Asian-inspired styles are hugely popular in home decor, but there is a whole range of different classic Asian looks, from middle eastern opulence to Zen minimalism, so to make the most of the wealth of influences it helps to be clear as to what associations you want to suggest.


BuddhaCredit: Buddha photo by KoshykAsian styles

A light, airy colonial-style home might be furnished with an eclectic mix of pieces and artifacts collected everywhere from the Philippines to Pakistan. If this is your concept, stick mainly to simple, classic, solid furnishings and pale paints, with ethnic touches which could range from oriental black lacquer to carved rosewood screens and dark wood furnishings.

Alternatively, you may choose to focus on creating the richness and warmth common to Indian and middle eastern styles, or a cool oriental chic. With a good eye and a flair for design you can effectively combine Asian design elements, incorporating them into a bang up-to-date contemporary style.


BambooCredit: Bamboo stalks by Pjan VandaeleRoom proportions

High vaulted bamboo ceilings and pagoda-style roofs create the breathing space essential to any Asian style. Openness and light are the basis of minimal Zen design, while any palace worth the name needs luxuriously large rooms.

Clean lines, gently curves and pale neutral colours contribute to the Zen sense of infinite space, and tall narrow plants like bamboo can be used to continue this feeling of height and emptiness outdoors.


Asian colour schemes

Most Asian-inspired colour schemes share the basic elements of white and mixed natural tones, sometimes contrasted with a bright orange, purple or fuchsia, turquoise or cobalt blue. Opulent reds and golds with dark mahogany or rosewood create a classical Indian feel, while black lacquer can add oriental chic to many concepts. Keep the look fresh and bold, avoiding pale or muted colours like pastels.

Add a dash of clear vibrant red to a minimal Japanese colour scheme, or use gold or silver paint and fabrics to highlight a rich palette of reds and purples.

The principle of using lots of colours together extends to the use of wood. Bamboo ceilings and floors, carved rosewood panels or screens, dark mahogany furnishings and touches of black lacquer or uplifting pale wood can be skillfully incorporated.


Shoji screenCredit: Shoji screen photo by Steve SnodgrassFinishing touches

Polished wood floors look great with patterned Asian carpets, or to keep it Zen choose a simple white or natural-coloured rug.

Screens complete any oriental look. Consider a classic shoji screen made of paper stretched over a lacquered wood frame as a room divider.

Wall hangings can be painted paper or decorative rugs. Eastern religious images like Buddhas, gods and warriors easily create an Asian theme.