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How to Decorate your Home with Chintz Fabric

Updated on February 11, 2011

Chintz fabric is a lightweight printed cotton fabric that is decorated with a brightly colored repeating design. It is a common fabric for people to use when decorating their homes. It is especially common as a seasonal fabric used in the spring and summer when lightweight fabrics make sense because of the warm weather. Despite its popularity, though, not everyone knows what a chintz fabric is and how to decorate with it. This guide can help if you’re not too savvy when it comes to chintz fabric.

The Confusion Between Chintz and Calico

When you first start to learn about different types of home textiles, you may confuse chintz with another fabric known as calico. Calico is an inexpensive unfinished cotton fabric. Chintz, on the other hand, is a finished fabric. Chintz is actually a type of calico fabric that has been glazed and printed. That’s why there’s confusion between the two fabrics sometimes. Chintz actually is calico (although calico is not chintz!)

Chintz Fabric Patterns

The pattern that you see on chintz fabric is a repeating pattern. It is typically done in bright colors and is most commonly a floral design. That’s a key reason why chintz is so great for spring decorating around the home; who doesn’t love floral designs in the springtime when the flowers are blooming outside?!

The floral pattern that is characteristic of chintz is most commonly printed on a light colored background. This aids to the lightness and airiness that make chintz such a great warm-weather fabric. However, it is possible for floral chintz designs to be printed on a black background as well. Though rarer, the effect is stunning and sometimes works better than light background chintz designs for modern home decorating.

Chintz Suggests a European Historic Ambience

Chintz is an old fabric compared to many of the textiles that we now use in our homes (such as chenille or microfiber).It dates all the way back to the early seventeenth century. It was originally from India but it was transported to Europe by Dutch and Portuguese traders. By the 18th century the fabric was being reproduced in Europe. It was especially manufactured in France during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. For this reason, chintz is commonly associated with historic Europe. Although there are many modern chintz designs, it is popular to use this fabric in homes where you want to create this sense of historic ambience.

To achieve this effect, you will want to use light colored chintz with feminine floral designs. Europeans historically used this fabric all over the home and you can do the same. Springtime drapes, dining room tablecloths, table runners on side tables, bed curtains and even wall coverings were historically made of chintz. Use chintz liberally around the home in all of these places for that vintage ambience.

Chintz with an Indian Flair

Although it is most commonly associated with European history, chintz does originally come from India. As a result people sometimes use this fabric in the home when they want to add Indian ethnic influence to their home design. To do this, you’ll want to select chintz with very bold coloring. You may seek out chintz that has designs other than flowers such as figures and abstract designs.

Chintz for the Truly Modern Home

Although you may like the idea of a historic European home or a home with Indian design aesthetics, these options may not suit the home that you actually live in. That’s okay; chintz works well in any modern home. The trick is to use it sparingly since overdoing it tends to invoke the European feeling in the home. Ideas for using chintz in the modern home include:

o   Add chintz drapes to a single room during the spring and summer months. The light and airy fabric and the floral design are very well-suited to the summer home. If you add chintz drapes to the entire home then you might be overdoing it but add them to a single room and you’re just making a lovely statement.

o   Add chintz pillows to a modern sofa. The floral design of the pillows will add to the design of your sofa without making the entire thing suddenly seem retro. This is a great option for learning to use chintz in your home because it is easy to move pillows around, re-upholster them with different fabric and play around with patterns to find the right way to use chintz in a modern home. Note that chintz floor pillows are another option for the home.

o   Get a chintz bedspread for your guest room. You may not want to commit to chintz just yet for your own big bedspread but there’s no harm in enhancing a guest room with this new fabric. It is especially nice if you’re expecting houseguests during the summer months when thicker bedspread fabrics aren’t suitable in most climates. 

o   Frame a beautiful chintz pattern and hang it as artwork. This is a great way to pay homage to the beauty of chintz without affecting the look of the rest of your home décor. A terrific mat around a piece of chintz fabric and a great frame can turn this simple affordable fabric into a real piece of art in any part of your home!

Chintz is one of the fabrics I consider to be among the top ten textiles for the home. Check out the others by following that link!


Submit a Comment

  • gajanis786 profile image


    7 years ago

    Excellent hub....just to add few more Characteristics of Chintz Fabric...

    It has bright and large flora designs,it is shiny and lustrous and it has polished look.


  • Reynold Jay profile image

    Reynold Jay 

    7 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

    Nicely done! I enjoyed this immensly. Up 1 and awsome. RJ


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