Friday, September 10, 2010

The Blenheim Suite: The finer details....

Many of the great Georgian houses of Britain had a Chinese room. The Blenheim suite is going to be our Chinese room.

Chinoiserie, from 'chinois' the French for Chinese, was a style inspired by art and design from China, Japan and other Asian countries. In the 18th century porcelain, silk and lacquerware imported from China and Japan were extremely fashionable. This led many British designers and craftsmen to imitate Asian designs and to create their own fanciful versions of the East. The style was at its height from 1750 to 1765.

Above: The old Silk Road which stretched between Europe and the Far East. Chinese porcelain and silk flooded to the West after China eased its restrictions on foreign trade in 1684.

The Chinese Room in Claydon House has the most elaborate Chinoiserie interior surviving in Britain. It was designed in 1769 by Luke Lightfoot. Above each door is a pagoda motif supported by Chinese figures.

Oriental faces also appear among the flowers around the chimney-piece. The most remarkable part of the room is the tea alcove which is painted with a latticework design and covered in an abundance of Chinoiserie details.

Hand painted chinese wallpaper was also de rigeur...

Today there are many good quality machine manufactured chinoiserie wallpapers...

Here is the [limited] range of chinoiserie wallpapers, in duck egg blue, that we've found so far...

Above and Below: Colefax and Fowler Chinese Toile Pattern in aqua colour, with swatch of matching fabric. Lovely Chinese theme, but it has only 2 colours - beige and blue.

Below: Colefax and Fowler Rousillon pattern in aqua colour, with a complimenting fabric swatch. I like the metallic gold paint of the blue background.
In the full pattern the branches form a diamond shaped lattice.

Below: 3 Fabric options

Below: The Colefax and Fowler Marchwood pattern in aqua colour. I like the magnolias. They add some colour to the duck egg blue, but are not explicitly Chinese.

Ideally we would like a duck egg blue background with a more colourful foreground pattern, which was particularly Chinese in its motifs.

Which one of the above 3 papers do you like the most???

The Blenheim suite will also showcase much of our Chinese porcelain and furniture.
Here are some ideas of the style we are plumbing for from other houses:

Chinoiserie Laquerware...

Orientally inspired screens...

A mixture of 17-18th century gilded furniture

Oriental Mirrors

Sconces with Chinese porcelain

For more inspiration for the Chinoiserie lovers out there, check out this excellent blog... Chinoiserie Chic


  1. I adore the gold silk panel from de Gorunay, what aboy Cole & Son Hummingbirds in aqua, lovely details and colors

    I have the pale cream/ dark blue version of Chinese Toile from Colefax & Fowler in my dressingroom, totally love it,

    I live in Sweden and bird prints/ motives are huge in interior designs here.

    Thanks for a great blog!

  2. The gold paper first and the jap Magnola next. The green chest is beautiful. I love chinese decor.


  3. What a lovely scheme. The duck egg color is wonderful. Thibaut has a nice selection of chinoserie fabrics and wallcoverings too, all quite affordable.

  4. David, this is an amazing post! I started a file on chinoiserie papers and it can not compare to what you have shown here. I have to thank you for taking the time to give us all a history lesson. I learned so much thru this post and am off to find out more about Claydon House. Before I do...
    Duck egg blue is a perfect choice and a tricky one. Which room will use it in and what sort of natural light do you have? Like you, I like the magnolia's in the Marchwood pattern. You are bringing a bit of the tropics with you...something I miss about living in New Zealand, the easy distance to the South Pacific.
    Of the three fabric options you showed I prefer the far left. I like the 'earthy' appeal of it and that is the northern hemisphere talking in me as we transition into autumn :)
    My two cents for what it is worth. I have lots of photos waiting in the wings of Scottish Castles and English Estates that I have been to these past months. All waiting for a bit of research, just like you have done here. I should send them to you!

    Best wishes for a wonderful weekend. I hope you let us know which one you choose...can you let me know when you do?

    Best wishes


  5. The C&F Marchwood paper does it for me David. I do love Chinoiserie, but sadly it's not an option here at 'That 70's House'!
    Millie ^_^

  6. Good morning,
    Firstly, thank you for sharing your designing process; what a find for an unashamed aesthete!

    I am trawling the internet for Chinoiserie papers for a new neoclassical style country residence. Kevin Mc should start a new series, "Audacious Designs", me as first expose/ nutter, and I think I should have had an 18th C Industrialist as client/ lover paying the bills ..anyhow,my search had the serendipidous pleasure of revealing your beautiful, intelligent design blog.
    I am seriously considering the Olympian challenge of designing papers of my own, as nothing I have seen so far has the right balance of exotic whimsy coupled with strengh and ancient balance that I love in the faded laquer of my Chinese antiques.
    I like your choices, but wonder if you could find a more complex, evocative and interesting paper for your Chinoiserie room?


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