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Ethnic Interior Styles


There are few ways better to make a home interior really shine than to use ethnic elements. You'll usually see this referred to as the «ethnic interior style». A popular approach is to combine different cultural styles in an eclectic mix; alternatively, you could just focus on a single country or region of the world. Whether you want to give the room or area an Indian, African, or Japanese flair, or a combination of cultural styles as disparate as Latin American and Chinese, opting for an ethnic interior style gives you a clear framework to execute your vision while simultaneously leaving you a lot of creative freedom. In this post, we're going to dive into the topic of ethnic interior styles and give you some tips for turning your home or room into a beautiful, flowing work of art.

Have a Focus

The first part of of any interior design project is to have a focal point for the room. This idea can be compared to the rule of thirds in photography - you want the room to look balanced, with not too much «weight» (in this case, home staging decor) on one side or the other. Especially when going with a variety of ethnic elements, this helps center and ground the room, helping to keep it from looking like a jumbled mess!

The focal point of a room might be a piece of art, like a Buddha statue on the center of a coffee table, or an Arabic-style sofa. When going with an ethnic style, a good idea is to make the focal point of the room what you want the cultural theme of the room at large to be. In the case of the Buddha statue, if this is your focus it's a good idea to make a sizable portion of the rest of the room reflect this - think of it as the centerpiece «spilling out» into the rest of the area.

If you're opting to go for multiple ethnic themes, it's a good idea to have no more than 3 or 4 - you don't want to turn your room into the United Nations, as things would get too visually confusing. So, if you're going for an East Asian theme as the star of your show, how can you incorporate elements from other cultures? We'll get into that in the next section.

Going Eclectic

The popular trend right now is to not just pick one ethnic style for an area of the home, but to combine different cultural elements into a single whole. Though you may be ready to turn your space into an ethnic melting pot, you'll have to do some planning first. The challenge with ethnic designs is that you have to find the right balance of the different elements you'd like to incorporate - obviously, you can't just pick a bunch of designs from different continents at random and throw them together! You'll have to mix and match, see what works together and what doesn't.

The most important thing when it comes to going eclectic is some degree of consistency - that means the thing to be concerned with here is whether or not one section of the room has a similar theme throughout, and whether or not it blends well into the next area of the room. The pieces of furniture don't need to be matching each other for this to happen, but generally similar shades of color are a good idea. The change from one area to the next shouldn't be too jarring, which is going to be a challenge when using home staging decor from distant parts of the world.

There's more to ethnic design than pieces of furniture - color scheming is also important, and you can select the colors that would traditionally go along with the furniture. For example, a Japanese style would have milky, beige colors, and these also work well with the dark brown of African sculptures or masks, making these two cultures a good combination.

When choosing color, you can either have one common thread running throughout the area or a common thread with the occasional punch of something a little different. This can be compared to a common refrain in a song with variation between verses. Many of the elements of what make ethnic styles stand-out have to do with them being handmade - think Moroccan rugs or Indian textiles, so be sure to buy some handmade things.

Modern Ethnic: Combining Old and New

A popular style to have, so that your room does not actually look like it's centuries old, is modern ethnic. That means taking traditional designs and mixing them with contemporary designs. This style is all about balance, whether balancing textures and patterns or the straight angles of contemporary designs with the curvature of an exotic statue.

The reason contemporary and ethnic designs are a match made in heaven is that contemporary designs are rather simple, so that they don't take away from the ethnic pieces and actually emphasize them. Modern minimalism is the way to go here, and this style looks great while simultaneously having the effect of making the ethnic pieces stand out more.

Choosing A Single Theme

Though a combination of cultural styles is the epitome of the contemporary ethnic interior style, you could always stick with one country or region of the world. You don't have to be subtle here - artistic photographs of beautiful locations within the country, or of animals and plants endemic to them can be put on the wall here. Feel free to go beyond pictures of flora - you could get some cacti or hibiscus if going for a South American flair, for example. Let's take a look at some of the staples of some of the various, more popular regions.

Japanese Style

The Japanese style uses a lot of natural tones, and its marker is its simplicity. One advantage of this is that it makes it easier to create a dramatic focal point. A Japanese bamboo sliding door can go well with almost any style. You could try placing a bonsai plant here or there, or paintings of beautiful sakura trees on the walls. The minimalist ethos of Japanese design allows the spread of natural light, which is an important element of this design, so if you have a choice do a Japanese style in a room that gets a healthy amount of natural light.

South American Style

For a South American flair, you'll want black ceramics. You could get traditional Peruvian flutes, and you can easily find pillows with Native American designs. Tiled floors are another classic element of South American homes, mostly due to the high temperatures. Bright colors are the rule here, so you can have a lot of fun mixing and matching bright reds, yellows, etc.

African Style

Weave grass baskets are a popular article used when going for an African flair, although they are common in any kind of ethnic design. Tribal prints on cushions or tablecloth give the room an authentic feeling, and tribal masks can be bought as well. Authentic African sculptures or wood carvings, or even simple statues of giraffes or elephants, can be added to the room. For color, you'll want earthy, natural tones.

Indian Style

An Indian style is known for its bright colors. You'll want tones like orange and ochre yellow, with a foundation of brown. Comfort is important in the Indian design, so set up closed-off areas with diwans and cushions. Textiles are another important part of Indian culture, so be sure to add a beautiful, handmade carpet in the center of the room, or a few scattered throughout. Blankets folded up on the sofas also work well.

Wrapping Up

Overall, the ethnic style is a great choice to make your interior feel alive with the different cultures of the world. You and your guests will feel like you're in another country without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. There's a reason these kinds of designs are so popular: they can create an amazing ambiance without being overly-complicated. If you're planning on starting an ethnic interior design project, we wish you the best of luck and are here to help!