Title Image

Masters of Chinoiserie

Masters of Chinoiserie

Did you happen to see House Beautiful’s March 2012 “Going Green” issue?  In it, they feature a house decorated by well-known interior designer Meg Braff, who I’m convinced is the queen of Chinoiserie.  Her rooms are divine!  She always adds a Chinoiserie punch to otherwise traditional spaces.

{ Note the teal foo dogs and matching gourd lamps; via House Beautiful }
{ Bright pop of green on the walls and Asian-inspired toile on the headboard and loveseat (Schumacher’s Starry Night); via House Beautiful }
Here are a few more Meg Braff creations:
That’s nice, you say, but what exactly is Chinoiserie?  Chinoiserie is basically taking a room that is rooted in a traditional sensibility and then adding a preppy, Asian-influenced kick. 

An equally known queen of Chinoiserie is Mary McDonald, whom I couldn’t get enough of on Bravo’s TV’s Million Dollar Decorators.  She’s very Beverly Hills-glam-drama and is an absolute design genius.

I’ll never forget first laying eyes on her office, featured in Domino Magazine a few years ago.  I thought I had died and gone to Chinoiserie heaven!

{ via Domino Magazine }

Another Mary McDonald original:

mary mcdonald guest room
{ I think this picture was also in Domino; if memory serves, it was someone’s guest room. I have often obsessed over those orange monogrammed shams coupled with the navy greek key throw pillows. }
Another Mary McDonald creation, this time more refined and subdued. Note the kick of Chinoiserie in the lucite coffee table!
mary mcdonald lucite table

I usually wouldn’t trust anyone who calls decorating “deliiiiicious!” but Martyn Lawrence Bullard obviously knows what he’s doing. He happens to be another designer featured on Million Dollar Decorators, and he’s really hit the big time in recent years!  Every time I open Architectural Digest another home of his is featured. 

Bullard’s aesthetic typically trends more Moroccan and Moorish than Chinoiserie, but check out a dining room of his featured in House Beautiful a few months ago:

martyn lawrence bullard dining room

What is it about Chinoiserie that makes a room hum?  I think there’s something about Chinoiserie that is unexpected and even humorous.  Note the clever pagoda chandelier above – what if it were a traditional crystal or old-fashioned brass chandelier instead?  Coupled with the other traditional elements in the room it would just be SO serious.  But the pagoda chandelier relaxes us (even makes us laugh!) and provides some real interest in the room.

Of course, not all Chinoiserie is ha-ha funny, but there is something about its whimsical touch.  Whether it be a darling pair of foo dogs or a splash of “out-there” orange lacquer, Chinoiserie keeps it traditional, and also keeps it interesting.

  • Liz Crawford

    July 10, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    I love the green buffalo check; could you tell me who makes it? Thanks, Liz

    • Tracy Murphy

      August 30, 2013 at 8:14 PM

      I don’t want to overstep (this is my first post to this site) but the fabric is Laura Ashley for Kravet. The pattern is Springfield in the colorway Mist. It’s available to the trade, or online through several websites, and ranges from about $47 to $58/yard ($77 retail).

      Hope that helps if you’re still looking!