The term “Asian decor ” covers a wide range of styles. For instance, in the UK, the word Asian tends to refer to Indian or Pakistani, while in the USA the word Asian tends to refer to Chinese, Tibetan, Japanese, or Korean, with the term South East Asian usually referring to Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Hmong, and Indonesian. Most people look at restaurant decor as representative of a country’s decor in general, and imitate that when trying to decorate a home. Obviously this is a flawed way of approaching any region’s style. Try to get exposure to other aspects of their cultures before you decorate your home. You don’t have to fly to the country to do that. If you live in a cosmopolitan place like the Bay Area in California, there are neighborhoods where particular immigrant groups have temples, community centers, and shops full of their arts and crafts. Ask the shop keeper what the important elements of home decor are in his or her culture.
If you are not blessed with such diversity where you live, go online, and research the artistic traditions of the culture you are interested in. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Chinese decor lends itself to the use of brighter color and color combinations that some westerners might consider garish, like red and hot pink and lime green side by side. While Chinese decor can be done in a very tasteful muted color schemes, or even grey-scale with painted scrolls, you can also get away with a fun splash of color that challenges decor taboos. The result is surprisingly beautiful. Paintings, jade sculptures, dolls, and lacquer furniture and boxes are easy ways to introduce a Chinese flavor to your decor.
Traditional Japanese decor tends towards a neutral color pallet and minimalism, and promotes a very restful, calming atmosphere. However, the contemporary art of Japanese animation and the Japanese punk movement provide a decor alternative that is colorful and challenges convention.
Korean decor employs good luck amulets that are hung from the ceiling or a light shade to bless your home. They usually consist of a painted disk hung on an elaborate silk knot, and have long red tassels dangling beneath them.
The Nepali mountain ranges are so mesmerizing that your guests will be riveted to any wide angle photo of the Himalaya.
Tibetan decor revolves around photos of their spectacular landscapes and their spiritual traditions. Tankas are painted scrolls done by Buddhist monks on religious themes, and are framed in silk panels. These often have a silk veil that is rolled up to reveal the scroll. Tankas are colorful focal points for a room’s decor. Multicolored strings of prayer flags are hung where the wind will carry the blessings skyward. The use of silver and turquoise and a red stone are common in Tibetan jewelry and ceremonial objects. Prayer wheels are a good example of such objects, and are often used as decor accents on end tables and shelves.
As with any art or craft that is sacred, you must be very careful to treat it with respect and to verify what would be a taboo usage or placement of such an object in that culture, before you incorporate it into your home decor.
Indian decor is often represented by the crafts of Rajistan. These include colorful embroidered fabrics that are shaped to frame door ways and windows, silk paintings of elephants and of Krishna and Radna dancing with cows in beautiful gardens, and mobiles of stuffed and embroidered animals with bells on the ends of strings to represent their legs. Carved wooden boxes and lacquered paper-mache boxes from Kashmir make beautiful decor accents. India also exports a range of batiks and metallic sculptures of their deities. If you are looking for something that can be either spiritual, punk rock, or retro 60’s in flavor, check out their bright pastel colored pictures of Hindu deities and story themes. These are psychedelic looking images that won’t be ignored. The use of sari silk for drapes, decorative pillows, and wall hangings, creates a gorgeous and luxurious decor theme in Jewel tones with gold and silver accents.
Indonesian printed cotton makes great upholstery fabric on bamboo furniture. The shadow puppets from Indonesia and the carved wooden figures and masks from Bali are terrific decor accents.
Laotian and Hmong crafts use colorful embroidery and pom poms, which make lovely wall hangings, decorative pillows, and mobiles.
Thai decor includes wonderful rice paper rubbings from the stone relief work on temple walls and palaces, depicting traditional stories, animals, and Buddhist theme. Objects covered in small fragments of mirror shimmer if placed where the light will reflect on them. These a references to the exterior decor of Thai temples. Photographs of the colorful floating market scenes in South East Asia are attractive ways to enhance your Asian decor theme.
The use of bamboo furniture, mats, and blinds are a great way to tie your Asian decor theme together.