Wicker and bamboo furniture from China and other parts of Asia are inexpensive additions to the home. Four bamboo chairs around a glass-topped shiny chrome cylinder are all you need for dining panache. Woven wicker headboards fit easily against a wall complemented by a white lacquered Parsons night table and brightly colored paisley sheets.
One of the nicest of the newer imports are rice paper shades made in Taiwan. These beauties are made of the same material as those sturdy shoji panels that substitute for interior walls in traditional Japanese homes.
The rice paper does not yellow or become brittle upon exposure to the sun and therefore makes an ideal window covering. For centuries, rice paper was made only in small sheets, but now it is being manufactured in window shade size, with the paper doubled over ribs of split bamboo. The bamboo rods give the shade suficient strength for it to roll from the bottom up.
The best part of the shoji shades is that they allow daylight to enter but still provide ample privacy at night. The second best part is the price: around $15 for a 36-by-72 inch shade, which is standard for most windows. Other sizes are available.
I used these oriental eye-openers in a bay window of a rather ordinary Cape Cod traditional. The three glazed areas of the bay, normally covered with curtains or shutters, created instead a delightfully translucent, but private oriental bower.
An elegant antique love seat was positioned in front of the shoji shades, its warm wood frame and off-white linen covered cushions making it an integral part of the white-walled room.
A totally contemporary chair teamed up with an antique fauteuil and a shiny, polished-chrome cylindrical table, while a brightly patterned rug defines this small but sumptuous seating area. The combination unites these diverse elements into a comfortable seating area framed by the light-filtered rice papered alcove.