Ways to make your place look luxe for less

Fab­ric re­tailer No Chintz doesn’t fol­low the fash­ion rules, writes Cather­ine Nikas-Bou­los

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - cather­ine.nikas@news.com.au Pic­tures Jonathan Ng

If you’re a soft fur­nish­ings afi­cionado, then No Chintz would be a name you’d recog­nise. Chrissie Jef­fery started the re­tail arm of her busi­ness 25 years ago and with four stores un­der her belt, she still finds time to run work­shops that in­clude how to line the drum of the lamp­shade or pipe a cush­ion.

The No Chintz busi­ness has built a rep­u­ta­tion by pro­vid­ing qual­ity fab­rics that are on-trend lo­cally, but not nec­es­sar­ily in the de­sign hubs of Europe or the US.

“Aus­tralians love a cer­tain colour pal­ette that is not nec­es­sar­ily favoured by the rest of the world,” Chrissie ex­plains.

“We have an ob­ses­sion with blues and cream colours and we like hot pink. We have our own de­sign, and it’s not nec­es­sar­ily driven by colour fore­cast­ers.”

Big on blue

Chrissie says than in 25 years in re­tail, and 10 years be­fore that work­ing with in­te­rior de­sign­ers and ar­chi­tects, blue has been a perennial favourite.

“Aus­tralians have al­ways loved blue and in ev­ery shade — even when it’s not fash­ion­able in other parts of the world.”

She says that the Aus­tralian sun makes us see colours in a par­tic­u­lar light, which makes greens and blues more ap­peal­ing.

“Like South Africa, we have a bright light. In Amer­ica and Europe, they like more con­ser­va­tive colours and yel­lows and greens look a lit­tle bit grub­bier there,” she says. “I like when peo­ple go out on a limb and put plums and blues to­gether. It’s a creative ex­pres­sion.”

Fab­ric of choice

Chrissie’s busi­ness was born well be­fore the in­ter­net boom, and she says that if you’re go­ing to shop fab­rics, don’t do it on­line un­less you’ve had a chance to see and feel a prod­uct prior.

“Peo­ple spend a lot of time look­ing at a screen now, but you can’t buy a fab­ric that way. The screen is a great liar, and we’ve all had that ex­pe­ri­ence buy­ing some­thing on­line,” she says.

When it comes to pick­ing her favourite tex­tiles for home­wares, she says nat­u­ral fab­rics tend to work bet­ter.

Linen is a per­sonal favourite, but as the world dis­cov­ered the nu­mer­ous uses of linen, the price went up. Cot­ton and wool are the other stand­outs, although some nat­u­ral tex­tiles are now blended with polyester mixes.

“We ex­pect too much from fab­rics these days,” Chrissie says.

“Fab­rics are like peo­ple, they get old, and if you mis­treat them they look shock­ing. So treat them well.”

Chrissie, who has been in the in­dus­try long enough to have sec­ond and third gen­er­a­tion clients on her books, says fab­rics are ever evolv­ing.

“We’re re­cy­cling and turn­ing plas­tic bags into fab­rics. I re­ally think re­cy­cling is a big­ger growth area than we can ever imag­ine. We waste so much.”

The fab­ric en­thu­si­ast has come full cir­cle since her stu­dent days at East Syd­ney Tech­ni­cal Col­lege, and now helps raise funds for the Art Gallery of NSW to al­low the in­sti­tu­tion to buy works by con­tem­po­rary Aus­tralian artists.

“When I was a young stu­dent at East Syd­ney, some days I wouldn’t have a cent and I’d spend all day in the Art Gallery be­cause it was free. It’s the rea­son I love colour and fab­ric. This is one way I can pay them back.”

There’s noth­ing fab­ric re­tailer Chrissie Jef­fery (above) doesn’t know about fur­nish­ing fab­rics.

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