Chinoiserie Chic


Like many of you, my home is my favorite place in the world, and I’m always looking for ways to show it some love. I was recently inspired by a magazine cover featuring blue and white chinoiserie vases. I love the crisp, classic look of blue and white together. I happened to have a couple of porcelain vases stored in the attic, so I decided to re-decorate our fireplace mantle. I was very pleased with the results, especially when I found an inexpensive piece of chinoiserie-inspired art to complete the look. (See photo above.)

Every time I see the word chinoiserie, I question how to say it. The word is correctly pronounced shēēn – waa -zr – ēē. The emphasis is on the the first syllable and the e-sounds are long. That reminds me of a great line in a not-so-great movie in which Mike Myers’ character says, “I put the emphasis on the wrong syllable.” Most English teachers find that line absolutely hilarious, but I digress.

Chinoiserie comes from the French word for Chinese. This 17th and 18th century design style represents a European interpretation of Asian culture and decorative arts. It includes much more than blue and white patterns on jars and vases, and I’ve discovered I am particularly drawn to its bird and floral motifs.

My grandmother had two deep orange chinoiserie vases in her home that came from her travels. Thankfully, we can all mimic this style from our local home decor stores for a fraction of the cost. Chinoiserie has become a timeless style that can add elegance to our homes.

Even if you don’t choose to use this style in your house, you can always enjoy it by thumbing through an art book or magazine. I’ll leave you with a few beautiful photographs to look at while you practice saying the very tricky word chinoiserie. §

“Home, the spot of earth supremely blessed, a dearer sweeter spot than all the rest.”
~ Robert Montgomery

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