Designing with Chinese Furniture: The History and Significance of Chinese Furniture in Interior Design

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Chinese furniture has been a mainstay in interior design for centuries. Throughout different dynasties and cultural movements, Chinese furniture has evolved to include practical and decorative elements characterized by its intricate craftsmanship, elegance, and timelessness. From intricately carved pieces to more modern interpretations, Chinese furniture has had a major impact on the design world. 

This blog post will explore the history and significance of Chinese furniture in interior design, highlighting how these beautiful pieces can bring elegance and sophistication to any space. Read on to learn more about this timeless style and discover how to incorporate it into your home.

Table of Contents

A Brief History of Chinese Furniture

The Importance of Chinese Furniture in Interior Design

The Different Types of Chinese Furniture

Tips for Decorating with Chinese Furniture


A Brief History of Chinese Furniture

Chinese furniture has a rich history that dates back to the Neolithic period. In the early days, furniture was primarily made of bamboo, which was abundant in China. As woodworking techniques developed, wood became the primary material for furniture making.

During the Han Dynasty (206 Neolithic – 220 CE), furniture began to take on more decorative elements and became more sophisticated. In the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), furniture making reached new heights of craftsmanship, with intricate carvings and inlaid details becoming common.

The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is considered one of the most important periods in the history of Chinese furniture. Simple, elegant designs and high-quality materials such as huanghuali and zitan, both valuable hardwoods, characterize furniture from this period.

The Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) saw furniture becoming more ornate, with elaborate carvings and inlaid details. The use of lacquer, which had been introduced to China from the Middle East during the Ming Dynasty, became more prevalent.

In the 20th century, Chinese furniture saw a renewed interest, particularly with the rise of the “Orientalism” trend. Today, Chinese furniture is still highly prized for its intricate craftsmanship, elegance, and timelessness, and it can be seen in many different interior design styles.

The Importance of Chinese Furniture in Interior Design

Chinese furniture is known for its elegance, simplicity, and intricate craftsmanship, which makes it a popular choice for interior design. Its refined traditional techniques and use of materials like huanghuali wood and lacquer make it stand out in any space.

One of the main features of Chinese furniture is its sense of balance and harmony. Chinese design is often based on symmetry principles and repeating patterns and motifs, which can create a sense of calm and serenity in a room. Chinese furniture can also help to create a sense of flow and continuity in a space by using similar colors, textures, and materials. 

Chinese furniture also often features intricate carvings and inlays, adding visual interest to a room and serving as a focal point. Using natural materials like wood and bamboo also adds warmth and a connection to nature to a space.

In addition to its aesthetic appeal, Chinese furniture is known for its longevity. Many pieces are made from solid wood and can last for decades. This makes them an excellent investment and a great way to bring cultural and historical elements into a room, adding depth and meaning to the design.

The Different Types of Chinese Furniture

One of the most popular styles of Chinese furniture is Ming furniture. This type of furniture is characterized by its straight lines and squared shapes, often with minimal ornamentation. Ming furniture has an elegant, simple beauty that makes it ideal for modern designs.

The Qing style of Chinese furniture is quite different from the Ming style. This type of furniture typically features more ornate detailing and intricate carving. It is also often made of heavier woods such as rosewood or teak and can be found in more traditional or antique designs.

Another common type of Chinese furniture is called “Cantonese” furniture. This style is known for its brightly colored lacquer finishes and intricate carving, often in the form of birds and animals. Cantonese furniture is typically made from light-colored woods such as pine or bamboo and is often used to add a touch of exotic flair to an interior design.

Finally, the Jiangsu style of Chinese furniture is known for its carved reliefs and bold designs. Jiangsu furniture is often made from elm wood and features intricate carvings, inlays, and other decorative elements. This type of furniture adds a unique touch to any home décor.

Tips for Decorating with Chinese Furniture

Decorating with Chinese furniture can add a unique style and touch to any room. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your Chinese furniture:

  •  Choose pieces that fit the space: Chinese furniture is often ornate, so make sure the pieces you choose to fit your room’s measurements. Keep in mind that bulky pieces can make a room look cramped, while large, open pieces can make it look spacious.
  •  Create a focal point: When decorating with Chinese furniture, pick a piece that will be the room’s focal point. This could be a colorful cabinet or a beautiful armchair. Place it in a prominent room and use the other pieces to complement it.
  • Balance the design: Balance is key in any interior design style. When using Chinese furniture, try to spread the pieces throughout the room for a more balanced look.
  • Consider color: Chinese furniture often comes in various colors, from dark wood to bright reds and greens. Choose colors that match the existing color scheme in your home.
  • Add texture: Chinese furniture also has a lot of texture, from carved wood to lacquer finishes. Use these elements to create a richer, layered look in your space.


Chinese furniture can be combined with other traditional or modern styles to create a unique and personalized look, which is why it has become an important element in interior design. Designers and homeowners alike can appreciate the beauty and significance of Chinese furniture, as it adds a touch of cultural and historical elements, making it a timeless and cherished element in any interior space.

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