How to introduce Chinoiserie to a room

I just love the extravagant, asymmetrical decoration of Chinoiserie.

It really is quite captivating and whenever I look closely at a design I’ve seen many times before I always seem to spot something new.

Chinoiserie is firmly rooted in oriental design and first became popular in Europe in the 18th century. One of my team, who is from Paris, reminded me the other day that the name comes from the French word for Chinese – Chinois.

Our most popular Chinoiserie design is the aptly named Cathay, which we use to make the most luxurious cushions, art panels and couture fabric. It also comes as a beautiful silk fabric, which we often use for soft furnishings.

Cathay is a recognisable Chinoiserie design in every way. It might be one of my favourites, but I wouldn’t fill an entire room with it.

If, like me, you prefer a more subtle approach, there are many ways to introduce Chinoiserie to your home.


It can often have more of an impact. I think this is why our Cathay cushion is so popular – it makes an eye-catching addition to a room, particularly if it’s just one single cushion. Our Papageno cushion is equally gorgeous and perhaps less typically Chinoiserie.

Equally you could consider a piece of furniture or a mirror, which can bring focal interest to your room. We’ve just introduced some new Chinoiserie style mirrors to our collection which come in a wide range of finishes to suit your décor. They are intricately hand carved and make a rather bold statement.


While I love the extravagant style of Chinoiserie I do think it has a tendency to become a little over the top if it’s overused. If I had a room with Chinoiserie wallpaper I would tend to add more subtle pieces of upholstered furniture if I wanted to continue the look, perhaps using a plain fabric.

For example, the shapely lines of the Palmerston chair, while not overtly Chinoiserie, takes inspiration from the style and therefore sits perfectly alongside the more extravagant décor. And while our Clarence sofa dates back to the Regency period, its pagoda shaped back takes on an oriental feel.

While I wouldn’t categorise either piece as Chinoiserie, I see the particular elements of the style which is why I think they would make the perfectly stylish partner.

Filed in Latest News, by Alta Semper. 0 comments
Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.