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Is Chinoiserie Making a Comeback? Let’s Discuss…


image source | design by studio db

I generally like to think I’m a reasonable woman. I almost always try to see both sides of most any argument. My least favorite currently (nonpolitical category) is that my best friend’s fiance is convinced that In-N-Out Burger isn’t actually as good as us West Coasters make it out to be. His argument is that its taste is mostly wrapped up in the nostalgia of happy childhood/teen memories. While my immediate initial response was to tell him to go back to Ohio and leave our sweet In-N-Out alone, I do SLIGHTLY see his point. The food tastes like home and regardless of how overcooked the fries sometimes are, I love them. But in terms of design trend arguments, if you would have told me a couple of months ago that chinoiserie was coming back in a pretty awesome way and that I, Jessica A. Bunge would really be into it, I would have been like, sorry you are incorrect. Chinoiserie is WAY too decorative for me and can be nearly offensive to my slightly colorful but otherwise minimalist loving soul.

To be fair, the same sort of situation happened when the CONTROVERSIAL topic of lilac hit the office. With my right eyebrow raised so high that my hairline asked for space, I was convinced that I was unconvinceable (in terms of it being done well, not being a trend, because a trend it was). While lilac was nice in theory, I was staunchly standing by the fact that I was NOT a purple person. This could probably be traced back to the third grade when my then best friend told me my royal purple crushed velvet bell bottom leggings were tacky. THEY WERE FROM THE LIMITED TOO. I was more crushed than the overpriced velvet I was sporting. Also, what third grader says tacky?? Anyway, Arlyn felt strongly that she could convince me that lilac had a place in interior design and by the end of the post she won me over. My eyebrow returned to its proper location on my face and I conceded to the fact that when done well, lilac could be kinda great. Which is really the case for anything in design, right? If a style is done REALLY well, most people can and will change their tune…which is what brings me here writing about a look I could have never guessed I’d be diving into with enthusiasm.

So, are you ready to start singing that chinoiserie tune? ::insert romantic ballad here::

Emily Henderson Design Trends Modern Chinoiserie Updated Examples 5
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This is how it all went down. At first, I was seeing little bits of modern chinoiserie accents popping up on my Pinterest and Instagram. I thought okay sure, designers are wanting to mix it up a little. Then an email from a reader showed up in my inbox asking if EHD happened to know of an affordable wallpaper alternative to de Gournay, a classic chinoiserie textile company; their panels are hand-painted in place and usually $1,000+ a panel. This prompted me to ask myself if readers (and the design world, in general) were starting to really search for and wanting this style in their homes…or maybe it was just a one-off occurrence? Well, then the final confirmation came, solidifying the chinoiserie trend for me—the goop x CB2 collaboration (pictured above). I didn’t know what I was expecting when I opened that promotional email, probably a variation on California Casual, but to my surprise, it was a fresh and modern take on this very old and classic style (with a heap of Art Deco elements sprinkled in).

Emily Henderson Design Trends Modern Chinoiserie Updated Examples 11
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But before we really dive into all the ways chinoiserie is coming back into the modern world, I feel like we should learn a bit about its origins. Ready to take notes? Chinoiserie is a French word (I’m sure you could have guessed that) and is the European interpretation of Chinese and East Asian style. It first became very popular in the 18th century as trade between Asian countries and Europe grew. Having a piece in this “new” and “exotic” style showed your friends you had it going on/were very wealthy. Similar to having a self-destructing Banksy now would show you are VERY wealthy.

Emily Henderson Design Trends Modern Chinoiserie Classic Examples 2
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As you can see in the next few photos, chinoiserie in a classical sense can be VERY ornate. The art, lighting, textiles, furniture and accessories are all equally curvy, detailed and colorful. There are a lot of patterns, colors, finishes…your eye doesn’t really get a chance to relax.

Emily Henderson Design Trends Modern Chinoiserie Classic Examples 3
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I do want to be clear that I don’t totally hate this. It’s definitely not my style but it is unapologetic in its boldness and I can admire that.

Emily Henderson Design Trends Modern Chinoiserie Classic Examples 1
image source | design by miles redd

This lavish and ornate style had its first comeback (after its creation) in the US in the early 19th century and lasted until the mid-1920s. It also popped up again in the ’80s and ’90s (well, and also again about eight or so years ago), but is mostly now just a regional thing—hello Palm Beach. This is not to say it totally flatlined after that, but I think it’s fair to say that its widespread popularity dwindled for several reasons. Besides being incredibly pricey (remember, it originally said “I’m so RICH!” and not without justification), this overtly decorative and explosive style just wasn’t a thing anymore for most people in recent decades…until now. Why do you ask? Well, we have some ideas. In case you missed Arlyn’s post about Modern Maximalism, she talked about her breakup story with white walls and minimal design. And people, she is not alone.

The design world has been craving that shot of Fernet Branca…at first, its licorice scent is offputting but then after a quick swig, you are slapped across the face with the feeling of what can only be described as being truly awake and dare I say inspired. Modern chinoiserie is my Fernet shot. Pretty opposed at first but then after a few hours of seeing its new cool look, completely inspired and drunk on possibilities.

Emily Henderson Design Trends Modern Chinoiserie Updated Examples 12
image source | design by virginia gasch

This dining room installation at Casa Decor in Madrid by Virginia Gasch is a very glamorous, modern interpretation. It may not be for everyone’s dining room but it is undoubtedly a visual breath of fresh air (I mean, there are plants growing from the “rug”). The simple yet bright color palette and modern furnishings take it out of 1920 and right into 2020.

Emily Henderson Design Trends Modern Chinoiserie Updated Examples 8
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What I really loved seeing in my research was actually how versatile “toned down” chinoiserie is. Take the photo above. Arlo & Sons styled their modern upholstered sofa in a Memphis like fabric, a bright yellow industrial lamp with an updated moody chinoiserie wallpaper. While definitely not a quiet design it works, feeling fresh and cohesive.

Emily Henderson Design Trends Modern Chinoiserie Updated Examples 1
image source | design by miranda brooks

Let’s stop and admire this stunning master bedroom of Miranda Brooks and François Halard featured in Vogue. It perfectly marries the natural elements of boho, organic style (hello beautiful wood headboard I wish I owned) with the quite detailed elegance of their custom de Gournay wallpaper. I could easily move in.

Are you singing louder now?

Emily Henderson Design Trends Modern Chinoiserie Updated Examples 17
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But let’s not forgot its traditional European roots. This modern English pastel kitchen (the home of Michelle McKenna) really comes alive with the addition of the chinoiserie wallpaper on that open panel of wall. Tell me this isn’t a romantic kitchen.

Dimorestudio Hotelsaintmarc Phphilippeservent6
image source | design by dimore studio

Wallpaper is wonderful but screens were also a very big part of the chinoiserie explosion in Europe and are a great way to incorporate this style into your home in a less permanent way. As a design relationship-phobe myself (aka I don’t want to be tied down to a certain style forever) I am very into the screen look. Plus, think how functional they are when you can’t possibly make it all the way to a closet or bathroom to change. There is a private area right on the other side of the screen. They are also wonderful covers to hide ugly wall vents and can be great room dividers. Wait, I think I just convinced myself I need one immediately.

Emily Henderson Design Trends Modern Chinoiserie Updated Examples 20
image source | design by redmond aldrich design 
Emily Henderson Design Trends Modern Chinoiserie Updated Examples 3
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While having insanely expensive hand-painted wallpaper or a one-of-a-kind vintage screen is certainly the dream if chinoiserie is the style you want, it’s not the reality for most of us. But do not fear because small yet purposeful accents will still give you the romantic feelings without the completely empty wallet.

Emily Henderson Full Kitchen Reveal Waverly Frigidaire 12
photo by tessa neustadt for ehd | from: our modern country english kitchen

Take Emily’s vintage canister in her kitchen. It’s a touch of chinoiserie that sparks visual interest with its bright blue color and ornate design but doesn’t define the space in the trend. Blue-and-white ginger jars are easy enough to find at thrift stores, flea markets and estate sales. While some can be super pricey (depending on what its made of), you can usually get them for a fair price that won’t shock you.

Emily Henderson Design Trends Modern Chinoiserie Updated Examples 19
image source | design by redmond aldrich design 

Another example is in this modern and very bright room that feels like the happiest minimal Scandinavian kid’s desk area that ever lived. But with the addition of the chinoiserie lamp, the design is instantly elevated, bringing in complementary colors and sophisticated detail. It takes the vignette from simple and minimal to simple and minimal BUT WITH A SHOT OF EXCITEMENT. It’s just enough to add visual interest to a really quiet space.

Emily Henderson Design Trends Modern Chinoiserie Updated Examples 7
image source | design by arent & pyke

So in conclusion, if modern chinoiserie means more inspired rooms like this one from Arent and Pyke (one of our favorite Australian design firms) then bring it on. I am singing the praises of this hopefully resurrected aesthetic loud and hope you are, too. My eyebrow may still involuntarily rise up from time to time when faced with new trends or the repackaging of old ones but I will do my best to Pinterest before I make any final judgments. Who knows, my makeover takeover is almost complete and I might need to shake things up, so stay tuned.

Before I sign off, let’s see if I did my job. Are you on the chinoiserie train? Or are you at least feeling a little inspired to step outside of your white-walled world? Are you interested in seeing some shopping to help you achieve this look? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Fin Mark


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Wow the wallpapers look just dreamy! Love this collection.

Lots of love, Miri


That pale blue kitchen is fabulous. For me, a little bit of chinoiserie goes a long way and putting up a piece of it in that small panel takes that kitchen from generic to interesting. Plus the prospect of removing it once you get tired of it is not so overwhelming.

Another option a friend of mine did: She bought a 5 ft by 4 ft piece of wallpaper she loved and had it framed. It’s a fantastic piece of art and it goes with her wherever she moves.


I’m on the train.


Have always and will always love Chinoiserie!! And love the fresh takes on it in this post! Thank you for sharing.


I love, love, love chinoiserie and always have! I don’t agree that is seems to be coming back in fashion – I don’t think it ever left! My favourite look is a wonderful wallpaper in a room – say, a dining room – but mixed with a very contemporary light fixture and some contemporary furniture. This screams “cool girl” rather than “granny”. Sadly, many of the wallpapers that I covet are handmade and very expensive. There are some cheaper alternatives such as Griffin & Wong – to be clear, they are still expensive but not like Gracie or de Gournay. Meanwhile while I save my pennies, I have a couple of 1920’s chinoiserie framed panels on either side of my bed, some vintage blue and white as well as vintage bamboo. I try to control myself but it is hard! Please post more sources for this fabulous look!!


Agreed! Not a trend, especially here in New England. Has been in style for centuries.


Yes. One of my New England grandmothers used English Blue Willow china, which I thought was the most beautiful china in the world when I was a girl.

I have an antique Chinese handpainted wallpaper folding screen, which I love.

Never out of style, especially when used with other decor that is simpler and more neutral.


Comeback? For me it never left. Began with a set of four nesting tables my Nana had, two of which are treasures in my home.


No “get the look” (even if expensive) links??? You’ve convinced me, now show me where 🙂

Gina M Kates

Couldn’t agree more. When did it leave??


Agreed! I love this look (I think it’s been ‘on trend’ at least since Domino put it on the cover of their book … in 2012 – or when they put it in your 3d image there in like 2009), the trick is finding it – especially the wallpapers! – at a reasonable price point. It’s all over every magazine in hand-painted de Gournay or Gracie, but this is not accessible to mere mortals. I would love to see an affordable chinoiserie wallpaper roundup!


Yes, I thought of the Domino book right away. I don’t think it ever really left, but it has been trending more to the forefront.


I am SO here for the chinoiserie trend! In fact I recently wrote a blog post with some affordable chinoiserie wallpaper options I’m slowly adding some into my house and loving it!


Thanks Ashley, your roundup is great!


Ashley, Love your round up. I wanted to comment on your blog but there isn’t a comment option.

Jess, please do another post on wallpaper and accessories for chinoiserie. As a designer, I am always on the lookout for places to purchase. Also, I have been in love with chinoiserie forever. It will never go out of style for me.


That last picture….wow! The monochromatic take on chinoiserie has my heart singing. I’m a big fan of bits of chinoiserie being worked into a room. Blue and white ginger jars, hits of polished black, painted wall papers or a screen are all beautiful and make a room feel more collected and interesting. I’m not super into the explosion of color at the same time, but loved the round up. Would definitely like to see more on this style. Vive la chinoiserie!


I’m obsessed with that last picture. I think it’s the soft colors and mix of styles.

Julie Dawson



Ditto some more


That last picture…wow! I love the monochromatic take on chinoiserie. I’m a big fan of mixing bits of the style in with everything else. Would love to see more!


I LOVE it, especially the examples here. You can definitely go too far with it but so dreamy when done well.

Sarah C Bradshaw

I’ve long been inspired to step away from white walls. Sooooo tired of them (and let’s be honest, they never felt like home to me). I’m definitely a fan of the chinoiserie trend.


The 5th pic is like the Chinoiserie version of McSweeney’s epochal essay on Decorating for Autumn. “You want Chinoiserie??? I’ll give you some chinoiserie, motherf*****!”


I need an oil portrait of Jess’s eyebrow.

Jennifer R

Very interesting post. We just redid our kitchen and put up my grandma’s plates. They are blue and white kind of like Emily’s jar. They have a country-ish scene with a couple of trees, a bridge, and a couple of builings. What is the difference between chinoiserie and toile? 🙂

Susie Q.

Maybe your question is rhetorical 🙂
…but my first thought is that toile de jouy portrays scenes from French or English life, whereas chinoiserie items are Asian-inspired. Most of the images above show birds, leaves, and flowers–but chinoiserie can also show pagodas and what not. And if I’m getting picky, I’d also say that those birds, leaves, and flowers are portrayed in a more stylized, “flat” way where toile can be more realistic–there’s more depth.


toile has repeating patterns to it too, but doesn’t necessarily have to be English or French while chinoiserie is always asian inspired as it depicts asian themes.


I’m a ‘less-is-more’ on the chinoiserie train. I think Brooke Giannetti of velvet and linen nailed it with her TV cover. I could see either one wall of a bedroom lightly covered OR (not and) a duvet cover. Keep it simple or we are back to tacky! 🙂

Ashley Hoober

Absolutely love this look! I need to be sure to let my hubby know that we will be doing some chinoserie in our new house, especially the light pink flowery design
thanks for sharing,


I have the ivory color way of the Adam’s Eden wallpaper in my foyer and stairway that is featured in the Arlo & Sons image and it make me happy every single day. So yes, I’m on board! Loved the other rooms you featured as well!


Chinoiserie never left. I’m a wedding designer, and I’ve seen it show up as cool girl wedding inspo for years. Personally, I’ve loved it since an article highlighting it in an issue of Domino over a decade ago.


Chinoiserie always gives me such a nostalgic feeling because it reminds me of my grandmothers, therefore I usually like it when I see it. I love that screen and those accent pieces. I for one can dig it. In small batches. ? although, the mountain mural reminds me of one of my desert paintings and so I like it!


I kind of love it – the screen and the canister are lovely. But for me the light fixtures made the rooms! The first one and that fringe beauty are something to behold!


Love love love
Great post


I really loved your writing style – it seems like the trend other, less cool places on the internet these days is to just dump a picture and have a tiny link that just says source and call it a day. I appreciate that you had a shocking source-related reveal (OMG its GOOPxCB2!), as well as regular commentary like “Arent and Pyke (one of our favorite Austrailian design firms)”. It made me feel like I was actually learning about chinoiserie and the designers who’ve done it well, not just that I was hearing one person’s thoughts with a few photos plucked out of the ether and manhandeled into proving an arbitrary point. I guess I just like knowing my #designinspo is of the ethically-made, artisinal variety. Thanks for providing that 🙂

Julie S

I’m not really a fan, I have to say. While I can see that these rooms are well done they don’t speak to me at all! I tried some blue and white vases/flowerpots 6-7 years ago when I was getting into decorating and it didn’t fit me.
Also I agree that this style never left – it consistently shows up in classic rooms in small ways. And was on the cover of that Domino DIY decor book a decade ago. Interesting that it’s a hot trend coming more to the forefront now!
Hey, ok, I lied about never liking chinoiserie – I built intricate dollhouses and roomboxes as a middle/high schooler and I had one traditional roombox of a gentleman’s study where I installed grisaille chinoiserie wallpaper above a walnut wainscoting and I still really like that 🙂 Though not as much as the grisaille tree mural in Birdie’s old room!


This is so spooky! I have been looking for a (semi-affordable) chinoiserie wallpaper for my dining room and, instead of searching for it on google as I intended, I accidentally auto-piloted to EHD (a lunchtime ritual for me). Lo and behold I didn’t have to do additional searching, you covered everything!

Thanks, universe! (and Jess!)


I kinda feel like the nursery Emily did for her daughter with that gorgeous pastoral forest wall paper is a bit modern chinoiserie. I also think Chris loves Julia nursery with the cloud wallpaper is chinoiserie. And finally that Hygge West bird wallpaper that was trending about two years ago is chinoiserie. My point being I think the trend actually started about three years ago in drubs and drabs then the goop collar was like BAM chinoiserie is back chicks get on board. The thing about it is needs some dude balance so it doesn’t look like a throwback to 1930. Clean modern headboards and simple Scandinavia furniture. This is all just to say. I’m on board. I’ve been tracking this trend for a while. Good stuff!


Your focus here is those floral-and-birds panels, mostly via wallpapers/screens or smaller ceramics, but I think other elements of Chinoiserie have been showing up and I’m liking them. I mean like brightly colored faux bamboo geometric furniture (think those Jonathan Adler dining chairs), stepped (“pagoda”) shaped tapering especially in upholstered items like headboards, and way more rattan stuff than previous eras. I like these other elements a lot, probably because I’m drawn to deco styles with their geometric-yet-fancy motifs, and I feel like the geometric side of Chinoiserie blends well my deco elements and also reads as less feminine/traditional and a tad more masculine/modern just because, you know, geometric. (Not really a fair assessment but all that floral just goes grandma so quickly, right? Whereas interesting squared-off shapes don’t so much, at least to me.) I don’t want to post example links because it seems like maybe my comments get caught up in moderation when I do that, but if you search the term you’ll immediately see examples of what I mean. I feel like this “mod Chinoiserie” look was huge within Jonathan Adler’s collections a couple years ago so you’d find dishes and lamps and dining sets that all… Read more »


I love chinoiserie so very much. I have a collection of blue and white jam jars and I would LOVE if you pulled together a chinoiserie inspired affordable wallpaper post.


I love chinoiserie, and I’ve always loved chinoiserie. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said (to paraphrase/butcher) that just about anything can work so long as it is done well. I whole heartedly agree. I love so many things that are “out” from various decades, but take those same elements and execute them in a fresh way (new color, or texture, or styling) that works in their environment, and you can come away with a winner. This post is a prime example!




I love it, I want some for my sunroom. Roundup next?

Cris S.

Oh sure, the first time you cover a design feature that I’m actively shopping for NOW there’s no “buy the look” with links to affordable wallpaper… sigh.

Loved the article and voice. Thank you Jess!


I have always loved chinoiserie. When I see it in plates, screens, wallpaper, carpets, it always makes my heart leap.

Please do a follow-up on a range of prices for chinoiserie wallpaper.

I would never want an all-chinoiserie room, too fussy, but it would be fun to have a hotel stay in one.

Loved all your examples, so beautiful.


this is so helpful! my parents gave us some chinese antiques and i was really struggling about how to incorporate them. love these ideas


I want to throw a dinner party in that last space so badly. Love chinoiserie, always have, and particularly love these more modern takes on it.


I always wondered what this style was called! Back with Disney released the live-action Cinderella, I fell in LOVE with the house! I’m 100% a YES when it comes to chinoiserie. I’d love to see a post on affordable ways to incorporate this into our homes!


Love it. Always have when done right. And now it is even more accesible thanks to digital printing. My favorite is when skillfully juxtaposed against modern and sleek lines. The sweet & savory kinda thing.


I don’t think Chinoiserie has ever gone anywhere. It was huge during MCM design (it paired well), was huge during the 70s, 80s and 90s, and I’ve been selling vintage chinoiserie like crazy for the past 10 years. It is a style that transcends other styles. It pairs well with just about anything because it has an avant-garde side and a zen side.


I’ve always been on the train -but in accent pillows mostly, and also in some accent furniture. I love it mixed in with both traditional and contemporary decor. It is timeless to me! I’m especially fond of old bamboo – I have the most wonderful stool that I scored years ago in an antique store and I updated it with a cute seat and added it to my guest bathroom.

I always admire the boldness that you have shown above, but I am not so sure I would like it long term – but it is certainly makes for beautiful and interesting photos!

Laurel Bern

Oh my, gorgeous images- Emily! I wasn’t aware that Chinoiserie had gone away. ;] And even if it did, I don’t care. I have always loved it and always will. I also love white walls, gray walls, green walls, red walls… Good design is always on trend in my book. xo ~ Laurel

Rebekkah Davies

Total, TOTAL (and unrepentant) chinoiserie lover. Like leopard print, though, I squirm a bit when it’s called a trend. It may become more or less popular, but it is always in style when used well. I also love simplicity and minimalism – and in my mind they make each other sing! <3

Great roundup! A few really fabulous looks I haven't seen. Made my little heart happy! 🙂


I am FEELING the egg yolk yellow walls in the redmond aldrich kid’s desk image and Dabito’s dining room from last week’s post. I can’t wait to paint a room that color.

Laurel Bern

Please forgive me, Jess. Didn’t notice that you are the author. xoxo


YES please send links!
I have been on the chinoiserie train for a minute. Building my blue and white china collection, admiring super luxe wallpaper… would love some sources!


I’m from OH, had in N out for the first time this summer. I agree with your BFF’S fiance! but it’s cool. We have similar places in OH that my husband just doesn’t understand bc he’s not from around here. He can’t taste the memories like I can!


Swenson’s in northeast Ohio is soooo very good, but have you had a Maid Rite in Greenville (western Ohio)? Unreal! I kept thinking about burgers the entire time I was reading!


I have always and will always love Chinoiserie. It is my dream to own a dining room of Chinese Chippendale fretwork chairs but alas, those bad boys are hard to come by and too expensive when found.


Love it in the right place! Also love your writing! I literally laughed out loud and snorted soup at the Limited Too comment. ?


Love it when when done with modern elements!!! Yes!!!


You seemed to really do your job with this post! I’m still not on the train, but so many others seem to be. I always appreciate these posts and look forward to reading them!

Deborah Everton

I love it!

Rubie Baker

I’ve always been team Chinoiserie ever since watching Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. I sort of just want to be drenched in floral patterns. But I especially LOVE the last photo and any option to update it to include different styles.


If my house were brand new and high end, why not? I especially like it on one wall like a giant piece of landscape art. I don’t think it would it would fly in my ugly site-built seventies contemporary, but that’s true of many things.

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