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How Do I Choose the Best Chinese Decor?

Judith Smith Sullivan
Judith Smith Sullivan

The best Chinese decor will reflect your personal style, fit into your budget, and be appropriately sized for the area. There are a wide variety of pieces and design styles in Chinese decor, so you will have to search carefully to find pieces that suit your taste. It's up to you whether you choose reproduction, or imitation, Chinese decor instead of authentic Chinese decor, but keep in mind that authentic Chinese decor, especially antiques, can be much more expensive. You can find Chinese inspired decor at many major department stores and off-brand warehouse stores, but you may have to seek out specialty boutiques that focus on Chinese furnishings if you want authentic pieces.

Before you begin shopping, assess the area you wish to decorate. Make a list of the measurements of the room, including ceiling height and any significant features, like windows, doorways, and fireplaces. Write down the main purpose of the room, even if it's obvious, as with a kitchen or bathroom. The pieces you choose will need to operate in harmony with that purpose.

Silk fabrics are commonly featured as part of Chinese decor.
Silk fabrics are commonly featured as part of Chinese decor.

Make a note of two or three major pieces that the room needs. For instance, a living room needs seating and probably a low table. A bathroom may need extra storage cabinets. If you have special needs, like specialized storage for instruments or knick knack collections, put that on your wish list. Don't forget to add artistic objects and accessories as these items can make a boring room beautiful.

Think about the elements of Chinese decorating while you're making your list. Natural sunlight, water, texture from wood carvings or natural materials, rugs, screens, and bold colors are all common in Chinese design. Although it may not be possible, or even desirable, to all of these elements in your space, consider how you can work with two or three elements to create Chinese inspired decor.

After you have assessed the room and written down what you need, you're ready to start budgeting. Most people have an idea of what they can spend on a given project, but the tricky part is deciding what percentage of the budget to spend on what piece. A general rule is that pieces that are most used, like seating, need to be the highest quality and typically cost a little more. You can save on artwork and accessories, like throw pillows and vases.

Once you have determined your budget and an approximate amount for your major pieces, take your list of measurements and must have pieces and start shopping. Begin with your biggest purchase first. It is much easier to match accent pieces to a large piece than vice versa.

Chinese decor often incorporates themes from nature. The materials, like rosewood, bamboo, rice paper, and silk fabrics are often natural as well. When you are looking for authentic pieces, determine if natural materials or imitations have been used. Laminate, pressed wood, and synthetic fabrics are signs that a piece is a reproduction and probably of poor quality.

There are also many bright colors in Chinese design. Repeating, intricate patterns in colors like red, yellow, green, blue, and purple are popular. Depending on your style, you may choose to use many of these colors or just a few. A room with many bright colors can be invigorating in the right space, like a living room or kitchen, but disturbing in a place of relaxation, like the bedroom. Choose your color schemes carefully and stick with them.

Even though there are many different types of Chinese decor, there are a few tips that can ensure that you're purchasing the best. First, inspect each piece carefully for damage or obvious repair. This is especially important with antiques, since condition dictates price. Next, check for workmanship. Joints should be flush; drawers and doors should open and close easily; and seams should be taut with no signs of fraying fabric. Remember that your most used pieces need to be the highest quality you can afford so that they will last for many years.

Don't forget the functionality of the piece. If you find a beautiful carved table that is within your budget but is too large for your space, leave it for someone else to enjoy. Not only will ill-sized furniture make it difficult to navigate a room, it will also ruin the design aesthetic. Whenever possible, find pieces that combine functionality, like storage or seating, with beauty.

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    • Silk fabrics are commonly featured as part of Chinese decor.
      By: Subbotina Anna
      Silk fabrics are commonly featured as part of Chinese decor.