Ruthie Sommer's Cheery Approach to Chintz

Known for her colorful and comfortable rooms with an artistic splash, Ruthie Sommers (ruthiesommers.com) shares her best tips for decorating with chintz.
Story by Jennifer Boles; Produced by Zoë Gowen
Ruthie Sommers
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

I adore chintz because... it combines my two favorite subjects: color and nature. And it's such a happy fabric.

My approach is... to try it all over. I would have tablecloths, curtains, slipcovers, and even a dress made out of chintz! Anything but a lampshade—that gets too granny for my personal taste.

In this room... I used a cheery chintz to make a library less serious. I covered two club chairs and an ottoman in vintage chintz fabric and then overdosed the room on colors pulled from the pattern. The bamboo-edged, red-upholstered walls and yellow-lacquered ceiling are right in keeping with chintz's lighthearted personality.

Make it modern by... using it in unexpected, off-the-radar places. It's so chic to line the walls of a closet in a faded rose-patterned chintz.

An old idea that feels new again... is the way the legendary designer Sister Parish mixed patterns unapologetically to create comfortable, happy, and sunny rooms.