Interiors trend forecaster Rohini Wahi in her East London flat

Palm Springs meets Calcutta in Rohini Wahi’s East London flat

Describing her 1930s East London apartment block as “a time warp to historic Palm Springs” journalist Rohini Wahi has created a home inspired by her Indian heritage and love of design.


Rohini juggles freelance design-forecasting work with blogging and running her Indian-inspired lifestyle brand, She lives with her husband, Dave, and daughter Aarya. It was the apartment block’s lime green windows, curved arches and art deco style that attracted them to the building when they moved into the area five years ago, and she knew she had to move there. Rohini fills us in…

First impressions

“The apartment was in an OK condition when we bought it, but it was very dated. The whole place was thickly carpeted and furnished with heavy, oppressive drapes. Our apartment is at the front of the development and has beautiful Crittall windows, with a balcony around the living area looking out onto the main courtyard. When we moved in all the lovely original windows were covered in thick paint that had glued them shut. We could see so much potential once we had stripped back the carpets and the paint. We spent three extremely tiring winter months stripping, painting, sanding and tiling.”

Books make a home

“The first thing we bought for this place were wall-to-wall bookshelves. I couldn’t wait to surround myself with all the books I’d collected over the years. I can’t imagine any interior scheme without them. They need to be in the room you spend time in every day, not a separate library - although that would be a dream to have!”

Stylish and functional

“I like designs that are on-trend but also classic so they’ll have longevity in my home. I love that the Lomond coffee table has an industrial aesthetic, which is popular right now, but uses lovely mango wood. Oh, and the top opens up to reveal loads of storage - magic!”

Space saving tips

“If you have a small kitchen (like us), consider a rail to hang everyday items. It’ll free up precious drawer space. We installed a long copper pipe and hung our pots, pans and ladles from it. It makes a great feature, and not using cabinets opens up the small room.”

Morning routine

“The Alana valet is so pretty and functional, and it has transformed my morning routine. I hate leaving clothes out in my bedroom, so I tend not to decide what to wear ‘til the morning. Which is never a good plan when you have a toddler around to scupper the best laid intentions of picking out a good outfit. Now I have a neat place to hang my outfit and I’m all set to go.”

Bathroom makeover

“The bathroom was probably our first major renovation project. It had dated cream tiles, a clunky plastic bath with a handrail on the wall, and the sink and toilet were awkwardly spaced. We completely ripped everything out. We replaced the bath with a sleek glass shower cubicle, which freed up tonnes of space. We had a cabinet made up from walnut wood which hides all our toiletries and really sets off against the grey tiles. We affixed outdoor lights with filament bulbs on either side of the mirror.”

Decor advice from the expert

“Splurge on at least one item in your home, because it’ll give you joy daily. And pick the best materials you can afford to build the basics of your home; the good paint, great tiles and flooring. These will create the best possible bones of your home, and anything you add from here on in will just look wonderful.”

Interior inspiration

“I grew up in India and travel home every year to my grandparents’ home in Calcutta. It’s a leafy sanctuary in the bustling city and probably my main influence. Cool marble flooring runs through my grandmother’s apartment, with brass inlay between each tile. The furniture is modern but colonial. Each room is a neutral palette and dressed with handmade textiles and heirloom ornaments.”

Get your light bulbs right

“Bad lighting can ruin a space. Namely, the wrong light bulbs. Light bulbs should be warm and golden in tone. I love using filament lighting in my space - it instantly makes everything feel magical and luxurious.”

Article written by: Ellen Kirkpatrick
Photography by: Ola O Smit

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