How to Achieve the Chintz Look

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Well-done chintz can add a cozy or classy quality to a room – it’s a style that says, “sit and have a cup of tea, don’t take things so seriously.”

But designers agree a little can go a long way when it comes to bringing in bright blooms and bold floral prints.
In the traditional sense, chintz typically refers to a type of shiny, cotton floral fabric used in upholstery, drapery and even applied on walls.

The term originated from glazed calico fabrics specifically imported from India, featuring flowers and other patterns typically on a light, plain background. 

As a design style, chintz typically refers to the layering upon layering of floral patterns, says Arianne Bellizaire, an interior designer and blogger from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


Bellizaire, a 2015 High Point Market Authority Style Spotter, says florals, and some chintz, were back in a big way at the Spring Market. Designers are using flower designs in new fabric introductions, upholstery and furniture.

“It’s a very traditional style that has never really gone away, but there’s a resurgence of people who are appreciating it,” she says. “It may not be chintz, but it will have reference to that bold, colorful floral look that is very much a part of the chintz look.”


“If you want to incorporate the chintz design element into your space, choose a print in a style and color that is timeless to you,” Bellizaire says. “Mix it with solid and stripe prints and keep walls and floor choices neutral so that the floral print becomes the star.”


Chintz pops up most often in Shabby Chic-inspired designs, but a touch of floral in a kitchen, bedroom or bath can be done in a refreshingly updated way. Chintz can be feminine and flirty, contemporary or country. It’s quite versatile and even works with stripes, Oriental, antique and eclectic boho styles.


“There’s been a resurgence of bigger prints, very bold colorful prints that to me come across as a watercolor when you think of the look,” Phillips says. “There are ways to bring it in and be very sophisticated with your look.”

Unless you really love the floral look, rather than investing in a sofa with a floral print, Phillips recommends buying furniture in a neutral color and style. Go with something that’s timeless, comfortable and functional.

Then, it’s easy to dress it up with chintz accent pillows, a rug or curtains. It’s a way to bring in floral patterns without going overboard or spending a lot of money. Another trick is to mix patterns in the same color family, say navy and white florals and stripes.

“You don’t want to take two patterns with totally different colors that don’t work,” Phillips says. “Keeping it within the color family, even different shades of blue, will really help it blend together. It comes across as ‘I intended to do this.’ The more you are layering in, it really becomes a more beautiful look.”

Floral designs are being applied in new ways, especially on case goods and upholstered pieces. One way to add a bit of chintz is with an accent chair, ottoman, dining room chairs or a headboard.

“It’s not just accessories,” Phillips says. “Some of it is upholstery, but it’s more your accents. It’s about bringing in bits and pieces that mix with what you’ve already got.”

Mario Buatta, known as the Prince of Chintz, is well known for his masterful use of this design element. Eric Ross from Nashville, Tennessee, is a current designer who uses florals and traditional prints really well, Bellizaire says.

“The designers who do it really well know how to balance the busyness of the floral prints with the colors,” she says. “It can be a little over the top, so I would definitely study current and past designers who do it really well. Start off small with floral prints that inspire you, whether it’s the print itself or the color of the print.”

Tags: floral, pattern, chintz