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Modern Ethnic Bedroom Design

Updated on December 21, 2017
viryabo profile image

Practicing as a professional interior designer for 30+ years, I do design & build projects & offer tips on how to do simple design tasks.

A modern ethnic bedroom design offers a good number of potentials when it comes to everything from furniture and furnishings to lighting and colour schemes.

If you love vivacious colours, bold patterns, elaborate textures, a touch of the 'tribal', and a penchant for the exotic, you’ll find an ethnic-style bedroom infused with modern elements quite interesting.

A modern bedroom with an ethnic touch. Notice the wall art, headboard, and bedspread - all ethnic elements, set in a modern bedroom with clean hard floor, modern wall sconce, and Venetian blinds.
A modern bedroom with an ethnic touch. Notice the wall art, headboard, and bedspread - all ethnic elements, set in a modern bedroom with clean hard floor, modern wall sconce, and Venetian blinds.

What is an Ethnic Design Theme?

To begin with, the expression “ethnic design” is generally used to describe design ideas usually associated with furniture and furnishings from Africa, Asia, and Native America, including cultural Hispanic societies.

Using the word 'ethnic or tribal' may sound objectionable to people who don’t appreciate the artistic interest this holds for some designers, decorators, and homeowners, but being ethnically inclined means having an interest in the arts and crafts of ancient times that can be incorporated with modern features.

From African tribal masks and wall hung talking drums, heavily patterned handwoven rugs and rustic folk textiles, to artefacts, stone floors and animal skin, an ethnic/modern mix may contain any of these items (at least three of them) within a modern interior design setting.

An ethnic themed bedroom with stone wall/ceiling and brightly coloured bed canopy draped in tribal fashion.
An ethnic themed bedroom with stone wall/ceiling and brightly coloured bed canopy draped in tribal fashion.

Creating a bedroom design that portrays an ethnic theme is easy to achieve and fun to put together in a contemporary bedroom setup, but the trick is to ensure you complement your modern setting with just one (or a maximum of two) different local designs.

For instance, if you want a Moroccan theme introduced into your bedroom design, don’t mix this with other styles like Asian or Hispanic. Moroccan is African so it's best to keep it African - a Moroccan theme with a dash of Safari East Africa.

Or if you are more oriental inclined, adding ethnic Chinese or Japanese décor like umbrella art-inspired ornaments, oriental hanging lanterns, and Chinese folding screens, is great, as long as you don’t try to blend them with Native American furniture.

Putting together too many styles in your bedroom space will create an unsightly clutter.

In some cases, ethnic styles from different regions can work well together in a bedroom but the furnishings must be chosen carefully with more than a passing thought given to scale and shapes.

An example of this is - blending American prairie style bedroom furniture with some Latin American influence will give a surprisingly stylish look and you can also combine Native American with Prairie furniture décor and some understated tropical themes.

Luxurious bedroom setting in predominantly ethnic style.
Luxurious bedroom setting in predominantly ethnic style.

Modern and Ethnic Mix

If you're not one for the total ethnic look, you can mix ethnic furnishings with modern bedroom furniture. Alternatively, you can have ethnic furniture enhanced with modern finishes and decor.

How can you create a pleasing effect?

It's not that hard considering there is no hard and fast rule on this, as long as there is a balance.

Ways to create this balancing effect:

Use beds, headboards, and/or chests with clean classic lines and then incorporate ethnic furnishings like an accent chair or two, with a carved stool or chest and a modern reading lamp.

Spread a plain white modern duvet on the bed and arrange some African print throw pillows at the head of the bed.

An animal print rug - zebra, leopard, or tiger print at the foot of a modern sleek-lined bed and hang metal artwork on the focal wall of the room which is usually at the bedhead.

A Chinese modern ethnic bedroom design idea.
A Chinese modern ethnic bedroom design idea.

Place an ethnic fretwork divider to serve as a headboard or as a screen to hide away an open wardrobe or clothes rail. Add Moroccan pendants or fretwork lamps to illuminate the room by casting out patterns on the walls. Let everything else in the bedroom consist of modern furniture.

Remember to add some texture, through the fabrics, window coverings, bed covers, upholstery, wall art, lampshades, or floor finishes.

Use decorations to replicate the modern or ethnic that serves as the main theme for a stylish and unified look. These decorations include vases, candle holders, tabletop ornaments, stone or wood carvings, aromatherapy oil burners, etc... Little details like these will create a theme that works well together.

Some other furnishings to consider include:

  • Pottery
  • Animal-inspired ornaments
  • Umbrella art, painted wall fans, and classic paper lamps
  • Traditional incense holders
  • Hammered metal sconces

A modern tribal bedroom layout with a rustic floor finish, modern chair, and contemporary table/reading lamps.
A modern tribal bedroom layout with a rustic floor finish, modern chair, and contemporary table/reading lamps.

To add some ethnic theme to your modern bedroom setting without spending much money, consider the following design ideas:

  • If your bedroom is plain and nondescript, add a burst of vibrant colours and some animal print; ethnic throw pillows on the bed, use native handwoven rugs, and hang tribal wall hangings.
  • Add animal-inspired décor in form of colourful ornaments, beaded box containers, woven baskets, and wooden chests.
  • Handwoven cane side tables, bedside cabinets, lampshades, and wall art framing.

Ethnic decor colours include all shades of yellow, deep orange, bright red, all shades of brown, terracotta, sand - all warm room colours that'll add comfort and coziness to your modern bedroom design.

Do you like ethnic theme interiors?

See results

© 2013 viryabo


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    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 2 years ago

      That sounds like an interesting concept you've ended up with Suzanne Day. Sometimes putting things together over a period of time does bring up some of the best concepts . . . a personal, warm, and unique style.

      Thanks for your comments and vote.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      An interesting concept! I was often guilty of mismatching decor because I kept getting excited about different styles but couldn't afford to remake the room in one sitting. Thankfully, I have now found my signature style which blends light and silvery interesting textures in furs, with the colourful ornaments and things around the room (sort of a Swedish/prarie mix). Voted interesting!

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 5 years ago

      Hello Denise, its so, so good to see you. I was replying your comment earlier on my phone, but just lost the comments somehow.

      You can if the rooms are separate and don't flow into each other through wide wall openings, so it doesn't appear like a "residential museum" of sorts, ending up looking cluttered.

      I think the ethnic theme should work really nicely in a B&B, so long as it's lightly furnished with unusual ethnic pieces(or items inspired by ethnic), colour scheme of rich earth tones, and a nice airy look. No clutter.

      People love the unusual, the exotic, as long as its different and unique, they are usually sold.

      It can even become a signature theme for a hospitality business.

      Thanks so much for the rating Denise.


      PS - I'm still working on the gypsy theme idea Dolores gave. I really love it too.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      I've missed reading your wonderful interior design ideas, Viryabo. I love Dolores's idea about the Gypsy look, also. I'm wondering if it's wise to mix different ethnic groups throughout a house? I understand, not to mix too many in one room, but separate rooms? Actually, that's one way to decorate a B & B if one wanted to. I love the creativity of interior design, but don't have the 'cash' to do much decorating. Maybe when I resettle in Michigan. Rated up/A/I/U and sharing.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 5 years ago

      Now that's a good idea to write about Dolores. Thanks for visiting, and for the great idea you just gave me. :)

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Love the idea of an ethnic bedroom! I think maybe you could mix some ethnic designs to create a Gypsy or Bohemian look!