-existent. I opened up a wall and placed a door where there was a window. I avoided too much renovation.


An example of something you did yourself | One bathroom was earlier a small washroom for the staff, with a grotty toilet and a single tap. It was not difficult to change it into a functioning bathroom, but the walls were horrible and my budget did not cover re-plastering. I used a solution that had worked wonders for my Cape Town apartment; I took aluminium silver foil that’s used for baking and glued it onto the offensive walls! It looks fabulous and hides all the imperfections.

Room interiors
Room lighting

The one big mistake you made that others should not | By the time I had to buy the toilet for my guest-room, my budget had run to a serious low and I decided to go cheap on the toilet cistern, thinking I would replace it a bit later, but sadly, one never does! I still have the cheapie and hate it every time I go into the bathroom. No one else seems to notice, but I do. So, try not to do something temporarily, because it inevitably turns out to be forever.


An example of where you saved and where you splurged | I saved a lot on the project by managing it all myself and keeping a tight rein on what is bought and from where. Wholesale markets are messy, but much cheaper than gorgeous showrooms in GK2, for instance. Plumbers and electricians love buying excess and it all adds up. I splurged on art. I think good art makes a place look fabulous.

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