Most people think "Chintz" and Modern" don't belong in the same sentence, much less that they can coexist in the world of interiors. And I get it. If you grew up in the 80's when Laura Ashley and Waverly polished cotton chintz fabrics were all the rage and window treatments looked like this:
then you probably have an anti-chintz clause in your Decorating Plan.
I, on the other hand, happen to still like a pretty and colorful fabric that's inspired by nature's biggest and boldest blossoms.
The key is to have a very light hand when using floral chintz fabrics. I think the image above demonstrates just how effective and relevant these fabrics can be in today's interiors. The white walls and graphic stripes on the table skirt take the space out of the 80's and put it firmly into the right now. In case you're wondering, the fabric on the curtain is Scalamandre's China Rose. It's been in production for decades and is still highly sought after.
I love the floral chintz headboard above - and - oh my - peach walls! It's so refreshing to see something other than gray, isn't it? Can you imagine how different this room would feel if there were lots of other patterns used with the floral headboard? The Decorator kept the other design elements simple and clean, which gives takes the room in a modern direction.
Here Miles Redd takes an old school chintz, (Althea by Lee Jofa) and ups the ante with forest green lacquered walls. Would I call this space Modern? Not in the sense that it's modern in style, but Miles Redd has a knack for using old school materials in a way that makes them feel "of the moment". Bottom line is that this room is timeless, and will be relevant decades into the future. And speaking of old school, pleated lamp shades (above) are also enjoying a resurgence in popularity. This makes me happy.
Chintz upholstery + antiques + oversize modern art = forever timeless. Note the seagrass rug and the baskets. Those design elements go a long way to bring the formality of the space down to a more casual/comfortable level, which is how we're decorating now.
The bedroom below? Well, this is me. Not my work, that credit goes to Megan Rice Yager. But this is a bedroom I would be totally comfortable with for myself. The soft color palette, the feminine feel, and the Chinoiserie accents all add up to my idea of perfection. The headboard and the valance are done in Colefax & Fowler's Bowood, an iconic print that has been around for decades.
OK, I got one more for you. Below is Lee Radziwill's Paris apartment circa I'm-not-sure-when, but I would say at least 10 years ago. And doesn't it feel Modern? Yes, there is chintz upholstered everything, but the white walls, simple curtains, natural fiber rug and edited accessories make it could have been done yesterday.
So the takeaway here is that you CAN use chintz today. You just need to pick a pattern you love and don't layer lots of additional busy patterns with it. Keep your backdrop simple, and mix in a few modern design elements - like a lucite table or a piece of modern art. Remember, the most memorable interiors are those that have an interesting mix of styles and materials - if you keep these guidelines in mind, there's no reason a bit of chintz can't be part of your mix!