Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chin-Wow! = Boho that speaks with an Asian accent

I invented the label Chin-Wow! to describe a kind of Boho look in room decor that includes elements of the Asian continent. Boho is nothing if not a traveled, collected look, so Asian influences aren't new. All that's new is my name for it, and I interpret it loosely.

Particular items in the roomscape may hail from China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Burma, Vietnam, the Malay Islands, Thailand, India and the Caucasus. My intent is not to dismiss specific origins, only to coin a collective term that reflects the energy of the look. The meaning of "Chin" in Chinese is gold, money, embroidered, bright, and that's how I see this style.

Chin-Wow is less formal than purer Asian designs and in true Boho fashion tends to be combined with goods from other places and times. But Boho as a whole resists hard-and-fast rules. Suffice it to say that show is easier than tell, and check out these 10 beauties I call Chin-Wow.

1. Go to the head of the class...

...Or the bed in this case, where this exquisite painted silk screen, with its intricate scene of birds perched in blossom-laden branches, has been positioned behind an upholstered headboard. Walls and lampshade mimic the color of the screen, as do the ikat pillows and the vase. Almost everything else is white. Lamp, nightstand and area rug are contemporary, but lattice quilting on the bedspread and graceful curves shaping the headboard suggest the orient texturally. The Boho pop comes from the coral color of throw, peonies and embroidery on white shams, which lead the eye directly to the screen. I found this photo on 333 Park, a blog of Online Fabric Store. Read more about Chinese influences in decor here.

2. I know why the caged bird sings...

...He's admiring his Chin-Wow Boho digs. The mix of old and new here, as well as fun textile patterns, intense color and funky chandeliers, make this room  Boho. But the pagoda-style bamboo birdcage makes it Chin-Wow. Though it's the only Eastern element, it's front and center and completes the room.

3. Bold pillows play up Eastern leanings...

...Jill Sorensen designed this room and its wonderful throw pillows, which call to mind Chinese Han characters. The coffee table leans east, and the flowering branches follow along. But everything else is a mix, which says Boho to me. The pastel sofa and chairs are mid-century and add to the room's already high texture value--sisal, animal skin, zebra print, coral, velvet, and the list goes on. I sighted this photo on a blog I've mentioned before--House of Turquoise, the first-ever design blog I ever paused to read. The pillow styles are, from outside in, Mark, Regency, and Monogram. You'll find them here. And while you're on Jill's site, sign up for her blog, Live Like You, and her Instagram feed.

4. Lanterns and lasses...

...The dining room of this Netherlands home features brightly hued lanterns suspended above mid-century modern table and chairs. Paintings of women from exotic lands attend the scene, which is grounded by a turkish carpet--a definitely Boho mix with a Chin-Wow nudge. The photo is from Architectural Digest.

5. Honor your ancestors...

...The Chinese ancestor portrait propped in the corner presides over a farmhouse table and modern industrial accessories in shades of yellow, orange and silver metals. Chin-Wow and how! This photo originally appeared in Coastal Living, but I discovered it on a recent Chinoiserie Chic post.

6. Hippie-dippy hot pink steals the show...

...Pillows, the largest painting and the lantern dangling from the hot pink ceiling are Chin-Wow and bring focus to a "hippie + shabby chic + industrial = boho" mix of prints and textures in furniture and accessories. My favorite parts: (a,) All the hot pink, of course, especially the teeny touch of magenta sticker on the guitar case and the rosy fringe rim of the cushions. (b.) All the heads in the portraits over the sofa are tilted, some left, some right, which adds energy to the collage and the room. (c.) That so-serious Chinese gentleman (military?) presiding over a room that's so not.

7. Repetition of shapes...

...This Chinese ancestor portrait unifies the room. The bell shape of the man's body echoes throughout the room, from the dress hanging from the mirror to the dishes on the mantel to the hidden form of the unopened umbrellas to the dangling tassels. My favorite part is definitely those umbrellas, collected in the fireplace grate like flowers in a vase. "O, I've seen fire and I've seen rain!" all together, all at once, here.

8. Texture a-go-go...

...This room by Martyn Lawrence-Bullard Design appeared on a Driven By Decor in an article about decorating with suzanis, a central Asian textile. The room is awash with Asian influences, from the sofa pillows to the art to the many accessories. I love all the textural elements--rock crystals, nuts in a wooden bowl, velvet, crocodile on the sofa frame, and all the many wood surfaces.

9. Chin-Wow wall surprises like a secret room...

ABOVE: Living room as viewed from hallway
BELOW: Same room, but wall not visible in hallway view.
...The living room of designer Liza Giles' London townhome emphasizes the importance of always checking out what's around the corner. This is already one laid-back Boho room, as viewed from the hallway--sunny and inviting. But enter, turn left, and WOW, nothing will ever be the same again. I love the Japanese assymetry of the flower arrangement in the retro vase, as well as the quirky collage of art and photographs. How 'bout that Indian goddess one? Oh, and the cat one! And the chair! Lots to look at for sure; explore this home further over here. Find similar pillows at Designers Guild, where Giles has plied her trade.

10. Chin-Wow meets your grandmother's parlor...

...If you can take your eyes off that sofa for one sec, check out the floor-to-ceiling mirror behind it, reflecting the other end of this sumptuous room. The hand-painted Chinoiserie wallpaper is by de Gournay, the late-19th-century carpet is English, and the chalky white pair of George III chairs are covered in Scalamandre's Anemone. Homeowner Jonathan Berger designed the hand-hammered brass coffee table. More photos from the House Beautiful tour of his Brooklyn townhouse can be found here.

Tune in tomorrow for true confessions: 

My ongoing love affair with a blue-and-white Chinese ginger jar.


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