Bird is the word. From hieroglyphics, we know that the ancient Egyptians kept birds as pets. Ancient Chinese art also boasts avian representations, from floral and bird patterns on pottery and bronze to the flower-and-bird paintings of the Tang Dynasty. An affinity for birds continued across eras and cultures, as illustrated by such trends as the Victorians’ use of elaborate indoor cages. Bird home decor themes are still taking flight in today’s world of interior design.
Chinoiserie refers to the 17th-and 18th-century European design style that celebrated Chinese motifs. England, Italy, France and Germany were four of the many countries that took inspiration from Chinese design during this time. The result: fabrics, screens, furniture, paintings, vases and other objet d’art filled with exotic floral and bird representations.
Chinoiserie has experienced a revival in recent years, from Wedgwood’s Chinoiserie china pattern designed by Jasper Conran to Dwell Studio’s Chinoiserie-patterned place mat, pillow and bedding products.
The elaborate, old-world feel of a crisp chinoiserie print can be a tempting centerpiece for a blank palette, and design afficionados are repeatedly drawn to this opulent style.
Modern Bird Motifs
Chinoiserie aside, modern bird motifs, whether they appear in detailed prints, tabletop trinkets or handcrafted treasures, combine a bit of the old with a bit of the new.
Designers often look to the past when deciding how to incorporate bird decor into a space. A modern update of antique porcelain bird figurines has swept through gift shops, high end boutiques and design magazines. The all-white surface of these ceramic treasures blends nicely with other whitewashed items, such as stoneware and milk glass, yet the figurines are equally striking when combined with shelf-top items in a variety of colors.
Vintage ceramic peacock figurines are also of interest to collectors, as their fun and flamboyance can add kitsch and charm to a space. As with chinoiserie, Dwell Studio designed a New Peacock bedding set to embellish its collection and many a boudoir.
Indie craft fairs are full of bird-themed items, including pillows, stuffed birdies made from felt, and original artwork. Even established stores such as Pottery Barn jumped on the bird craft bandwagon, offering handmade-looking felt products for kids’ decor.
Bird Home Decor Items
Bird decor can be elegantly all-encompassing, stylishly simple or a combination of the two, providing endless possibilities for avian ornamentation. When inviting bird decor into the home, consider the following:
- Will the bird-inspired pieces be accents, or will they take center stage? Bird-themed wallpaper, rugs and bedding can be powerful scene-stealing backdrops. On the other hand, one strategically-placed bird- and floral-themed painting can make just as powerful a punch by serving as a room’s focal point.
- Will decor be traditional, modern, or a mix of styles? The classic elegance of bird-themed decor can add a traditional element to more modern rooms, as with a chinoiserie-revival pillow in bold colors. At the same time, interspersing modern bird figurines in a more traditional space can create an updated feel that revives a room.
- Is decorating on a budget a necessity? If so, bird decor can be very economical. Its popularity makes it prevalent in a variety of shops at a variety of price ranges. Some craft shows offer bargains on one-of-a-kind items, as does Etsy, which provides both hand-crafted and vintage items. If vintage and antique items are of interest, check out thrift shops and antique malls for eye-catching avian accents.
Enjoy the endless possibilities as you let your ideas take flight!
“Chinoiserie.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 30 Jun. 2010
“Flower and Bird Painting.” Art Realization. 2005. artrealization.com. 30 Jun. 2010
Rating: 3 out of 5