Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Decorating In Chinese Chippendale Style

Thomas Chippendale was England’s foremost furniture designer during the 18th century. Though his name is usually associated with an extensive variety of chair design, he was also responsible for some of the more beautiful settees, tables, desks, mirrors, bookshelves, and china cabinets. Chippendale designs fall into three main styles: Gothic, Rococo, and Chinese. This post is dedicated to his Chinese inspired designs commonly referred to as Chinese Chippendale. 

The taste for chinoiserie had been popular for some time due to England's trade with the Orient. Chippendale's Chinese pieces featured pagoda style pediments, fretwork, and straight, intricately carved legs. Similar fretwork was used for a gallery around the edges of china or tea tables. Many pieces of Chinese Chippendale furniture, were often japanned, or coated with oriental-style lacquer and used to decorate rooms in chinoiserie, or Chinese style, 

Chinoiserie is still much loved, and the Chinese Chippendale chair, whether a valuable antique or modern day trendy piece ........ is a timeless classic.

The Gentleman and Cabinetmaker's Director by Thomas Chippendale, 1754, was the first and most important published book of furniture designs in 18th century. In it he debuted his latest chair design and as they say "the crowd went wild".

The book was a large collection of the most elegant furniture styles and his Chinese designs with faux-bamboo elements and heavy lacquer (which the was a large part of the Chinese Chippendale chair’s allure) were an immediate hit.

The style of furnishing that’s often associated with the name of Chippendale is the so-called "Chinese Chippendale".

Ann Getty (left)
loveisspeed.blogspot.com (right)

His chair would have been made of mahogany and not painted. It would have possibly been japanned which was a type of painted decoration with the finish imitating lacquer. Chinese Chippendale became the last word in chic.

Designed by the brothers Adam and furnished by cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale, Dumfries House is considered the most gloriously intact 18th-century house in Scotland.. Notice the Chinese Chippendale fretwork table and china cabinet. Also the mirror is Chinese Chippendale......all original pieces..

People of the 18th century adored the way Chippendale was able to beautifully incorporate popular Chinese elements with his interpretation of Rococo style.

Chippendale's Chinese-style fretwork chairs are the style that has survived today with the greatest degree of popularity. Today they are given a fresh look through painting with white being the most popular color.

My favorite way to decorate with these chairs is use them as accent pieces. I think this way they take on more of a classic appeal and they don't look so trendy. When they are used in groups as dining room chairs they tend to date a room quicker.

Ruthie Sommers

Chinese Chippendale chairs were very desirable during the Hollywood Regency period. These chairs also have always been a popular fixture of the Palm Beach style. Once again they have made a big resurgence recently. A classic Chinese Chippendale chair can look fresh in white paint when mixed with other bold colors.

Faux Bamboo Chairs are also referred to as the Chinese Chippendale or Chinoiserie. This casual rattan style, with open fretwork style backs were inspired back in Chippendale’s time by the Chinese trend of the day.
Black is another popular color for Chinese Chippendale style chairs. Once again I suggest maybe using two to flank a table.......

......or one as a desk chair.

source unknown

Chinese Chippendale chairs are the perfect choice for painting red.

David Easton

These chairs continue to be popular, adding style to virtually any room.

Although Thomas Chippendale designed many styles of furniture, he was especially talented at blending English and Chinese styles together. The camelback sofa with wonderfully carved oriental legs is the perfect example of Chinese Chippendale style.

Also popular were the Chinese Chippendale mirror frames. They too became part of the glamorous Hollywood Regency style.

Carolyne Roehm

Beautiful Chinese Chippendale style mirrors demand center stage in this room. In the background you can also see a chinoiserie inspired Chippendale chair.

An iconic Chinese Chippendale pagoda mirror would be the focal point of any room.

The Chinese Chippendale tea tables with their beautiful fretwork were trendy at the time. Today you can find similar carved tables that are perfect for the Chinoiserie look.

I like to see modern fretwork tables, like this brass and marble version, used in today's Chinoiserie interiors.

Original Chinese Chippendale cabinet design.

davidmus.dk (left)
Antique or modern, the Chinese Chippendale China cabinet is a work of art. 

An original Chinese Chippendale style bed design from The Gentleman &Cabinet Maker's Director. 

The pagoda bed.

Mary McDonald

This Chinoiserie bedroom by Mary McDonald certainly pays homage to Chippendale's Chinese bed and mirror designs.

Kim Alexandriuk

Same bed as above styled differently.

via pinterest

This bed features a headboard and legs in the Chinese Chippendale style.


You need not only consider furniture when desiring to incorporate elements of Chinese Chippendale into your interiors. Stairways are stunning when designed with  fretwork or oriental carving.

Chinese Chippendale balustrade and spandrels.


Gardens are another perfect place to add Chinese Chippendale accessories. Gates, benches, and planters are just a few ways to bring this style to your outdoors.

Deck railings designed in Chinese Chippendale are stunning! 

via pinterest

Beautiful settings like this are the reason Chinese Chippendale has withstood the test of time. Even though it falls out of fashion from time to time, Thomas Chippendale's Chinese furniture designs will always be much loved classics.

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This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer
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