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 dont have to take a 16-hour flight to give your home a touch of the Far East. Thats where the Chinoiserie (sheen-WAH-zer-ee)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, its 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 a prominent feature in Chinoiserie, never taking a backseat to accessories or architecture. And sometimes, color is whats missing, but what stands out most. White porcelain dragons, ginger jars, garden stools, or white furniture all 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, big bold designs or wallpaper, Chinoiserie-accented walls make a statement thats daring and luxurious. Often, theyll 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 youd like to impart that oh-so-stylish Chinoiserie look in your home, it helps to know how to make the most impact. Without a doubt, color leads the way. Look for unique colors like deep teal, dark fuchsia, robins egg blue, or lime green and dont be shy about using them.
Go graphic: Many Chinese patterns are highly geometric; your look doesnt 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 youre 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 youre hunting for a garden stool to stand-in as a side table. Look no farther than San Franciscos Gumps Department store ( gumps.com). Whether you want interlocking circles, fu dogs or garden stools in Easter egg colors, youll find them there, plus a variety of other Chinois accents.
For a full-on variety of Chinoiserie, also take a look at Inside Avenues Chinoiserie collection ( insideavenue.com). For both sites, check under Shop by Style.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less