How To Decorate With Chintz Without It Looking Like The 1980’s

The Almost Laughable History Behind Chintz

Chintz is a stunning cotton fabric that is printed with bold flowers, fruit or birds and other patterns in different colors.  This design was really popular in the 80’s, and has made its presence back into homes today.

Originally this fabric was produced in India from 1600 to 1800 and it’s debut became quite popular.

Around 1600, the Portuguese and Dutch traders brought chintz into Europe, and by 1680 more than a million pieces of chintz were being imported into Holland, England and France.

As the popularity of chintz grew so much that the English and French mills grew concerned that they couldn’t keep up with the demand.  As silly as it was,  in 1686 the French banned all chintz imports, and then in 1720 England also enacted a law that prevented people from wearing chintz, furnishing their homes with chintz.  The law stated you couldn’t use it on bedding, chairs, cushions and other furniture. As if there weren’t more important things to grow concerned of than if you had chintz in your home…..

Even though owning chintz was considered a crime, loopholes in the legislation allowed the Court of Versailles, and the elite to continue wearing chintz. Go figure! It wasn’t until 1759, when the ban was lifted, and mills were once again able to produce chintz.

Great Chintz Florals

How To Make Chintz Modern Today Without It Looking Like the 80’s

Dorothy Draper and David Hicks in the 1950’s used chintz to add instant glam to a room.  In the 80’s chintz reached a whole new level of popularity.  Today chintz is still a fabulous choice, and can add softness to a room, and bring the beauty of the garden in.

Here are MY OPINIONS of what to look for when searching for a print for your home………

-1.  Avoid Smaller Scale Chintz- Most of the modern patterns today have larger floral designs, rather than congested, really complex patterns that dominated the 80’s.  There are lovely patterns out there that are smaller in scale, but in my opinion they can get stuffy if you use too much of them in a room.  If you do go with a smaller scale floral, work it on a lampshade, or edging for a throw pillow, or as an accent pattern.

Dated Chintz Florals2.  Opt For Something On A White Or Dark Background–   There are some spectacular chintz patterns on a colored background that look quite expensive.  Light blue backgrounds, creamy yellow, along with beige, or gray are all really spectacular choices.  If you are finding it hard to pick a pattern, you can never go wrong with white or black based chintz.  White will pop against blue, green, or beige painted walls.  It also looks fresh and new.  Working with colored chintz, can be a little more difficult……..  beautiful but tricky.

3.  Avoid Dated Colors Like Hunter Green, and Butter Yellow In Chintz- Stick to overall patterns with limited color schemes.  It seems like in the 80’s they wanted to pull together blue and red together, or just a whole rainbow of colors in one print.  You don’t want a pattern with hunter green, teal or black  as your background with red and pink flowers.

4.  Avoid Finishing Your Upholstery With Ruffles…..

Ruffles looks really beautiful with natural fabrics such as linen, duck canvas, and other simplistic designs, but when it comes to Chintz, I would avoid it.  I adore ruffles, but because it was one of the most popular ways to finish edging on upholstery or on headboards 30 years ago, it could appear dated today.  Go for a straight cuts, pleated finishes, or scalloped edging that could really look professionally finished today.

Quadrille Fabrics

 Stunning Quadrille Fabric Used as A Table Cloth

Early 19th Century Federal SofaEarly 19th Century Federal Sofa Comer & Co

How To Re-Decorate Your Home Without Blowing Your Budget And Making Your Husband Angry

Having a impressive home that is admired by many does not require a grand large scale estate to make it statement worthy to be in a magazine. Small homes with very little inside can be be eye catching and memorable.

I challenge you to analyze homes which are featured in high end editorials, and you will notice the same things that I do. ….. First, they often have very minimal accessories.

In other words, the overall layout tends to be uncluttered with only a few accessories that add to the design. Secondly, editorials featuring designer homes always feature a few carefully chosen antiques.  So with that being said……..

1.  Uncluttered Appearance Shows Better

2.  Re-Purpose Furniture With Great Bones

Many designers tend to start their design process by first looking at the furniture their client already has in their homes.  Items which show good quality and has the potential to be modified to look even better.

Sometimes all it takes is shuffling around furniture and accessories from one room to another to create a cohesive design.

Creating a theme in a room, and unifying pieces that work together can look more thought-out than miss-matching furniture.

Less also can be more.  If you have an extra chair, or a nightstand that doesn’t fit in a small room, instead of making it work, just get rid of it.

Almost everyone knows, the easiest way to create unity is focus on upholstery, fabric, paint or color.

If you enjoy a contemporary, or modern appearance…. work with the same furniture, such as a sofa and two matching chairs, and choose a showcase piece such as modern decorative piece for the wall, a rug, or a dining table that gives the room a surprise.

Shop In Your Own Home– If you have a mom who is willing to let you look through her home for a piece or two, take her up on it.  You just never know what you can re-purpose.  Perhaps a grandmother is willing to let go of a few pieces that can give you a new running start on a new decorating theme.

3.  Invest In The Really Unique Pieces

Simple furnishings, such as solid colored sofas, accent chairs, coffee tables, and end tables are pretty basic and easy buys.  If you have furniture that you can re-purpose in your own home, by refinishing, or painting, go for it.

Then begin to invest with a few statement pieces that on their own define a room and captivate attention.  Keep your eyes open at estate sales, antique malls, antique stores, and on craigslist and ebay and slowly exchange things out and swap up.

Shopping online can be very easy, and the most enjoyable.  You still can experience the thrill of the hunt, but do it in your pajamas.

4.  Flooring Can Make A HUGE Difference

Almost anyone can find an attractive sofa, side chair, throws and accent pillows, but the one investment that really pays off is nice looking flooring.  It really can make a tremendous difference.  Flooring can go a long way in a design, and can be the best investment that does go a long way when renovating a space.  If you have hard wood under that carpet….shame on you girl!

5.  Stick To A Theme

When I mention theme, I am not talking about a tacky zoo theme, or a room defined by a collection, but a broad definition of the style you are attracted to.

Knowing what you like, and what you are after can do wonders when deciding new furniture that comes into your house.

As a visitor, you want to be able to define the homeowners taste a moment upon gazing into a room.  Of course, some people could care less about design, but if you are interested in decorating, your room can appear as though you put some thought into it, and that you have talent for picking things out.  Soon your friends will be asking your advice on a pick or two.

Rustic and country looking will look much different than traditional polished rooms, or modern edgy looks.  Decide the angle you are after, and when you find a few pieces to add to your home along the way, it will be easy to determine what will work, and what might look out of place.

Decorating your home is a journey in self-discovery. Your home should be the place that ultimately reflect you, so why not take a leap and really go after what you like….  Do you like Chintz?

Bowood by Colefax & Fowler, Seen on ZsaZsa Bellagio

Bowood by Colefax & Fowler, Seen on ZsaZsa Bellagio

Flickr / alyssamerrickphotography

Tory Burch's home located in the Hamptons

Tory Burch’s home located in the Hamptons

Crimson and Creme flair inspired by an antique Indian chintz.

Crimson and Creme flair inspired by an antique Indian chintz-

Swedish Cottage Breakfast Room

Floral Cottage Breakfast Room – Pinterest Via L i l y O a k e


Suzanne Rheinstein

Suzanne Rheinstein

Deeda Blair

Deeda Blair