House & Garden image by Simon bROWN


So this post below was one of my most read in 2018, and quite frankly I’m going to happily carry on spending 2019 (well, some of it) and beyond talking about my love for chintz and it’s place in interior design. It was after all the foundation of inspiration for my fabric designs in this cushion below…can you tell?


I hear you, I hear you, what am I talking about.  I realise for many this word conjures up horrifying flashbacks of floor to ceiling floral prints with matching bedspreads and ruched blinds (festoon blinds if you want the technical term).  But, I'm pretty sure, I hope, for at least some of you, chintz reminds you of the good old days of Laura Ashley, Colefax & Fowler and Sanderson in the 80's when small-scale prints were everywhere and that warm, cosy and sumptuous feeling of being surrounded by pretty pattern was rather pleasant? It certainly was for me.  I remember after we moved from the white walls and giant modern canvases which adorned our house in London, the country abode quickly got filled to the brim with floral wallpaper, patterned lampshades, which matched the curtains, which matched the valance, which matched the contrasting patterned pelmet and perhaps a matching chair. A look nicely summed up in this below, a bedroom at Bowood House in Wiltshire.



Despite it’s popularity in the 80’s and early 90’s when Colefax & Fowler and Sanderson ruled, the chintz-tastic trend eventually took a tumble. In essence for many, it was too busy, too stuffy and very much “overdone” in every interiors magazine going. People got bored and began to perceive it as unnecessarily fussy, a reputation it still has to this very day. The last nail in the chintz coffin was thanks to IKEA after they launched a vicious attack on it in their 1996 "Chuck Out Your Chintz" TV campaign. It created widespread hatred, suddenly everyone became obsessed with binning every last bit of chintz, making way for fresh, open and airy spaces. Very quickly, skips lining the streets were full of the stuff, literally the advert became real life, and I remember it well.    This important movement paved the way for simple living and the minimalist wave that we know so well these days, a true blank canvas for us all which was very appealing.  Understandably, it was a chance to breath new life into one's home and get rid of the (perceived) clutter. Suddenly it was all about the latest contemporary furniture in Habitat and Conran and of course IKEA which became insanely popular.   There was, however, a backlash amongst folk with more traditional tastes who stuck to their chintzy guns and avoided this revolt like the plague by opting to keep their homes entirely Sanderson and, as the chintz revival looms, they’ll be so glad they did.


Of course chintz will always be popular in certain types of houses, the more traditional and often country style interior takes a hit of chintz particularly well, it just works. But modern homes can take chintz too, wallpapered kitchens and bathrooms a particular joy and I believe there will be a nudge towards adding even more pattern into the home than we have seen over the last few years with a move towards more of the traditional looking chintz soft furnishings and furniture we saw in the 80’s, the epitome of mixing and matching pattern. Interior design right now is centred around the bright (including neutrals) and bold with clean and linear lines and paired back styles, ultra modern and minimalist but sometimes quite hard and stark. The best way to soften that contemporary look…..add some frills, ruffles and soft florals, and I think if done well, this is a look you can pull off in even the most of contemporary settings. (see the shot below in the hint of chintz section with that contemporary mirror and chintz inspired sofa from Anthropologie).


This is what I would call the traditional chintz look, but done very tastefully without it feeling cluttered. The use of blue, in varying shades, that sort of go together, with the floral bed and contrasting check bedspread look divine and the antique furniture makes for a lovely classic chintz feel. Nothing matches exactly and it all works and flows beautifully. Adding in some fringe to the sofa adds more texture and another layer of chintz so nicely.



This is, I think, where the chintz route will take most of us, just adding a little hint here and there of the frill or floral.   This lovely country style room set below right, styled by Gabby Deeming, using Farrow & Ball heritage paint and a Bowood fabric covered sofa works well with an otherwise plain and simple interior.  Also below left is the beautiful floral sofa, a collaboration between Anthropologie and Liberty merging heritage with contemporary, set against a modern backdrop with that simple mirror. 

Adding in super modern elements like this, with chintz, is a fab look.  If you don't fancy the frill just yet, add in some fringe on say a lamp, which is a little more contemporary and hipster at the moment.  For a light and fresh approach try adding some contemporary florals into the mix which is a good gateway into chintz, read my Ways to Add Florals to Your Home article from last year for more on this.     


House of Hackney Nursery

I think the House of Hackney look is very chintz orientated but has such a modern and cool feel to it. It seems in this camp, the more matchy matchy the better and the brand has kept firmly rooted to their signature over the top look. Entry level to the full modern inspired chintz may be a children's bedroom or nursery like this example above where you can afford to risk the full look a bit more.  

GET ALL THE HELP YOU NEED WITH THIS BOOK (my actual style bible) BY LAURA ASHLEY ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GOLDEN 80’S - “The Laura Ashley Book of Home Decorating”

This book is insane, you won’t believe your eyes when you see the images inside! Some are quite awful but most are amazing and just so spot on, she talked a lot of sense in this book and it’s such a shame the Laura Ashley we see these days is so far removed from it’s tasteful days. There are enough frilly cushions, indoor plants and conservatory curtains to sink a ship, honestly this book is GOLD if you’re after some chintz looks to adapt and take into your home.


I think, or at least hope, we are on the brink of a chintz revival firmly rooted with a more traditional feel but put together in a very cool way.  It's my goal to have an entire room matched to the hilt including carpet!

So what are your thoughts on chintz and it's mighty comeback?

Join me on my mission to #ChuckInSomeChintz and let's bring back that 80's pattern-tastic heaven.  

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Images:  Simon Brown for House & Garden |  Jake Curtis for House & Garden | Anthropologie