Outfitting your home can be a daunting task, especially when looking for environmentally sustainable staples. In Pakistan, the concept of upcycled, sustainable furniture is still very new when the entire world is working on environmentally friendly options in terms of home décor too. An online search will find you a handful of platforms promoting sustainable design solutions in Pakistan. Among them, one of the most prominent names is of ‘@mycreativeclutter’.
Palwasha Khan, the brainchild behind the popular Instagram page My Creative Clutter, is a many-sided genius. According to her blog, “From being a wife, teacher, to an administrator in a school to taking on the role of a personal development manager to dabbling in fashion and interior design, I am now a mom, which basically means I am all of the above and so much more.”
The budding designer and DIY expert hails from Islamabad and has mostly lived in Karachi. She finds solace in what she does, “In my free time, I like to unwind by doing what I enjoy the most – recycling old furniture. I run a blog as well as an online group – both initiatives encourage people to reuse old, ostensibly unusable furniture to create stylish new household items,” she shares. This week You! is in conversation with the interior design enthusiast Palwasha Khan…
You! What determined your passion for design specifically in terms of DIY?
Palwasha Khan: I have always had a passion for interior décor and found my calling when a close friend asked me to do up her home. Short on budget and time, I decided to use the existing furniture they had and tried my best to give them a new lease of life. Once I was done, it got me thinking why don’t people do this? I looked at every piece of furniture differently after that…
After this, I initiated a Facebook group ‘DIY’ (DIY Design Interiors Yourselves) in 2014.
I wanted to create a forum that would allow people to share their DIY experiences and home décor adventures.
After posting some refurbishing projects on the group, I was asked by the members for step-by-step instructions. That is when I thought of creating a blog and that’s how mycreativeclutter came into existence 5 years ago.
You! How did you come up with this name?
PK: As a first-time mom, even though I was enjoying motherhood, I always felt that I needed a creative outlet. So, after a long day of taking care of a toddler and household chores, I had few hours where I put aside the day’s stresses and took out my clutter – the old trays, broken frames, unwanted pieces of decoration, seemingly useless pieces of furniture and fabric. And with just a bit of creative thinking, some tweaking, painting, and polishing, it’s amazing how I could give a new face to something old. And that’s how I came up with the name for my blog – taking my clutter and trying to make it something creative.
You! What do you know about sustainable design?
PK: I think upcycling is the perfect example of sustainable design. You are using what is available, it’s cost effective and environmentally friendly.
You! The concept of upcycled and sustainable furniture is still new to Pakistan, how do you plan to make an accustomed project here in Karachi?
PK: It is an untapped market, however, I do feel that furniture upcycling is finally being acknowledged in Pakistan and there is a shift towards an eco-conscious society. And I do see an increasing number of people recycling and reusing products.
My blog’s main aim has been to bring the culture of furniture recycling to Pakistan. I wanted to encourage reuse of furniture to prevent perfectly functional, quality goods from being discarded. Even though it might not be a very large number, I’ve helped people get over their fear of trying their hand at recycling their old furniture. I get so many messages where people send me pictures of projects they managed at home and for me that is most rewarding.
You! What pieces do you mostly work with?
PK: I work with wooden furniture mostly, be it bigger pieces such as beds, sofas, coffee tables to small accessories such as trays and lamps.
You! Who is your target market?
PK: I think anyone who is interested in making their house into a home. It can be a teenager doing up their room, a university student decorating their dorms or to couples setting up their homes.
You! What projects have you done so far?
PK: The list is long ;) I started off with small DIY projects around my home, to bigger furniture upcycling projects and now have also completed interior renovation projects.
You! Can you remember your first DIY or up-cycled furniture project?
PK: It was an old trunk that my mother-in-law gave to me. It had been in their family for over 40 years and it had a lot of memories attached to it as it was passed from Farhan’s grandparents to his parents and now us. It was not in the best condition when I received it but after filling in cracks and dents and painting it – I felt like it had a new lease on life.
You! What does 2021 offer in terms of design and home décor?
PK: I think accent walls made a big comeback last year and it will continue this year too. Though the older trend was creating an accent wall with a bold paint colour, this time round its more muted but the impact is created through texture. This is achieved with wood to create a pattern and much needed depth, be it batten and board, fluting or shiplap.
You! Give us an imagery of a cute breakfast table setting…
PK: I think the key to a good table setting is playing with colour, texture and keeping it simple. Use what you have at home, fresh flowers, herbs or fruits as a centre piece. Play with printed or textured napkins and DIY napkin ties. Add interest by using fun vibrant crockery, even if pieces do not match it all comes together in the end.
You! What is the most frustrating aspect of your job as a designer?
PK: I think the least favourite part is dealing with the workers. Sadly, most of the workers I deal with don’t understand the concept of time and do as they please.
You! What is the most rewarding aspect of your job as a designer?
PK: Looking at an old piece of furniture and imagining all the possibilities and then watching those ideas come to life. Best feeling ever!
You! Is there any interior design style you favour or dislike?
PK: I actually am someone who appreciates all the different styles, be it mid-century modern, modern, boho, Scandinavian or traditional. I think I like mixing different styles, especially in my own space. Though I like muted elegant décor but I personally gravitate towards bright colours and love adding bold accents to my home décor.
You! What future plans do you have?
PK: I have been fortunate enough to get interior projects through the blog, which has been such a rewarding experience and made me realise that it is something I would definitely want to pursue full-time.
You! Share something you would like the world to know about you or your ideas.
PK: I think follow your passion, even if at times you are told you might not succeed, you have to give it your best shot. I was told I should never pursue art growing up and though I am still not good at sketching and painting but that has not stopped me from exploring and trying and learning.