What is Chinoiserie?

Chinoiserie is a word that pops up more regularly in interior décor and you see it in magazines and on social media.  So, what is Chinoiserie?

Chinoiserie is a Western decorative style in furniture, architecture and art that was inspired, and is characterised, by Eastern styles and motifs.  “Chinois” is the French word for “Chinese”.  It originates in the 1800’s.   Having originated in this period, Chinoiserie is often combined with Rococo and Baroque styles that were popular during this period.

It is a blend of two styles:  elegant European styles and exotic and colourful Asian art.  You will see imaginative designs especially in wallpaper, lush gardens with flowers and birds, scenery, and highly decorated finishes.


Examples of such art is:

Pictures taken at LaPerle's visit to Versaille, Paris, France


This style is known for its asymmetrical forms, blue-and-white motifs that are known to Chinese porcelain, as well as extensive gilding.  Think Marie-Antoinette’s Versailles palace.

Chinese patterns and figures, and extravagant scenery are also characteristic to Chinoiserie.


 Interesting facts:

  • Blue and white porcelain is called Qinghua (/ching-hwaa/'blue flowers) It is the most well-known porcelain in the world and China’s most famous china.  It is an underglazed ceramic, decorated normally in a blue cobalt oxide and has been manufactured for over a 1000 years.
  • Blue and white décor is called Chinoiserie Chic


Let’s differentiate between Chinoiserie, Toile and Delft

In short: 

Toile is a design that originated in France.  The pattern illustrates a scene e.g., a landscape.  Sometimes with people and animals. 

Toile is French for “canvas” or “linen cloth” and is mainly used on fabrics.

Chinoiserie is similar but with definitive Chinese patterns as you will find on ginger jars. Symbols like fish, Asian architecture and flowers are used.

Delft is a European style from the Netherlands that uses symbols like windmills and clogs. It is white, glazed porcelain with hand painted blue images.  It originates in the 16th century and is an alternative to Chinese porcelain. 


    French Toile                  Chinoiserie                    Dutch Delft


Let’s get back to Chinoiserie and how you can incorparate it into your home:

Cinoiserie is all about lively colours, patterns and exotic motifs, so it is important to find a balance between old and new.  And should I say:  you should not be afraid of using colour.  Cherry red, Burnt orange, Turquoise and Emerald green – all the colours of a peacock.


  • Wallpaper

Chinoiserie and wallpaper are synonymous.  It was originally handpainted on paper of fabric – even on silk.  Nowadays we print it on wallpaper. 

It will make a definite statement and is the most effective accent wall you’ll get.  Chinoiserie wallpaper works well in powder rooms, dining or living rooms and even in nurseries.

If wallpaper is maybe a bit too much for you, then framed wallpaper coverings may be more suitable.  It is also a more cost effective way of incorporating Chinoiserie to your home.  It also makes sense if you are in a rental.








  • Scatter cushions

Chinoiserie inspired scatter cushions adds colour and will create a major impact without spending a lot of money.   The bold colour patterns works well with other geometric patterns, so you can use some of your existing scatters.

It is a great way to add a pop of colur to a serene room which might need a bit of life.




  • Other Chinoiserie inspired décor items

Ginger jars, blue and white plates, gilded mirrors, folding screens, Chinoiserie inspired furniture or fabric…. You can incorporate the Chinoiserie style to create your own personal style.


We hope you love Chinoiserie as much as we do.  Have al ook at our Chinoiserie inspired wallpapes and scatter cushions – you will love it!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.