Friday, August 5, 2011

Mary McDonald - The Glamour of Chinoiserie

Today I have the great pleasure of sharing with you my interview with interior designer Mary McDonald. Mary's work is nothing short of a master class in how to use Chinoiserie. Her style is sophisticated, glamorous, feminine, stylish, and elegant. I chose her interview to coincide with Pagoda Week here at Chinoiserie Chic, because pagodas are clearly one of her signature touches. If her book Mary McDonald Interiors -  The Allure of Style is not in your library, it needs to be. Please enjoy the interview and some of my favorite rooms of hers with Chinoiserie elements. Next week - my interview with Meg Braff.

Q - How do you use Chinoiserie?

A - I honestly have used Chinoiserie as a design element in numerous applications: curtain valances, side tables, wall brackets, galleried cabinets, hand painting on furniture, custom four post beds. My list is endless, but I usually choose only one Chinoiserie element per room or it gets too wedding cakey.

Q - Why do you like to use Chinoiserie?

A - I love the feminine and fanciful part of it. It can take an otherwise perfectly ordinary room and add a bit of whimsical charm. It's easy to overdose on though so one has to use restraint.

Q - What does Chinoiserie add to a room?

A - Whimsical elegance.

Q - What are your favorite Chinoiserie pieces?

A - I can never turn down a Chinoiserie mirror because it is so easy to use in a broad range of interiors. I probably love my custom designed Chinoiserie bed which I have produced for other people. I love the way I designed the fretwork at the top with a small little pagoda folly in the middle. Who doesn't love something with carved bells on it? (Pages 48 and 55 in my book!)

I am really a Chinoiserie tramp, so choosing is almost impossible.

Q - To what do you attribute Chinoiserie's appeal for centuries and its recent resurgence?

A - Gosh, I am not that old yet, not so sure. Close though.

Thanks for thinking of me Beth.

Best Wishes,


Mary McDonald's Custom Chinoiserie Bed


  1. I just love each and every picture! Thank you for sharing this interview. Looking forward to read the next.


  2. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!!

  3. Beautiful work!! I am a designer and have found that my taste changes a few times a year, almost like a crush/fling with a certain look or design quality and then it goes away and eventually comes back again. Well I've fallen for Chinoiserie thanks to your blog and Mary's work is such a lovely representation of how well it works in a fresh, clean space! I love her on Million Dollar Decorator and hope they come back for a second season!! thanks:)