Visit Kerala to see how nature adorns and adores the state. So it is no surprise when one calls it ‘God’s Own Country’. Great landscape, scenic surroundings, lush environment-the state has it all for a healthy and serene living. Hence, it is common to see beautifully crafted houses across the state. Kerala style homes have a charm of their own. And of course, certain traditional features are highlights in such homes. Here we list down 10 such elements:
The layouts of Kerala houses are generally quite spacious. Well, the house caters to each member’s needs and Keralites pay special attention to future additions, such as a new bride or further expansions. So a typical 2 BHK House has a minimum average space of 1200 square feet; it is usually more than this size.
Since Kerala climate is tropical, humidity persists almost around the year. And that automatically calls for a good ventilation. So, rooms tend to have atleast two windows with the common size being 1.5m X 1.5m. Ofcourse, there are variations depending on the space and client demands.
Traditional kerala homes feature an inner courtyard (Nadumuttam) that is usually an enclosed rectangular space,placed right in the middle of the house. Also, a traditional Keral Hindu home often has an additional raised platform located centrally, that houses a Tulsi plant. However, these days, Inner courtyards are landscaped according to the owner’s design preferences.
No, we are not talking about windows or the bathroom ventilatory windows. If you look around, one can easily observe a slit like opening in the external walls of a room in a typical Kerala style home. This narrow opening is located centrally nearer to the ceiling. Again, the idea is to ensure effective ventilation even when the windows are closed for privacy reasons. Some clever design, eh?!
If you haven’t been to Kerala, chances are, you may not know what a Work area is. On the contrary, a Keralite cannot imagine his/her house without a work area. So basically, a work area is a small space near the kitchen where additional cleaning/ preparation zones are provided. And one can spot huge jackfruits, Pickle jars, Bananas etc stored in work area. Also, it has another use-it is a space to carry out messy kitchen works. For example, cleaning fish and meat. Well, the ancestors definitely knew the importance of hygiene!
Visit ancestral houses and palaces to understand the impact of wood in building mateials and construction in Kerala. An abundance of forests and easy availability of wood, plus the fact that it is a local material, makes it a popular choice for building structures. However, recent environmental calls to protect trees and timber have made the Malayalis eco-conscious and now they seek other options. Yet, they still prefer wood to make doors, windows, staircase and furniture.
Laterite is the native building block that Keralites use instead of bricks, to construct a structure. It is rich in iron oxide and is a natural stone, which make sit easily available and accessible. In fact, if you observe Kerala style homes, the masonry blocks are laterites only. Also, its rough texture makes it appealing when used for exposed brickwork structures.
Again, tropical climate means heavy rainfall. Naturally, Kerala style homes commonly opt for a sloped roof ( Gable/ Hip/Dutch etc) over which sit the terracotta roof tiles. Why? Because they are easily available and are cost-effective. Also, they speed up water drainage and keep the interiors cool even in highly humid and hot weather.
As soon as you step into a Kerala style home, you may still find yourself technically standing outside on a corridor! Now, this space can generally provide seating for 2 to 3 people and is known as a sit-out. Well, Malayalees firmly believe that it takes a village to raise a child and they place great value on communal harmony and societal relations. Hence, this space doubles as a humble formal living area for the common people- most of their formal interactions are in this space.
The chaarupadi is a backrest that features in sit-outs. You can spot them on the seating platforms that line the sit-out, usually made of wood or steel.
Though it isn’t as trendy now as it was in the past two decades, it still has its own admirers. And that is because this simple flooring material is cheap and easy to maintain. All it requires is able labourers who do the work nicely in the first place. This floor is durable, climate friendly and keeps getting smoother and shinear with daily cleaning and mopping. It is one of the common highlights in traditional kerala style homes.
Want to know about different styles of interiors that are popular in Kerala homes? Then click here.
Phone: 0495 272 2242