By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News
Get ready for it: Chintz is staging a decorating comeback, big time.
Picture the Victorian days when sofas and chairs were covered in posh velvets, only to be slipcovered in a happy flowered chintz when summer arrived. I remember my grandmother’s home, and it was filled with furniture covered during the warmer months with glazed summer chintz.
I believe the only negative thing about chintz is its name. Millennials often identify the word “chintz” with descriptions such as “gaudy,” “stodgy” and “overdone.”
“Oh,” says the younger decorator, “I don’t want it to look chintzy. I want it elegant.” And so, my dear wonderful chintz that I love so much, maybe you need to change your name.
I have been making the rounds this summer of the design markets in France, London and Italy, where being in style is always important. And I have seen plenty of decorators who are shopping for fabrics going for wovens and solids — oh, so boring but perfectly contemporary.
But I have also seen polished-cotton chintz fabrics finding their way onto accent chairs, sofa cushions and drapery. The hottest new lounge in London’s Berkeley hotel is very chintz-oriented and has become one of the in-places in jolly old England, where chintz has always been in style.
There’s something about they way that polished chintz catches the light that I just love.
Now, don’t think of chintz as only a flowery fabric. Certainly you’ll find patterns scattered with blooming roses; but chintz also can feature images of Chinese ginger jars, Staffordshire dogs or English ivy vines — and any number of other images.
Because Palm Beach’s weather can seem like it’s summer year-round, island homes are perfect places to experiment with chintz.
My staff recently found a beautiful pineapple-patterned chintz with yellows, soft melons and greens on a white background. It would be perfect for a Palm Beach living room. We quilted the fabric, following the outline of the pattern, and used it on club chairs in a room with pineapple-yellow walls. That color has just a hint of green in it — something to remember if you’re choosing paint.
Elsewhere in the room, we used a nubby cream cotton for upholstery on the sofa and accented it with throw cushions covered in the pineapple chintz. Windows were treated with louver shutters painted white.
And while the room looked simple and uncluttered, the chintz added a charming accent all its own.
For all who have a design project on the horizon, take a fresh look at chintz, a fabric that I believe will never ever fade into the decorating sunset.