How to Decorate Your Home in an Asian Style

Interior of modern living room
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Different elements of Asian style have influenced Western décor for centuries. Today, we are so used to these Asian influences that we do not even realize where they came from. The ball and claw foot, for instance, was originally inspired by a Chinese motif.

Asian-inspired furniture draws on Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese traditions, among others. The Asian style, which encompasses the Far East, is not confined to any one country or culture and spans centuries. Far from having a single homogenous look, Asian furniture can be highly ornamented, with carved surfaces and bold color, or have very simple lines, free of any ornamentation with soothing neutral tones.

When creating your own Asian-inspired interior, you can pick and choose from different elements. Maybe what stands out as the single most defining feature is a sense of balance and a lack of clutter creating balanced, uncluttered, and harmonious interiors.

The red-and-black Chinese-inspired chest is from Hooker.

Asian style chest

Asian-Inspired Colors

Black and red are two colors that spring to mind when furnishing in an Asian inspired style. These colors are often found in Chinese inspired interiors. The color red is supposed to bring good luck and happiness according to Chinese traditions.

For a dramatic Asian-inspired room, red works especially well. You need just one piece to give the room a jolt of color and drama.

If red is not your color, black works very well to anchor a room. This is especially true when you are furnishing in a style that leans more towards a Japanese style because then most colors will be in shades of gray, tan, green or leaning towards neutral. Use brighter, richer colors for accent. Gold and silver can also be used for accents, and you will often find them in surface treatments such as gold or silver leaf or paint, or in beautifully designed hardware.

Double Happiness Flatscreen Sideboard
Red Egg

Material and Texture

Texture plays an integral part in Asian style furniture. Surfaces can be smooth and shiny, because wood is either polished to perfection, painted, or lacquered. Surface interest is also created by using materials such as bamboo, paper, silver or gold leaf. Upholstery and rugs run the gamut from silk to jute and straw.

This round cocktail table is from Hammary, and it combines some very interesting materials and textures that you find in Asian furniture. The deep-dish top has a glass inset highlighted by a field of silver leaf. This is a take on an ancient art technique in which the underside of the glass is painted with an intricate pattern. The faux bamboo base has a soft black finish with a subtle red rub through.

Cocktail Table, Hammary

How to Use Asian-Inspired Accents

The easiest way to make changes or bolster any style is through accents. It is the easiest and the simplest way to transition into a style, or even check out if you can live with it.

Pillows are always easily replaced and add much to the overall look of a room. Think of adding some floor pillows when you want to decorate in an Asian style. Depending on what you're looking for you can choose from many options. Look for colors, material and textures, and motifs that are distinctly Asian.

Floor pillows create an Asian look
Datacraft / Getty Images

Asian Accents for the Wall

Asian style accents work well on the walls, too. Asian calligraphy is known and recognized for its beauty. You can find plenty of prints and wall hangings that represent this art form. And when you are looking to layer a look, art on your walls is a possibility that you should explore.

This shadowboxed crossbow has faint Asian characters in the background. The antique gold embossed frame adds a dramatic accent.

Shadow Box, Paragon

Asian-Inspired Multifunctional Furniture

Multifunctional furniture is a big component of Asian style. Futons can be used for sitting and as beds. Screens serve a decorative purpose and to divide areas and provide privacy. Small chests serve as nightstands and receptacles for personal effects, while also providing a surface that can serve as a small table.

Futons have almost become ubiquitous today. Some retain their Asian looks, others do not. Properly speaking the word futon refers to the pad that can be rolled up and put away when it is no longer needed. This futon pad from West Elm is very Asian in its sensibility, and a boon for small spaces as well.

Futon, West Elm
West Elm

Asian-Style Room Dividers

Room dividers or folding screens are frequently used in Asian interiors. You can choose from intricately detailed and brightly colored screens to simple paper screens when it comes to room dividers. The intricately decorated ones may have accents or entire areas of gold and silver with black, red or other jewel tones. However if your Asian style room calls for a more simple treatment, there are plenty of choices in that as well.

This version of a traditional Japanese shoji screen room divider has woven jute panels with the jute providing added textural interest and the tightly woven jute blocks light, adding to its functionality.

Jute Shoji Screen in Natural, Oriental Furniture
Oriental Furniture