The French have long been known as masters of art and design. One of our favorite interior styles is chinoiserie, a European interpretation of Asian decor that permeated through the 17th and 18th centuries. During that time, Europe was trading with Asia and aristocrats became enthralled with the style. It made appearances in castles and estates and was often mixed in with ornate rococo style. Today’s modern take incorporates the luxury concept and adds contemporary twists that you will love.
Chinoiserie is Timeless
Design styles with strong European roots are often the most timeless. Use a few staple ingredients and then reinterpret as you like! The most coveted elements of chinoiserie decor are black lacquered wood, Chinese ceramics, and Asian motifs. Look for ways you can use modern furnishings with a Chinese flavor. Our article on hexagons shows you smart ways to use geometric shapes in interesting ways. A laser-cut dining table made from brass-plated steel sheeting works with ornate to transitional decor. Top it with several malachite and Asian-inspired vases. Add a zebra area rug for a contemporary dining room that is trés chic, indeed!
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Make it Modern
Incorporate Asian tropical decor for a luxurious stay-cay vibe in your home. Banana leaf wallpaper is a bold, tropical favorite used by modern chinoiserie interior decorators. Mix antiques (like a Chinese black and gold chest) with bold color choices (such as hot pink) to bring decor from the century of enlightenment into the now. Take a look at our article on how to incorporate gold into minimal decor for more inspiration.
Dying to give a room a makeover? One of the best interior decorators working with chinoiserie today is Beth Connolly. Take a look at her blog for style ideas and details on fabrics and decor. She uses bold color choices and expert implementation of the 18th-century style. Reupholstering a chair is fairly easy. Upcycle a vintage beauty in Asian scenic or geometric prints.
Say it With Wallpaper
If you’ve got a small space to decorate, consider going big with style. Wallpaper with beautiful chinoiserie designs gives any space instant glamour. If you’re on a budget, a framed wall mural will do in a pinch. Going for the gold? Look for handpainted wallpapers by Gracie or de Gournay. These are not for the temporary home dwellers or the faint-of-heart!
All Hail Dorothy Draper
Another notable designer is Dorothy Draper, the first woman to professionalize interior design. Dorothy often used chinoiserie chic staples such as black lacquer and vibrant, splashy colors. She felt that people were elevated by beautiful environments and we agree! Check out her Instagram @dorothydraperco or her shop for ideas and decor. If you fell in love with jungle decor, you must have roots in this equally eclectic style.
The Right Textiles
Attention to detail and a strong sense of eclecticism makes this design style work best. Sophisticated and fun, modern chinoiserie decor is a mix of East and West. Combine antique Asian furniture with animal prints. zebra, leopard, and antelope are especially perfect. Wander over to our article on area rugs to learn how to choose the proper size for your room. Then, browse through Charish’s collection of vintage Asain rugs to up the “wow” factor!
Modern + Classic
Time to freshen things up a bit! Add chinoiserie style with a few Chinese ceramics or a piece of black lacquered furniture. These are fairly easy to find at local vintage stores and online. Be bold with your interior and remember to balance busy patterns with bright pops of color. Look for interior decorators who implement the style fearlessly and add your own twist.