Saturday, April 5, 2014

Our Top 4 Tips for Using Chintz

Finally the buds are out on the cherry trees, daffodils are blooming and warmer temps are trending.  Spring  = Flowers and the best way to bring the flowers in year round is with a chintz fabric.  For a while now I have been feeling chintz would make a big comeback this year and it looks like it is back in a major way!  

Originating from India and used frequently in English interiors, Chitz is all about an excess of flowery blooms on a plain background.  Here is the definition of chintz:  

noun: chintz; plural noun: chintzes
  1. 1.
    printed multicolored cotton fabric with a glazed finish, used esp. for curtains and upholstery.

photo of Southern Living via the peak of chic

My mother is an excellent seamstress and I was always choosing "weird" fabric combinations for her to sew.  In high school I chose a flowery pink and green chintz fabric for her to make into a power suit. The suit featured a plain pencil skirt (which I quickly had her shorten to a mini skirt) with a jacket cut in that boxy shoulder-padded style popular in the 80's.  

What made it work was the juxtaposition of the modern suit shape with the romantic organic fabric.  I love how opposite styles often complement each other and look much more interesting than matching styles.  

really?  we wore this? LOL

Chintz may bring back bad memories of Laura Ashley dresses for you older girls  - or stuffy and formal interiors that seem out of touch with the way we live today.  So here are my tips on utilizing a beautiful chintz in a modern way.

photo via Elegant Bride

Tip #1
Mix Chintz With Lacquered Walls & Furniture

Romantic and feminine in nature, chintz feels very English - cozy and classic but can also be blended with edgy, solid wall colors in lacquer finishes like black, teal and red to keep it from feeling too granny - ish.  Or even mix pastel lacquer walls with a dark and moody chintz.  If it was good enough for legendary decorators Billy Baldwin and Dorothy Draper, it's good enough for me! 

photo via Lonny

Tilton Fenwick photo via NYC&G

white lacquer table and floor with a chintz sofa and modern lamp

Tip #2
Mix With Abandon

Charming and quaint The Ivy restaurant in LA has been doing this forever with much success.  Mention the Ivy and thoughts of flowery chintz instantly come to mind.  (as well as great fried chicken and strawberry shortcake!)  The key is not to be too serious and have fun mixing tons of textures (wicker, gingham, ikats, stripes, kilims and even pom pom trim!)  Here are a few examples of great mixing...

the Ivy store Indigo Seas

the Ivy pretty and welcoming!

photo from Furbish Studio/I Suwannee who are famous for their eye popping mixes!

Chintz pillows mix with modern in this bedroom by Jamie Meares of Furbish studio

another Jamie Meares/Furbish combo

Tip #3
Choose a Monochromatic Chintz

Another way to modernize chintz would be to choose a monochromatic chintz which simply means one color is used as in the Schumacher chintz pictured below.  This keeps it looking simple even with the flower motif and mixes fabulously with modern furniture and art.  

Schumacher Hollyhock fabric draped bed - photo via Lonny

another office photo via Lonny

Below is another monochromatic chintz in pink...which I think would look amazing on a modern classic like the Arne Jacobsen egg chair...

Bennison chintz photo via Stylebeat

Alessandra Branca's take on chintz with horizontal stripes and ebony floors  

another view of the Branca space with chintz used sparingly on the chairs and pillows

an upholstered set of chairs in a monochromatic chintz by Celerie Kemble from the Hamptons Showhouse...

another monochromatic Branca chintz on a modern chair

Tip #4
Use Chintz Wallpaper

Limiting chintz to the walls keeps it from overwhelming a space and lets the larger scaled patterns display in all their glory.  This is particularly great in unexpected places like the rooms below.  Really adventurous!

kitchen design by Holly Becker and Joanna Copestick

cupcakes and cashmere bathroom with ellie cashman chintz wallpaper

big gorgeous blooming wallpaper from mr. perswall

Of course you could always chintz up your vehicle as well like the folks at Laura Ashley...

via Laura Ashley

So there you have it....Chintz isn't for everyone and 
proper English chintz has its place in traditional interiors but if you prefer mixing chintz with something a bit more modern try our tips and don't be afraid to experiment!  

Until Next Time,


  1. Love Chintz and love your take on it! xo

  2. I could not agree more it can be mixed for an eclectic look and my friend designer Joel Woodard first used that lovely charcoal gray Schumacher chintz at his Mansion In May Bedroom, it was fantastic and is featured in Celerie Kemble's Black and White book!! Great Post!


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