Far East Designs in a Western Home

Janan Boehme

Many know the Winchester Mystery House to contain some bizarre features. Doors that lead to nowhere, stairs that rise directly into the ceiling. All of this for seemingly no reason at all! But what about some of the design influences? Over the next few weeks we’ll be taking a look at some of the more intricate, less talked about features of Sarah Winchester’s expansive home. This week, we’ll explore some of the more ‘Far East’ designs in our famous Western home.

Believe it or not, Sarah Winchester‘s home décor was heavily influenced by Asian styles and design. And with good reason. The Aesthetic Movement—in full sway when Sarah was building her San Jose mansion—embraced decorating styles from the Middle and Far East. These influences were especially influenced from Japan, which finally opened its borders to trade in the mid-1800s. Let’s take a look at some of these details!

Sarah’s “Oriental Rooms” quickly come to mind, with their bamboo-decorated fireplaces and Asian-influenced stained-glass windows. But there are lots of other examples.

 

Along with other Asian touches, the Front Parlor boasts elegant tiles decorated with cherry-blossoms and sunflowers in Asian ceramic vases.

The overmantel in the Guest Reception Hall looks suspiciously like the roof of a pagoda.

The twin mantels in the Morning Room and its lookalike neighbor are perfect examples of “japonesque” ebonized furniture popular during Sarah’s time. In fact, both of these rooms were probably completely furnished in the same style.

The next time you stop by to visit us at Sarah’s home, be sure to keep your eyes open for these and other “tastes of the Orient!”

What are your favorite features of these Oriental touches to Sarah Winchester’s beloved home? Leave a comment below and let us know!