In the not-so-distant past, Asia seemed a world away. Today, the exotic cities stretching from Singapore to Shanghai and beyond are fully accessible. But you don’t have to take a 16-hour flight to give your home a touch of the Far East. That’s where the Chinoiserie (sheen-WAH-zuh-ree) style comes into play.
Fortunately, there are many resources and ways to incorporate Chinoiserie into your home decor.
Although Chinoiserie style refers to Asia – and China, more specifically – the name “Chinois” is the French term for decor that incorporates Asian accents and designs.
It was the English, however, who first popularized the style by incorporating motifs with Asian-inspired scenes onto porcelain ware.
Bold and dynamic: While Chinese style has its own appeal, Chinoiserie is decidedly more flamboyant and dramatic. In other words, it’s Chinese style with a touch of Vegas. Rather than simple bamboo chairs surrounding a dining table, the chairs are painted a bold, high-gloss fuchsia.
Color is prominent in Chinoiserie, never taking a backseat to accessories or architecture. White porcelain dragons, ginger jars, garden stools, or white furniture also make a strong impression when incorporated in Chinoiserie styling.
Take it to the wall: Another prominent feature in Chinoiserie is emphasis on wall treatments, whether with color, bold designs or wallpaper. Often, they’ll feature a raised relief or a wallpaper design that incorporates natural elements such as leaves, branches or animals. Motifs often include birds, deemed auspicious and harbingers of good news in Chinese culture.
If you’d like to impart the look in your home, it helps to know how to make the most impact. Color leads the way. Look for deep teal, dark fuchsia, robin’s egg blue, or lime green.
Go graphic: Many Chinese patterns are highly geometric; your look doesn’t all have to be all about dragons and bamboo. A quick search on a photo website such as istockphoto.com yields many geometric graphics of Chinese patterns. Purchase one, then send it to a custom mural site to enlarge and use to create your own Chinoiserie wallpaper ( muralsyourway.com).
If you’re starved for accessories to go with your Chinois style, a quick online search will lead you to everything from lime green fu dogs to a luscious, deep blue pagoda-style lamp ( charlotteandivy.com).
Maybe you’re hunting for a garden stool to use as a side table. Try San Francisco’s Gump’s Department store ( gumps.com).
For more variety, check Inside Avenue’s Chinoiserie collection( insideavenue.com).