The Art of Chintz



printed multicolored cotton fabric with a glazed finish, used especially for curtains and upholstery, “a sofa upholstered in chintz”

I once fell in love with a chintz couch, ruffled skirt and all.

It was love at first sight. The couch seized my mid-century taste and lingered. Until my true nature fought back for the win.

It was a glorious, though brief, love affair.

The couch conquered the living room, accompanied by her chubby matching armchair. (And both sitting on the edge — of a floral oriental rug.)

But was it enough for me? Not quite.

I ordered extra fabric from the manufacturer to cover the seats of my dining chairs. My poor, subtle mid-century dining chairs. (Gasp.) So the modest living/dining of my 1950s ranch was a tribute to chintz. It was chintz nirvana.

And this wasn’t some meek little pattern.

It was CHINTZ.

I present to you — exhibit A. This is a photo, of a photo, of part of my couch. (When I see this now, I’m overcome with longing. More on that later.)

She was inviting. A comfortable place to read a book, often leading to a nap. She was beautiful.

But then, I had a party. It was a hot day in the middle of July. One of my guests wore a dress she sewed herself. Lovely dress. Can you guess the fabric?


The fabric of her garden-party dress was a bold pattern of multicolored flowers. Huge yellow-ish flowers. (Sorry, no Exhibit B. Dig, if you will, the picture.)

Then it happened. My friend sat on the couch.

And poof! My love affair was over. What was I thinking.


We had the chintz couch for several years before I betrayed her and her sweet little companion. After a while we insulted her with a do-it-yourself denim slipcover. (Really?) And rescued the dining chairs. We spared the armchair. For a while.

A few years later, we went shopping and picked out a neutral sectional. The chintz couch was gone forever. I lied to myself and pretended to be happy with our new decor.

But I miss my chintz couch and her chubby little companion. I imagine sitting on her, cross-legged, popcorn in hand, watching a favorite show. All cozy and settled in for an evening. Sigh. I’ve never been quite as satisfied sitting anywhere else. Will I ever?




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