Style Inspiration: Chinoiserie

I grew up with humble beginnings…

My parents were married young and had kids young. It’s amazing to me the type of childhood they were able to provide for me and my two younger siblings.

Money was in short supply, and both of my parents worked multiple jobs to make ends meet.

My mom was an administrative assistant by day and went to school at night to complete her college degree.

My dad was a janitorial salesman by day and a wedding videographer on the weekends. (Yes, video has always been in my blood!).

Nevertheless, my parents made sure that we experienced things they had only dreamed of when they were growing up. We took frequent road trips to places around the country, and although we stayed in less than stellar accommodations, for us the excitement of the experience and the love of travel is all that we remember.

The Budding Decorator

We lived in a small, three bedroom home that couldn’t have been bigger than 1200 square feet.

My parents allowed us to express our creativity (within reason). One of my fondest memories is of the summer jam sessions my siblings and I used to have on our second hand instruments as we accompanied whatever song was playing on the tape recorder.

My brother loved to draw, and he would frequently cover his bedroom walls with his latest renderings. I expressed my creativity in other ways…

I shared a bedroom with my little sister for as long as I can remember, and every few months or so, I would convince my sister to help me rearrange all of our furniture. We’d stack the bunk beds one time, take them apart the next. It became a game for me to see how many different ways I could arrange the room with the same furniture. I learned what arrangements worked to maximize space, and I learned which arrangements made the room feel smaller and more closed off.

On one particular occasion when I was about ten years old, my parents allowed my sister and I to paint our bedroom a bright shade of pink. When I say pink I mean really pink…think Pepto Bismol. {Shudder}

This was my first lesson in the power of paint color choices. Choices have consequences, people!

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was expressing my creativity and latent passion for design in the only way I knew how.

You see, I was never exposed to interior decorating or even interior design as a profession. I certainly didn’t know anyone who paid someone else to decorate their home for them!

Course Adjustment

By the time I left for college, I was convinced that I wanted to be the next great corporate attorney. I entered my freshman year with a major in political science pre-law, but quickly realized that I didn’t have a passion for it.

A few months before the end of freshman year, I attended a job fair with a friend and was passed over by EVERY recruiter there because, in their words, “Political Science/Pre-Law is not a marketable major. What are you going to do if you DON’T go to law school?”

Sophomore year I decided to switch my major. I assessed my interests, talents and skills and spent hours in the library researching career options.

Remember, interior design was no where on my radar, so I decided that the field of communications was a good fit for me.

This change in major turned out to be a smart one. I excelled in my classes, finished with a solid GPA and even went back to grad school to get a Masters degree.

I spent the first ten years of my career working for prominent corporations:

  • I planned events
  • I managed corporate sponsorship programs
  • I served on community boards
  • I developed advertising and marketing plans

I had some pretty amazing experiences, and I felt sure that this would be the field I worked in for the rest of my life.

Fast forward to 2008 when my family relocated to Houston, Texas. I planned to take the first six months after we moved in to get our family settled in before starting the job search, but two months after the move we found out we were expecting our second child.

Needless to say, this pushed my job hunting timeline back. Way back.

Fanning the Flames; Fueling The Fire

After much discussion and prayer, my husband and I decided that I would try the stay-at-home-mom gig. (More on that in another post).

It was in the course of learning how to be a stay-at-home mom and getting our family settled into our new home that I began to hear whispers of a previous longing.

It wasn’t until years later that I could make the connection between the ten year old little girl rearranging her bedroom furniture and the 30-year-old mom using her creativity, resourcefulness and talent to create a stylish home for her family.

Lessons Learned

Over the next few years, I would study, practice and hone my decorating skills first in my own home then in the homes of trusting friends.

Then, friends of friends started to ask if they could pay me to help them in THEIR homes.

In 2013, I bit the bullet and formed my own company. Now, I finally had the freedom to immerse myself in all things design.

I’ve completed an interior design certification program.  I’ve read hundreds of design books, magazines, and blog posts. I’ve attended workshops, trainings and conferences. I’ve joined professional associations and received mentoring from established designers and decorators. I’ve established relationships with tradesmen and vendors. I’ve soaked in all I can to learn as much as I can about how and why design works.


Because the more I’ve been exposed to the more my knowledge and understanding of design has grown. It has been through this exposure to various design styles and elements that I’ve sharpened my skills as a decorator.

So, you’re probably wondering why I took you on this LONG trip down memory lane.

It’s because I want you to know that even a little girl who came from humble beginnings with no knowledge or understanding of this thing called interior design could eventually realize that this could become her passion in life.  All it took was being exposed to people, places and things outside of the bubble she grew up in.

In that vein, today I want to expose you to a style that is becoming one of my favorites.

Here’s the scoop:

Style Classification: Traditional

Distinctive Elements: bamboo fret back chairs, pagoda lanterns, silk screens, lacquered painted furniture

Regional Influence: The style has Chinese artistic influences although it originated in Europe.


Chinoiserie-Inspired Rooms

chinoiserie interior design
I love so much about this room! Ashley Whittaker Interiors chose a beautiful color palette and used fabrics beautifully to create this colorful and welcoming dining room. Chinoiserie elements: the lantern pendant light, the floral print on the seat of the chairs and the blue and white color palette splashed with hints of red.


chinoiserie interior design
This bedroom in Brooklyn Heights design by Nick Olsen is packed with pattern and color.
Chinoiserie Elements: the ornate gold mirror, the fret work on the console table, the blue and white porcelain jars, the oriental rug, and the fabrics on the linens/pillows.


chinoiserie interior design
Mark Sikes designed this gorgeous vignette for Hollyhock. Chinoiserie elements: the blue and white color scheme, the wallpaper, the long neck jar.


chinoiserie interior design
These framed Chinoiserie panels are layered over grasscloth wallpaper.  Chinoiserie elements: the framed panels, and the pulls and detailing on the chest of drawers.


chinoiserie interior design
This beautiful vignette was designed by Tobi Fairley. Chinoiserie elements: the blue and white porcelean jars.


chinoiserie interior design
This dining room is definitely Chinoiserie inspired! Chinoiserie elements: fret work bamboo chairs, the pagoda style lantern, the ornate gold mirror over the buffet.


chinoiserie interior design
What I love most about this space is the fresh color palette. Chinoiserie elements: The two red and white canvases and the gorgeous turquoise accent chair upholstered in the red and white fabric.


So what do you think about this style? Are you a fan? Let me know in the comments below!

Author: Arianne Bellizaire

Interior designer, blogger, and public speaker Arianne Bellizaire creates spaces that are beautiful yet highly functional for her clients. She served as one of only nine 2015 High Point Market Authority Style Spotters, and she has been featured in Rue Magazine, House Beautiful Online, GoodHousekeeping, EditorAtLarge, U.S. News & World Report, Roomhints,, USA Today, and MyFitItUpLife!

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  • Isn’t it amazing what can be accomplished when you follow your passion? Do what you love & love what you do has always been my mantra. As for Chinoisorie, hmmm – I’ve never used it as a dominant theme, but I always put a touch of it in every room. I especially love the fabric on those turquoise accent chairs.