With one foot in the past and another firmly in the future, Thai interior design is a glorious melting pot of the contemporary and the traditional. Key to its ageless appeal is its elegance, its functionality, and its uniqueness: set foot in any Thai house, and you’ll be unlikely to forget it in a hurry, that’s for sure. With a very different style to those typically seen in the western world, Thai interiors abound with Asian influences – from the rich tapestry of color to the distinctive trinkets, from the abundance of natural materials to the profusion of finest silks, the eastern heritage is clear to see in every corner. At the heart of Thai design is an emphasis on balance, harmony, and unity; Thai inspired rooms have a flow and lightness that together create a relaxing, tranquil interior. If you’re tempted by eastern exoticism, a great place to try it out is in the living room. Although simple to create, Thai interiors can easily look overdone or self-conscious if too heavy a hand is applied; maintain a harmonious space by bearing in mind these key essentials.
Thai interiors are known for their versatility; regardless of whether you prefer a contemporary, minimalist approach or a traditional, rustic look instead, you’ll be able to incorporate your own personal preference without losing any of the eastern flavor you crave. If you want a full-blown, dramatic Thai experience, feel free to add as many trinkets, colors, and furnishings to your living room as you feel appropriate. If you want a more zen-like, simple approach, keep additional decorations to a minimum, limit the bolder shades on the color palette (more on which shortly) to a few accents only, and introduce just a few pieces of key furniture to avoid a cluttered look.
Think Thai, and thoughts automatically turn to rich, bold colors. Undoubtedly, the brighter hues on the color chart have a role to play in Asian interiors… blushing pinks, cheery reds, luxurious purples, and vivid blues are all classic examples of the many colors Thai’s employ in their homes. But that doesn’t mean you need to recreate the rainbow in your living room: natural colors occupy as much a place in Asian interiors as their brighter siblings and can provide a much-needed counterbalance to the richer hues (and enhance that sense of harmony and balance that’s key to Thai style in the process). For an authentic Thai vibe, cover your walls in neutral creams, pale greys, or washed-out whites. Once you’ve done that, you can introduce as many colorful accents as you like without throwing off the relaxing ambiance. If, on the other hand, you’re not afraid of color, a feature wall in a deep, dark purple will bring a sense of heightened drama and luxurious glamour that fits well with the general theme.
Thai interiors favor a spacious layout over a cluttered one. Try to avoid introducing furniture that lacks utility or takes up too much floor space. Floor cushions are a great way of introducing additional seating, and unlike easy chairs, can be stacked to avoid taking up too much room. If your room is large enough, try introducing some screens to divide the different functional areas.
Wood is a huge component in Thai interior design; if you’re aiming to recreate a Thai look in your living room, you’ll need to abandon plastic and embrace natural materials instead. The options are endless, but teak, rattan, and bamboo are all very typical choices in Thai houses and work particularly well against the colors usually seen in Thai inspired interiors. Don’t limit the wood to furniture: a dark wood floor, polished to perfection, will stand up well against the bright colors seen elsewhere, and will look particularly in keeping with the style if overlaid with some colorful, ornamental rugs. Equally, rattan can be used for furniture, light fixtures, wall art, and floor and ceiling coverings.
The living room is the perfect venue to add a few pieces of Thailand’s best-known export: silk. Whether it’s richly embroidered sofa throws, exquisitely detailed cushion covers, or finely rendered drapes, a touch of silk will do wonderful things at creating an authentic Eastern experience.
Don’t underestimate the importance of plants in your Thai style living room. As Living A Sean notes, Thai style is all about creating a seamless transition from the outside to the inside. Whether they are tall, short, spiky or blossoming, plants are a great way of introducing some outdoor living into your interior.
As Decoist notes, water features are a huge part of Thai design and make a great focal point to your living room. Whether it’s a large vertical waterfall, an aquarium full of exotic tropical fish, or a small, tabletop feature, don’t underestimate the difference the sight (and sound) of water can make to your interior.
If you prefer a more luxurious approach over a simpler one, Thai inspired design is your perfect partner. The rich colors lend themselves perfectly to an opulent interior… think purple walls embellished with little touches of gold; dark, ornately carved wooden furniture, and dramatic, sculptural plants with spectacular, colorful blossoms. Add some richly scented candles, throw in some drapes and throws in gorgeously patterned silks, and voila… an elegant, luxurious living room is yours!
… Or Keep it Simple
As much as Thai design can be used to great dramatic effect, it also makes a great choice for those who prefer a simpler, more contemporary vibe. The lack of clutter favored by Thai’s suits the minimalistic look very well indeed, while its traditional reliance on a neutral color backdrop will create a feeling of Zen-like serenity that’s perfect for those looking to chill their boots and relax. Create your own little oasis of tranquility by limiting bold colors to accents only, restricting furniture to the bare basics, and opting for large, singular pieces of decorative art (think big, seated buddhas or a large piece of wall art) over multiple smaller items, which can sometimes add an unwanted feeling of clutter. A single blossoming bamboo frond in a simple vase will enhance the look while adding that extra touch of Asian flair.