The Significance of Chintz Curtains

Many years ago, when Mr. Blandings and I were first married, we went out to dinner with his father and step-mother.

Mr. Blandings the elder is old school. He mostly likes things the way they are, or rather, the way they have always been.

In a cozy restaurant on a winter evening we began to discuss a club to which the elder Mr. B belonged. I made an off-hand and stinging comment about the policy of having a separate dining room for women during the lunch hour.

As often happens, small sparks start large flames and he and I were heatedly engaged as our spouses stared quietly into their soups. In a firm voice he finally proclaimed, “When I am eating my lunch I do not want to sit next to a table of damn women talking about chintz curtains!”

As my Mr. Blandings felt my muscles flex to rise he put his hand on my knee and leaned in to say, “It’s cold and they drove.” We stayed. No one ordered dessert.

After seventeen years I better understand the roots of tradition and the minefields of dinner conversation. I am, however, still mystified that someone would not want to join in a conversation on chintz curtains as I find them irresistibly divine.
Images of Cecil Beaton’s home, Reddish House, from Architectural Digest Celebrity Homes, 1977; photography by Beaton. The Aesthete posted on Reddish yesterday. I had already written this and should probably have pitched it. Sadly, I’m too lazy.
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46 thoughts on “The Significance of Chintz Curtains

  1. * Sweetie, the ELDER Mr. B sounds like the "elder" men (few that there are/were, and NOT counting my husband… he dislikes a jab in the knew under the table!)in my family~~~ maybe it's because NOBODY had boys…just lots of us girls… and we ALWAYS just looovvvved to look at houses and/or things FOR them, WHEREVER we were, when I was growing up (Mom, Sis, Gram, etc.)…

    Can't really BLAME "the guys" like your FIL too much… (I PERSONALLY think that "THEY" think it's their RIGHT not to be subjected to "too much" of "that kind of talk" ~Grins!!!)~~~

    "My sympathies" (and by NOW he's GOT to have "changed, even just a LITTLE, right???)

    Linda in AZ *

  2. It's a good reason to blog, isn't it – to speak to people who are also interested in chintz curtains. Your post reminded me very much of Evan. S. Connell's 'Mr Bridge' & 'Mrs Bridge'.

    And I do so love dinner-party conversation, even when it goes a bit awry.

  3. Wonderful post and the pictures are perfect. Who indeed? Chintz will never fade-or will it? Either way it looks good. GT

  4. I love it when you write about the elder Mr. Blandings.

    This is a funny observation but looking at the Reddish images you pulled together, I'm struck by the staircase and the portraits. I think the designers of the Ralph Lauren store in Atlanta might have been influenced by those elements. Such similarities.

  5. Oh boy! Rather, why would women discussing chintz curtains over lunch want to sit next to cranky (old) men! (I mean if it was Anthony Bourdain or Rafal Nadal that's another story… lol.)

  6. Happy Fall, Mrs. B.!
    So thrilled with today's posting. I spent our rainy Boston non-summer reading Mr. Beaton's wonderful diaries (yes, all of them it rained for 45+ days) and had no color interior shots to refer to – so many, many thanks. Also, enjoyed your feature on basalt from Wedgwood in this months Spaces. I adore it, too. Any way they can talk you into expanding your duties at the magazine to include a little much-needed photo styling? Best-

  7. Too funny, I'm sure not at the time though! Your husband is a smart one! Times they have changed …much for the better… and of course some traditions are good.

  8. I am truly enjoying your blog and its stories!
    Have a great day, hopefully you'll run into someone who needs (and wants!) some advise on chintz curtains.


  9. Loved the microcosmic view of family dynamics seen through chintz curtains. Reminds me so of Mr. and Mrs. Bridge! That Mr. B of yours is quite the insightful one. Loved his line. My husband hated it when I would get into dustups with his dad. Usually about women's rights stuff that left him so befuddled.

    Fast forward to today, do women get to golf here in prime time?

  10. And may I echo "Anonymous", I don't think todays post is about chintz curtains either.

    Good thing I was not at that dinner. A riposte mention of cigar smoke, anal gas, and loud laughing at ribald jokes would have evened the playing field.

    I earned a PhD late in life but I'l tell you one damned thing, that sexist attitude carries no weight with me father in law or not.

    There is no more beautiful thing in the world than a woman who can present herself in all the vestments of her gender. Chintz curtains and all.

    I live with a man who has been generous enough to discuss the color white with me for 2 solid hours. Afterward I heard him discoursing on 'white' to another woman. He has a doctorate in Biochemistry and isn't the least diminished by womanly accruements.

    I feel sorry for the elder Mrs. Blandings, but not for you who can and will stand her ground. My congratulations. Ann

  11. This made me smile! I was sitting in the Family Room last night watching my husband while he watched a poker tournament on TV. He is very patient with his house full of women, but sometimes, he just wants to be left alone to watch his poker and football.

  12. So funny.
    Sometimes dining apart from the opposite sex can be fun.
    I think we call it "girls night out".
    BTW I love chintz!
    xo xo

  13. So funny.
    Sometimes dining apart from the opposite sex can be fun.
    I think we call it "girls night out".
    BTW I love chintz!
    xo xo

  14. Patricia-

    Time to write a novel.
    You have a great ear and eye for dialogue and human folly.

    Remember–singing, reading, watching tv, walking, talking, baking cakes are not procrastinating–they are also the business of writing.
    Just watch our for the Popcorn Police.

  15. Very funny! My father also belongs to a club that only allows women once a month on the golf course…we have had many heated discussions over that one!


    Secondly; we all love the story about the "CLUB" and support your reaction. ( I, particularly loved your husband's "response"! No wonder you are still married!)

    Here is a quick story! My husband and I were staying in this club in San Francisco (Diane knows it); and there was a little folder of what you could wear; where! (complicated) Geez! you had to know what elevator! (we were staying there because friends were members)!

    In the folder of information……A dining room was open for breakfast; "no women and no speaking"! (I am not kidding. And I am not making this up!)

    My comment was: "No need for the first rule. No woman would ever want to have breakfast where there was 'no speaking'!)" AS IF.

    Fortunately; no future father-in-law was there!
    We roared with laughter. It is astonishing the rules that still exist.
    So glad you were "too lazy" to change that post. It is my favorite ever post of yours….and the others are too many to mention! This one is a "print out and save in notebook!" I can only hope some grandchild will find it!
    (I am very lucky. My grandchildren worship me.)

    this one was absolutely brilliant.
    and totally "on point?!

    Be sure to listen to Diane DS … you know how many brilliant books she has written?

  17. Actually, I am thinking you should write a play. I keep seeing a wonderful Noel Cowardesk play about the doyennes of decorating. You have the interest and you have the ear. I think the set design would be amazing!

  18. Penelope – seriously, I know, I'm listening. Also, we stayed in a club in NY that had similar rules one time. I was terrified to walk through the lobby.

    And, I'm glad you stopped in. I miss you when you're away.

  19. Oh well, who'd want to listen to the BS they chat about over lunch. As long as his son paid for all the chintz you wanted and let you decorate till your heart's content. . . I'd ignore old school remarks from a seasoned senior. When he was a lad, it surely was a different world.
    Happy Twirls
    PS I have a GIVEAWAY for French Home Bumblebee Glass Wine Set if you're interested

  20. I agree with you… also on the curtains.

    Of the topic – sort of – our club had that policy re the "Grill Room" growing up… the reason I still steer clear of the place though, I understand they have recently made allowance for a bit women around that side of the building… what with us getting the vote and all that now… wink.

  21. You, Scot and I can talk about chinz (or tatran) all we like. I haves been in a Club in NY where there is no talking..I nearly broke out in HIVES. Your husband is a treasure and a Sea Change from his past.

  22. Love & adore your family story told thru chintz & dinner. Better than any magazine writing today. It would make a great play.

    I used the conservatory shot, you posted, on my blog today.

    I met Cecil Beaton thru Sir Roy Strong. Do you know of him? They were friends. Sir Roy still alive and with diaries of his own published. You'll like them.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  23. LOVED this! Reminded me of some dinners with my in laws…holding my breath and gritting my teeth!

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