Monday, January 5, 2009

Bringing a little of China into your home

Eggshell pottery bowl from Jiangxi Province where Grace was born. The ceramic pieces come packed in wonderful boxes, but we still hand carried this back on the plane. Way too fragile to ship.
My dining room, showing a table with an antique teapot, Tang horse(new) and red lacquer box (about 40 years old). The box has an image of a Phoenix on it. The green horse sits in a window, Grace was born in the year of the horse.

Antique jade incense burner that normally sits in a cupboard in our dining room. The lion represents power and it was usually reserved for royalty. We bought this piece at an antique shop in Guangzhou. It's small, only about 4 inches tall.
Antique cloisonne urn (bought in Will's province), it sits on our mantel. Also folk art print hangs in our family room with 2 others. I love the vibrant colors and primitive style. The red dragon box on top of our armoire in our family room was bought from China Sprout.

Our hallway on the landing going upstairs. The celadon green vase is an antique piece from China, the emperor next to it is from Pier 1. The scrolls(4) have a whole story behind them, found them at a little shop in Nanchang and they are original watercolors. The artist and his wife invited us in for tea and we stayed about an hour. Negotiate for everything you buy (that part was fun for me).

Some of Grace's room. Asian toile print on her duvet cover, a Chinese kite and old cupboard on her dresser with her baby shoes from China and a panda teapot.

These are 2 of my most treasured possessions, a tea set from Grace's province and silver bracelets that were given to her by our guide when we traveled in 2003. I put them in a shadowbox and keep them on my dresser but they will be Grace's someday.

Master bedroom and I used a toile print with an Asian theme for the duvet. Also the print above the bed is of boats on the South China Sea.

We started the process to adopt Grace in the summer of 2001. Of the many questions asked of us in the interviews for that first home study, I distinctly remember our social worker asking us if we had any Chinese art or anything with a Chinese theme in our home. I had to think about it a bit and told her no. Our social worker was born in Korea and adopted by an American family here 40 some years ago, recommended to us that it would be a good idea to start reading about China, some of it's history and bring something into our homes that we loved from that culture. I took her suggestion to heart and since that day have read about China and it's history and people. I wanted to learn everything I could about my daughter's birthplace. My daughter and son both had a history before they came to live with me. And so will yours. So I started to learn about Chinese art and the different themes of nature, how flowers and fish are frequently used, the Lion, the Rabbit, the Phoenix and the Dragon and what they represent. Those are just a few. I firmly believe that it's important to have a part of China's (or your child's birth country) culture in our homes. The above pictures show how I've brought some of China to my home. I can't explain my style of decorating other than it's eclectic and reflects our life, our travels and our family's history I suppose. I've been to China twice and I've been fortunate that my husband has traveled with his work quite a few times to China, Korea, Japan and Singapore and brought some things back too. But you can find Asian style items in antique shops and flea markets and in stores like World Market, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Gumps(in San Francisco), stores in Chinatown in any major city and my ever favorites Target and Pier 1. You can find Asian inspired fabrics at any fabric store and if you're crafty you can sew something or if not, have it made. There are also websites like....Gumps, Wisteria and China Sprout.Start out small...maybe with one inexpensive item and see if you like it. My home by no means is all Asian in style. Grace and William actually play with the ceramic Fu (good luck) dogs that are in our entryway. When you travel to China buy what you can fit in your suitcases and ship some things home too. You'll see colorful folk art paintings, paper cutting, Chinese knots, embroidery, ceramics, jade carvings and jewelry, cloisonne, calligraphy, silk fabric, ink and wash paintings and countless other art forms. Your child's province will have something specific that it's known for. Grace's (Jiangxi) is known for a specific type of pottery. Will's (Fujian) is known for it's tea. I encourage you to celebrate your child's culture.

23 kind words:

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely wonderful!

OH MY #6 said...

Oh my gosh, Gail, what an awesome post! Honestly have had read through it twice and will do so again. Love the folkart. Love it all.

funny we are totally ecectic also! No matchy, matchy for me.

Seriously, thank you, for doing this post my friend. I learn so much from you.


Jboo said...

Oh wow -- so many beautiful treasures and displayed so lovingly in your home! I need to do a better job at bringing more of China into our home - you've inspired me. Great post!


suzanne said...

Your bedroom is so tidy!!!!!!!! Its a lovely post.


Chris and Deb said...

Thanks for sharing all of beautiful Chinese treasures Gail! I just love that little cloisonne tea pot! The incredible shopping is one thing I loved when we were in China the first time.....but I think I am even going to go crazier this next time around! :) we come! :)

a Tonggu Momma said...

What a wonderful post, Gail!!! I am inspired to post something similar, with a link to you, if that's okay?

Isabella's Mommy and Daddy said...

Gail... your house is BEAUTIFUL..
I sooo can not wait to have these amazing things in our house..
I will need you to help me when it is my turn to go..
I want so many things to bring home with us for Isabella..
Thanks for sharing..

Ashley said...

Bravo Gail!! Your treasures are beautiful and meaningful. Thank you so much for sharing them!
:) Ashley

Kerry said...

Wonderful words of advice, Gail. I so enjoyed seeing your beautiful pieces and learning about how you incorporate bits of China throughout your home. You have some lovely pieces and have displayed them artfully in your home. I so enjoy all of our treaures too and love the wonderful memories they bring back.
Thank you for your post. I am inspired!

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

What beautiful treasures...I love your eclectic style!!

You are so right, you don't have to go to China to find Asian inspired things...they are everywhere!! I feel like I have seen the Asian Toile that is on Grace's bed....was it PBKids?? I keep looking at it, thinking where have I seen that??

Great post Gail....thanks for sharing all your beautiful things with us!


Michelle said...

What beautiful Asian accents around your home. I just love both duvet covers - they are gorgeous! I agree that it's important to have things around your home that reflect your children. Unfortunately, for us, it is far more difficult to find Russian pieces, but I enjoy the hunt for new treasures.

Life with JJ, Starr and Spice said...

Very cool post. I love the items that you have acquired along the way.

The items that we have I hold near and dear to my heart as well and I hope the children do too.

Jill said...

Gail, loved this post my friend. You have an incredible collection! We also purchased quite a bit of porcelain in Jiangxi. It was BEAUTIFUL!

Anonymous said...


I LOVE what you have from china!!

The Morris Family said...

What a terrific sense of style you have Gail! Your home reflects your family beautifully!

China Dreams said...

Okay, I feel like a slouch now. I have a decent collection of Chinese decor that my cousin's wife bought for me several years ago when she was a buyer and made regular trips to China. I even have cotton pjs for myself and the big kids (who were little then) with the twist-tie closings and embroidered front. Where are they all? In the attic, of course. Will have to take a cue from you.

Cyndi said...

Great post. Love all your pretty keepsakes, I have the same Tang horse in my living room.
have a great Wednesday.

htownjenny said...

Thanks for the post! Your Chinese items are lovely. I have been thinking about this very topic this week, as we prepare to go pick up our 6 year old daughter in Beijing this spring. I have read about the flea markets in Beijing and hope to get a few things for our house while in China. Did you visit any fleas when you were there or in Guangzhou?

Femin Susan said...

Hello……. !
Very cute all these pictures... Great……. may god bless you !

Sharon said...

Those are amazing pictures of such beautiful and meaningful things!! I love the whole post!! You are very talented!! I love everything you do missy!!!

Truly Blessed! said...

Beautiful - each and every bit of it. What a lovely way to integrate the beauty of China into your American home!

Laura L. said...

Hi Gail,
I love this post. It's really neat to see all of the lovely things that you have in your home.
It's inspiring too.
Thanks for sharing!


Steffie B. said...

This is fabulous....I plan to bring a lot more home this time....I bought lots of stuff for Sophia but not as much as I would have liked for our home.

Your home is beautiful have done a wonderful job with the decorating....


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