True Asian Style
Asia is where East meets West. In many part of Asia, you will find the influence of tropical and western styles. It is nearly impossible to pinpoint a single “Asian style,” because it encompasses so many different regions, including Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and most of the Pacific region. Japan and China still hold tightly to an oriental tradition. These two styles differ greatly: Japanese being soothing and minimal in style while Chinese is very dramatic and detailed. We will focus on these two traditions for the purpose of this article.
Japanese Style is designed to bring peace, balance, and serenity to the living space, keeping it simple and uncluttered. Natural and earthy colors with natural lighting are a must to the design. A room with lots of sunlight is ideal. Shades of gray, brown, and green will offset any brighter colors used.
- Furnishings, though kept sparse, should be multi-purpose and low to the floor. A futon doubling for seating and sleeping, rice screens as room dividers and aesthetic elements, and a trunk with drawers doubling as a table and storage is ideal.
- Flooring is the foundation to this décor. Wood floors should be highly polished and rich looking. Plenty of tatami mats laid out in a pattern and beautiful floor pillows for seating are all that is needed for the floor’s décor.
- Window treatments will flow with the rest of the room, using simple woven curtains, bamboo, or wood blinds. A Shoji screen can be used as a window covering during the evening hours and double up as a room divider during daylight hours when the sunlight is a welcome. Window coverings in Shoji screen material with oriental prints on them are available for a private, yet outdoor feeling.
- Accessories are always simple and artistically placed. In Japanese culture, everything has a purpose and is purposely placed. Low-wattage lamps covered with rice paper shades and candles keep with the serenity of the room. Add to the feeling of calm by connecting to the outside world with the use of rock water features, orchards, and bonsai plants.
Chinese Style is inspired by bold and deep, rich colors. In this style, colors and their placement in a room are vital, as well as the placement and flow of furnishings. Feng Shui is just one of the disciplines used in Chinese décor.
- Furniture tends to be of carved wooden designs with high-gloss lacquered surfaces, dark and rich. Many pieces of furniture, such as screens and lamps are usually hand painted in detail. Statues of animals, such as monkeys or tigers or mythological beasts such as dragons add accent to the furniture.
- Accessories would include mural pieces and scrolls depicting legendary characters and historical figures for walls. Large vases and porcelain ginger jars with painted patterns in multi colors, or in the classic blue and white, are traditional. Remember that red is the prominent color in this style, symbolizing good luck and fire. All other colors usually flow around it, but some colors should be as big as red, causing conflict, such as black. If another color is used as a focal color, make red the accessory instead.
- Floors and lighting are important to the meticulous details of the room. Mats can be used here, but rugs with florals or detailed scenes may be used as part of the “center” to the room. Candles for low lighting or rice shaded lamps give off a warm atmosphere.
Chinese style décor is easy to assemble. You will want to pick one bright color for a wall or piece of furniture, and make all wood tones dark in furnishings to contrast that one color. Keep furniture pieces balanced and centered. Add a few large pieces of art work to the room, be it vases, paintings or even a traditional silk robe under glass. Use silk pillows to offset the dramatic color and curtains in the same color to accent it, making the room powerful.
In any Asian Style setting, resist the temptation to combine too many elements or pieces into one room. Simple and serene are the keys and are essential to a true Asian Style.