Chintz Patterns: The Evolution and Meaning
You may be hearing people refer to “chintz” a lot more often lately. This comes as many vintage styles and designs are experiencing a trendy resurgence.
What is chintz exactly?
The word chintz originally referred to calico (plain-woven cotton) textiles in a floral design, but has since evolved to refer broadly to that floral pattern from the textiles. It also is used to refer to the style on other items like pottery and wallpaper.
History of Chintz
In the early 1600’s, calico (a cotton that originated in Calicut, India), was commonly printed or painted with large floral designs. Trade routes made these fabrics available throughout Europe where their popularity grew into the late 17th century. They were so incredibly popular, in fact, that England and France had to ban the sale of these fabrics to protect their own, national textile economy. Versailles, however, disregarded the ban and that is why so many royal furnishings and clothing items feature the print. At this time the pattern was popular in the United States as well. George Washington decorated his own home in chintz wallpaper and bed linens.
While it’s popularity ebbed for a while in the 1800s, it had its moments of renewal throughout the 1900s. It peaked in the 1940s, before dying down and then popping up again in the 1960s. During that decade, Jackie Kennedy redecorated the White House with chintz wallpaper, and renowned designer Dorothy Draper used the pattern to decorate her own home. As was the pattern, the popularity subsided again for a decade or so, but then rocketed back to the height of popularity in the 1980s. This decade was the biggest for chintz in all of the 20th and 21st centuries. It’s popularity this time was seen in clothing and fashion designs more so than in the home. It was rampant on the runway, but disappeared with the other fashions of the decade.
Recently, chintz is coming back again. This time, it isn’t in fashion, but in interior design. Sleek Ikea furniture and neutral colors are moving out of the way for the resurgence of vintage patterns and designs. Big-name designers like Kathy Ireland and Miles Redd can’t get enough of the pattern and are praising its use in classic, maximalist decor.
Decorating with Chintz
Throughout the centuries chintz patterns have been used in a myriad of different ways in interior design. Instead of just copying the ways of the past, which can look dull and dated, designers are incorporating the design in new and creative ways. The two ends of the spectrum are choosing a few chintz touches, or going big and using it across walls, window drapings, furniture, and other elements.
If you’re choosing the maximalist route, consider playing with scale and mixing up the sizes of the patterns. For example, don’t only use large florals. Juxtapose an item with a large chintz pattern with an item with smaller details to create visual interest. Also consider mixing chintz with other patterns, such as animal prints or stripes.
Chintz and Rug Pairings
Chintz can look absolutely stunning with the right rugs. In maximalist interior designs, mixing and matching different vintage pieces is a huge design trend. As such, matching a genuine vintage or antique chintz piece with your favorite antique or vintage rug is the perfect look. The great thing about maximalist design is that pattern-on-pattern is in. If the patterns clash a little bit, it adds to the design. In this way, you can choose geometric tribal rugs to go with soft floral chintz patterns and create a playful space.
If you still want your space to look more modern and minimal, think about pairing the colors in the chintz with the colors in the rug. This will keep the space streamlined and looking organized. Another consideration is using a neutral colored, decorative rug. This will help the bold chintz patterns pop without looking mismatched.
If you need help finding the perfect rug to go with your chintz patterns, don’t hesitate to contact our team of experts who would love to help you find your perfect piece.