Create a statement centrepiece with a Chinese coffee table

A well-chosen coffee table makes a great statement and helps pull a room together. Perfect when entertaining or simply lounging, a stunning Chinese coffee table makes an dramatic focal point as well as being a practical choice in a family home. Whether your home’s interior is modern or traditional, a high-quality oriental piece can give a room real character. Large, statement pieces of Asian-inspired furniture exude drama and style and create a space that people want to spend time in.

Choosing your Chinese coffee table

One of the first things you need to consider is size. If the proportions are  wrong, you’ll either drown the rest of the room’s furnishings or your Chinese coffee table will be dwarfed. Also consider height – some coffee tables are only slightly raised from the floor whereas others are taller.

Distressed coffee table

Consider whether you want your coffee table to have a dual purpose. Will it purely be for resting a cup of tea or a glass of wine, or would you like it to double as a storage solution? In a family setting, consider buying one that’s sturdily crafted from solid wood, whether antique or reclaimed, as this will give it durability as well as versatility in any setting. The distressed coffee table in blue and black shown above ticks all the boxes for practicality and style.

However, a classic oriental lacquered finish is also absolutely striking, and easy to maintain with a little care (see the low scroll or ‘Lute’ table mentioned further down). Many of Shimu’s antique coffee tables and trunks offer the best of both worlds, with the original brightly coloured lacquer attractively faded and worn.

Antique or contemporary coffee table?

If you want to add some authenticity to your interior decoration, a Chinese antique coffee table is a stylish choice. Shimu has many antique coffee tables in stock from various eras, sometimes repurposed from their original use. For example, the antique Kang table pictured would originally have been used as an everyday surface on the heated ‘kang’ platform that formed the main living space during the colder months.

Antique Kang table
Low antique Kang table with drawers

The low scroll table pictured is a modern piece, but is based on the ‘lute tables’ used by the Chinese when seated on the floor to play musical instruments.

Low scroll table
Low scroll ‘Lute table’ in black lacquer

Another popular choice with Shimu customers is using an antique trunk as a coffee table. This gives the added bonus of storage to ensure your living room is clear of clutter! See all Shimu’s oriental trunks here.

Shimu has also recently launched a new range of industrial furniture made from natural, rustic mango wood combined with distressed iron. Perfect for modern living, the range has a strong design, with clean lines and a tactile finish. The quirky coffee tables from this range are particularly attractive, for example the Indo iron cart shown here is made from sustainable mango wood and stands on four antique iron cart wheels. The darkness of the industrial iron contrasts well against the pale, natural tones of the wood. Using reclaimed wood or  repurposing antiques is a great way to give a contemporary feel yet maintain an authentic mood.

Indo iron cart coffee table
Indo iron cart coffee table from sustainable mango and industrial iron

Styling your oriental coffee table

Chinese Iron horse
Cast iron horses , replica of pieces from China’s Tang dynasty

Once you’ve settled on an oriental coffee table, the real fun begins! To style your coffee table, choose books (think Penguin Classics rather than Dan Brown), magazines (more Elle Deco than Hello), ornaments, candles and start arranging!

If you have children or waggy dogs, you might want to avoid fragile Chinese ceramics, but Shimu has plenty of hard-working ornaments for busy family homes, like this (practically) unbreakable replica iron horse.

One of our favourite looks is a carefully curated pile of design tomes, with multi-wicked candles and a well-chosen oriental ornament, like one of our Buddhas in stone or wood, a more unusual solid stone carving of Rama and Sinta (pictured) or our ever-popular Chinese bronze Tang horse. It’s worth spending a bit more than usual on something you really adore, as you’ll see it every time you sit down and hopefully love it forever.

Rama & Sinta
Stone carving depicting Lord Rama and his consort Sinta, highly revered characters from Hindu teachings.

Fresh flowers also make a dramatic statement, or for longevity, potted plants like heather or lavender in stylish containers. Our range of pots, vases and planters in bronze, brass, silver or even this luxe one made from a palm trunk, are perfect for this.

Finally, think about what’s under your coffee table! A warm oriental rug means even in a packed room of family and friends where seating is at a premium, everyone can sit close to your new acquisition! See the full range of oriental rugs from Shimu here.

Shimu loves Pinterest so why not check out the new board on oriental and Chinese coffee tables for styling tips?

Industrial Mango Wood Furniture

Get the industrial look with our latest furniture range in sustainable Mango wood

If you like the industrial look then you’ll definitely want to check out our latest range of furniture. Produced from sustainable mango wood tops and distressed iron, the collection includes bar stools, coffee tables, sideboards and drawers that are right on trend for modern, loft living.

The mango wood is sourced from trees that are initially grown for their fruit which, once they have stopped producing, are cut down to be used for furniture and other wooden products. The farmers are then able to plant new, fruit bearing trees whilst also benefiting from an additional income. The wood itself has a rich, characterful look that is shown off beautifully in a simple, natural finish.

Loko Bar Stools
Loko Bar Stools

The iron used is blackened and antiqued to give a tactile feel that perfectly complements the lovely texture and grain of the mango wood. We think it’s a wonderful combination and we are sure you will agree.

Our favourites amongst the new collection include these lovely bar stools, with carved, shaped seats for comfort and a curved iron base with supporting footrest. Perfect at a breakfast bar in the kitchen.

Kilba Iron Coffee Table
Kilba Iron Coffee Table

The Kiba Iron Coffee Table is based on traditional Indian carts and has a thick, mango wood top set into the iron frame. The large wheels at one end not only give character and interest to the striking, rustic look but also make the heavy table easy to manoeuvre.

Iron & Mango Wood Sideboard
Iron & Mango Wood Sideboard

Lastly, this large sideboard has six useful, deep drawers for storage as well as shelving either side. It’s great for kitchen storage or as a dining buffet, but in a modern setting would be equally at home in a reception area or bedroom. Again, the thick mango wood top is lovely to the touch and contrasts beautifully with the dark distressed iron frame and drawers.

You’ll find these pieces and others in the range under our Industrial Mango Wood collection. All items are held in stock in the UK as far as possible so delivery is normally with 3 weeks.

Chinese Antique Furniture

Tips on integrating Chinese and oriental style into a modern interior

A modern styled home goes far beyond simply filling rooms with pieces that are only on trend for one season. A great way to create an impactful, interesting interior is to combine an eclectic mix of colours, designs and inspiration from different cultures to create a totally unique and timeless style.

Chinese and oriental style furniture can fit perfectly into this type of scheme, particularly one of our huge range of Chinese antiques. Each piece has its own unique story and is hand-picked from locations all around China. The beauty of oriental furniture is that it is not a fad or short term trend, but a style that will never go out of fashion. If you select the right piece it can also be an investment that hold its value or even benefit you in years to come.

Integrating Chinese furniture into a modern styled home is easier than you might imagine as it doesn’t have to be a full on theme. We’ve listed a few ideas below to help you achieve an oriental accent or feel in your home.

Chinese Wall Art

Chinese Ancestor Painting
Chinese Ancestor Painting

Chinese wall art is a subtle yet effective method to inject a bit of culture into a room without taking up any vital floorspace. It’s a favourite for living rooms and bedrooms to create an ambience of calm and works well with both dark or neutral colour schemes. It adds a diverse dimension to your room, filling blank or plain spaces and creating the perfect backdrop to complement modern interiors. Chinese paintings such as traditional ancestor portraits can provide a colourful focal point, whilst old carved window panels are a great way add interest, lit to throw subtle shadows onto a wall space.

Chinese Furniture

A single, carefully selected item of Chinese furniture can be the ultimate accent piece in any room. Traditional wedding cabinets are usually in a bright red lacquer, perfect for bringing warmth and colour to a more neutral, modern environment. Painted sideboards are also a good way to add a contrasting style and colour to a contemporary setting.

This red lacquer Chinese caibnet is from Shanxi province, painted with gold decoration
Chinese Red Painted Cabinet

If you are looking for something more modern in style but still with an oriental flavour then our newly made ranges of sleek, black lacquer Chinese furniture or rich elm wood cabinets, with pure, simple designs and clean lines, will be ideal.

Oriental Style Lighting

The right lighting cam create a feeling of calm and serenity and can change a room into a relaxing retreat, turning it into a the ultimate place to wind down. Chinese lamps are perfect to add a subtle oriental style that will work in any modern home. Our own selection includes classic blue and white porcelain bases with silk shades, along with more modern silk lotus lamps.

This Chinese lamp has been made from stone and resin – It’ll add character to any modern home
Chinese Calligraphy Lamp

For a simple oriental twist on a smaller scale, choose one of our Chinese lanterns – perfect for creating a sensual, romantic feel when lit with a T-light in a bedroom or even bathroom. The larger versions are ideal for outdoors.

Colours & Patterns

Chinese interiors are based around a powerful colour palette for a big, bold impact. If you are combining multiple prints and styles we would therefore recommend that you work with a solid neutral base to prevent them both from clashing and from looking too busy. Less is often more when it comes to oriental interiors! Many of our accessories work best against a stripped back, rustic look or go for a darker theme that provides a dramatic backdrop for more colourful accent pieces.

Mid-Autumn Festival 4th October

Mid-autumn festivalWe love to share our knowledge of Chinese culture with our customers and readers of the blog. You’ll already be aware of the importance of festivals to the Chinese, and one of the most significant is celebrated over the next couple of days – the Mid-Autumn Festival. So what do we know about its history and origins?

The term ‘Mid-Autumn’ first appeared in the book ‘Rites of Zhou’, written in the Warring States Period (475–221 BC). But it wasn’t until the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127 AD) that the 15th day of the 8th lunar month was established as the ‘Mid-Autumn Festival’.

From then, worshipping the moon was established as a traditional custom. Ancient Chinese emperors worshipped the moon goddess as they believed that this would bring them a plentiful harvest the following year.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 AD) and the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912 AD), the Mid-Autumn Festival was as popular as Chinese New Year. People celebrated it with many different activities, including burning pagodas and performing the fire dragon dance.

Worshipping the moon would sometimes involve placing a large table in the middle of the yard or garden under the moon, and putting offerings such as fruit and snacks, on the table. The sacrificial offerings would include apples, plums, grapes and incense, but mooncakes and watermelons (pomelos in the south) were the most important. The watermelon skin would be sliced and opened up into a lotus shape when offered as a sacrifice.

The tradition of eating mooncakes during the festival began in the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368), a dynasty ruled by the Mongols. At the end of the Yuan Dynasty, the Han people’s resistance army wanted to overthrow the rule of the Mongols, so they planned an uprising together. But they had no way to inform other Han people who wanted to join them of the time of the uprising without being discovered by the Mongols. The military counselor of the Han people’s resistance army, Liu Bowen, came up with the strategy of using mooncakes. Liu Bowen asked his soldiers to write “uprising on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival” on slips of paper, put them in mooncakes, and then sell them to the other Han people.

When the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival came, a huge uprising broke out and the Han people succeeded in battle.  From then on, people ate mooncakes every Mid-Autumn Festival to commemorate the uprising.

Today, it is still an occasion for friends and relatives to eat mooncakes and watch the moon, which is a symbol of harmony and unity. The festival is celebrated with many cultural or regional customs, including burning incense in reverence to deities, performing lion dances and carrying brightly lit lanterns.


Kayu Reclaimed Wood Furniture Collection

New! Introducing the Kayu range of reclaimed wood furniture

We’ve been busy again at Shimu, not only sourcing a fantastic new set of pieces for our collection of antique Chinese furniture, but also developing a new range of dining tables, benches, coffee tables and cabinets that we think you will love. Each item in the new Kayu range is made from solid, reclaimed wood – either poplar, elm or pine – and finished with a rustic, chunky look that is right on trend.

To create the new range we’ve mixed natural wood and darker stained cabinets and tables produced near Beijing from recycled poplar and elm beams with gorgeous dining sets produced here in the UK from old scaffold boards. These are set on either wooden or iron legs, the iron bases being crafted in Rajasthan.

What each piece has in common is the wonderful texture and beauty of the thick, natural wood. The table tops are produced from chunky boards, with a lovely grain and character. Some of the furniture has a hint of the oriental style that Shimu is so well know for, but others are more simple and modern in design.

Rustic Coffee Table with Marble Legs
Rustic Coffee Table with Marble Legs

Amongst our favourites are this lovely rustic coffee table, which is made with a thick poplar wood top. The edges of the squared surface are rounded and sit on curved marble legs and the natural finish of the wood blends beautifully with the patterned, cream marble. We think it makes a perfect focal point in a contemporary living area and if you prefer a smaller size or shape we can produce that too.

We also love the Kadara Iron Dining Table, made from reclaimed scaffold boards mounted on industrial iron legs and with matching benches. Heavy and hardwearing, it’s ideal in a rustic kitchen or dining room. The thick boards each have an individual character that makes every table unique, with built in wow factor. Or for a more country look choose the Lonwe Trestle Table, available in three colours and either with or without a shelf. It’s easy to dissemble and store away if you need space, or to move outside on a sunny day for outdoor seating.

Each item in the Kayu range is produced by hand, made to order on request. This means that you might have to wait a little longer than normal for your furniture (typically 12-16 weeks) but we’re confident you’ll agree it’s worth the wait.

View the full Kayu reclaimed collection on our website now and look out for more designs as we will be expanding the range over the next few months.



Nkuku ethical and fair trade homewares

NEW! See our huge range of new accessories for the home

We are delighted to introduce a huge new range of lighting, soft furnishings, ornaments, gifts, tableware and more to our ever expanding collection of furniture and homewares. The new items are part of the Nkuku brand – one that has a strong ethical focus and that fits in perfectly with our own passion for beautifully designed home decor using reclaimed and recycled materials. They are produced primarily in India and the Far East, produced by skilled craftsmen using time-honoured techniques. The suppliers are often small independent businesses or co-operatives that are part of fair trade schemes, providing them with sustainable employment and income as well as support for their community.

Materials used include a wide range of recycled and natural materials such as jute, hemp and rattan. You’ll find journals and albums in leather recycled from other industries and with pages produced using recycled cotton. Photo frames and lamps are made from recyled aluminium and other metals, giving not only a unique, characterful finish but meaning less energy used and fewer emissions during the production process.

Talani Cushion Covers

It’s hard to pick out our favourites from such a wonderful array, but we particularly love these soft Talani cushion covers. Made from a combination of cotton and denim, they come with lovely patterns and styles, block printed and hand stitched with colourful threads. Each one is available in two shapes and they are perfect mixed and matched to bring a really cosy, natural feel scattered on a bed or sofa.

Beautiful kitchen and tableware includes stoneware bowls and jugs, handmade in Morocco and decorated in blue or black with authentic African designs. In this section you’ll also find lovely bowls and trays in sustainable mango wood – perfect for a rustic style kitchen.

Bags and baskets in palm leaf, rattan and jute are great for shopping and storage, with the larger ones being ideal for holding toys or as log baskets, whilst strikingly patterned rugs in jute and hemp are hard wearing as well as eye-catching.

Brass etched vases
Brass etched vases

You’ll also find a lovely selection of vases and pots in metal or recycled glass, including brass and aluminium vases, hammered into shape by hand and beautifully etched with traditional designs.

We think the new range fits in perfectly with our existing collection of oriental furniture and homewares and we are sure you will find something to delight you and to add that final, beautiful touch to your own living space. We are continually on the look out for new items that we think our customers will love and we will be adding even more home accessories in the near future. Look out for more in the Nkuku collection soon, as well as our own unique pieces just arrived from China on our latest container.

Introducing our VIP club

This week sees the official launch of the Shimu VIP club. It’s aimed at customers who have a serious interest in Chinese antiques and a passion for Oriental styling. Members will get first views of new pieces, invitations to events, expert advice, sale previews, special offers and bonus gifts based on regular purchases.

To launch the scheme, we’re giving members a free subscription to Homes & Antiques magazine if you spend £1000 or more before the end of September (as well as the usual free delivery). Simply enter ‘VIP Club’ into the box that asks for your reason for buying when you order online or call us to place your order personally.

As another VIP bonus, we’ll shortly be publishing our ‘Guide to Chinese Antiques’  and will email all VIP club members with a link to download it free of charge before anyone else.  Other things to look forward to are the launch of a new range of accessories, which we’ll invite VIP members to view online first, and advance notice of our summer sale.

We’d also love to know what YOU think we should offer VIPs! What are you interested in? How can we help you indulge your passion for Oriental antiques? And how can we improve our service to those who shop with us more regularly? Please do give us your feedback!

If you’d like to join our VIP club, email now.


Eagerly awaiting our next container of Chinese antiques

We will be taking delivery of another container of Chinese antique furniture from Beijing in a couple of weeks from now and we can’t wait to get hold of the new pieces. You can already see and order the vast majority of these on our website, so I thought this would be a good time to pick out one or two of our favourites, along with others in our current collection.

Red Lacquer Altar Table, Shanxi
Red Lacquer Altar Table, Shanxi

We are often asked by customers to find Chinese altar tables that would fit into a modern home as a console. They make fantastic focal points and display surfaces for family photos and ornaments and, with their upward turning flanges, are highly distinctive. The issue is often the size of the tables. Traditionally used in the main reception room of a Chinese home for use as a shrine to ancestors, most altar tables were sized at well over two metres in length – not always practical in a western home. These days it is becoming harder to find even larger antique altar tables in good condition, let alone ones with more manageable dimensions.

The altar table shown here and currently sailing over from China is shorter than most similar pieces at around six foot long, with narrow proportions that would be ideal for a hall or living room. It comes from Shanxi province in central China and shows many features that are so typical of this type of table. The everted flanges are evident, as are the recessed legs that show beautiful open carvings of flowers, both inside and out. The legs are topped with symmetrical ‘cloud head’ spandrels to the front and back. The dark brown finish on the table top is original, whilst the deep red lacquer on the legs and apron appears to have been added more recently.

Painted Black Sideboard, Gansu
Painted Black Sideboard, Gansu

With similar proportions but very different in style is a large sideboard in its original, now faded black finish and with paintings on the central doors. Although it was also sourced from Shanxi province, its early life would have been very different from the altar table. Rather than being a valued piece of furniture used for religious purposes, this solid, thick framed chest would have stored foodstuffs such as grain or flour. It would have opened through a removable plank in the top, since sealed, and what have now been converted into four doors would have been fixed panels.

The matching decorative paintings of flower vases on the central doors originally would have been in bright, vibrant colours – greens, golds and oranges that would have contrasted beautifully against the deeper black lacquer. Now faded into more muted colours, the paintings still add a character and focus to an otherwise very simple design. This is a lovely example of a practical, vernacular item of furniture that has been recycled and repurposed for the modern day – in this case an unusual, very striking sideboard that would suit a dining room or reception area.

Blue Lacquer Low Sideboard, Qinghai
Blue Lacquer Low Sideboard, Qinghai

Very different in style but similar in that it has been heavily adapted to create a more practical item of furniture is a low sideboard in blue lacquer. This cabinet was sourced from Qinghai province in western China and, in its original form, would have been typical of furniture from that region. Unsurprisingly, the distressed blue lacquer which adds a bright, fresh feel is new. This has been applied over the old, worn red which is still visible underneath in a few areas. Blue just wasn’t a colour used for furniture in China, being either unavailable as a pigment or unpopular, and in Qinghai cabinets like this it would almost always be in a rich red, created using a cinnabar pigment.

Elm Storage Cabinet, Shanxi
Elm Storage Cabinet, Shanxi

Perhaps less obviously, the larger doors to the right and left would originally have been fixed panels, the storage space behind them accessed only through the much smaller central doors. This seems an odd, highly impractical design to the modern furniture buyer but was far from uncommon in Qinghai cabinets one or two hundred years ago. The idea behind the design was that, at a time when modern locks weren’t available, it would make life difficult for any potential thieves looking to get their hands on the valuable items held inside. The carved apron and side spandrels, which taper down to the feet from an extended top, add a fluidity and elegance to what was a fairly provincial piece and, with the recent adaptations, the cabinet now would make a wonderful TV stand.

Lastly, we absolutely love the large elm cabinet from Shanxi province shown above. The style, with open panels in the upper doors decorated with lattice work, suggests that its original purpose was to store food and it would make a stunning kitchen or dining room cabinet today used to store cutlery and crockery. The old dark lacquer finish has mellowed to leave soft, rich brown tones and a beautiful patina. The hardware is new, a replacement for the original that has been lost over the years and, as with the Qinghai cabinet, the two outer doors have most likely been added recently, but this is a lovely, unusual cabinet that is definitely one of our current favourites.

These four pieces should be arriving with us on the 17th July, along with another eighty or so other antiques, plus pottery, stoneware and other accessories. If you would like to see the latest collection then pay us a visit at our West Yorkshire showroom for a coffee and a browse. We look forward to seeing you.

Take a virtual tour of our showroom

Have you visited the Shimu showroom in West Yorkshire yet? Don’t worry – with our online tour you can take a trip around Shimu HQ at Albion Mills, Greengates without even leaving home!

Explore the roomy and light-filled showroom space, with its high ceilings and industrial heritage, and see our handcrafted furniture, stunning Chinese antiques and unique accessories, as well as our stylish roomsets.

Come in and make yourself at home!  We’d offer you a cup of tea, but unfortunately the virtual world doesn’t yet allow that, so you’ll have to visit us in person too…

Click below to enter, or find us in real life at Albion Mills, Greengates, West Yorkshire, conveniently located between the Leeds and Bradford ring roads.

Virtual tour


Choosing the right rug

Medina rug

Rugs are the final piece of the puzzle in a room, seamlessly pulling the look together at a single stroke. They’re more than just another accessory: they’re practical, offering both comfort and warmth; they’re pieces of art, introducing colour and pattern to your space; and they provide a quick yet dramatic update for your interiors without the need to completely redecorate.

Here’s all you need to know about using rugs around your home.


Because they’re not attached to the floor, rugs can be a lot more versatile than carpets. You can use them to disguise old floorboards or even worn-out carpet with minimal effort.

Scorched carpet in front of an open fire? A rug will hide the mark while protecting your floor from further damage. Cracked tile in the hallway? Rugs or runners are perfect for covering up these little imperfections. Rugs are also easier to clean than carpets, and can be rotated for even wear-and-tear, making them a much more affordable and durable alternative.

Wooden or laminate floors are a stylish and popular flooring choice, but come winter, they can make rooms feel bare and cold. A rug is an easy way to add warmth under your feet, and introducing one will instantly make the room feel more inviting.


As well as hiding less-than-perfect flooring, rugs can be used to draw attention to an important piece of furniture, such as a coffee table, sofa or dining table, or a feature such as a fireplace or a floor-to-ceiling window.

Rugs can act as an anchor for the rest of the pieces in the room, highlighting or complementing accent colours or patterns on other soft furnishings to make the room feel unified. Think of a rug as art for your floor. If you’re decorating a space from scratch, why not choose a rug as your starting point and then choose everything else around it?

Bear in mind the rug you select should be large enough to accommodate the furniture that will be placed on top of it (as a rule, rugs under dining tables should still include the chair legs when the chair is pushed out from under the table). A rug that’s too small will unbalance the proportions and create the illusion of a much smaller space. If in doubt, always go bigger.


AinslieThe style, size and material of your rug will be heavily influenced by its location in the home. For spaces with heavy footfall such as a living room or hallway, choose a hard-wearing rug made from heavyweight material with a pattern in dark colours (so that marks don’t show up easily), like this Ainslie Wool Rug. With a stylish, bold stripe design in contrasting tones, this rug will enhance any modern room setting.

TajFor a dining room, a rug with a flatter weave is better so the chair legs don’t snag the pile. Our gorgeous Taj Agra rugs are one-of-a-kind, hand-woven rugs that come in a variety of floral motifs. The designs echo the traditional Moghal style of central Asia and are made from 100% antique washed wool and available in six sizes (bespoke sizes can also be ordered).

BeauticiousFor a bedroom, pale colours and a deeper pile offer the most warmth and comfort for the space (and your bare feet) like the Beauticious pure wool rug. Its super smooth threads give a sumptuous, wonderfully soft feel. It’s available in a number of colours and in three standard sizes.

BelleOur Belle rugs feature intricate striped patterns in creams and greys and are perfect in a contemporary setting. An understated graphical design brings a modern sophistication to the living room. Made from 100% wool and available in two standard sizes, bespoke sizes can also be ordered.

You can view the entire Shimu rug collection online and order a free sample of any rug.