Traditional pickle jars in white and brown, aruvamanai, ladles, vegetables… you will find them all in this kitchen. Only, not on its shelves but as part of the uniquely patterned tiles on its walls.

Sumitra Vasudevan uses tiles as the main ingredient of her artwork and rustles up murals that brim with originality. “When we first started doing this, we got tiles especially made, but now we use whatever is available in the market (at Rs. 40-50),” she says.

“Old kitchen objects like grinding stones are no longer in use and we may perhaps find them only in DakshinaChitra these days,” says Vasudevan, who works with Aprobuild, an architecture and interior design firm.

Many clients rely on Vasudevan to come up with different and fun designs for their walls, but some come to her with an idea. One client wanted a traditional pongal scene, complete with a decorated bullock, pongal paanai and sugarcane. “I first do a free-hand sketch and then replicate it on the computer. Basically, it’s all grid patterns.” The next step is to get wooden templates made, with each piece cut to fit the design. After this, the tile workman cuts the final tiles according to the design, somewhat like a cross-stitch pattern. Together, they first do a rough assembly on the floor before setting it up on the wall.

The idea can be translated to bathroom walls or any other space that needs extensive tile work. “It gives a personal touch to the home,” says Vasudevan, and is a lot like customising your walls.

You can even ask for a three-dimensional look with lights and shadows as well as wall-mounted elements.

Vasudevan recommends handmade ceramic tiles, which are smaller and can help create a mosaic-like image, as well as green oxide finish on the walls, which is easy to maintain.