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Decor Ideas for an Ethnic-Inspired Room

Updated on December 3, 2018
lindacee profile image

Linda is a seasoned writer and bedroom authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

Search the world for the ethnic style that works for you.
Search the world for the ethnic style that works for you. | Source

Ethnic decorating is referred to by a number of other names--world decor, travel inspired or global design. It crosses continents and cultures or it can be more targeted like tribal design taking in specific countries or regions. In a nutshell, ethnic style is influenced by exotic destinations throughout the world.

There are no hard and fast rules in ethnic decor. As long as there is a cohesive feel or theme involved such as color, texture or location you can have fun and decorate to your heart’s content. Fill your entire home with treasures collected from your travels and import stores or designate one room as your ethnic retreat.

Do Your Research

The world is at your fingertips when as begin your quest to create an worldly space. Take some time and research different countries and regions before settling on a design direction. For instance, Asian style encompasses design elements primarily from Japan and China but can also include influences from Southeast Asian countries including Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

African-inspired rooms draw inspiration from the entire continent. It is extremely diverse and is noted for its wide variety of cultures, designs, colors, shapes and patterns. From Johannesburg to Tunis you’ll surely find everything and more than you’re looking for. From tribal masks to Moroccan textiles Africa offers an unsurpassed richness, depth and bold nature that will appeal to the most adventurous at heart.

Don't overlook other regions when planning your ethnic room. Latin countries have rich histories and offer a myriad of influences from the Moors to the Aztecs. In another vein, the continent of India is home to some of the most beautiful and colorful textiles in the world.

African-inspired rooms can take in accessories, textiles, furniture and art from the entire continent.
African-inspired rooms can take in accessories, textiles, furniture and art from the entire continent. | Source

Find a Personality Fit

So you’ve researched the globe and are still confused about which ethnic style suits your personality and lifestyle. Why not start by looking into your ancestry? Take a peak into your own ethnic background and draw inspiration from your relatives by delving into your family tree.

Now that you’ve investigated different ethnic styles you have a good idea of the colors, patterns and objects associated with different cultures. You might be a person who gravitates toward subdued Scandinavian furnishings or maybe vivid Latin-inspired colors and chunky hand-carved furniture. Ultimately, you should choose an ethnic style that makes you feel at home, relaxed and completely at ease.

Check for family tree for clues pertaining to your personal ethnic style.
Check for family tree for clues pertaining to your personal ethnic style. | Source

Sources for Ethnic Chic Decorating

  • Shop the old standbys--like your favorite chain import stores. They're a great resource for larger items such as furniture and rugs. In fact, most retailers now carry imported home decor items making it easier than ever to create an ethnic chic room in your home.
  • Flea markets and garage sales are always a good place to find accessories from every country.
  • The world is your oyster thanks to the Internet. With just a few clicks you can purchase gorgeous furniture pieces directly from overseas sources. Just make sure you are dealing with a reputable company.
  • Perhaps your city has ethnic neighborhoods just waiting for you. Many large cities have a Chinatown and a variety of cultural pockets with markets and boutiques full of diverse merchandise.
  • Check out your favorite fabric stores for exotic textiles for making throw pillows, floor cushions and curtains.

Import stores are a treasure trove for ethnic decor.
Import stores are a treasure trove for ethnic decor. | Source

Quick Reference Ethnic Styles

Moroccan – Rich in Moorish influence. Deeply-hued fabrics and textiles speak to past centuries. Traditional furniture built low to the ground or tables that require guests to sit on cushions are the norm. Intricately carved thuya wood tables are elegant pieces of art to be used and enjoyed. Sumptuous leather ottomans, or poufs offer extra seating.
Asian – Delicate feel with floral and natural accents. Shoji screens provide privacy and paper lamps give your room subdued lighting. Worn lacquered chests, trunks and sideboards give your room a sense of history. Antique benches, beds and tables add authenticity to your design.
Indian – Indian decor is filled with intricate detail--from exquisite embroidered silk bedding to wall hangings adorned with round metal medallions. Indian ethnic style is also noted for its vibrant colors drawn from ancient traditions and everyday street life.
African – It is difficult to categorize African decor. Most people think of fabrics and furnishings influenced by wildlife and nature. Colors run the gamut from vibrant to earthy. Fabrics are a huge part of the design story-–Kuba, Adinkra, Kente and Adire are admired for their beauty but also give a glimpse into tribal art and history.
Each culture has its own fabrics, colors and designs.
Each culture has its own fabrics, colors and designs. | Source

Combining Ethnic Styles

If you're not settled on a single ethnic style why not think outside the box and combine several diverse styles for a visually pleasing look? It may seem challenging but it can be accomplished with exotic objects, a blending of colors, a variety of patterns and a bit of design restraint.

Central and Eastern Europe are considered the birthplace of gypsy or Bohemian (Boho) style. Boho is a popular ethnically-inspired direction that falls under the broad umbrella of ethnic design. This carefree style has a tendency to incorporate elements from Europe and other parts of the world. If you are looking for a mixture of ethnic styles this might just be for you.

A mix of ethnic furnishings and textiles can still look exotic and cohesive.
A mix of ethnic furnishings and textiles can still look exotic and cohesive. | Source

© 2012 Linda Chechar


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