Jali (traditional Indian latticework) has cemented its place in India’s rich legacy of handicrafts. And it is as relevant today as it was half a millennium ago.
When you think of jali, you think of traditional architecture, centuries-old havelis (traditional Indian courtyard homes) and oldfangled appeal. Well, at least most of us do. But as time-served, as jali is, it has metamorphosed through the centuries into a resilient and relevant handicraft that has stood the test of time. It can be trad yet tasteful, classic yet contemporary, and it can fit into virtually any decor style.
If you’re wondering how to include jali in your home decor, let this guide show you the way.
Create a ceiling tray
A ceiling panel crafted of jali can drizzle light into your room and carpet your floor in miniature, luminous circles. Alternatively, if you prefer to leave your ceiling alone, install a large, flush-mounted fixture that serves as a contemporary lattice lighting display.
Use it as a divider
Centuries ago, the jali was conceived as a divider to separate two areas within a room. And with a little facelift, you can give it the same role in your home. Place a wooden partition between the entryway and the living room, or the living room and the dining room, to create zones tailored for privacy. Continue your trellis-inspired aesthetic by overlaying your cabinets with jali panels, and amp up the drama by installing inlaid lights to highlight your precious lattice design. Jali designs come in multiple materials (wood, acrylic or metal, you decide), so go with what fits your existing decor. If your home is modelled on a farmhouse theme, pick a partition design in a neutral palette. If you love shabby-chic, go one step further and distress a wooden painted design. If contemporary is your calling, pick a sheeny metallic screen that channels millennial glam, while retaining the quintessential look of a trad jali.
Dress your furniture
A dining tabletop, an armchair backrest and French windows embellished with jali can give your contemporary home a spectacularly ornate spin. Don’t be afraid to lose your decor to the trappings of traditional handiwork. Paint your quirky jali colours to turn it into a focal point, and watch it transform from worn to fantastic. Pastel palettes can work wonders on wooden jali work, giving you a look that straddles English country and Indo-chic.
Embellish your staircase
Turn your staircase into the pièce de résistance of your home with exquisite lattice detailing. Consider decorating your staircase risers with ornamental mesh or replace your balusters with a decorative jali panel to bring out visual variety in your staircase design.
Install webbed pendant lights
Pendant lights with perforated shades can inspire Bohemian vibes, with an interplay of shadow and light. If you’re up for a DIY pendant project, turn an old colander into a pendant light for a play-on-jali effect. Perforated lights can cast exotic patterns across your room, adding textural and tonal charm.
Work your balcony
Maximise your balcony view on the outside and inside with jali-inspired metal railings. Mesh railings can give your balcony a stylistic spin while offering optimum safety, thanks to their robust design.
If you’re a lover of all things vintage, scour antique stores for second-hand lattice marvels that will add character to your home. Vintage decor elements can fit beautifully into a modern aesthetic, so if you’re up for a little footslogging, take the time to look for pieces of value. Repurposed jali benches and seats, carved headboards and standalone panels can be marvellous finds for your home. Give them a fresh lick of paint and you’re good to go.
‘Screen’ the puja room
If your home hosts a dedicated temple space, take it back to its roots by including traditional jali elements. Install a backlit jali tableau or jali doors with a spotlight inside. This way, you’ll notice a warm glow inside the temple even when your doors are closed.
If you’ve always harboured a love for jali, giving it a place in your home is easier than you think. Go on and invite India’s famed handicraft legacy into your home with an ode to its jali tradition. Now is as good a time as any.
Here are a few links which can help you.