There’s no place like Goa, but many places come pretty close. Palm-fringed beaches, vibrant nightlife, eclectic flea markets and tantalizing seafood aren’t very hard to come by.
But if there’s anything that no other state or city can boast of its the two decade’s worth of Portuguese Influence that has made its mark on many areas of a Goan’s life – most prominent of all, are the houses. A visual delight, these stately mansions have an old-world charm about them – with their massive arched doors, curved red-coloured porches or ‘balcaos’ and galleries held behind dainty iron grills and wooden windows slotted in with small mother-of-pearl panels. The interiors, though, are just as interesting as their vibrant facades.
Inside, high tiled roofs are held up by wooden beams and the flooring is most commonly fitted with red, hexagon shaped tiles, sometimes interspersed with yellow to form a geometric design. Like the exteriors, the interiors too are a marriage of Indian and Western influences.
If you’d like to infuse a little bit of olden day Goa into your home, the furniture and décor you choose is what will give it that authentic, colonial charm. For starters, wooden furniture made of Teak and Rosewood is a must. Chairs, be it for the dining table, the long lazy boys in front of the TV, or even the rare high-backed Emperor style chairs are fitted with woven cane seats. Speaking of seats, a couple of rocking chairs are a must-have when decorating a Goan home.
One of the best places to find furniture like tables, chairs and cupboards is to scour local second hand markets. Often, people who wish to sell their houses or discard old furniture sell their antiques to dealers or scrap yard owners. Appearances will be deceptive here so you will need a keen eye to see through the un-repairable furniture to find a gem. With a little bit of work and some polish, you can get old Goan furniture easily and affordably.
When it comes to decor, walk down 18 June Road and you’ll inevitably come across one out of a dozen shops selling tile paintings. These hand painted tiles depict life when times were simpler in Goa. You can also pick up Goa-inspired wall-hung plates, hand-painted shot glasses with similar scenes as on the tiles and more. Local markets like those in Mapusa and Margao have plenty of stores that sell knick-knacks – such as the large white and mustard ceramic pots, lace tablecloths and table vases, all of which are found in Goan homes and come quite cheap.
Azulejos make a charming addition to a Goan home. These Portugal inspired white ceramic tiles are dominated by intricately painted blue geometric patterns. While they were used to cover blank walls during the Gothic Era in Europe, in modern-day Goa, you will often find them outside a home in the form of a nameplate. Browse through the collection at Galleria Auzlejos de Goa in Panjim and Turi Azulejos in Bicholim to get a customized one for you.
Casa Goa is yet another place you can head to for your fix of antiques and home furnishings. Much of what they have on offer has been restored, and many of their pieces have a contemporary blend of modern and antique. Pick up little décor items such as candle stick holders, trunks and mirrors to place around the home or to decorate bedrooms with.
It is becoming exceedingly difficult to source beautifully crafted Goan treasures. It’s the little things that give an old mansion warmth and style, and the secret of replicating the vibe in your home – be it a modern condo or an apartment, is having a keen eye and good taste.