Last weekend I visited the Horta museum here in Brussels, Belgium. The museum is in the house that Belgian architect and designer, Victor Horta, used to live, and is choc full of the beautiful art nouveau features for which Horta is so well known. The reason I am telling you this, apart from totally advising you to visit when you are next in Brussels, is because something I spotted there during my visit got me thinking about today’s post.
One of the most impressive rooms in the Horta house is the kitchen/dining room. The built-in features, with their curves and nature-inspired shapes, are simply stunning. But they weren’t the only things that caught my attention. Also in this room, on either side of the curvaceous built-in cupboard, I spotted two Chinese Foo dog (otherwise known as Guardian Lion) ceramic statues in striking teal blue.
As visitors are not permitted to take photos in the Horta museum I can’t share the exact ones with you here. But the below gives you an idea of the kind of statues that caught my eye. They got me thinking about a) how I would really love to visit both China and Japan in the near future and b) how in the meantime I could create modern oriental interior style in my home.
So, these Foo Dogs, traditionally known in Chinese as ‘shi‘ which means ‘lion‘, are usually seen outside temples, palaces, tombs and Government buildings. They are historically believed to have protective benefits and are traditionally displayed in pairs. I’m a sucker for bright blues so was instantly drawn to the statues on display in the Horta museum. The ones above are obviously not as fancy, but I saw them for sale at ebay – for only £21!! I think these would make fantastic decorative bookends to brighten up an otherwise dull shelf. Alternatively they could be displayed more formally at either end of a retro sideboard (note to self: consider this for my beautiful 1960s walnut sideboard…). Comme vous voulez.
Next up, I spotted some pretty awesome oriental inspired wallpapers whilst flicking through old copies of Living Etc the other day. Forget what you may have thought about Chinese or Japanese inspired decor previously – I often have horror flashbacks of the themed rooms created in the 90s on shows like Changing Rooms. They seemed so chic at the time with all their reds and blacks and token framed Kanjis, but now fill me with dread. Modern oriental interior style has now been brought bang up to date. To illustrate my point, check out the below wallpaper from Designers Guild. It’s stunning right!?
Available from Wallpaper Direct, this Jade Temple Panel wallpaper with cornflower blue mountains, waterfalls and trees certainly makes a statement but also brings a calming, zen-like feel to a room. If you are feeling brave and enjoy a taste of the Orient, this is the way you should go! Unfortunately, it’s not cheap, but it is currently on sale for £198.40 per roll. If you stick to just one feature wall, it can help to keep the overall cost low.
The other item that is on my lust list at present is a traditional Chinese cabinet. Ideally, I’d love to find a vintage one with scuffs and dents galore as I think it would work really well in my quite modern and stark white living/dining area. So I’ll be scouring the charity shops and ebay once I’m back in the UK until I find the one that’s for me. In the meantime though, whilst researching this post, I came across The Nine Schools, a UK company that specialises in Chinese furniture, including cabinets, consoles and bookshelves. And I spotted the cute little cabinet below which would make a perfect bedside table. At only £150, I love that this would bring a subtle oriental hint to even the most modern bedroom whilst also enabling you to tidy away your bedside clutter. Lovely!
Another practical way to introduce a hint of modern oriental interior style is through a room divider or screen. I’ve been considering the different ways to define the spaces in our open plan living/dining area, and whilst I’ve not yet decided on whether we introduce open shelving, a built-in planter, a room divider or do nothing at all, an Oriental screen could potentially be just the ticket! I’ve rather taken a fancy to this Japanese Shoji 4 panel room divider by the Original Screen Company. It has a delightfully contemporary feel and might yet be enough to inspire me to actually put into practice my Marie Kondo de-cluttering rules! Plus it’s a very bargainous £129.
I hope the above gives you a flavour of the many ways you can bring some subtle hints of global travel into your home. Introducing just one of the items I’ve showcased above can give you a touch of modern oriental interior style without your home looking like egg fried rice is constantly on the menu.
But what do you think? Are there any other pieces that would make a similar statement? I’ll do my best to keep an eye out when I visit China and Japan – which I very much intend to do as soon as I can!
Happy travels and shopping,