Oriental furniture in western homes - East goes with West


Explore everything oriental with this Guest Post from Orchid Furniture

During the 17th & 18th Centuries, Chinoiserie, or Chinese style, was much coveted by the western aristocracy in architecture, interiors and fashion. China, being a far-away place which few had actually visited only added to the mystique.


Victorian interiors especially, would display the glitzier Chinoiserie, amongst which black and gold featured heavily, recognisable today in oriental or Chinese furniture. Interiors accents such as the beautiful delicate blue & white porcelain vases, bowls and ginger jars which are perfect accents to add classic style to any interior scheme.

Today, we can have so much more fun with the styles, texture and colours of the orient but keeping the provenance which is so recognisable in pieces including the wedding cabinet, altar table and ladies cabinets, all of which are not only beautiful in design but offer practical storage.

The Chinese wedding cabinet was once the ‘bottom drawer’ for the Chinese girl; filled with silks collected through her young life, this tall lacquered cabinet would be delivered to the bridegroom on the eve of the wedding as the dowry. The large circular brass plate is called a ‘Togetherness Panel’, symbolising the two halves coming together in marriage, today it makes a stylish wardrobe or hallway cabinet for coats or glassware or drinks storage for a dining room.

Oriental furniture tends to be slim, so the elegant lines are preserved whilst offering furniture which is not too deep, making it accessible to most homes whatever the size.

Finding a statement cabinet or sideboard which has been restored, perhaps keeping the original lacquer or preserving the hand-painted designs, is a fabulous way to start a scheme. Use the colours, the sideboard’s oriental provenance or lines to layer and build the rest of the room adding velvets, metallics and fine fabrics to achieve a mix of texture and colour which is individual and timeless.

Orchid is passionate about blue tones, being a calming yet uplifting shade and much more interesting neutral, be it teal, indigo, turquoise or duck-egg - they all work with the stronger accents of reds, black, grey and greens as well as metal finishes.

Despite the age of these oriental designs, the lines are often so contemporary, for example the fretwork window panel; Originally used to create privacy, several hundred years ago, when a window was a hole in the wall of a Chinese house, they would be hand-crafted to create geometric patterns then covered in rice paper in colder months to retain warmth. Today these large wooden fretwork panels are snapped up to bring one-off provenance and texture to a contemporary scheme, without compromising symmetrical minimalism.

Chinese mythology and symbolism plays an important role in their culture through decoration on furniture, and accessories which adds an individual dimension to a room scheme. Important significance is placed on animals, fish, mythological creatures, numbers and objects, pictured on accessories or through using wooden or bronze figures, including Buddhas. Silk tassels make wonderful colour pops or links to an accent colour, these feature jade or soap-stone carved motifs, which symbolise Longevity, double happiness and Good Fortune amongst many others. Hung on a door handle or cabinet handle these elegant tassels bring an instant touch of style or colour to a room.

The supreme symbols of good fortune include the Phoenix, red-crested cranes and dragons, all of which are displayed as ornaments, hand-painted on to furniture or seen in the elegant hand-painted blue & white porcelain jars which formerly stored tea, ginger or wine.

Hand-made and hand-lacquered Chinese sideboards and cabinets will usually have doors which remove easily, pivoting on wooden dowels, making them excellent storage for media accessories, a TV can then be placed on top of the low cabinet or mounted on the wall above.


Oriental design works with the most understated modern furniture of today, bringing an edge to an interiors scheme with clever lines and detail not seen in the western world.

Oriental furniture and interior designs are not the dark and heavy pieces sometimes imagined, but designs which are fresh, colourful, symmetrical and contemporary.

Bring texture, provenance and supremely modern simplicity to step up an interiors scheme to a whole new level to a look you’ll love. 


Shop a broad range fo Oriental furniture at Orchidfurniture.co.uk