See how this Kochi woman weaves magic of carpets

Kochi's Carpet guru Shalini Joslin
'Floor is not just floor – it is the fifth wall that connects all the interior decor elements of your house,' says Shalini.
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The ceilings, walls and floors talk the most about a house, they say. Your customized furniture unit, perfectly wrapped wall-papers and fancy show-pieces are all in vain if your ceilings are webbed and your floors, dusty. Traditional households usually use pieces of waste cloth as floor-rug. But as interior designing concepts get global in the modern era, people have started considering carpets along with customizing furniture, wall-papers, wardrobes and so on as part of room furnishing.

But who will match floor mats with the furniture you own? Will someone actually spend time on the rugs you pick for your floors, rather than you going to a carpet store and buying one from available designs? The Carpet Barn is the answer. Meet Shalini Joslin who has reaped success as a carpet designer and supplier. Shalini's passion for carpets sprouted when she was disheartened to see torn cloth pieces and rugs scattered on the floor on the house-warming day of her friend's home. Thence Shalini researched and tried carpet customizing as part of interior designing. Shalini demolishes certain popular myths about carpeting, prevalent in Kerala.

A beginner's guide to carpeting

There are too many types of carpets and it is really tough to select a perfect carpet for your home. Still, there is always an expert's take that will guide you through this dilemma. According to Shalini, carpets are widely categorized into two: wall-to-wall carpets and area rugs.

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“Floor is not just floor – it is the fifth wall that connects all the interior decor elements of your house,” says Shalini. There are mainly three material options in case of carpets: fibre, wool and nylon. Synthetic wool, artificial nylons and others fall under sub categories. Synthetic fibre and nylon are most suitable for houses and small office spaces. Large busy spaces like hospitals, hotels and transport stations are carpeted using high-quality wool, she says.

Shalini suggests shaggy carpets for modern homes. Though area-rugs have long been matched with the furniture colors, ceiling pattern and over-all theme of the house also determine the carpet patterns. “Area rugs are popularly laid under coffee-tables or centre tables. It is cut in the size of the couch and other furniture. Off late, people prefer the area rugs that extend underneath the couch. They say that it looks as a single unit in that way,” she says.

There are several designs of carpets. From normal machine-made synthetic carpets that are economic and popular, the types of carpets range to hand-knotted silk carpets take at least two months to craft just one piece. Wall to wall carpets suitable for homes and offices come as tiles. Small pieces in customized size are conjoined as to meet the edges of the floor. Those covering large areas come as rolls which are spread freely. Woven wool carpets, knitted carpets, jute rugs, semi silk and nylon are some other carpet materials.

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First solo-trip, first business

Shalini, the eldest of three daughters of Joslin-Ponnamma couple hailing from Kochi, is a graduate in Chemistry. She started off her career as a front-office staff at a star hotel. After getting married, she pursued her career as a quality analyst at a medical transcription company in Coimbatore for almost nine years. She moved to Kochi after her three children were born. Shalini conceived the idea of designing carpets when her youngest child Joanne, was a year old.

“I attended the house-warming ceremony of my friend who bought a studio-flat in Kochi. The interior designing, show-cases and wardrobes were done so flawlessly that the structure looked straight out of a movie. Yet, I was disturbed by waste-cloth pieces scattered on the floor instead of floor mat. If they could arrange everything else in a perfect manner, why didn't they pick up matching carpets too, I wondered,” Shalini recalls.

Shalini researched about carpeting ideas and available patterns all over the market and the web. Finally, she discovered that a remote village in Uttar Pradesh called Badhohi is the home to almost all the carpets and their materials available in India. She booked her train ticket to Varanasi without even sparing a second thought.

She built several contacts and sources in Badhohi and managed to seal informal business tie-ups with some artisans. Shalini returned Kerala after the most happening four days in her life as a start-up entrepreneur.

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Big deals of The Carpet Barn

It was Shalini's neighbour, who ran an interior designing show-room in Kochi, who gave her the first order. Shalini sat with the architect and interior designers to develop suitable designs and colours for her carpets. By the time she completed her work, Shalini had started getting inquiries from different clients.

The big break that awaited Shalini came via the reference of Kitco technical consultancy, Kochi. Collaborating with them, Shalini did the carpeting works of the new, third terminal of Cochin international airport. Later, she worked for Hotel Casino Cochin, The Avenue Regent, Le Maritime and so on. Shalini is also the carpeting partner for the administrative offices of CIAL MD.

Shalini also extends her services to homes and common office spaces. “I also undertake economic carpeting works for homes, villas, studio flats and office rooms,” she says.

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