before & after: handpainted chinoiserie door

“You know you’re really nobody in LA unless you live in a house with a really big door.” — Steve Martin, LA Story

I don’t want to think about what my peeling, drafty door with broken hardware says to the world about me :) On the other end of the spectrum is this gilded Chinoiserie door from hotelier and writer Maryam Montigue, which stopped me in my tracks. Maryam commissioned Melanie Royals to create a modello for the entry to one of the pavilions in her hotel in Marrakesh. A modello is a decorative masking pattern — think “luxury stencil.” According to Maryam, modellos are well worth the cost, and I’m inclined to believe her based on these results. It was a beautifully dramatic door to begin with, but the gold Chinoiserie takes it to a whole new level. Great work, Maryam! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read more about Maryam’s gilded door after the jump!

Time: about one day

Cost: $450 for the custom modello design, $20 for paint

Basic Steps: The Modello patterns are applied the same way as vinyl decals (similar material) and are not very difficult, but extra sets of hands for a project that size are recommended. Once the Modello is up, you simply fill in with paint (either stencil brush or roller) and remove the pattern. The best part is that Melanie’s making stencils of it soon — just in case you want a little Chinoiserie in your home, too! Maryam

  1. nicole says:

    sorry but i like it better the other way, now it looks garish and and the floral filligree is much too clustered for my tastes

  2. Rick Shaver says:

    Beautiful. It inspires all kinds of ideas for all kinds of doors. Even those unfortunate bi-fold type closet doors can be elevated to elegance if you consider a design and change the hardware. Of course these doors were grand to begin with but this post shows how you can make any door more beautiful.

  3. Brittany says:

    Oh my word, one of the most incredible things I’ve seen in a while. I love all of the Before & Afters you feature, but THIS takes it to another level. Wow!

  4. stacia says:

    made my day with the LA Story quote. sx

  5. Wow…such detail! Such patience. Very impressive. Stand-out work.

  6. Wow. What a statement the after makes. I think this is the first before & after that I actually would want the before! The architecture is so stunning on its own. My husband and I take photos of interesting doors whenever we travel; this one would definitely be in the compilation.

  7. bluie says:

    I like the before picture a lot more.

  8. Tamsin Allen says:

    I love the after, and it would certainly not be out of place in Marrakesh. It looks beautiful.

  9. Fay says:

    Just because one CAN embellish, does not always mean that one SHOULD. The door was so perfect in it’s simple functionality, why guild the lily, or in this case, the already fabulous door? Just my 2 cents…

  10. hena tayeb says:

    A bit much for my taste..

  11. Actually this door is much more muted than the pictures would indicate. Design Sponge brightened them considerably. To give you an idea the brass lantern that is all bright and shiny over the door is actually an old antique — a darker brass. The gold of the door is accordingly also much more muted.

  12. Jamie says:

    I think if the design was filled in with different colours it would be much prettier and less gaudy. Black and gold is an acquired taste perhaps.When I saw the title of this post I thought it would look like colourful victorian wallpaper. I think that would have been a more lovely choice. Not my door though.

  13. isabel says:

    Nice job, love the gold. thanks.

  14. Heather says:

    This is beautiful. I love the effect of taking a small area and doing something really decadent with it. Inspiring!

  15. Hellen Mohn says:

    The door was precious ‘as was’….as the saying goes : less is more. For my taste the ornate treatment is overkill.

  16. marv says:

    I love it. Tone on tone may be more of a crowd pleaser. The gold gives it that feel of 30s B-movie exotic sojourn (East of Borneo.) A nice anticipation when you step through a door like this!

  17. Marie says:

    I love gold on black. I think if the image had been slightly more delicate or, in the other extreme, more focused, it would work better.

  18. Sarah says:

    I love it! It might even be a bit understated for Morocco…

  19. Lex says:

    This is beautiful. Now, I’m thinking of all the things I could Modello…

  20. Arti says:

    It’s beautiful, no question, but I find it a little jarring too. Maybe because now I can’t see the architecture of the door itself?

  21. Miss Heliotrope says:

    I preferred it before as well…

  22. I love beatiful and exotic doors like this.
    I need to show this in my blog. May I?

  23. Alex says:

    c’est une salade “maroco-chinoise”….. too much!

  24. Heather says:

    Someone guilded the lily.

  25. Harriet says:

    If you’d have described this project to me, I would have assumed it might be awful but it’s the most effective door transformation I’ve ever seen. So beautiful.

  26. Wanda says:

    There are a million beautiful and architecturally stunning doors out there to look at. I appreciate the idea and how beautiful it turned out! I would love to go through those doors any day. Great job.

  27. dinah says:

    I think it looks nice! I could totally see myself getting a pic of me with this door as the background. Love it!

  28. Amelia says:

    if it ain’t broken, why fix it? Sorry!

  29. Nell G says:

    Both before and afters are beautiful! Altho I live in the more staid mid-atlantic, I could see myself punching up one room in my house with this process. Thanks for sharing!

  30. Kitty says:

    I love both the before & after, both are beautiful in their own ways.
    The painted door feels like it would open up to somewhere magical.

  31. Elaine says:

    I LOVE the door. What kind of paint did you use for the gold leaf?

  32. Judith says:

    This was the first before and after that ever made me smile. Yes it was beautiful before but I scrolled dow with anticipation over what would be done and I was wowed. Perhaps those who didn’t like it needed to see it in the context of the whole room or house. It makes a bold statement about the owners. I loved it

  33. Erin says:

    Really lovely. I wish I had a door like that!

  34. Melissa says:

    I think the after is strikingly beautiful.

  35. katharina says:

    I love the lamp, but the after is way too much. I liked the door before and would add some extras – like the lamp

  36. kai says:

    I think its a little too busy, sometimes less is more…

  37. Luci says:

    SO many haters! I think it’s awesome – a total statement, and even though the entryway had a nice shape before, I thought the doors themselves kind of looked… a bit crap. Not any more! Brilliant job.

  38. Merci Lucy ! It was a awesome project…..I was part of the Peacock painters and we had sooo much doing it. Check also the other big project we did while staying at the Peacock Pavillons , a yoga stenciled floor inspired from African textiles. See Maryam’s blog, “My Marrakesh”. Check too Melanie Royals ‘s Modello designs .. !!

  39. Jessi says:

    I think it’s absolutely awesome!
    Like stepping into another country.

    Great job.

  40. cristal says:

    It looks way better before … it looks cheap and tacky now … not impressed

  41. Sarah says:

    I’m a fan of gold/ brass on black AND chinoiserie so I really like the concept. Unfortunately-the execution left it looking too “crafty”. I was imagining something sort of decadent or bohemian, but this is along the lines of a faux marble mantel (non ironic) or something. Metallic Paint is tricky…

  42. Tom Henman says:

    It’s so easy to leave a negative comment. I am pictured in the photos above and worked on several projects at Peacock Pavillions. If you were to see the room in a whole, you would see how beautiful it is. After spending 11 days in Marrakech, this amount of pattern and color is nothing.

  43. Lorinda says:

    I thought this was fabulous and it made me happy to look at it. It really started percolating ideas on how a door truly does say something about the space one is about to enter.Thank you for sharing!

  44. Kris says:

    I think the door turned our beautiful. I don’t think it looks garish because you can still see the background of the original door.

  45. Alice C H says:

    I think this door is beautiful. I especially like the fact
    that it is different; and don’t understand why the modern love affair with plain and passionless in this country.

    The only thing I would have done differently to soften it a bit is to add a layer of antiquing medium applied with a soft rag in circular an dabbing motions. I hope the negative reactions have not caused you to rethink your unique door.

  46. michelle says:

    This is so inspiring . . . My door is much smaller, but that shouldn’t stop me!


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