From antique stores and grandmothers’ cabinets, Chinoiserie-esque décor remains ubiquitous in contemporary design
A GENRE OF REPRODUCTION DESIGN dating back to 17th- and 18th-century Western Europe, Chinoiserie has long been associated with affluence and Asian-inspired scenes. Commonly misconceived as art imported from Asia, these pieces more likely originated as Western interpretations of Asian culture and were designed to cater to European audiences, who were enamored with the beautiful design and sense of worldly wonder they provide.
“Today, antique or original ginger jars and other Chinoiserie objects are still used as finishing accessories, which can be notable due to their value and legacies,” says Kelly Caron, owner and principal of Kelly Caron Designs, ASID.
The current rise of the Grandmillennial aesthetic has kept this perennial favorite in view — with a fresh spin.
“A Grandmillennial is a person who understands what ‘a classic’ is, yet is also modern, independent and confident in showcasing heirloom décor — the perfect twist of old meets new age,” adds Caron.
Revamped iterations of the familiar motifs have jumped off the ceramics, like ginger jars, and onto other accessories, like lamps, or even larger design elements, including wall coverings, fabric prints, dinnerware and more.
“Several of my recent Lowcountry clients had fabulous collections of many styles of ginger jars and Chinoiserie objects. So, we designed their home interiors with flexibility to include the homeowners’ [pieces], blending old and new décor items within the same context,” says Caron.
At one of her client’s homes in the Colleton River Club in Bluffton, South Carolina, Caron curated the placement of ginger jars throughout the great room as an ideal complement to the calming, coastal blue palette.
For those who favor a richer contrast to the typical blue and white, Caron suggests incorporating warm spice tones, like orange, into the mix. Don’t be afraid to mix and match colors, sizes and styles, either.
But, first, Caron recommends finding anchor pieces that will serve as a focal point. Then, layer elegant frames or other charming accessories.
“I love adding decorative plates on a wall or stand,” she says. “Layering is important. It is the touch that elevates an ordinary built-in or other space into an inviting, well-curated presentation.”
At a different project in Palmetto Bluff, Caron pulled the homeowners’ collection of ceramics onto the entryway, creating a cascading effect on the stairs.
For a simpler recreation, consider framing the front door with large, hand-painted planters — a tip from Caron’s own home.
“I love them through all seasons!” she says.
Kelly Caron is the founder and principal designer at Kelly Caron Designs, ASID. Emerging over the last decade as a leading force in the thriving Lowcountry design community, Caron has set the tone for a region defined by its elegant luxury homes and stunning commercial spaces.
Armed with degrees in both technology and design and interior design, plus a minor degree in fine art — all from Appalachian State University — she continued her education at Boston Architectural College with emphasis on sustainable design.
Caron successfully passed the NCIDQ and holds her professional ASID. Her captivating designs and unique ability to blend authenticity and natural elements have not only set a Lowcountry precedent, they’ve also placed Caron and team at the center of evolving design trends, as reflected by publications including House Beautiful, Country Living, Garden & Gun and, now, Savannah HOMES magazine.
Alongside husband, Nate, and daughter, Emma, Kelly enjoys outdoor adventures, local cultural events and giving back to the community.