How many of you here are thinking of doing up your space? Lockdowns and work-from-home situations have given many of us ample time and opportunity to indulge in such creative pursuits. And for our friend Chumbeno Ezung from Nagaland, these COVID times have given a much-needed chance to revisit her childhood home and transform their old run-down house into a ‘piece of haven’ – that now serves as an inspiration corner for her work – and a lovely tea and plant leisure space to entertain her friends.
Chumbeno Ezung is a professionally trained and practicing interior designer, who is also a well-known wedding planner and decorator. She is a source of inspiration for many as she continues to reinvent her passions and creative skills by always learning and trying out new things. Today we chat at length about the super interesting renovation project that has left us super inspired!
Hi Chumbeno, welcome to the R&L chat. Please introduce yourself.
Hello, my name is Chumbeno Ezung. I am an Interior Designer. I am also a Wedding Decorator, currently based in Chumukedima, Nagaland. I am passionate about Learning. I have taken classes in Tailoring, Baking, and even undergone a Montessori training just because I fell in love with the kids in my class during my short stint as a teacher at Mount Mary School, Chumukedima. I learned how to drive and swim last year. I am always up to something. My brother often jokes that the only thing left for me to do is to join the Army:D
“I believe in living my dreams and that is why I try or learn all that I want to. That being said, I have not always succeeded in everything that I have tried. But for me what matters are the experiences that I have gained. I love watching movies and documentaries, reading, singing, painting, DIYs, designs, decors, photography, traveling, and recently very much into plants and gardening.”
So how long have you been doing interiors and space designs? Is this something you went to college for?
Yes. After my graduation, I did a Diploma in Interior Design from an institute called IDeA Worldwide, Bangalore. After this, I did my Bachelor of Design, majoring in Interior Design from Raffles Design International, Mumbai. I haven’t set up my firm as such as of now. But I have been doing Freelance Projects.
What made you pick up interest in interiors – especially for someone growing up in Nagaland, what were the things around you, people around you, and activities around you that steered you in this direction?
I grew up playing with Barbie, just as all the girls do. Me and my friends would sit around the bed and create space for our dolls. Like the Bedroom, living room, kitchen, and so on. So I think that’s where it all started. I would use up an entire bed creating these spaces for the Barbies. When I grew a little older, and my friends would come over to my place to play, I would often suggest we redo our living rooms or bedroom. We would clean the house and take the furniture from here to there and change the whole look.
“I have always been fascinated with decor, especially renovations. I find it exciting and challenging to create a whole new thing out of something that is regarded as discarded or boring.”
Tell us about your latest transformation piece you did – of that discarded corner in your house that you transformed into this beautiful Insta worthy ‘tea and plant corner’ like you put it.
So this has some loosely related back story. Me and my wedding planner partner Soyim Longkumer had decided to set up an office in Chumukedima this year. We even found a nice space and were looking forward to doing the interiors. But unfortunately, Corona happened. We had to let go of that space because we were just paying the rent and it was going nowhere because of the lockdown.
Chumbe with her Wedding planning partner Soyim Longkumer
Around the same time around May this year, tenants who were renting out our old house – my childhood home, vacated the place. That’s when I thought we could use this old house as our office space. Especially with so many rooms, me and my partner felt this serves our purpose very well as we have ample storage space for our decor and other items (that we use for our wedding planning business). Thus, all these mini renovations began.
“Also, at the same time, I had recently gotten this major passion for plants – indoors+ outdoors and all. And so, I wanted to create a space where I can have my friends over for tea and leisure – besides creating the workspace. And that’s the whole thing about Plants and Tea House.”
Chumbeno’s childhood home before she turned it into a cozy, modern work+leisure space
Tell us more about the renovation process – and how you went about the whole transformation work.
I have always liked that corner (in my old house). It was always in a bechara (sad) condition but I saw a lot of potential in it. I thought it would make a great patio. I am happy I finally got the chance to work on it. Another tiny dream come true 😉
Chumbeno’s old childhood home before the renovation
Chumbeno’s old childhood home before the renovation
“It’s funny because when I was younger, I couldn’t wait to get out and shift to the new house. But now this place is giving me a lot of inspiration and ideas. I stay charged throughout the day. This is a little Haven for me. And I think that’s how your home or workplace should make you feel. I feel it is important to create happy corners in our houses – or wherever we live and work.”
Chumbeno turns her old run-down childhood housed into a lovely tea and plant corner, which now serves as an inspiring workspace for all her creative ventures and a lovely space to entertain her friends.
“The plan was to set up a workspace/office and hopefully, a small cafe alongside it. As it is, whenever our team gets together to work, we are always eating or drinking lots of tea. So we thought why not. We started the work here keeping the original plan in mind. It’s not officially a “Cafe” yet. For now, it’s just for the team members and friends.”
How much did you spend for this renovation project?
We actually did this renovation within a very limited budget. I just bought a few paints, wood, and pots and went about finding what I can and have already – and doing what I can with them. Cleaned and painted what needed to be painted, varnished whatever needed it, retouched, refurbish, recycle whatever I could. We probably spend under Rs. 50,000 to paint the whole house and renovate a few areas.
Give us some tips for renovating our own homes..
Aesthetic change doesn’t mean you have to spend so much money. Sometimes small change like – a change in the color of the room or furniture can really switch up the space. Get an old chair and add a cushion or two, bring in some indoor plants.
“Just get creative with whatever you can find. And this is also a chance to make use of your hobbies. If I want to stitch some cushion covers or curtains or table runners, I won’t go out and buy one. I will do it myself. I want to create some art or painting, I will do it myself and so on… This is why I feel we should always equip ourselves with some skills. You save money, and you also get to earn through it – and have tons of fun doing it!”
All the plants I used are from my mom’s collection. I have ordered some online, which are on its way. Most of the furniture are old ones lying around the house. They got refurbished along with the house. And I discovered a lot of amazing old stuff too. The furniture in the kitchen was sourced from friends and family who are home-based carpenter.
Other than your mom’s collection, where else do you get your house plants from?
I have recently purchased some plants and seeds online from ‘allthatgrows.in‘ and ‘My Bageecha’. Instagram is also another good place for sourcing plants. There are quite a few of them around run by our fellow Naga plant lovers. You can find classic ones and some trendy ones too. Since I am new to the Plants world, I am also trying to figure out more. Also, visit your grandparent’s and parents’ gardens. Real treasure troves.
Do you take up projects for clients to do similar transformation and interior design projects? How much do you charge? How can people contact you?
Yes, I do. As mentioned earlier, I haven’t officially come out with my Interior Designing Firm or office. But I work freelance. For interiors, I charge per sqft. It also will depend on the nature of the work. As for now, you can DM me on Instagram.