The genesis of an obsession

I was born in Calcutta (before it became Kolkata).  And it was there, I suppose, that the seeds of a lifelong love of all things brass were planted.

Brass taps, brass lamps, brass accents – I was surrounded by them and their ubiquity and beauty, whether burnished or tarnished (but always unlacquered) shaped my aesthetic and continues to dictate my tastes.

Over the years I’ve collected…

1. hand-me-downs, cast offs & appropriations like these:

Seen here next to my impossibly glam mum circa 1969.

lovely lady, lovely lamps

I came upon them decades later, a bit worse for wear with dents and dings for having been shipped a dozen times, in my parents’ garage. And, once appropriated, I managed to bring them back to their former glory via a rubber mallet, some brasso, a lot of elbow grease and a DIY re-wiring job.

They now grace our living room.

brass lamps

pretty during the day, they work shadow-magic once lit…

shadow art

I also purloined these:

brass handles

Initially my parents’ when we lived in Calcutta, they now give me inordinate pleasure as drawer pulls on a daybed in my study and as door handles for our under-stair cupboards.

I sprang at this when it was on offer:

brass anklet ashtray

At one time adorning an Orissan woman’s ankle, this brass anklet was fashioned into an ashtray in the ’70’s (and could tell a tale I’m sure about the fabulous Calcutta cocktail parties it witnessed).  It is currently living out its third life as a vessel for votives in Brooklyn.

2. flea market finds like these:

brass candlesticks

assorted brass candle sticks – low enough that there’s no danger of knocking them over mid dining room table once the wine has begun to flow.

3. and bits of foreign lands like these:

 Bhutanese wallet

A brass, silver (turquoise – on the other side) and leather wallet from Bhutan.

Bosnian coffee grinder

A coffee grinder from Bosnia Hercegovina.

buddha head

betel nut cracker


And many, many treasures from my motherland India.

When it came time to source for our renovations, it is perhaps no surprise that I gave full expression to my love of that truly living finish in:

unlacquered brass plumbing fixtures:

plumbing fixtures 1

plumbing fixtures 2 

unlacquered brass bath accessories:

bath accessories 

aged brass light fixtures:

light fixtures

unlacquered brass kitchen cabinet drawer pulls & shelf brackets:

kitchen fixtures 

and yes, even (pushbutton) light plates in unlacquered brass:

light plate

I did admit I was obsessed (though the above-cataologing has revealed – even to me – just how fervidly).




  1. deepak crawford · · Reply

    shanti, who would have guessed that you were so impressionable at the age of five? Ma xxx

    1. My first influence & biggest support. x

  2. […] an overhead shower fixture without a) breaking the bank b) ruining our aesthetic (old-school, unlacquered brass).  Risible if not true, but this prospect entailed: multiple sourcing trips; re-threading of brass […]

  3. Hello there – I found your blog via Elements of Style, and I am loving your homes! I too love unlacquered brass, I have attempted to switch every possible and impossible fixture to brass during our renovation. would you mind sharing where you sourced the brass faucet and plumbing lines for the small sideways sink? and also the train rack shelf?

  4. Glad you found us and are enjoying the blog. The train rack was a custom order – to the trade, if you are able to avail of this email me at shanti at indigochre dot com. If you aren’t, we can order it for you. The small powder room sink hardware is a bit more difficult prospect as my faucet was vintage and I actually created the plumbing lines through a combination of a tail pipe I bought from my plumber and a p-trap and water lines that I customised (in one instance stripping it of it’s finish, in the other having them dipped in brass). But this was because of the specifics (code, footprint) I was dealing with for this teeny powder room. If you write to me with specifics of what you need to achieve & your budget, I can better direct you to retail vendors of unlacquered brass that will be a good fit.

  5. shanti – thank you so much for a detailed response! we just finished major pieces of the renovation, so i won’t be ready to replace pieces yet. but i will definitely be in touch at some point in the future, as we continue to restore our home. thank you for the blog, i am now a daily reader!

  6. […] explored imprinting before in posts here and here, but I’m apparently a slow study, because it wasn’t until I was sifting […]

  7. […] history.  It is precisely those characteristics that has shaped my love of living finishes such as unlacquered brass (that only get better with age) and vintage and antique furniture and rugs – pieces that had […]

  8. […] one to toe the trends, Shanti’s been loving and living with brass for ages (see her post here) and so through her amazing and prescient bathroom designs, has become a bit of a finish […]

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