Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Dreaming in Green: Gorgeous Chinoiserie Hand Painted Wall Coverings...

After eyeing various de Gournay, Gracie, and Paul Montgomery hand painted silk wall coverings (along with wood block printed Zuber from France) over the years, I have been wanting to put together a blog post with some beautiful examples.  These mural-like designs based on 18th and 19th century Chinese, Japanese, European, and American scenes are stunning works of art.  I included an interesting article from Gotham Magazine, "New York's Wallpaper to the Stars" by Suzanne Charle below.

Perhaps my love for these designs started in the dining room of my childhood home. Although not hand-painted, my parent's dining room has a beautiful Brunschwig & Fils chinoiserie wallpaper design with flowers, birds, and butterflies...My mother once tried to give me some green porcelain Chinese lamps with a similar design, but I insisted that she keep them since they went with her wallpaper perfectly. I think this was my first moment of appreciation for this aesthetic!

via WSJ, Gracie Studio Handpainted Chinese Wallpaper

One particular photo caught my eye in a recent Southern Living magazine.  I absolutely LOVE so much about this dining room!!  First, it seems the vast majority of photographed interiors with these luxurious wall coverings have equally formal, baroque and over-the-top ornate elements, creating a rather stuffy and museum-like tone.  In contrast, the dining space below mixes the more formal wall covering with clean lined furniture, contemporary accessories, and the overall look is more balanced, modern, and comfortable.  Second, this wall covering uses my favorite grass green shade, one that I labored over for weeks while selecting a paint color for our master bedroom (sadly in our former home!)  I am determined to use a fun green somewhere in our new home!  Finally, I love the stunning contrast of light and dark in this room.  Perfection.

Over the holidays, we were visiting my childhood bestie in their new home in St. Louis, and she asked me for ideas for her dining room.  These gorgeous chinoiserie wall coverings immediately came to mind.  She has a beautiful collection of antique mahogany furniture, and a pretty traditional/formal interior design style.  So, I can picture something similar to this in her home.  However, these custom hand-painted wall coverings from Gracie and de Gournay are exorbitantly priced at approximately $1,000 per 3 ft x 8 ft panel.  Griffin and Wong is a less costly source of hand-painted panels, at approximately $400 per panel.  I suspect there may be even more affordable, digitally printed versions available (see below for one example by Designer Wallcoverings).  You may not get the same hand-painted detail and exquisite texture, but a similar look regardless. 

If your heart is set on the real deal, an alternative I have seen often, is to purchase and frame singular panels, which serve as large-scale artwork and give a similar chinioserie vibe to a space.  I think I would lean in this direction if I were to attempt this in my own home.

Here are a few examples of using framed panels...

Framed chinoiserie panel (source unknown)

Framed chinoiserie panels (source unknown)...but this has Mary McDonald written all over it!!

via Luxe Magazine, Gracie Framed Panels

via Lonny Gracie Wallpaper Panels, design by Lynn Nigro
(source unknown)

Another example of just a framed panel used beautifully in a space...

I started to search around for more reasonable alternatives.  Here are a few photos of the aforementioned Griffin & Wong papers, at approx $400 per panel....

Griffin & Wong

Griffin & Wong

Griffin & Wong

Griffin & Wong

Griffin & Wong
(I think this one is my all time favorite!!)

According to the Sybaritic Spaces blogger, Amal Kapen, there is a company that produces digitally printed wallpaper inspired by the more luxurious painted versions.  Designer Wallcoverings has a collection, Et Cie which is priced at approximately $200 per 3 ft x 8 ft panel.  In fact, Et Cie's 'The Rockefeller' design looks identical to Paul Montgomery's 'Kew Garden' much so that some speculate this digital collection is produced by the same company.

Hand Painted Wall Covering by Paul Montgomery in 'Kew Garden' design

Designer Wallcovering's Digital Et Cie Collection in 'The Rockefeller' -
looks identical to Paul Montgomery's Kew Garden above

The following are more inspiration photos of rooms with these beautiful Chinoiserie hand-painted wall coverings....

How lovely to enjoy this view while doing laundry!!
From the DC 2009 Design House, room by designer Draza Stamenich

Aerin Lauder's Dressing Room - Gracie Studio
(again, love the mix of traditional, 'fancy' wall covering with more contemporary/clean lines of the brass desk)

Gracie wallcovering....from Architectural Digest by designer Elissa Cullman

de Gournay 'Askew' design in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Beijing 

Hand Painted Wall Covering by Paul Montgomery in 'Dunmore' design

de Gournay 'Jardinieres Citrus Trees' design on paper and satin materials...Charlotte Moss

B. Mori, company based in San Francisco, custom hand-painted textiles

Another panel by B. Mori

de Gournay 'Earlham' by Mary McDonald via House Beautiful

de Gournay 'Abbotsford' the repeat of chinoiserie elements in wallcovering, rug AND the complementary shades of greens and orangey-reds

de Gournay 'Askew' design...again, love the mix of traditional and contemporary elements

de Gournay 'Chelsea' design - LOVE the bold yellow color

de Gournay 'Coutts' design, Bergdorf Goodman Restaurant NYC, design by Kelly Wearstler

de Gournay 'Earlham' how they covered the door as well!

de Gournay 'Jardinieres Citrus Trees' - LOVE the neutral color scheme with pops of bold color!

de Gournay 'Oriental Landscape' design

de Gournay 'Portobello' design, interiors by Remus Interiors

de Gournay 'St. Laurent' design

How about a hot relaxing bath in here?
de Gournay 'Temple Newsam' design, Balfour Castle Scotland

de Gournay 'Askew' design, interiors by Alison Henry

love the calm, elegant tone of these wall coverings in a neutral color scheme....
de Gournay 'Badminton' design, interiors by Bunny Williams
Again, love the mix of traditional wall covering with more modern elements
Bedroom by Miles Redd
Another beautiful bedroom by Miles Redd via Veranda Magazine
AND, another bedroom by Miles Redd via Elle Decor

de Gournay 'Jardinieres Citrus Trees', interiors by Charlotte Moss
Another view of Charlotte Moss's dining room

de Gournay 'Orchids'

de Gournay 'Portobello' design, interiors by Philip Ver Hoeye

Architectural Digest, interiors by Thad Hayes 
Another view...

via Architectural Digest, a Paris Apartment Dining Room

Timothy Whealon Swedish inspired

Gracie Wall Covering...Red Cross Palm Beach Showhouse, designer Nancy Pearson 

Gracie Wall Covering....interior design by Rinfret 

Gracie Wallpaper in Tory Burch's NYC circular Foyer

Here, Cote de Texas blogger Joni Webb installed this beautiful paper by yet another source,
Simon Scott in her master bedroom
And now, a few examples of the gorgeous Zuber murals....

A Craftsman using vintage wood block to apply color to Zuber wallpaper

Zuber wallpaper in Brooke Shields NYC apartment, via Architectural Digest

Zuber (or Zuber-like) mural wallcoverings via Architectural Digest
Here, Michael Smith used these beautiful Zuber mural wall coverings in this masculine yet serene bedroom
Zuber Wallpaper (source unknown)

Another Zuber (or Zuber-like) Mural in this dramatic foyer via Architectural Digest

Zuber wallpaper, love the pop of orange in the camel and headpieces...

 “New York’s Wallpaper to the Stars” – by Gotham Magazine's Suzanne Charle

“We’re having a ‘moment,’” notes an obviously pleased Mike Gracie, president of Gracie, a fourth generation New York–based family business, which for decades has created elegant hand-painted wallpaper for le tout Manhattan. Sitting in his office in the D&D Building, Mike motions to the wallpaper, appropriately named Gracie Square, that serves as a setting for his work. People appreciate the high level of artistry and beautiful details, he says. One can see why, looking at the finely painted birds and butterflies that flit among the exuberant flowers, all on a Hermès-like orange background.

The fashion crowd certainly does. Gracie wallpaper frequently serves as a backdrop for fashion shoots for top magazines. Tory Burch, who has Gracie wallpaper in her apartment entryway, chose a pattern inspired by an 18th-century Chinese design for her Spring 2012 runway. Aerin Lauder used Gracie papers in a display of her jewelry and also papered her dressing room with Gracie panels; Anna Sui used its designs for the walls of her Paris apartment.

Of course, interior designers are Gracie’s main clients-cum-devotees, among them society designerdoyenne Bunny Williams, David Easton, and Victoria Hagan.

This “moment” has, in fact, been the culmination of a rather long winning streak: 115 years, to be precise. Charles R. Gracie, a furniture restorer, opened his studio in 1898, selling architectural moldings made by Italian craftsmen along with Asian antiques and porcelain to decorate New York society homes. (The firm continues the tradition by selling fine antiques and porcelain, as well as lacquered furniture from the Far East.)

The Asia connection dates to 1927, when an antiques dealer introduced Charles Gracie to a Chinese business dealing in hand-painted wallpaper that Gracie soon began collecting. His clientele—the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Astors as well as the Hollywood elite—appreciated Gracie’s eye for fine detail, as did their decorators: Elsie de Wolfe, Dorothy Draper, McMillen Inc., and William Haines.

The Depression and World War II restricted import, but Gracie resumed business with the Chinese firm during the postwar years. Today about 100 Chinese artists paint wallpapers to Gracie’s specifications, creating new works inspired by 18th- and 19th-century Chinese, Japanese, European, and American scenic wallpaper designs.

Mike estimates that one 3-by-10-foot panel takes about 75 to 100 man-hours of painting alone. “Everything is done by hand,” he explains. “But such attention to detail and demand has its rewards. Business is brisk.”

Most of Gracie’s work continues to be for private (and not so private) houses—including the White House, which, as Mike explains, is not surprising. “George Washington had Chinese hand-painted wallpaper in his home, as did many of the well-to-do in Colonial America,” a perk of the growing China trade that was so important to the young country. Generations later, America’s well-heeled are enjoying a new version of this China trade. D&D Building, 979 Third Ave., Ste. 1411, 212-924-6816


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