How do I Make an Asian Living Room? (with pictures)

Mandi R. Hall
Mandi R. Hall
Paper lantern lamps may be featured in an Asian living room.
Paper lantern lamps may be featured in an Asian living room.

Meant to invoke feelings of tranquility, an Asian living room has a variety of aesthetic properties. This neutral style has been popular for several decades in North America and centuries elsewhere. There is no single facet that makes a living room appear to have an Asian theme. There are many elements, however, reminiscent of the Japanese, Chinese, and Thai cultures, among others. Most people looking to design an Asian living room incorporate pieces from more than one region.

Asian-inspired living room items may be found at a flea market.
Asian-inspired living room items may be found at a flea market.

An Asian living room should be minimalistic. Asian décor is meant to be paired with a clean lines and shapes. The room itself should be clutter-free and spacious. If you can’t afford an interior decorator, peruse interior design books or websites for ideas before plunging into the project.

Introducing tacky knick-knacks into an otherwise plain room does not make it Asian-inspired. There is a fine line between using unique flea market finds and buying Asian-themed items from the local dollar store. While both can add flair to an otherwise boring living room, you don’t want the room to look chintzy.

Rice paper screens make good room dividers.
Rice paper screens make good room dividers.

There are many objects reminiscent of Asian décor that are expected to be used in an Asian design scheme. Paper fans, painted vases, teapots, and floor pillows, for example, are common decorations. These elements, when used sparingly and with the appropriate counterparts, can make an Asian living room understated and genuine.

The element of flowing water is almost always used in an Asian living room. To honor Japanese tradition, the element should appear to naturally flow, as in a waterfall or stream. Fountains are man-made, and therefore aren’t used as often. If using an electric waterfall, at least be sure to hide the cord and plug.

A shade of Chinese red is typically used sparingly throughout an Asian living room. This bright color might be painted on one wall, or it might be represented in teapots and vases throughout the space. Jade green is another popular color used in an Asian living room. The overall effect of the room should remain neutral. White, cream, and black are traditional tones, as are shades of brown.

When choosing furniture, bamboo styles are a popular option. Try purchasing either an end table or two lamps woven from bamboo. Don’t go overboard, however. Alternate with dark wood grains for an eclectic, soft touch.

If the space is large enough, try using a rice paper screen as a room divider. If the Asian living room is tiny, a few paper lanterns of alternating sizes should do the trick. If possible, allow a good amount of natural light into the living room, as well.

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    • Paper lantern lamps may be featured in an Asian living room.
      Paper lantern lamps may be featured in an Asian living room.
    • Asian-inspired living room items may be found at a flea market.
      Asian-inspired living room items may be found at a flea market.
    • Rice paper screens make good room dividers.
      Rice paper screens make good room dividers.