Last week, when I was thinking about the Mark D Sikes post (please go here if you missed it.) I also thought of the times I’ve written about Chinoiserie murals and panels. These posts need to be updated at least every three years because much changes in that time.
And, yes, there is also a post about beautiful landscape murals; there’s some overlap, but I’m dividing them up.
In the end, I decided to do Mark’s post and then do the Chinoiserie murals that many of you are swooning over.
Me too! (Please check out the beautiful Mark D. Sikes post) ;]
Beautiful – Mark D Sikes with Gracie Chinoiserie Mural wallpaper via La Dolce Vita
Chinoiserie panels by Gracie
Anyone reading my blog for at least a year knows that I adore Chinoiserie— everything!
But, what ARE Chinoiserie Wallpaper Panels?
The Chinese Garden by Francois Boucher
If you see the original art, you’ll see where it all stems from. We’ve discussed Chinoiserie which had its roots in the 18th century. It originated in Europe as a fanciful depiction of this exotic eastern culture. Much of it was taken, however, from the original Chinese art. The Europeans were fascinated and adored these beautiful designs, as many of us still do today.
Remember this post from several years ago about the Chinoiserie vase that was 7.66 MILLION DOLLARS?
No, of course, you don’t recall that post. I know you don’t remember it because, like, 16 people read it! haha.
Above is a mid-eighteenth-century painted silk panel – Chinoiserie wallpaper panel – via @nicolefabredesigns – Instagram
It’s a short history lesson today about Chinoiserie murals and art. :]
Now, some may think these Chinoiserie murals are “trendy.” However, that is not really the case. They are a classic design element, and many designers have used them for decades. Yes, they have taken on a broader following, but they are not a fad.
Up until a few years ago, if you wanted one of these exquisite Chinoiserie hand-painted murals, the only way you could get one for yourself was to purchase through an interior designer/decorator/architect with access to places, like Gracie, DeGournay, Fromental, Paul Montgomery, and Zuber. Although, the latter primarily deals with landscape murals.
The only thing is, they came with a price tag that few can afford.
Above, is another beautiful Mark D. Sikes vignette.
Mark’s work has been featured numerous times on this blog. You can see those posts here.
Or, please visit Mark’s portfolio and terrific blog for more of his style.
Here are some other posts which feature Chinoiserie wallpaper panels and murals.
And, this post does have some affordable options, as well.
When I’m speaking of Chinoiserie murals and wallpaper panels, that means the paper could be used on all of the walls.
Or, the individual panels could be in frames. I like that look a lot, and if they are separate frames from the wall, then, of course, they are easily portable.
Michael S. Smith – Photo – Ricardo Labougle
Well, Laurel, I have two questions. One, how much are these super-expensive panels? And, two, are the cheaper versions as nice?
Those are both terrific questions.
As for the price of the super-expensive murals, I tried to find the answer. They are still only available to the trade, and I don’t have an account, so I am not privy to that information. In addition, if you see a price mentioned somewhere, we don’t know if it’s the designer’s net price or the retail price.
I did find one quite interesting article in the New York Times from October 6, 1996. So, that was exactly 26 years ago. It was also just a few months after I started Laurel Bern Interiors.
The article talks about a starting price of $350 for Gracie and $550 for other brands.
I say that because back in the 1990s, shortly after I began my business, I walked into a showroom selling Gracie, to inquire and was told that the least expensive wallpaper was $1,200 a panel. Therefore, I think it’s safe to say that today, we can expect to pay at least $2,400 a panel.
After that, we’ll need a prescription for some Valium to take the day the paper hanger comes to install it.
I’m joking about the Valium. (but never about mental health issues, to be clear.)
But, seriously, if you were to paper an entire dining room, you’ll need about 20 panels, plus installation. Therefore, prepare to drop at least 50k.
From the Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collection
This is why you often see these murals separated into framed panels. Sometimes you’ll see two flanking a fireplace or doorway. That’s a great way to “get the look” without spending a hefty sum on wallpaper.
This Chinoiserie mural wallpaper was from the Brunschwig showroom from eons ago. It might be Gracie. I’m not sure.
Fortunately, there are far more affordable sources for all of us Chinoiserie mural and panel aficionados who don’t have the deep pockets necessary to purchase the others.
We’ll be getting to that shortly, and I’ll share some observations about which sources are the best for far less expensive Chinoiserie murals and panels, plus, some things you need to look out for!
But, first, I’ve found a few new (to me) designers who are doing lovely work with Chinoiserie wallpapers.
Love this new-traditional dining room by M and M Interior Design
Another beautiful dining room, this time with framed Chinoiserie panels.
via @jessicalevantiques @jenniferbarroninteriors on Instagram
I think that these panels are so pretty. I’m not sure if they are hand-painted or not. They are from Natural Curiosities via The Well Appointed House. I featured N C’s cool art and furniture in this post.
I think the price is too much. ONE of them framed is almost $3,200. Yes, they are prints.
@collectiveandcompany – instagram
These framed panels are only $1,799 for the set, which I think is quite reasonable. They have only a few styles so far. Their website is here.
Let’s look at some more affordable sources for Chinoiserie wallpaper murals and panels in the manner of Gracie and De Gournay.
One of the sources I adore is The Mural Source, formerly Mural Sources.
Paul Montgomery, the fantastic artist, has created a line of printed murals created from his originals. The quality is superb! No, wait. It’s beyond amazing. I owned a mural, as many of you know, in my Bronxville bedroom.
I took these in November 2020, shortly before I moved to Boston.
The paper even looked and felt like silk fabric.
The print was so clear and nuanced that I would’ve sworn it was the hand-painted original. I am positive that paper is what caused the apartment to get an offer to buy practically the day it went on the market.
Photo: Stacy Zarin Goldberg – Room design – Gills Interiors
Above and below – Maysong Spring by the Mural Source
However, the most extensive The Mural Source collection is on 1st Dibs. And, the price is very fair. I realize that 1st Dibs has a rep for being overpriced, but they’ve changed.
1st Dibs also has items no one else has.
After that, the venerable Schumacher is always good for a fabulous rendering of everything. They’ve employed Mary McDonald and Miles Redd to create some instant classics.
For printed Chinoiserie murals and panels, there is also Tempaper.
I’ve seen these in person, and they are lovely– and removable.
- Another source to consider is York Wallcovering. They’ve come a long way to creating some less expensive Chinoiserie murals.
- You can find these on Wayfair/Perigold, Burke Decor, and Bellacor.
- Oh, and Caitlin Wilson also has some designs from The Mural Source.
Now, let’s talk about Etsy and the numerous sources for printed and hand-painted Chinoiserie panels.
I feel obligated to caution you about purchasing these hand-painted Chinoiserie murals.
Some of the sources look good; however, I probably wouldn’t order from some of them.
If it’s a print, you’re buying, it’s not a problem. However, it would be best if you always got a sample first. No sample. No order.
BUT, for the hand-painted Chinoiserie murals, besides a sample, here are some things to look for.
- One, are there reviews? If there are no reviews, you don’t need to look further. Please move on.
- Two – Consistency. Many times you’ll see images that are not of their work. They ARE the images from Gracie, De Gournay, etc. Sometimes, some images are clearly studio images or taken just before they’re to be shipped out. These aren’t as slick.
- Three – Are there CLEAR detail shots? If not, again, I wouldn’t work with them.
- Four – On the Reviews, are they using their own pics, OR are they using the customer’s pics. If they are using their own pics– See Number One.
- Five – Look carefully at the customer’s pics. Please ignore lousy composition, bad lighting, etc., and focus on the Chinoiserie panels. Do they look like the slick ones in the vendor’s portfolio?
They don’t? Something seems off, but you just can’t put your finger on it.
Please allow me to intervene with the most common issues.
- The renderings look like they were done by fairly talented five-year-olds. You know what they say about quacking ducks.
- The colors seem “off.” Yes, indeedy. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. Believe what you SEE. The colors are sometimes quite barf-worthy. (but not all of the time)
- And the BIG enchilada? Uh-huh, SCALE. Please watch this one carefully. Sometimes you’ll see things blown way up. In other words, the design is the same if you order 48″ high or 96″ high. In other words; you don’t get more of the design, or even more sky, you get the design blown up, sometimes more than double what it should be.
Here’s a brilliant example from a one-star review. The customer complained about the colors, but the scale is cartoon-like, as is the rendering. That is, unless this is a mural for a pre-school.
This is what it’s supposed to look like.
So, Laurel, tell us what companies do hand-painted designs that are okay to purchase.
Okay, but I don’t know for sure. If you want to play it safe, don’t use any hand-painted sources online. Or, get a good sample and then decide. However, below is my (very) short list of companies that look like they’re doing a beautiful and authentic job painting Chinoiserie murals.
After a scathing and honest review by Cathy, a customer of ChinoiserieHomeDeco, I am taking them off of the shooooooort list. Please read what she said in the comments.
That leaves only one for hand-painted Chinoiserie Murals.
EC Wallpaper on Chairish
and 1st Dibs
I would probably avoid
Two terrible reviews and inconsistent work.
Also, inconsistent work that is stylistically all over the lot. Plus, they’re ripping off the Mural Source’s panoramic designs.
There are some companies on Etsy that do printed murals that look pretty good. Please get a sample before ordering.
Below is a revised widget of some beautiful Chinoiserie murals from several sources.
Hope that gave you some new insights and sources for Chinoiserie Wallpaper Panels.
P.S. – Please check out the newly updated Hot Sales Pages. This is a big weekend, and there are many fantastic sales going on right now.
Your tips for evaluating items on sites like Etsy are spot on. Thank you for those.
We can’t all be perfect all the time and you gracefully made changes to your recommendations in the light of bad news. I applaud you for that.
Thank you for being a good role model.
Wonderful article on a subject that can be confusing. I always enjoy the historical references in you writing as well.
As far as I can tell, Mural Sources has not switched to “to the trade” only. As they have for several years, they are just asking you to register with them in order to access prices and to order, but you don’t have to have a tax ID number to do so. I am very far from being a designer but have registered with them and could order.
Thanks for that info. What happened is they were definitely retail a few years ago, then I believe they switched to only the trade. My guess is when they rebranded from Mural Sources to “The Mural Source,” they switched to the current model, which is as you said. Thanks for letting us know!
I agree with your assessment, GL. Oftentimes, it’s not just the mural that’s off.
Sorry, there’s one error in my previous post. The panels were $260 each, not $280.
I was raised with the maxim that if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all, so I hesitate to write this comment. But I have to mention that I had a seriously worrisome experience with ChinoiserieHomeDeco on Etsy. I ordered and received 2 large “hand-painted” panels on “slub silk,” at a cost of $280 each. Great deal, thought I. The order page read, and still reads, that there is only 1 left and it’s reserved for Robert. I ordered 2 and, miraculously, the order went right through and arrived in about 2 weeks. Poor Robert, it appears I pre-empted his reservation. They are not silk fabric. There’s about a molecule thick silk or rayon material laminated onto poster paper using God knows what kind of adhesive. And there’s not a drop of paint on it. It’s clearly been inkjetted onto the material based on some image that is cartoonish in places, like all of the trees and plants. The birds look pretty good though. I’ve decided to keep them and do highlight painting on it myself. It will appear more like it was actually painted and I’ll be able to incorporate colors from my decor.
The biggest concern is that I paid with PayPal and, after I received my package, I started getting nearly daily texts from PayPal asking me to type in a confirmation code. This was the first and only time I’ve used PayPal in nearly 3 years so I certainly shouldn’t have been getting confirmation texts. I ended up having to freeze my PayPal account in fear of it being hacked. I don’t know if or when I’ll feel like I can un-freeze it.
I wrote a scathing review on Etsy which seems to have simply disappeared into the ether. The moral of the story for me is order on Etsy if you can lose the money on a product that doesn’t fit what was promised and don’t ever ever use PayPal with an Etsy vendor. Just my 2 cents.
In this case, saying something negative is warranted. It’s about a “thing” and something that happened to you, not your opinion about something or someone that nobody asked your opinion about.
I am going to remove them from my recommended list.
I’ve ordered items numerous times on Etsy and have always been happy except for the so-called “hand-knotted” Moroccan rug that smelled like a dead skunk when I removed it from its plastic. I even tried washing it. Afterward, washing, the rug smelled like a wet, dead skunk. Oh, and half of the “hand-knotted” design had gone away with the wash water. Boy, did I feel dumb.
About two hours after I washed it, I rolled it up and took it downstairs to the trash room in my building.
Fortunately, it was only a runner and it wasn’t a lot of money. Lesson learned!
Cathy, I mistakenly thought Laurel was referring to a review you left on the Etsy site, and was curious enough to look. Didn’t realize she meant your comment here. Anyway, your review is still on Etsy along with their reply. It came up on page 9 of the reviews.
As far as PayPal, I rarely use it but get scammers in my e-mail pretending to represent PayPal all the time.
This is all just gorgeous! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, your posts have me poring for hours over all the info. I use my phone, iPad, and laptop. Gorgeous gorgeousness!
Thanks so much, Nanc!
I enjoy your blog very much. We just finished building our dream home and I’m in the very slow process of decorating and Mark D Sikes is a favorite inspiration so I’m still pouring over your last post. However, I wanted to comment that you can purchase remnants from Gracie directly from their website! I bought an unframed one that has some tears along the top, but once installed it will be fine. There are more expensive ones for sale that are already framed and in better condition too!
Thanks for all your research and sources! I ordered fabulous blue and white plates for my foyer wall from Chairish that you had sourced and I enjoy looking at them daily!
Oh, good to know that about the remnants, Melissa. Thanks for sharing that info!
I loved your previous posts regarding Chinoiserie wallpaper panels and, as a result, ordered a panel from Mural Source when they weren’t restricted to the trade, and had it framed. In fact, it was the China Palm by Paul Montgomery mural that is in your widget above. I love that framed mural.
If i were keen to have the look, but my budget was limited, I’d consider using stencils to create some panels. Forget about the regrettable 80’s and 90’s trend of country kitsch stencils. You can find some quite elegant stencils if you search around. To my eye, Stencil-library.com has some multicolor panel stencils that look quite good. I realize that stenciling is finicky work, and takes longer than you might imagine, PLUS the ready made stencils dimensions have to be considered carefully. However, for the price of the stencils and some paint and brushes, I think you might get the look for less than the cost of paper panels. I think one advantage, too, is if you’re not happy with how it turned out, or you get tired of it, you can simply paint over it.
Great post. I love the new way your text appears — bigger and clearer! Did you do something or is it my phone? It’s so much more readable. My eyes and I thank you!
I have a whole new theme and OBSESSED over the font for years. Well, on and off. Glad you like it!
We have a beautiful, elegant old home in my hometown which was converted to a funeral home in about 1940. When it was converted to the funeral home, they left the wonderful murals like these in what became the viewing room. I loved going there, just to see them. They gave the room such a warm, soothing feel. They embraced you as you stood in line to express your condolences or if you were the family who had experienced a loss, a sense of serenity. I know they had been in the room through at least three changes in ownership of the funeral home and still looked lovely and new. Sadly, the funeral home was sold last year and the first thing the new director did was to rip them down and paint the walls. He said they were outdated and it wasn’t the modern look people want. How wrong he was!! I hate to think about the value of what he had destroyed! They were perfect in this home’s architecture and were beautiful inside the moldings like in your bedroom. Now the place feels cold when you walk in. I know this really isn’t the subject of your article, but I couldn’t help sharing when I read it. You make me long for what we’ve lost.
I would like to see some men weigh in on some of these looks. I think they are a trend. What type of look does hubby want to see in some of these rooms?
Great post with good information! I am wondering about size dimensions? Is there a rule of thumb about how many panels to use based on the size of the wall? Or length and width dimensions? Or when to use two panels vs three? I’m referring to the framed panels. seriously considering using chinoiserie panels in my redecorating plan for my living room/dining room, but I don’t want to overdo it.
Your post omitted Iksel. They offer three options:
1. Totally hand painted
2. High quality printed in 4 stock lengths to accommodate most ceiling heights
3. Custom printed where the client specifies the dimensions
The first option is very expensive, the second is mote affordable (about $600/panel retail), trade only when I priced it about a year ago. I didn’t price the third option since I was looking for a room with a conventional ceiling height. I ordered a nice sized sample of the printed version and it was gorgeous.
I talked a lot about Iksel in the previous Mark D. Sikes post. Yes, it’s a very lovely brand. In fact, I’ve mentioned them a few times previously. This post was confined to murals one can purchase online. While there might be, I don’t know anything about those stores.
Very interesting to look at the other pics from the site of the one-star review, Laurel. They demonstrate that a major problem beyond simply finding affordable versions is how to install such panels or murals within a room. The proportions of the whole are extremely important, especially if the mural is of the panoramic landscape type. Restraint about other details (mouldings and so on) is vital, or one simply gets a vulgar mishmash. The style of the room must be appropriate: I think the room in your pic could really do with a Zuber panoramic Italian landscape, it would suit the ceiling much better. In any case, the landscape part really ought to stop a little above the doorway, leaving the section above for sky.
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