THE new year 2013 has begun and the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Snake is coming. For Chinese, that's the real start of the year, a time for family reunion, happiness and wishes for good luck and prosperity.
In addition to traditional gatherings, galas and reunion dinners, it's a good time to redecorate the home or office for a fresh look and fresh start. This is called nianwei, or Chinese New Year's taste.
It's not the same thing as Snake Year fengshui, which has specific rules.
Interior decorator Tian Yuan offers tips for a bit of redecoration that incorporates authentic elements of Chinese culture as well as modern taste - at a reasonable price.
We also suggest some items in the market that can make your home happy and smart.
Spring Festival is the time for reunion of family, wishes of the happiness and luck in the coming year. In China, red and gold are the traditional auspicious colors of the new year that create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
If you are planning to change some furnishings in the new year, one of two pieces of Chinese-style furniture add attractive and interesting accents.
A Chinese screen (pingfeng) often works well with other styles of furniture and can divide a room and create new spaces. If placed before the front door or placed between the front door and a seating area, it can block the "wind" and bad influences from entering your home, or so fengshui practitioners say.
Chinese-style homes often feature a wooden or painted screen in the corner of the sitting room.
Remember when you choose a screen and other furnishings, such as cabinets, shelves and tables, consider color, carved or painted patterns of flowers and birds, use of gold paint, bronze fittings and so on.
Smaller items, such as a white china lamp, add a stylish touch.
An easy and affordable way to brighten up the home is to add some red or gold-colored pillows on a sofa. Add a red tablecloth and colorful table napkins. A red area rug or carpet with Chinese flower patterns immediately adds warmth to a room. Red bed linens are popular.
A Spring Festival tradition calls for hanging chunlian (Spring Festival couplets or New Year's Scrolls) on either side of the front door threshold. Many people also hang them on walls. They usually say "Happy New Year" or "Luck and Wealth" in fine calligraphy.
Chinese people used to write the calligraphy at home by themselves, but chunlian are available in many stores today.
Other decorations include scrolls, red Chinese knots and lanterns. Lucky designs include birds and flowers, fish, lotus and Chinese babies (fuwa).
Plants and flowers
Early blooming, fragrant narcissus is the traditional flower of Spring Festival and its white and yellow flowers symbolize gold and silver, hence, wealth and fortune in the new year.
Also popular are various types of orchid, such as moth orchids, as well as jade plants, bamboo bonsai, hyacinth, asphodel, kumquat and pineapple flowers. All signify lasting happiness, wealth and luck.
As a festive tradition, people decorate their home with radish, pineapple and other plants tied with red lace, as good wishes for the new year.