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10 interior design ideas from your favourite K-drama series

  • Movies and TV
By Ela Das
9 min read
Nov 21, 2022
Best tips for designing an urban home as inspired from K-dramas

Look no further than your favourite K-drama series to decode the best tips for designing a stylish urban home

More often a cathartic respite, while K-dramas have taken over our lives and pop culture across the globe, we can’t help but also look into their spaces for home décor inspiration. From multipurpose pieces of furniture with ample storage to strategically placed lights that create the right mood in a room—there’s a trove of interior design tips show after show. We turned to our go-to newsletter for all things TV for the low down.

 

Former colleagues and now long-distance best friends, Kashika Saxena and Shahana Yasmin started Continue Watching in 2020 as a way to stay in touch, consistently write, and most importantly, share their many, many opinions about television with the world. “It is the result of the countless hours we have spent bonding over and over-analysing every TV show we have ever watched,” exclaims Saxena, with Yasmin explaining how they write, obsess, understand, recommend and “make sense of this glorious age of peak TV…or as our parents would call it, ‘wasting our lives in front of the television!’” While Saxena started watching K-dramas in 2017, Yasmin watched her first in 2021. In the same year, they enlisted for Korean classes with a private tutor because they’ve “never done anything halfway or in a chill manner. We now watch K-dramas not just for entertainment but also to revise our grammar—though the latter isn't always as fun as the former,” they laugh.

 

For the duo, most K-drama series give us a window into interior design styles in South Korean homes, which they feel would also work perfectly in many Indian homes—particularly smaller urban ones rented out by the younger generation. Today on World Television Day, they delve into South Korean homes in the reel world to help us decode the coolest décor tips that could work in most urban spaces across India.

1. USE YOUR HOBBIES AND INTERESTS AS THE STARTING POINT FOR A ROOM’S DÉCOR

In Strong Girl Bong-soon, the titular character Do Bong-soon is born with hereditary superhuman strength, which gets her a job as a bodyguard to the CEO of a gaming company. Her dream and hobby, however, is designing a video game with herself as the main character. A quick peek into her bedroom fittingly shows the odd comic book character figurines, and sketches and drawings of faces pinned on the walls.

 

SHAHANA’S TIP:

While a hobby or interest helps bring in a unique element of style in a room, it’s also a wonderful way to echo your own personality through your décor, doubling as a more purse-friendly design option.

Strong Girl Bong-soon

Image courtesy, Quynh Huong

Lead character Kim Shin in Guardian

Image courtesy, Netflix

2. DISPLAY YOUR HERITAGE AND ANCESTRY THROUGH YOUR FAMILY’S HEIRLOOMS

Punished to a life of immortality, the lead character Kim Shin in Guardian: The Lonely and Great God has been living around Korea for over nine centuries. This would explain why his home is filled with an impressive collection of antique cabinets and doors, vintage pieces and mid-century furniture. But, instead of looking like a stuffy museum, these are delicately paired against more clean-lined, minimalistic and modern interior design comprising glass panels and metals fittings.

 

KASHIKA’S TIP:

In a country rich in art and handicraft, most Indian families are accustomed to passing down heirlooms to the younger generations. Displaying these around a home is a symbolic and thoughtful way of telling a quiet story about your own ancestry. These are also objects that are usually priceless and one-of-a-kind, making them true statement pieces for your décor.

3. A MINIMALIST HOME MAY IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH IN AN URBAN CITY

In urban India, we can all relate to Kim Min-kyu’s character in I'm Not a Robot, who’s constantly susceptible to allergies. This forces him to lead a luxurious but isolated life in a minimalistically designed home.

 

SHAHANA’S TIP:

It’s safe to say every Indian home regularly has to tackle the problem of dust, often requiring dusting twice a day—sometimes even more! And it’s quite common to hear most people talking about dust allergies or some form of reaction to the growing pollution every day. A minimalist home is not only easier to clean and maintain in India, but creates less cluttered, more open spaces.

Kim Min-kyu’s character in I'm Not a Robot

Image courtesy, MBC Drama

Shin Ha-ri’s room in business Proposal

Image courtesy, Netflix

4. A CLEVER USE OF SPACE CAN MAXIMISE YOUR FLOOR PLAN

One of the first things you’ll notice in most of the younger, preppier homes in K-dramas is the humble sizes of their homes that still manage to fit everything! From Shin Ha-ri’s room in Business Proposal to Na-bi’s studio apartment in Nevertheless—bookcases double as room dividers, every bed has ample storage underneath and most spaces serve dual or multiple purposes.

KASHIKA’S TIP:

Everyone living in big cities can relate to making the most of a limited floor plan, and this is the most functional design idea we can take away from these shows. From the barren area under your bed to the unclaimed breadths of the walls, using furniture that makes use of every inch of space available for storage will go a long way.
 

5. A MULTIPURPOSE PIECE OF FURNITURE IS THE HERO IN A SMALL-SPACE HOME

Another thing we notice in Do Bong-soon’s bedroom, or in Kang Mi-rae’s room in My ID is Gangnam Beauty, is how a single piece of furniture has multiple purposes. While a chest of drawers doubles as Bong-soon’s side table and top of Mi-rae’s bookshelf serves as a mantle for keepsakes, the most interesting thing about both these fixtures is the way in which they help segregate a room. A lot of homes in K-dramas seem to have an open floor plan, and these multipurpose pieces for furniture create some form of structure or walls between spaces.

Gangnam Beauty

Image courtesy, Netflix

SHAHANA’S TIP:

It’s safe to say, most professionals have a desk in their rooms (or have had to bring one in over the past couple of years while working from home). If you’ve had trouble finding space for it, try placing it as a side table next to your bed.
 

Moody ambient lighting in every room as seen in My ID

Image courtesy, Netflix

6. BRING IN MULTIPLE TYPES OF LIGHTS TO ADD COSINESS AND WARMTH IN ANY ROOM

The correct set of lights truly have the power to transform a room, setting a range of moods. The first show that comes to mind for its perfect selection of lights is My ID is Gangnam Beauty, where everything from small table lamps to quirky chandeliers and even simple fairy lights lend moody ambient lighting in every room.

 

KASHIKA’S TIP:

This is such a clever lighting trick and so easy to replicate. There are a range of LED lights available these days, most being rechargeable and cord-free—a much neater, hassle-free option!

7. A PLUSH RUG UNDER A COFFEE TABLE IS THE MULTIPURPOSE ACCESSORY YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED

A rug is a hero accessory that always ties a room together—especially when placed under a coffee table in the living room. However, in Dear My Room, a plush rug placed under Shim Eun joo’s coffee table is the true definition of a functional and utilitarian décor accessory. While it lends its style to the room, it also provides comfy seating, making the table double as a workstation and place for eating a meal.

 

SHAHANA’S TIP:

Sitting on the floor for various purposes is an Asian custom which exists even in India. A thick plush rug is a nifty idea for comfy seating, especially in a child or teenager’s room!

In Dear My Room

Image courtesy, Netflix

In Kim Mi-so’s room in What's Wrong with Secretary Kim

Image courtesy, Netflix

8. IT’S A DESK! IT’S A VANITY! NO, WAIT, IT’S A DINING TABLE?

Beauty plays a big role in the South Korean cultural landscape, with K-beauty making waves across the globe with their elaborate (read 10-to-16 step!) skincare. So, it’s not a surprise when a vanity table is an essential part of a room’s design in a K-drama. But in a unique style twist, this is usually a part of the desk which often also serves as a bedside and dining table, as we see in Kim Mi-so’s room in What's Wrong with Secretary Kim.

 

KASHIKA’S TIP:

Most desks in K-dramas have a set of drawers on two sides—one for work and the other for beauty supplies. A simple mirror, which is movable and tucked away when not in use, turns a desk into a vanity in a flash.

9. DON’T SHY AWAY FROM COLOUR

Homes in K-dramas are rarely minimal or stark, which makes sense because that isn’t an aesthetic that resonates with most of Asia. Instead, you’ll find each character’s personality, habits and interests displayed in their décor or a vibrant use of colour in their spaces.

 

SHAHANA’S TIP:

In the shared apartment in Hello My Twenties!, there’s a mint green backsplash in the open kitchen. Usually when renting a home, there’s always an existing design element or colour in the interiors one has to work with. Instead of trying to conceal it, it’s much better to embrace this style and incorporate it in the rest of the décor like we see in this living room, where everything from the upholstery to the accessories and even the fronts of the chest of drawers display a shade of green.

In the shared apartment in Hello My Twenties!

Image courtesy, Nocturnal Girl

In Tak Dong-kyung’s living room while watching Doom at Your Service

Image courtesy, Netflix

10. A PANEL OF WALLPAPER CAN BRIGHTEN UP A ROOM

If you’re in Tak Dong-kyung’s living room while watching Doom at Your Service, you’ll notice that her pale lemon walls create a neutral canvas for the rest of her décor. However, the floral wall running across her open kitchen not only helps segregate this space, it also creates a visual break in the room. Sometimes, a panel of wallpaper on a wall is easier to install than repainting it for a fresh makeover—adding texture and design within a space. Looking for the perfect wallpaper for your living room? We love Asian Paints’ range of chic and timeless wall coverings that include a range by designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee and décor label Good Earth. There’s even a collection of decal stickers by Disney for the little ones or the Wallpaper of the Year, Lotus and Stilts.


Write to
continuewatchingwithKS@gmail.com if you’re looking for a recommendation on what to watch next.

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