Hand-Painted Chinoiserie Bath Mural

Have you seen all the Chinoiserie-style wall coverings in home decor magazines?  Everywhere I look, I spy gorgeous spaces filled with exquisite hand-painted wallpaper by de Gounay or Gracie. I was so excited when a like-minded client had me paint a Chinoiserie-style mural in their guest bathroom.

Chinoiserie ("sheen-wah-zuh-ree") is a French term meaning Chinese-esque or in the Chinese style.  It can apply to any Western decorative object whose style imitates traditional Chinese art (think porcelain, lacquered furniture, foo dogs, bamboo, etc).  The craze originated in Europe in the 17- and 1800s, when people went wild for objects inspired by the "Orient" (also see Japonisme).  

For me, it's all about the walls!  

This bathroom was meant to coordinate with the adjoining guest bedroom.  The bath was previously painted a bright coral red.  You can see that their can of paint matches the bedroom fabrics nicely:

...but the all-over coral semi-gloss paint created a Red Light Special effect when guests looked in the mirror.  Not ideal.  Here is a before-and-after of what a person looks like in the red bath vs. chinoiserie bath:

I started out painting a very light pink base color that has a just a touch of coral.  Thanks to Benjamin Moore's Aura line of paint, this covered the existing bright red in one coat. 

Then I painted a faux linen effect with an almond-colored glaze on the four side walls.  The wallpapers I channeled as inspiration are painted on silk, so I wanted the subtle look of fabric to ground this mural.

Of course, a person wouldn't use silk wall coverings in a small humid bathroom.  Instead, mildew-resistant paint works beautifully!  Here is a branch extending over one side of the shower:

The research for this Chinoiserie project could have gone on forever... there are so many options!  We chose a simple floral motif.  For our palette, we kept small pops of the original coral so the bathroom still coordinates with the bedroom.  

It was especially fun to develop cute little details, like this bird:

And little Chinese-style flat chrysanthemums:

linen flower detail.jpg

Last but not least, we can't forget little details around the toilet.

I can't wait to do another mural in this style!

Oh - and a fun little 2-minute progress video for your viewing pleasure: