APARTMENTS are here to stay and very soon will become the only preferred option over individual residences. Choosing the right flat to match one's needs may be a difficult task.
There are many options, like a four-apartment complex, a group development, a housing complex or a high-rise apartment building. In a small four-apartment complex, privacy and calmness can be achieved, whereas in a group development or in a housing complex, you might get additional facilities such as playgrounds and small shopping units. While in high-rise flats, great views and fresh air would be a bonus.
Having chosen and purchased an apartment, you could consult an architect to improvise the architectural planning and interior with sunken slabs, beam positions, sanitary lines and ducts.
He could help you in getting bath tubs, may be an island kitchen-cum-dining and a kids' homework corner too. Additional help could be sought with respect to utility areas — positioning heavy gadgets like washing machines, dish-washer or the grinder. Even a flexible design for a bedroom-cum-study-cum-family room can be achieved. He would advise on how to manipulate the window openings without marring the elevation, to provide large special windows with openable shutters at varying heights so that the furniture arrangement inside does not get hindered.
The creative architect can interact with the promoter to enhance the space inside. He could work on elements like a special flooring pattern that is different from the usual rich and flashy flooring.
You could explore with newer materials which will bring exterior/natural elements inside the house. Like using rough granite seating near the balcony area, which is economical as well. More explorative materials like the `deal' or scrap wood could also be used for the flooring in such areas.
When it comes to tile selection, lighter white-based colours are most preferred as they blend easily with other colours. But when you intend to use coloured tiles, then it is suggested you keep the colour of the floor tile, wall tile, counter top, and the colour of the fixtures all in your mind.
In the kitchen area, utilitarian needs have to be given primary importance. A well-designed kitchen counter along with an interesting flooring pattern can make a world of difference. The wall tiles also could be colourful — a bright yellow with a black granite counter top can add an element of cheer.
Care should be taken to provide additional electrical points while casting the roof slab itself, as it becomes difficult to do it later. While doing the internal cabinets and loft coverings, a complete package designed in plywood, with minimal usage of wood can be a lot cheaper and faster. Do a lot of talking with people who have just bought an apartment, they might be able to give a whole lot of ideas you wouldn't even have thought of. But if you intend to achieve a well-composed interior, planned for further compliance and practicality, you need to seek the professional help of an architect.
(The writer is chief architect, Murali Architects, Chennai)