Monday, February 13, 2017

Chinoiserie Wallpapers

Wallpaper in general isn't an inexpensive design element. No matter which way you choose to go, the double roll of a quality paper can run you $400+/per for things like all over prints, grasscloth, stripes, etc.. The world of decorative papers is vast, but today I want to talk about Chinoiserie papers, usually sold by the panel, typically hand-painted on smaller sheets of tea paper, and then glued together in a patch work of sorts to create the final piece.

Gracie Studios, de Gournay, and Paul Montgomery Studio are the most common names you'll find attached to these beautiful hand-painted papers - and you've seen them EVERYWHERE! They've been on the cover of just about every shelter magazine:

There are thousands of images on pinterest:

If you remember the Bravo series: Million Dollar Decorators, you'll remember that Mary McDonald redesigned her house over the last few episodes of the series. She used a custom designed Gracie paper in her bedroom:

Hundreds of decor and design blogs blog about designer's who use the papers, but there are a select few bloggers like Joni Webb (Cote de Texas), who have them in their private homes:

This is a custom designed paper, similar and custom designs are available to the trade only through Jardins en Fleur. Jardins en Fleur specializes in hand-painted silk chinoiserie screens, with a trade price of $2000+. This paper was custom designed for Joni on matte paper, not the silk tea paper blocks. You can see more of this beautiful room, and read her story here. You can buy retail direct through the retail site for Jardins, Simon Paul Scott.

Brooke Giannetti (Velvet and Linen) used Gracie panels for the folding doors she and architect husband Steve designed to cover their television at Patina Farm:

Their lovely Ojai, California home was featured in Veranda shortly after the construction was completed in 2014, and a book was written by the couple on the planning, construction and decoration of the house: Patina Farm.

Probably the most notable designer/blogger using Chinoiserie papers right now is Mark D. Sikes (Mark D. Sikes: Chic People, Glamorous People, Stylish Things). Mark started his career in merchandising, but he quickly became one to watch in the world of interior design after House Beautiful had a cover feature on his home in West Hollywood, California. The internet couldn't share enough of the photos of his house, including his dining room papered in Gracie Studio's paper: 

A short two-years later, Mark and his home had a cover feature in Veranda Magazine. This time the dining room had a new look, free of Gracie, but Mark didn't abandon his love for the hand-painted papers. Framed panels were used in the living room: 

And the master bedroom received a grand update, with floor to ceiling paper on every wall: 

This year, Rizzoli published Mark's first book; one of what I assume will be many. I wrote a review on the book here. The book showcases Mark's house, and several client projects. Nearly every one of them had a Gracie paper somewhere: 

You can see more of his projects, and the beautiful papers that he uses in his book, here: 

Mark debuted his furniture line with Henredon at High Point this year. Beautiful furniture with a laid-back Californian sophistication, a signature of Mark's. Of course, what signature Mark Sikes space would be complete without Chinoiserie wallpaper? 

As inspiring as all of these papers are, they are also incredibly expensive. No one really talks about the cost of the papers, and the trade costs of these lovely gems are kept pretty tight lipped. It is truly a case of: "If you have to ask how much it is, you can't afford it." Papering an entire room in the hand-painted paper can set you back the cost of a decent mid-sized sedan. The paper is sold in panels, and depending on your pattern and the panel length, the panels can cost you from $550 to $1,350+. A typical panel width is 3'. Let's assume you have a square room, 15x15. You'd need 20 panels to paper the room, with waste for windows and doors.  I'll save you the time it takes to grab your calculator and tell you that you're gonna pay $11,000 - $28,000+ for the paper, and another $5,000+ for someone to come in and professionally hang it. 

Obviously there are much less expensive alternatives. What drives the cost of these Gracie and de Gournay papers is obviously the demand, and the artistry. They're hand-painted. You're not just buying wallpaper, you're buying art. 

You could frame the panels, which allows you to (1) save money, (2) move the art with you when you go or when you tire of it, (3) better fit a room without wasted paper. With framing, you still have to purchase your panels, and pay to have them dry mounted and framed. But you're looking at cutting your cost by 1/2. That certainly seems more manageable doesn't it? 

There are online sources for pairs of framed panels, including Simon Paul Scott, who owns Jardin en Fleur. The pair range in price from $1,995 to $2,850 and come ready to hang. But what do you do if you love the look, and you can't afford the pre-framed panels let alone an entire room of high-end hand-painted paper? 

There are options! If you take the hand-painted element out of it, you can save bucket loads of money with digital Chinoiserie wallpapers printed on sheet paper or vinyl. The trade site, Designer Wallcoverings offers some versions for about $200/panel. 

But one of the least expensive, and most beautiful digital prints comes from MuralSources

$289 for the full scene, 4' wide, 5'4" tall. $399 for the larger version, 6' wide, 8' tall. 

I love this one. To me it looks so much like Mark's current Gracie panels in his living room. This one is $249/panel. Each scene on the panel is 3' wide, and 8' tall. Check out all of their Chinoiserie wallpaper here

I teased those of you who follow my instagram with a photo of a Chinoiserie paper panel and a gilded bamboo frame at the frame shop a few weeks ago:

What seems like an eternity ago, I came across this paper and had hoped to use it in a project at CDLV. I hired someone to hang the paper and they did a TERRIBLE job! It was so disappointing to watch that beautiful paper have to be thrown in the trash because of poor workmanship on the part of the installer, and the paper has been discontinued. Thankfully, during my move, I found two panels of the 7 that were untouched! 

Here's where you're gonna hate me. I always hate this part, and I get so disappointed when this happens ... BUT! 

The paper is a design of York Wall, a wallpaper source that I really love working with. They have thousands of papers, and always make things incredibly easy for purchase, and returns. They are quick to send samples of papers you may be interested in, and I feel like they do a good job of presenting their papers accurately on their website. 

This paper is part of a 7-panel mural, which finished measures 10.5' long, and 6'tall, and you're not going to believe the price. 

You can see from the full mural, there were some lovely bits of this paper that were completely lost thanks to someone who just didn't know what they were doing! I'm forever sad that I couldn't salvage it, and that York no longer carries the mural. However, you'll see the pagoda and branches in the right side of the mural to be the same as the shot I posted on instagram. How much is it? I know you're wondering, right!? Well, before we get into that let me remind you that the Gracie paper is $550 - $1350+ per panel. Their panels are 3' wide (typically). These panels are 1.5' wide, and you're purchasing the entire garden scene for just $215.99. Yes, the whole thing! $215.99

See, I told you - you hate me, don't you? 

Honestly, I'm sorry that they discontinued the paper - not only for you, but for me. If they still had it I would buy more for myself! I took the two panels that I was able to find from my 7 to the frame shop, and the price to frame both in the gilded bamboo frame was just under $225. Wanna see how they turned out?

This room proves VERY difficult to photograph, mostly because it's pretty small. But here, you can see the one panel in the upper right portion of the photo, with the gilded bamboo frame. Isn't it pretty?

The two framed panels flank the windows, and I really love the simplicity of the bamboo frame. They're also a great size, so they could pretty easily move from room to room, apartment to apartment.  If you love the look, but don't want to part with the money, dig a little deeper into the links above and see if there might be something you love just as much as the fancy designer paper, for a whole lot less! 

I'll be back later in the week with more book reviews, AND I'll be adding some antique blue and white pieces to the "SHOP" Tab located in the header - so check that out! 


  1. What a timely post- thank you! I'm working out the design of a new master bedroom and wanted a statement look with a mural but with a smaller budget- the one by MuralSources just might your blog!

  2. Artie-
    I can beat your prices, how about FREE? LOL! So, I was snooping around this fabulous old beach house in Naples, buried in a jungle- it was from the 1930's- and I stretched on my tip toes to look into the old abandoned drawing room, and SURPRISE! There were four large panels of chinoiserie on a pale gold background or maybe it was green I forget, and they were framed in REAL bamboo! If only I had thought to grab them before the house was demolished- am sure they ended up in a dumpster- Boo hoo!

  3. The panels add such a lovely accent to your bedroom. I really feel this apartment has been the best design work you've ever accomplished. Well done Artie.

  4. OMG - why, why, WHY??!! Why did you tease me with that York mural?? My heart's desire is to have mural wallpaper in a dining room. Why are they so hard to find (at a reasonable price that is!)?!

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