As far as my relationship with European design goes, we’re basically BFFs. There were so many subjects that I loved while I was going to school for interior design; but my most favorite times were when we discussed European design influences. Enter: Chinoiserie.
The word ‘chinoiserie’ is ridiculously fun to say, and almost as chic as its shortened version, ‘Chinois,’ which means ‘Chinese.’ Yes, we’re talking Europe’s take on the classic elements of Chinese design, architecture, and even literature and performing arts. It seems the Europeans were intent on copying this style, with their own flair for the drama, of course.
The elements are considered to be feminine, and in my experience people either love or hate the style altogether. Chances are if you are a fan of French design and especially the Rococo period, you love Chinois (almost) as much as I do. 😉
Ways to Implement Chinoiserie (AKA…now we look at some pretty pictures)
Obviously not for the faint of heart, this has huge impact and requires a big commitment. But if you’re Chinoiserie’s Number Two Fan (I’m Number One, heh), then this will not seem scary to you — only the epitome of style!
Repetitive Wall Coverings
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Using a wallpaper with one consistent pattern is a little bit busier for the eye, but invokes a feeling rather than a story. The great thing about Chinoiserie is that it is a pretty neutral design element — it can swing from traditional to ultra-contemporary depending on what you pair it with in a space. It’s a very specific but also very versatile pattern.
Furniture and Soft Goods/Accents
There’s nothing more beautiful than this secretary. I’m sorry, there’s just not. This is literally my DREAM piece of furniture. Try Chinoiserie on for size with gorgeous statements like this, or with soft goods and accents like pillows or draperies. Textiles are your friend.
Framed Wallpaper Sections
If you don’t have the $$ to buy a full wall of paper, just add a little statement by framing a pretty section of Chinois wallpaper. Erin from Elements of Style has done this expertly in her bedroom. You still get that feminine feeling for a fraction of the cost.
Jars, Vases, Canisters, etc.
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Probably the simplest and most accessible way to add Chinoiserie vibes to your space is with ceramics. Create a grouping for a collected-over-time look, or just accent with one piece — the effect is classic and beautiful, even to a modern space!