Vintage wallpapers have made a massive comeback in interior design, and the classic Eastern-influenced wallpaper called Chinoiserie is no exception. Filled with natural motifs, brilliant tropical colors, and romantic air, chinoiserie wallpaper is the kind of luxurious wall covering you need for a lounge, bedroom, or even a stylish bathroom.
Let’s explore the history of this fascinating and beautiful wall art, its key characteristics, and how you can incorporate it into your home.
History of Chinoiserie
Chinoiserie emerged in the mid-17th century in Europe, gracing the homes of nobles and royalty. The name comes from the French word “chinois,” which means Chinese, and the patterns seen in the wallpaper, fabrics, and porcelain of the time demonstrate why. The artistic and stylish designs are all hand-painted, and the images depicting beautiful flowers and exotic birds of the Far East form a pattern that never repeats.
Chinoiserie was heavily influenced by China, as well as Japan and the Far East in general. When chinoiserie designs gained popularity, Europe was very active in colonizing that part of the world, bringing back the imagery and artistic techniques of those far-off lands. Chinoiserie wallpapers were not a part of Chinese traditions but were inspired by them.
Chinoiserie designs waned in popularity by the mid 18th century but continued through to the 19th century, declining after the First Opium War (1839-1842), which was fought between China and Britain. Chinoiserie re-emerged in the 1920s when the Far East’s style and society gained popularity once again.
Today, chinoiserie wallpaper is once again surging in popularity. Though it is a vintage style of interior design, the look and feel of the wallcoverings lend themselves to both classic and modern interiors. They can complement the current interior design or contrast it successfully. If your interiors need an injection of romance, charm, and the exotic, chinoiserie wallpaper is an excellent choice.
Chinoiserie Wallpaper Characteristics
Chinoiserie wallpapers have many unique characteristics that set them apart from every other kind of wallpaper. First, they are not, in fact, paper but 100% silk material. The backing, made of rice paper, provides a solid foundation and helps stave off deterioration.
The designs of chinoiserie wallpaper are hand-painted using tempera or gouache paints. These silk paints give a luxurious watercolor look to the designs, which are all intricate and unique. Rich colors are used to paint the motifs, depicting the Far East’s flora and fauna.
When on the wall, Chinoiserie creates a mural effect and may encase an entire room in design, working around doors and windows effortless due to the non-repeating pattern.
Modern chinoiserie wallpaper uses adhesive and may even be removed, a great advantage when applying the exotic papers and you need to reposition a portion.
Using Chinoiserie Wallpaper
Chinoiserie wallpaper may be used in a variety of ways in your rooms. The lack of repeating patterns and the ease of removal and reapplication means you can experiment a bit. Here are some ideas for how you can use chinoiserie wallpaper to inject some bold and exotic beauty into your home.
Surrounded By Nature
Chinoiserie wallpapers are made to cover large expanses of walls, making them perfect for creating an exotic bedroom retreat. With a relaxing green or blue background and plenty of flowers, trees, and buds gracing the mural-like design, it’s a quick way to make a room spectacular.
Full wallpapering is also a good choice for a living room or sitting room, and areas of a whole wall in a library or lounge can be wallpapered, bringing the space and air of the outdoors.
Inserts and Accents
If full wall coverage isn’t the ideal choice for your space, you can use chinoiserie wallpaper on an accent wall. Choosing a wall in the room and using this beautiful wallpaper creates a thematic focal point, helping to bring the entire room together. You may also want to limit the wallpaper to a portion of the wall, such as space in a dining room above a chair rail.
Chinoiserie wallpaper may also be used in small pieces. With the addition of some crown molding and careful attention to the pattern, you can create a unique window to the outside world with your wallpaper. The effect is like a series of windows, with flora and fauna of the Far East visible.
Wallpaper designs may also be available in fabrics, allowing you to bring more attention to the design and unite the room as a whole with the addition of patterned accent pillows, table-toppers, or even painted rugs.
Learn More About Chinoiserie Wallpaper
In general, Chinoiserie wallpaper and chinoiserie design are all about adding a touch of the exotic to your interiors. Want to learn more about Chinoiserie and how you can incorporate it into your interior home design? Sign up for Kristina Wolf’s House of Design newsletter to stay in the know with all the latest interior design tips and ideas.