Ring Out the Old, Ring in the New?
It's 2013! To celebrate, let's look at one of the trends folks are forecasting for the new year. But it's not really new. In fact, it's been around for hundreds of years. What is this trend? It's the return of chintz!
Chintz is a patterned cotton textile, typically floral, that is treated with a glazed finish. Think chintz and what immediately comes to mind is English country style. Chintz appeared in the mid-1700s when the British invented slipcovers to protect or, more likely maintain, chairs and sofas fully upholstered in costly silks and velvets. Never people to discard, the pragmatic British elevated decorating techniques devised for disguising wear and tear to high style. Maybe the word "passementerie" is French in origin, but the Brits reinvented these trims to camouflage the frayed edges of draperies and skirted upholstery.
In Britain, chintz is synonymous with the decorating firm Colefax & Fowler. Elsie de Wolfe, considered the first American interior decorator, introduced chintz to interiors this side of the Atlantic. While Elsie may have been nicknamed the Chintz Lady, in modern times Mario Buatta, a.k.a. The Prince of Chintz, is more widely associated with keeping chintz popular on these shores. What is consistent with all of these designers is their tendency to create interiors that looked like they evolved over time. They casually mixed furnishings from different periods, romanticizing an aged, heirloom look.
It's not surprising that chintz is making a come-back. During hard economic times, we may feel uncomfortable showing off spanky new furniture. And the current trend toward curated looks harken back to the aristocratic decay synonymous with English country style. But before we go rummaging in the attic, let's remember that color palettes have evolved. Even classic, documentary prints can be re-interpreted for modern times. With this in mind, here are some favorites.
Row 1: Osborne & Little Penrose by Nina Campbell; Osborne & Little Barrington by Nina Campbell
Row 2: CallyCo Nancy White Chintz; Scalamandre China Rose
Row 3: Schumacher Pyne Hollyhock Print; Dessin Fournir Chestnut Leaves by Rose Cumming