Ruthie Sommer's Cheery Approach to Chintz

Known for her colorful and comfortable rooms with an artistic splash, Ruthie Sommers ( 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.