Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Red Asian-Inspired Furniture and Decorative Accessories


In Chinese culture the color red symbolizes happiness and good fortune - and nothing makes an Asian-inspired room happier than a few well-chosen touches of red. I’ve rounded up a few rooms today that show what a difference red Asian-inspired accents make – and I’ve compiled a selection of red Chinese furniture pieces and decorative accessories to give you additional decorating ideas. See if they don’t inspire you to rev up your own rooms with red – and bring a bit of Valentine’s Day into your home year ‘round.          

asian inspired living room by miles redd

Above: The red rug, flowers, pillows and Chinese ancestor painting rev up this New York City living room designed by Miles Redd. Photographed for Elle Decor by Simon Upton.


red Chinese ming-style chow leg table

At left: Add a pop of red to any room with this little Ming-style square table. Just 14” high, it’s perfect as a plant stand or as a place to perch a book and a drink.


red chinese wedding box trunk with rattan top






At right: Use this red reproduction Chinese wedding box trunk with its woven rattan top as a side table – or group two of them together to make an unusual coffee table.



mary mcdonald room accessorized with red

Above: One of my favorite Mary McDonald rooms. Red accents punch up the comfortable khaki and white decor.


chinese wedding cabinet red lamp

At left: Add Qing Dynasty style to your living room or bedroom with this wonderful red Chinese wedding cabinet table lamp.


red chinoiserie wooden pagoda birdcage











At right: Banish the decorative blahs with a wooden Chinoiserie pagoda birdcage in bright red.


red asian inspired accessories in white and khaki living room

Above: Red Chinese garden stools, chair cushions and red and white upholstery really bring this Mary McDonald room to life.


red goldfish chinese garden stool

red open-work chinese garden stool 









Above left: Lucky red goldfish adorn this white porcelain Chinese garden stool available at Overstock. Above right: Beautiful open work makes this Chinese red porcelain garden seat a standout.


red chinese chippendale furniture in eclectic sunroom

Above: In this colorful New York sunroom designed by Meg Braff and photographed for House Beautiful by Frances Janisch, the red Chinese Chippendale chairs and leather-topped card table are definitely the focal point.


red lacquer Chinese horseshoe chairs and wine table

Above: This great red lacquer Chinese grouping from Maine’s The Azure Dragon would make a stunning focal point in almost any room. The set includes two carved Chinese horseshoe chairs and a carved wine table.


contemporary living room with red accents

Above: Revving up a room with Asian-inspired red can be as simple as adding a vase and a few pillows, as in this contemporary living room from House to Home. Or make your design statement with a decorative chest or bench like those below…


black and red chinese butterfly cabinet

At left: The bright red drawer fronts on this Chinese black lacquer three-drawer chest are festooned with hand-painted butterflies.


red silk faux bamboo bench







At right: A red silk seat makes this faux bamboo bench especially eye-catching.


red chinese chippendale garden bench world market 

At left: New from World Market, a wonderful wooden Chinese Chippendale bench in bright red. Use it in the garden, mud room or even in the front hall.


red asian bench world market




At right: Also from World Market, this red Asian bench with simple lines would fit in just about anywhere.


red accents in a neutral asian-inspired living room

Above: Another example of how just a few touches of red are all it takes to punch up a neutral room. Picture this living room by Guchi interior Design without them. 


crystal lake asian-inspired pillows by Legacy Home


At right: Custom-made red and white Asian-inspired decorative pillows from the Crystal Lake bedding collection by Legacy Home.



red ming style 3-drawer Chinese chest






At left: I love the clean lines of this red Ming-style chest. The three drawers are felt-lined for a protective touch.




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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine Ideas With an Asian Theme


Share the love this Valentine’s Day with these Asian-inspired gift and DIY craft ideas. Instead of giving cards, how about baking your own Valentine fortune cookies - or making paper ones? Or use the Japanese Kanji symbol for love to express your feelings on a DIY framed print, cake or cookies. And if you’re looking for love? Power up the feng shui love corner of your home.      


happy chinese kissing couple

Above: Looking for love? Try placing a happy kissing couple figurine in the love corner of your home to enhance your feng shui love luck.


valentine truffles in silk furoshiki


At left: LuLu Wraps wraps up the love for Valentine’s Day with two gourmet raspberry truffle hearts covered in pink foil – wrapped in a handmade vintage sari silk furoshiki.

Not run-of-the-mill treats,these gourmet truffles are handmade in small batches using Guittard fair-trade chocolate. They’re even lactose and gluten-free. The brainchild of a naturopathic physician, you might say they’re deliciously good for you -  just what the doctor ordered!





paper valentine fortune cookies

Above: Instead of giving Valentine cards to classmates or coworkers this year, why not give fortune cookies? These cute paper Valentine fortune cookies are easy to make. Get the directions at Design, Wash, Rinse, Repeat. Another how-to is at A Thrifty Mom.


Valentine fortune cookies to make

Above: Prefer to bake your own greetings? Try this Valentine fortune cookie recipe from Sprinkled with Flour.



Above: Download this free Kanji symbol for love clip art, print it out and use it to decorate cards or other Valentine crafts. Or frame and mat it as a Valentine gift for a special someone. If you’re really crafty, copy the strokes and give your decorated Valentine cookies or cake an Asian theme.



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Friday, February 10, 2012

Give Your Fireplace Asian-Inspired Style – even if you don’t have a fireplace


Does your fireplace have Asian-inspired style? If not, take it from blah to ta-da with these decorating ideas, DIY tips and accessory suggestions. From andirons and fire screens to Asian-inspired ways to fill an empty fireplace or repurpose a non-working one, I’ve rounded up lots of great solutions. And if you don’t have a fireplace but wish you did? Read on...


asian-inspired fireplace vignette

Above: Kathy at All About Vignettes recently updated her Asian-inspired mantel decor with items she already had on hand. They included faux coral, a Pottery Barn platter, antique books and painted branches from a Henry Lauder’s Walking Stick shrub. What great choices! Their colors and shapes work so well with the lines of the faux bamboo mirror, Chinese Chippendale chairs and seat cushions.

I’m particularly fascinated with the fireplace screen. Kathy told me it’s actually an antique bamboo headboard that was cut down. She found it in her travels and creatively repurposed it. Purely decorative, but such a clever way to use it! What do you already have on hand that you can use or repurpose to create a great fireplace vignette of your own?


hand-forged faux bamboo fireplace screen doors

At left: Fireplace screens are always a great way to add Asian-inspired style to a room. These sleek faux bamboo fireplace screen doors are a design investment, custom made to fit your fireplace.


asian inspired fireplace screen gold-leaf finish

hand-forged faux bamboo fireplace screen doors







At right: This single-panel fireplace screen from Horchow has a gold-leaf finish and wonderful geometric shapes reminiscent of Chinese symbols.

cercis asian-inspired fireplace screen


At left: The Cercis fireplace screen from Pier 1 is a more budget-friendly option. It’s made of hand-forged iron with a black frame, bronze tree trunk and green leaves. Matching fireplace tools and a log holder are also available.


brass cranes decorative fireplace screen with candle holders




At right: This open decorative screen won’t keep wood-fire embers from getting into your room, but it’s perfect to use with a gas or electric fireplace. It has an iron frame and is decorated with verdigris cranes, cattails and votive candle holders.

hand forged dragon fireplace andirons




At left: Andirons are another way to add Asian-Inspired style to your fireplace. These hand-forged dragons are from Mecox Gardens.

Mayer Mill Brass dolphin andiron



Chinese Emperial andirons


At left: Elegant Chinese Emperial brass andirons.


At right: Dolphin fireplace andirons by Mayer Mill Brass. (Sold in pairs.)



blue and white living room with bamboo fire screen

belle epoque velvet and bamboo fire screen


Above: Huge blue and white Chinese temple jars flank the fireplace in this living room by Barclay Butera. Between them stands a bamboo firescreen, quite popular in Victorian times.

These oriental-inspired screens were mostly decorative, used to help hide a dirty fireplace when it wasn’t in use. Earlier versions were used to redirect the heat and keep someone sitting near the fire from getting too hot.

Antique bamboo firescreens are hard to come by these days. If you’re lucky, you might find one at an antique store or an estate auction.

At left: Here’s a beauty from the late19th-century that’s currently available online. It has a velvet panel adorned with Belle Époque French embroidery.






fireplace and mantel decorated with Chinese porcelain

Above: Richard Rothstein decorated this fireplace with Chinese porcelain for a New Jersey Decorator Show House. Notice how he used a large porcelain platter to fill the empty firebox and keep it from being an eyesore.

neat pleats jacobean decorative fireplace fan

 birds and branches asian inspired fireplace candelabra





Above and at right: You can also fill an empty fireplace with Chinese temple jars, a Buddha statue, plants, a decorative fireplace fan or an Asian-inspired fireplace candelabra.


black chinoiserie fireplace screen

black chinoiserie fireplace screen - back view






Above left and right: If you don’t want to fill the empty firebox, you can put a wooden fireplace screen in front to disguise it. This wooden screen is finished in black lacquer, with hand-painted Chinoiserie scenes on the front. The back has a crackle finish with a different design.


mirrored fireplace makeover


At left: Mirrors are another option. In this elegant look from Domino, mirrors were cut to line the firebox and the area surrounding it. You can read how they did it here.

You could also have a flat mirror cut and installed to cover it up – or, much less expensively, just stand a store-bought mirror (framed or unframed) in front of the opening.

Below: Disguising ugly, dirty or unused fireplaces seems to be an age-old design challenge. In this 1910 photo from the fireplace screen chapter of Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, gathered silk was used to cover an unused fireplace facade.





For a more modern tailored look, use a flat panel of fabric rather than a gathered one. Something with a fabulous Chinoiserie or geometric pattern would be great.

And thanks to today’s tension rods, it’s an easy project. Just measure the portion of the facade you want to cover and add a few extra inches. Hem the sides and make a rod pocket at the top and bottom (use fabric glue or iron-on tape if you don’t sew). Insert the tension rods and that’s it. You’re done.


wallpapered fireplace cover up



At left: Wallpaper is another solution. In this popular photo from Domino, Chinoiserie wallpaper lines the firebox and covers old brick. Read the details here.


bhg- fireplace storage 



At right: If you’d rather put a non-working fireplace to use, turn it into a bookcase with this DIY insert idea from Better Homes and Gardens.

Give the insert Asian style by covering the back panel with wallpaper or fabric in an Asian-inspired pattern – or paint the whole thing a glossy color.

You might want to paint the mantelpiece, too, or trim it with Asian-inspired stencils or painted O’verlays. Add a few Chinese or Japanese accessories on the mantel and shelves and you’ve turned dead space into a useful focal point.


gramercy bio-ethanol fireplace




Empire Tabletop-Gel-Fireplace


Above: Okay, so you really wish you could have a fire in your non-working fireplace. If the firebox is non-flammable, you can insert a bio-ethanol fireplace like this sleek black $200 Gramercy.

Smokeless, odorless, eco-friendly and requiring no installation, it’s portable and can be used indoors or out. It’s also a great choice if you don’t have a fireplace but wish you did.

At right: For $100, this small, stainless steel, tabletop gel fireplace is also a low-cost way to fulfill a fireplace wish. It has great style and will fit right into your Asian-inspired decor.


Looking for more Asian-Inspired fireplace ideas? Visit this previous post.


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