19 March 2008

chinois on the cheap...

one of maison21's clients has a sexy vintage chinoiserie writing table (black lacquer with gold leaf detail), that is oh so pretty and oh so useless. it has room to store maybe a pen and a couple sheets of paper, and that's it. so m21 has been searching for a companion piece to add a little storage and functionality, and turn the now merely decorative piece into a functional, working desk. anyone have a vintage chinoiserie blanket chest that maison21 can retrofit to serve as a file cabinet/bench by adding a cushion to the top? piece needs to fit under a large window with a low sill- any leads would be appreciated, as m21 is stumped.

anyway, during during his hunt, maison21 randomly came across a website- that is kind of a virtual chinatown. lots of kitsch- paper fans, buddha statues, shoji screens, etc- the flotsam of many different asian cultures (real and imagined) mashed into one store. just like in a real chinatown! and of course, just like real chinatown gift shop, there are always a few jewels amongst the tourist crap:

maison21 thought these towel sets were actually kind of cool- both simple and a bit dramatic. m21 isn't a big fan of embroidery on towels- he likes to keep it simple in the bath- but he'd make an exception for these (maybe). though the black & gold borders on kitsch, maison21 loves it the most- he sees it in a dark and dramatic powder room. $189 for 7 pcs.

maison21 knows from reading his blogging friend decorno's frequent "reader decorating dilemma" posts, that lots of fledgling decoristas have trouble finding wall art that has both size and impact, so one of these gold leaf screens would fill up 6 feet of wall space for 200 bucks. they ain't perfect by any means (that border- *shudder*), but maison21 can see one in a dining room with the walls lacquered eggplant or a chinese red. voila- instant drama!
these sunny yellow jar lamps are kinda fab (this pick is a shout out to habitually chic's current yellow obsession). you'd have to toss the not-right shade and finial first thing, but with a shorter, updated shade (maybe black), maison21 thinks these lamps would look far costlier than their $200.00 price tag. course, with new shades and finials, i guess they would be costlier too! oops!
last, maison21 thought that these silk covered journals would be great little inexpensive gifts- $15.00 each or $55.00 for a set of 4.
the website put maison21 in the mind of another chinois on the cheap chinatown shopping standby, pearl river mart (if you live in manhattan, you already know of it). on their site, he saw this deliciously colorful chinese brocade fabric with a cherry blossom motif- at $12.50 a yard, he's sure someone, somewhere, can figure out a use for it:

a while back, maison21 bought a bunch of different size, shape, and color paper lanterns similar to these at pearl, added some cheap $3.99 cords from ikea ($5.50 at pearl river) and transformed a portion of a back yard that was basically a driveway with overgrown trees above it, into a festive courtyard for a summer party. he particularly loves this big 24" oval version for $12.50!

so whaddya y'all think? chic on the cheap? or cheapo chinois?


Pigtown-Design said...

M21--- an east coast resource for all things chinese is Pearl River Mart in NYC. They used to say they were the largest chinese department store outside of china. They also used to be located above the stalls on Canal Street and you had to search for the right door... otherwise you'd end up in some opium den.

With so much of our decor being transitional, unless you're hunting for an heirloom piece, these are fun. I get the brocade silk notebooks by the armload - and at Pearl River, they're a fiver!

maison21 said...

meg- i've long known of pearl river, and had in fact added it to this post, but somehow as i blearily published the post last evening at 2 in the morning, the pearl river mart portion didn't save. so as you were leaving your comment, i was simultaineously adding back in pearl river mart to my post!

what i didn't know is that they had those brocade notebooks for 5 bucks! i wonder if i can cancel my order for the $15.00 dollar version! just goes to show it pays to shop around!

thanks, meg!

Pigtown-Design said...

And the PRM ones have "leather" bindings and corners to keep them from being beaten up... also fun designs on the pages.

Habitually Chic said...

Thanks for the lamp suggestion! I love the yellow! The next time you come to NYC, we must go to Pearl River together! It's the most amazing store. I can just see you in the Chinoiserie silk pajamas now!

I kind of miss it's old location on Canal. I always thought I might get mugged or bit by a rat. You also had to blow the dust off some of their wares so I guess I am glad they are in a new clean location!

Anonymous said...

I love the yellow jar lamps and *forgive* me but I even like the slope on those shades.....
love your posts
sara L.

maison21 said...

hi sara l.-

thanks for your kind words!

i don't mind the shape the shade either, really- it just looks a little too tall or something...

thanks for visiting!

Alkemie said...

I say Chic on the Cheap! I love chinois elements. Great post and I really love that yellow lamp in the middle there!