Nothing gets people going quite like romance, wealth, and good interior design, so it’s no surprise the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” was a box-office smash. According to IMDb, “Crazy Rich Asians” initially appeared in theaters in August 2018 and generated almost $239 million at the box office. For reference, the movie’s budget was just $30 million total, which means it generated nearly eight times the amount of its budget.
The movie is set in Singapore and follows two lovers: A woman named Rachel Chu and her boyfriend, Nick Young. Although Rachel is ethnically Asian, she has lived in New York her entire life and comes from modest means. On the other hand, Nick was raised in Singapore and is fabulously wealthy (although he doesn’t disclose this to Rachel right away).
Rachel and Nick travel to Singapore to attend a wedding, during which time Rachel meets Nick’s family, as per IMDb. Rachel ends up getting a lot more than she bargained for — Nick’s family disapproves of her lack of social status, but Rachel gets a chance to prove herself in the end. Throughout the course of “Crazy Rich Asians,” viewers are treated to the opulent design and decor of Singapore’s wealthiest people. Want to learn how to decorate your home with the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” in mind? Keep reading to find out how!
History of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’
The plot of “Crazy Rich Asians” didn’t just come from thin air. Before hitting the silver screen, this storyline was extensively detailed in a novel under the same name in 2013. According to Vanity Fair, author Kevin Kwan used his childhood in Singapore as a reference for the story.
Kwan also explains that the book is meant to represent more than just romance — it’s about the clash of traditional Asian culture mixed with Western ideas. He expounds that the characters are intended to show the push and pull of older generations stuck in a certain mindset, while the younger generation wants to adopt different ideals.
According to Kevin Kwan Books, Kwan has also released two other books within the “Crazy Rich Asians” series –– one came out in 2015, and the other hit shelves in 2017. All three of these books were even on The New York Times Best Selling books list. Hopefully, this means we’ll see sequels to the original movie in the coming years.
Pattern is your friend
According to Vanity Fair, “prints” were the movie’s focus. Almost everything had a pattern, including clothing, wallpaper, rugs, and art. Don’t be afraid to mix patterns when incorporating this style into your own home. To start mixing prints like a professional, choose a few different colors that will be incorporated throughout. “I like to keep my color palette simple and only use two or three colors within a scheme,” Charlotte Gaisford, British fabric and wallpaper designer, told Homes & Gardens. For example, consider finding different patterns that all have elements of turquoise, gold, and pink.
Not sure what element to start with? Start with the largest piece in the room. This could mean picking out the wallpaper first or even the rug. From there, you’ll be able to find other complementary patterns when choosing smaller things like pillows, accessories, and drapes. You should also consider the shape of the patterns you’re choosing. If you choose a rug with a large, organic design, finding wallpaper or pillow covers with a smaller pattern will balance the other out. “Try to mix opposites,’ advises interior designer Sophie Ashby. ‘If you’re going to have a really large scale floral, then don’t use another large scale floral. Instead, try a tiny scale floral or, even better, a little geometric.”
Take inspiration from Peranakan design
The movie “Crazy Rich Asians” incorporates many Peranakan designs into the homes on set. According to Ophalos, Peranakan is a combination of a variety of styles –– think Chinese, Malay, Singaporean, and Indonesian influences. Generally speaking, the Peranakan design utilizes many patterns and colors, so don’t be afraid to add both simultaneously into your space. Adding hand-carved wood pieces into a patterned and colorful room speaks to Peranakan influences, as it is a nod to the traditional past.
An easy way to add intrigue is by adding Peranakan tiles (via Weiken). These tiles are, you guessed it, colorful and filled with patterns. Consider using these as a backsplash in your kitchen, on the floor in your bathroom, or even in your shower. As an example, these tiles from Affinity Tile have a floral pattern with both gold and blue incorporated. From there, you could add other complementary patterns to your space using these same colors.
Invest in Oriental rugs
When Rachel initially visited the Young residence, you could see a beautiful oriental rug in the entryway. Adding a high-quality Oriental carpet to your home isn’t cheap, but it is an impactful way to add character in-line with the decor from “Crazy Rich Asians”. Checking out second-hand rug shops like Kilim can be a less-expensive avenue to finding the rug of your dreams. Plus, you may be able to base the rest of your decor off of the rug you end up choosing.
According to RugKnots, Oriental rugs can actually go up in value over time, making it a solid interior design purchase. If you ever want to switch the rug out for something else, you’ll likely get your money back –– or even make a profit. Wondering why the heck these beautiful rugs are so pricey? It’s due to a variety of factors. The age of the rug, the craftsmanship, size, and overall condition impact the cost you may pay upfront for a gorgeous rug.
Hit up local thrift stores for finishing touches
When designing the movie set, pieces from antique stores were used to emphasize the curated, well-traveled look. According to the New York Post, the set designers visited various antique stores in Malaysia to put the finishing touches on the homes shown in “Crazy Rich Asians.” Luckily for you, this step just requires a little bit of patience and knowing where to look. You don’t have to blow your entire budget on the smaller decor pieces, even for an opulent look. Check your local thrift stores frequently, and don’t be discouraged if you don’t hit a home run every time. Finding great pieces is a marathon, not a sprint.
Production designer Nelson Coates told Architectural Digest the set designers had their eyes peeled for anything that would speak to the “incredible wealth of art, architecture, and formality that exists in the Peranakan style.” This included items that had patterns of plants, flowers, and even animals, as all contribute to the overall luxury of the spaces.
Keep symmetry in mind
Symmetry is a major interior design principle worldwide– wealthy Singapore households (like the one in “Crazy Rich Asians”) use it when laying out a room. According to Hatch Design, symmetry can pull together a colorful and heavily-patterned room by bringing calm and balance to a space. For example, if you decide to include a standout side table in your room, consider adding one on either side of the couch. This helps to make the space look more even.
You may also notice symmetry is frequently used in the Peranakan style. The tiles used are often bright and intricate but add a level of balance to a room with the repeated print. Set decorator Andrew Basemam told Architectural Digest symmetry was “one of the most important characteristics as everything is done in pairs.” The team wanted to make sure everything felt balanced.
Use luxe wallpaper
Utilizing wallpaper that combines color, pattern, and texture contributes to the elevated “Crazy Rich Asian” movie look. Want to purchase something similar for your home? Check out offerings from Morris & Co. The “Bird & Pomegranate” option has animal motifs, a turquoise color palette, and will add dimension to your space. Check, check, and check.
Based on the photos from set designer Andrew Baseman, the movie’s rooms were completely decked out in wallpaper for a maximalist style. Not sure you’re ready to commit to the time, money, and possible damage of real wallpaper? Consider checking out easily-removable options versus the traditional, time-consuming wallpaper.
Peel-and-stick wallpaper is usually renter-friendly and easy to remove once you want to swap styles (via AMLI Residential). If you want a vibe similar to Morris & Co., check out this floral and bird print from Wayfair. Home Depot recommends measuring your wall (or walls) before purchasing your wallpaper. From there, you’ll know how many rolls you’ll need.
Add plants wherever possible
Plants and flowers had their own supporting role in the movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” so adding a few to your home may work well for you. Consider choosing one that the movie highlights, such as the orchid cactus, as per Riverdale Press. This unpredictable plant tends to open in the middle of the night but closes back up by dawn. To make the event even more intriguing, it only happens about once a growing cycle (via Southside Blooms).
If you’re more of a brown-thumb type of person, fret not! Adding fresh flowers to your space is still in line with what the set designers of “Crazy Rich Asians” did. According to FirstClasse, the crew had a special florist, Eunice Teo, design new bouquets for filming days. To get the look without spending a fortune on your own on-call florist, grab a few variety bouquets from your local grocery store and play around with the arrangements.
Pick gold finishes
The set designer, Andrew Baseman, added touches of rich gold throughout the movie. Consider choosing gold finishes to drive home the luxuriousness of your space. Not sure where to start? Consider choosing gold vases, chairs, frames, knobs, or light fixtures. In the scene where Rachel meets Nick’s grandma, you can see the more traditional, carved wooden chairs are trimmed with gold to add dimension to the piece. This isn’t the only scene where gold is apparent — the Young’s living space features a variety of picture frames, which are all gold (via Andrew Baseman). Gold picture frames can be found almost anywhere, but you can shop the look with an ornate-looking set of four from Wayfair.
Looking for a little gold inspiration? Check out this white and gold vase from Williams-Sonoma. This vase features multiple characteristics used throughout “Crazy Rich Asians” –– gold accents, a traditional pattern, and a classic shape.
Don’t shy away from color
Jade is utilized throughout the movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” but it isn’t the only color used in the Peranakan design. Consider adding pops of green, turquoise, pink, yellow, or gold to your home. According to Culturally, the Peranakan people thought that these bright shades would bring them good things –– think wealth, fertility, happiness, and love. To bring all the good vibes to your home in true “Crazy Rich Asian” fashion, don’t be afraid to step out of the Westernized box of neutrals.
Take a look at this Wayfair coffee table for a bit of inspiration –– it has all the makings of a Peranakan color palette. The table’s edges are rimmed with gold, and the base color is a bluish-green turquoise. Even better? The flower motifs are a rich pink and blue. For a larger statement piece, consider something like this turquoise sofa from Urban Outfitters. Not only does this sofa utilize a color seen frequently in “Crazy Rich Asians,” but it also has elegant, wooden legs that are a nod to traditional Peranakan design.
Silk drapes tie a room together
In “Crazy Rich Asians,” Goh Wye Mun is shown in the dining room with silk drapes behind him. They consist of thicker pink silk drapes with complimentary gold swag drapes. According to Supreme Creations, if buying silk drapes is a little out of your budget, swapping them for cotton sateen will give you a similar look for less. If you don’t mind the price, these elegant pink silk drapes from Neiman Marcus might just tickle your fancy.
For the gold swag drapes, you’ll likely be able to find a dupe for a lot less. Check out this option from Belk for just around $45. Essentially, any drapery that adds texture and drama to your space is reminiscent of the Peranakan style used in “Crazy Rich Asians.” Make the style your own, and don’t worry about replicating it 100% if it is out of your budget — these options are merely inspirations.
Add intricate light fixtures
The set of “Crazy Rich Asians” features Oriental lamps and ornate glass chandeliers. You can see a beautiful crystal chandelier in the background of the dining room during the scene with Goh Wye Mun. Shop the look with this decked-out option from Perigold, which features your choice of finish and nine lights. The almost $4,000 price tag may shock some, but it is in-line with the opulent design choices shown in the movie –– they were fabulously wealthy, after all!
The living space shown in “Crazy Rich Asians” within the Young compound also features Oriental lamps on tables, per Set Decorators Society of America. These are also not completely budget-friendly –– a comparable lamp from Layla Grayce will run you almost $900. If you want the look without the crazy cost, check out eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, and local flea markets. You might be shocked at the type of gems you find. It is also worth noting that you can always replace the lamp shade with an inexpensive white one –– the important component is the lamp’s base.