Still on a high from my trip to Asia, it seems only fitting to pay homage to the East’s contributions to contemporary interior design. Since the 17th century, Asian decorative arts have fascinated the West. Fueled by admiration for the mysterious and exotic, Europeans distilled Eastern motifs into a whimsical, romanticized style known as chinoiserie. While most cultural influences fall in and out of style, chinoiserie has enjoyed unmatched endurance. Ceramic garden stools, ginger jars, and hand-painted wallpapers depicting trees and birds are common place in some of today’s most celebrated interiors. And in this modern age, more authentic Asian furnishings–not to mention textiles–are more accessible than ever. So, without further adieu, I give you 14 jaw-dropping chinoiserie and Asian-inspired rooms…
This bedroom expertly mixes cultural references; however, the Asian influences among them are perhaps the most palpable. The walls are wrapped in texture-adding grasscloth in a moody teal shade (which–by the way–is 1 of 7 Fool-Proof Wall Colors). Lacquered folding screens flank the bed paired with stylized bamboo chairs, enveloping the space with Asian flair.
In this show house dining room, the Eastern allusions are more subtle. The art on the far wall could arguably be construed as Asian-inspired with birds in flight, rendered in gold leaf. The drapes too are a fretwork pattern, which is commonly associated with chinoiserie decor.
A motley of far-flung treasures from the East congregate in this guest room. The chinoiserie cabinet is topped with a fish bowl planter. The headboard is draped with (what I can only guess is) a fabric remnant from some breath-taking kimono. All of this is set off by the silver mylar wall covering–a suitable, updated alternative to silver leaf. (Bonus: see the living room of this house in one of my previous posts.)
The pagoda day bed in this space provides for a stunning focal point that is unmistakably chinoiserie. The mural also contributes to the exotic feel. However, everything else in the room takes on a more streamlined and modern air, ushering the space into the present and allowing the showstoppers to do their job uninterrupted. The balance is achieved pretty much perfect.
Although as of late Kelly Wearstler’s work has skewed edgy, enchanting spaces with traditional leanings can be found in her body of work. Above is one such example: the dining room of her former Hillcrest Estate. Although the architecture is clearly modern, that didn’t stop Wearstler from filling her home with exotic antiques. Here, East and West mingle to the delight of anyone lucky enough to dine in this space.
The interior of this Cape Cod home (which contains another room that was also featured previously on Motley Decor) is coated completely in this seductive, pine green lacquer. In the bedroom–as you can see–it makes the blossom tones of the Chinese pillows sing. The pierced fretwork shutters usurp the undersized art in prominence and anoint the room with both light and chinoiserie vibes.
It’s no surprise that an avid collector like Eddie Ross would have an eclectic home. His living room is a testament to this and a celebration of many cultures. Asian references are counted among them. Just look at that chinoiserie folding screen, that ceramic garden stool, that bamboo chest, those ginger jars…
Windsor Smith, a designer known for her laid back yet elegant style, is responsible for this arresting vignette. That pearly wallpaper with a chinoiserie motif is enough to inspire envy even in the most uncovetous of hearts. (Mine is among them.) The tone-on-tone layering of other white objets–the matte and shiny ceramics along the dull, fibrous linen of the chairs–is beautifully executed. At the center is an Asian cabinet in stark, weighty black that delivers a surprising but welcome contrast. Crystal sconces and brass hardware deliver an extra dose of glamour.
In this blue lacquered cave of a room lies a myriad of Eastern inspirations. Where to start? The palette of blue and white is characteristic of chinoiserie decor–as is the Greek key rug. Asian textiles and pottery pepper the far wall. The luminous gold leaf ceiling radiates Eastern elegance. Even the conical cocktail tables–though contemporary–feel rooted in Asian design. This home also contains a gorgeous blue & white, Asian-inspired bathroom.
The first time I saw this room, I vowed to one day lacquer dining chairs in a candied apple red. These Chippendale specimens ooze character–especially set against the backdrop of the neutral-hued chinoiserie wallpaper.
Still, large doses of saturated color are not a prerequisite for an inspiring chinoiserie space, as illustrated by this show house living room. In a sea of white, cream, beige, and tan; whispers from the East rise above the din in the form of striking patterns and shapely silhouettes. Again we see the Greek key motif, trimming the ottoman. Swirling clouds adorn the side table. And Chinese figurines, along with curvaceous urns, stand guard at the mantel.
Taking on a more light-hearted and laid back feel is Nick Olsen’s dining room. In a clever and unexpected pairing, Chinese Chippendale-like chairs bring Danish midcentury modern perches to the table. Red vinyl upholstery unites the two styles. A thin band of chinoiserie wallpaper lines the walls and, in this setting, trapezoid lampshades are reminiscent of pagodas.
Let’s end on a high note. Shall we? Enter: Hutton Wilkinson, who embraced chinoiserie with enough zeal and grandeur to rival an 18th century aristocrat. His walls are koi fish orange, juxtaposing his collection of jade green ceramics. A generous strip of gold leaf highlights his art and penchant for symmetry. Intricate garden stools and pagoda statues satisfy the need for sculptural elements. This celebrated maximalist and right hand man to the late Tony Duquette never fails to amaze. Be sure to check out Hutton Wilkinson’s dining room too!