chinoiserie (chi·noi·serie): A style reflecting Chinese influence or Asian motifs through use of elaborate decoration and intricate patterns. Literally translated from French as "Chinese-esque," this style of decorative art was especially popular in the mid-18th century. 

I am in love with chinoiserie.  I can thank my mother for this. 
Storytime........When most kids were likely having OJ, pancakes, and sausage links for breakfast, my mother served us café au lait, jam-smeared baguette, and delicate Chinese dumplings.

I was already a weird kid and my mother didn't help matters.

She was raised in a country where remnants of French colonial rule were still visible in the architecture and culture; and in a family where British colonial influence still showed up in the form of afternoon tea.  It wasn't extraordinary to have Vietnamese tea and spring rolls alongside flaky, buttery croissants as my afterschool snack.  Nor was it strange to devour milky, foamy French coffee and savory Chinese dumplings for breakfast.  I was a ten yr old kid sipping so-called growth-stunting coffee (but at 5'5, I'm gargantuan in comparison to other women in my family).
There is still a triptych in my mother's foyer depicting the Indochine countryside, dotted with various scenes (inlaid with mother of pearl, gold leaf, and lacquered to a fine shine).  The Asian version of toile, if you will.  Flanking her front stoop are a pair of dutiful alabaster Foo dogs, forever leering at the neighbors. She still has a slippery coverlet on her bed, displaying an embroidered cacophany of peonies, branches, and birds, not unlike this famed wallpaper:
Mom knew what she was doing and still does.  Don't get me started on the big ass gilded Buddha in her entryway's alcove. 

(I swear, I'm going somewhere with this.)

  It's no wonder that I was instantly infatuated when I stumbled upon Chinoiserie Chic.  Echoes of my childhood home and a flood of fun décor memories ensued.
Click on over for the onslaught of eye candy:

Further affirmation that some of us inevitably return to our roots, in some way or another.
And you?  Has your childhood home and/or family influenced your décor style?


  1. Just a suggestion.. Could you maybe make your font just a tiny bit bigger?

  2. Sorry about that Jaya. I'm having issues w/ blogger! It's the normal font size I always post in but for some reason it's not translating, so I made the size even bigger than what I usually use.

  3. That is an interesting question. I grew up with "early American" furniture--maple with lots of lathe-turned wood legs on tables, etc. At this point in my life, I don't like the style, I don't like the color it always seemed to be stained, although I have a couple of pieces in my dining room but that is only because my dad actually made them himself. Fast forward and I love maple, but it has to be the natural wood finish, not stained, and very clean lines, nothing curvy. Childhood/family influenced my decor style.

    Another influence is that I think I became a quilter because it definitely is a huge part of my cultural/familial heritage.

    So yes, to both question.

  4. Actually, I did the exact opposite.

    My mother was always very matchy-matchy-- the poofy valance matched the couch pillows which matched the dining room chair cushions. And for the longest time every room in our house was white-- I'm sorry, "Devinshire Creme".

    My apartment is full of bold colors and nothing matches anything. I hate white walls and I despise a poofy valance.


  5. Why didn't we play together as children? How did our paths NOT cross till now?

    I think I got a lot of my love of design thru my Lola. My mom is pure Julia Sugarbaker meets The Big Chill in style...but I share with my Lola a love of things that infuse texture, embody a soul, and have a hint of sparkle. From capiz shell lights to Filipino heritage seeps into my home whether I care to admit or not.

    And yes I have Filipino dolls. Mr. B finds them an ethnic voodoo they are stashed in my closet...but like any good Filipino...I have to have my stiff, immobile dolls to cherish.


  6. Well for a long time Mallards were quite the style in my childhood home - you will not see a Mallard in my house. But besides that My Mom decorated her home with enthusisam and love - I too pick items that bring enjoyment to me that I like to look at - I do not decorate for other people - those are the kinds of homes I love. Lots of charachter... Thank you for sharing and teaching me something new. I like the Chinoiserie invoked wallpaper the best.

  7. I think my mother gave me a jumping off point. She was a bit creative and artistic, which I think lead to my design and creative obsessions. I think it is wonderful to hear what an impact your mother had on you. =)

  8. totally! i keep realizing that things i love - from paint colors to furniture to accessories - that i thought i'd come to like on my own are actually the things i grew up with - i just wasn't paying attention! i'll show my mom something i got for the house, and she'll be all "yes. i like that. that's why there was one in the living room for your entire life."

  9. I adore your stories; I eat them up with a spoon.

    Speaking of eating, your childhood breakfast rocked! I would take that over IHOP anyday!

  10. Totally not the point of you rpost, but doesn't 5'5" kinda suck? We're not 'petite' but we're not 'tall', so we're just the dreaded AVERAGE. And jeans are either short or too long for me. Can I just get a nice pair of jeans that don't require heels?

  11. Best post!! You're a captivating writer!

    Ugh, don't even get me started about my childhood home...growing up Mexican in (very Nordic-influenced) Minnesota...we'll just say we were "that house". You know, the one that all of the neighbors pointed to and shook their heads. Yep, it was really that bad. My poor mom. There is a scene in the Salma Hayek movie "Fools Rush In" where she and her family "redecorate" Matthew Perry's house and it ends up looking like a themey mexican restaurant...I relate.

  12. Just found your blog from my referring url' Chinoiserie anything! Adding your blog to my blog roll. Janell

  13. How did I miss this post?!

    Anyway, YES to all of this. My father's side is Chinese Dutch Indonesian, so I TOTALLY GET IT.

    And in our family you'd be considered supermodel tall, too.



Let's get weird up in here ;-)