Ah, Asian Beauty

So Many Cultures to Choose From

With the wide variety of Asian cultures, it can be pretty difficult to choose the style that suits you best. From the tiny apartments found in Tokyo and other large cities in Japan to the thatched houses on stilts in the watery jungles of Thailand, to the depth and color of China's long history, inspiration abounds. Admittedly, the Asian cultures carry with them a sense of serenity, depth and contemplation and China has had a very large influence on what we term Asian décor.

The Importance of Color in Asian Decor

It is important to understand the value and importance of certain colors to the Chinese culture in order to be able to decorate with depth. Chinese views regard black, red, and blue-green, white and yellow as standard colors and there's no question they are staples in the décor of all things Chinese. Whether it is jade bonsai trees or beautifully designed pillows, these colors return again and again.

It's All Black and White...

Black is regarded as Heaven's color according to the I Ching, or the Book of Changes. The saying, "heaven and earth of mysterious black" was rooted in the observation that the northern sky was black for a long time. In ancient times, the Chinese believed the Heavenly Emperor resided in the North Star. White is representative of gold and symbolized purity, brightness and fulfillment. White is also the color of mourning in China and from ancient times until this day, the Chinese people wear white when they mourn for the dead.

...And Red and Green and Yellow

Red is the most cherished of colors for the Chinese and it is found everywhere, especially during the Chinese New Year and holidays. It symbolizes good fortune and joy. Blue-green indicates spring, when everything is alive and flowing with vigor and vitality. Yellow is the symbol of the earth and is considered the center of everything. It is the color of the five legendary emperors of ancient China and signifies neutrality. Yellow is considered to be the most beautiful color, representing freedom from worldly cares and is important in Buddhism as a result.

Painted Furniture and Silk Pillows

In Asian décor planning, there should be at least one or two pieces of wood furniture painted in the true, rich, deep Chinese red. Real Chinese furniture does not have painted words and gaudy decorations all over it, as we often see in Western impression copies. Rather, the furniture is rather subtle. When mixed with carving and gilt, the décor takes on a very rich look. In Asia it is common to see furniture with a little gilt tastefully painted on it. The patterns often carved into the wood tell a story or give the history of the piece.

Silk is almost synonymous with China, having been home to it for centuries. And, it is still part of the Asian décor today. Some throw pillows or the covering on a stool are totally within keeping with the décor style. It isn't necessary to have an entire sofa in silk - a few small pieces will suffice.

Add fresh flowers, bonsai trees and bamboo plants and you will have brought the Far East into your home.