Barrie Benson's Edgy Approach to Chintz

Known for adding modern punches traditional interiors, Barrie Benson (barriebenson.com) shares her best tips for decorating with chintz.
Story by Jennifer Boles; Produced by Zoë Gowen
Barrie Benson
Barrie's Tip: Streamline jumbo florals with graphic striped walls and lots of brass accents.
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Home base: Charlotte, NC

I adore chintz because... it softens things. I work in some very modern homes, and using chintz is a great way to both feminize and offset modernism's hard lines.

My chintz approach... is to make it edgy by using patterns with a bit of black in them. Even just a speck of it injects a little toughness into the palette.

Make it modern by... juxtaposing the prim fabric with a masculine piece of furniture. The most successful rooms are ones that have tension.

In this room... it was certainly a marriage of two different personalities. To give the space energy, I upholstered the set of mid-century chairs in the iconic Greenbrier Resort chintz (Fazenda Lilly by Carleton Varney; carletonvarney.com) and added black patent leather piping.

An old idea that feels new again... is the way legendary decorator and Virginia native Nancy Lancaster grounded delicate chintzes by adding contrasting bands of solid fabric to draperies and upholstered walls.