Monday, April 19, 2021

Decorating With Chinese Coromandel Screens


The Coromandel screen was originally just a one panel screen instead of the folding screen we think of today. They received their name from India’s Coromandel coast, from which they were shipped to Europe in the late 17th and early 18th centuries by merchants of the English, French East India, and Dutch companies. 

The most common type of object made in the style, both for Chinese domestic use and exports was the Coromandel screen, a folding screen adorned with art, major themes included mythology, scenes of Palace life and nature. Europeans were extremely fascinated by the depictions of Chinese palaces and scenes of mountains, pavilions, colorful birds of paradise and flowers that the Chinese artists created.
Coromandel screens were the peak of the fashion for paneling rooms in the late 17th century. By 1700 many European country houses and palaces contained examples of East Asian export lacquer. They remained popular until the 18th century when Chinese wallpaper began to reach Europe, and generally replaced the lacquered Coromandel panels as a cover for walls.

Dodie Rosekran's home decorated by Michael Taylor
A combination of different lacquer techniques are often used in Coromandel screens, but the basic one is kuan cai or "cut colors". A wood base is coated with a number of thick layers of black or other dark lacquer which produce a highly polished effect. Next pictorial shapes are carved out of the lacquer thus creating the fine black outlines and intricate detail on the figures and ornaments. The final surface of the picture element might be painted in colored lacquer or oil paints. This creates that beautiful dimensional design that makes the Coromandel screen so appealing.

Nan Kemper

A different technique was used for inlays of mother of pearl. The mother of pearl was often engraved and stained with colors. This technique was more expensive and usually just produced for the court.

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These screens can also be inlaid with jade or the more rare jadeite. Jadeite is translucent and truly gorgeous with it's distinctive colors of apple, emerald, leek,  blue-green, white, or white with green spots.

Michael Taylor

The main two designs are typically courtly "figures in pavilions", often showing "spring in the Han palace", and secondly landscape designs, often with emphasis on birds and animals.

Nothing can give a room that instant look of Chinoiserie quite like a Coromandel screen does. Chinoiserie means ‘Chinese-esque’ in French, and refers to the influence of Oriental design on European art, architecture, and interior decorating when Chinese objects arrived in the West  in the 17th century. 

Originally Coromandel screens were not designed with home decoration in mind but to prevent drafts. It was when they were introduced to Europe, in the middle ages, that they were used for ladies to dress behind. The idea to start using them as room partitions was not far behind.

William Eubanks

These wonderful screens may boast up to 30 layers of lacquer, sometimes all in black, sometimes red, and sometimes even yellow. 

 Some Coromandel screens might illustrate historical events. Pavilions were almost always present.

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Typically borders run above and below the main scene. These often show antique Chinese objets d'art, sprays of flowers, or a combination of the two. There are often smaller borders between the main image and at the edges.

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Usually both sides of the screen are fully decorated with scenes of Chinese life or landscapes.  

Coco Chanel was the proud owner or 32 rare Coromandel screens, which she proudly displayed in her home at 31 rue Cambom, Paris. In some areas like seen above, she applied them to the walls like wallpaper. 

Another image of Coco Chanel's Coromandel screen collection. She one stated "I've loved Chinese screens since I was eighteen years old. I nearly fainted with joy when, entering a Chinese shop, I saw a Coromandel for the first time."

These beautiful Coromandel screens can actually work well in every room in the house. They only fell out of vogue with the onset of minimalism where the simplest and fewest elements are used as décor. Now with the renewed interest in decoration and ornament, they have made a comeback.

Rose Tarlow

A Coromandel screen can become a great alternative wall. These pieces can be six or seven foot tall designs that can provide a very quick, and fairly inexpensive new that looks like a work of art.

Anne Getty

Rather than invest large sums of money in making permanent structural changes in a home, people are deciding to buy a beautiful  Coromandel screen that can be moved around and used where needed.

Screens are a wise investment because they are easy to move and fit nicely into almost any space. They actually allow you the opportunity to re-create your interiors.

A Coromandel screen is a versatile piece of furniture that has an endless number of functions. Use them as room dividers, to partition off a space, or hide a work area. They can also be used to direct foot traffic.

Coromandel screens can have four, six, and the best of the best screens have eight or more panels.

What a beautiful eight paneled Coromandel screen!

Michael Smith's Madrid home via

Coromandel screens can be quite impressive in size. They are actually large pieces of furniture that are beautiful works of art.

Alberto Pinto

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Coromandel screens are so very versatile and look great in any room of the house.

Dining rooms, according to the interior designer Mario Buatta, are still the most common place to find screens.

Bunny Mellon

A Coromandel Screen, or any other style screen, can be used to create an intimate dining space.

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Alberto Pinto

That is why these Coromandel folding screens can be a decorator's secret weapon!

Since the Coromandel screen is often associated with intrigue and romance in Chinese literature bedrooms are great places to display them. In fact it was customary for a folding screen to surrounded the bed of the young couple. The twelve panels were beneficial for creating privacy.

Miles Redd

When placed in back of a bed they can act as a fabulous headboard.

Imagine this Coromandel screen used in a bathroom to conceal a toilet.

Coromandel screen also are a quick way to add texture and color to a room.

Gary Riggs, designer

If you have a problem wall that needs disguising try purchasing a Coromandel screen. They can easily hide  a multitude of sins quite beautifully!

Designer Jeffrey Bilhuber

Or use one to hide a messy desk or an unmade bed when unexpected guests drop by.

This is a great time to buy as their popularity is only now on the upswing after a few years of being in the scorned and rejected areas.

This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer

In the event that I have not credited the correct source of an image, please contact me at and I would be glad to correct it.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Decorating With Colorful Wicker

With the ice, snow, and cold temps behind us it is finally time to welcome the warm weather. One way to do that is by outfitting your porch, patio, or poolside with cozy, colorful, all-weather or antique wicker.

Wicker and rattan are both enjoying a comeback and in addition to monochrome garden furniture, in 2021 you will also see more and more colorful furniture in gardens and on balconies. There are several ways to enjoy the trend. For some there are the "naturals" but other like you might like a blast of color to help you forget the hard winter, floods, and Covid regulations that have kept us extra depressed over the winter. That is why this particular blog post features colorful and uplifting painted wicker.

Remember this colorful wicker has not been seen on Grandma's porch. Although white wicker will always be my favorite, there is a special need for color and fun at present. So I say bring the drama with some exciting and bright wicker finishes this season. I hope you enjoy the images I have gathered to help you decide the summer color for you!!

Wicker and rattan are both enjoying a comeback in the design world for both indoors and out. You can find both vintage and modern pieces, either of which would easily fit into your home. The hottest home design trends for richer color palettes and brighter design are predicted to make a splash in the coming year. Colorful wicker will be a great addition to your outdoors.


Color and pattern will be strong in 2021 on all fronts. People are gravitating towards more dramatic and lively palettes at home and also patios and porches. Bright colorful wicker is the ticket to giving your outdoors some pizzazz.

After all garden furniture should not blend into the general landscape but should stand out. You can either purchase some of the modern wicker in bright colors or paint your old wicker in some of the pretty shades out there today. Either way, make it colorful!


Such a wide range of beautiful colors makes decorating more fun but to some it makes it even more challenging. Of course the color you choose for your wicker furniture will be a matter of your personal taste, however a basic guide may be helpful in choosing colors that set the tone of your outdoor décor.

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Bold, colorful wicker will obviously have the most impact on a space so show some restraint as caution is required for placement as well as adding in complementary colors. If you don't have a natural eye use a color wheel to find you best color combo.

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Dressing up any outdoor space involves attention to every detail from color to style choice. Your choice to paint your wicker in bright or subdued colors is up to you.......just make sure the color enhances and does not distract from the overall look of your home and gardens.

Not saying that painting colorful wicker is fun.....just rewarding!!

Choosing light shades of yellow for your wicker will provide a cheerful country look.

Where years ago color was only used as decoration, entire sets of wicker are now the focus of color.

If painting by brush does not appeal, spray paint is an other alternative to create colorful wicker.

Thoughts of summer come to mind with choices in green apple.
Wicker painted in this color becomes crisp when paired with stark white antique linens. Use sleek, white and minimal cushions for a crisp but more updated look.

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Chartreuse green with its bold yellow overtones is a popular new color for wicker and is fun to use alone or when mixing and matching with other colors. Wicker painted this shade of green will definitely stand out on single pieces and even more so with an entire furniture grouping.

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Deeper green is a good color choice especially if you have a large space and lots of wicker furniture. This color coordinates well with most other colors.

While bold and bright colors may be less than tranquil, stirring up a little more energy and excitement with colorful wicker may be just what a  covered porch needs this year to help alleviate the woes of Covid.

Sage green is a wonderful color for painting wicker because it is so easy to add accent colors to.
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Wicker tables and chairs, sun loungers and even swings get the colorful treatment this year.

Orange conveys energy and enthusiasm. Painting wicker orange will guarantee an exciting and colorful sun room, porch, or patio.

We are seeing colorful painted wicker in some vintage as well as modern spaces and it looks fresh in both. Since orange is a mixture of red and yellow it is intense yet is calmed down by the happiness of yellow.

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Color is the anchor that brings a room together. No matter what you choose to paint your wicker just remember to coordinate your accessories to the color. Don't overdo it or the look will go south on you.

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If brights are not for you, create colorful wicker in subdued shades of your favorite color. Here burnt orange adds color that still has an earthy feel to it.

Also you can paint wicker furniture in new rich colors with increased resistance to fading in the sun.

Colorful wicker in soft blue will work well in a modern country setting.

Natural wicker has been, and still is, popular for homeowners. However, those who love color on their wicker furniture can look forward to their outdoor area becoming a new trend.

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Wicker painted in blue hues is a wonderful choice for coastal settings.

Navy blue wicker is colorful yet will add a touch of sophistication to any front porch.

And who can resist blue wicker and white porches for a crisp country setting.

Many people even choose to paint wicker with a paint sprayer. A paint sprayer gives the most consistent smooth overall finish by far, can be used with a wide variety of paints and is the fastest for large projects. There are tutorials out these to show you how.

Wicker painted in aqua hues evokes a peaceful beach scene and colorful outdoor entertainment areas.......

.....and makes it especially inviting for sun rooms.

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Gray is a good neutral accent for colorful wicker. Here it gives aqua and turquoise painted wicker a more contemporary look.

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Coral is another fun color for painting wicker if you are looking to refresh,  add cheerfulness, and make your porch or patio colorful this summer.

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Wicker painted this color will make the drabbest days seem more upbeat and the sunny days simply exhilarating.

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And who doesn't love colorful red painted wicker!

While I personally am partial to small amounts of colorful red wicker per setting, many designers "go big or go home" when it comes to shades of red.  This shade is more or a watermelon than it is all out fire engine red. Makes it easier to work with.

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One very popular choice for painting wicker furniture is deep antique red. This is one color that may be difficult to overdo in painted wicker chairs, loveseats, and sofas if you provide a rich background and natural complements like wood floors and other naturally finished rustic accessories.

There is nothing like the carefree and happy feeling of being back on grandma's wicker covered porch.  And today's perilous times are driving us to recreate that cozy safe feeling in our own homes. But the same wicker can today be painted in a different colorful way....... with a bit more pizazz!

Black is always dramatic for wicker furniture and will appease most all tastes from traditional, to eclectic and modern tastes. Reds look wonderful as accenting colors because of their dramatic flair. This combo also mixes well with shades of gray so a gray porch will set it all off. Even though the wicker is black the look is still colorful.

Black paint has a way of turning wicker furniture into stronger statement pieces.

And don't forget the colorful pastels!

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Maybe you don't want a whole porch full of colorful wicker. A wicker side table in a soft pastel color with pillows and accessories in these shades would be lovely.

Another good idea for using colorful painted wicker is the mismatched chair style. Just choose your colors wisely!! Here the bright colors are muddied down a bit for a more subdued look.

I personally think the colorful but subtle palette works better with the mismatched wicker chair look. Buttery yellows, faded blues, soft olive greens and warm aquas are among the popular pastel choices available in wicker furnishings.

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Even two tone mismatched wicker seating is pretty if you use the right color combination.

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Whatever color and style you choose, just sit back and enjoy the warmth of colorful wicker this season!!

This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer

In the event that I have not credited the correct source of an image, please contact me at and I would be glad to correct it.

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