COTE DE TEXAS: Check Mate!

Check Mate!

One of my favorite fabric houses these days is Chelsea Editions or Chelsea Textiles, depending upon which side of the pond you are located. Chelsea specializes in hand embroidered fabrics made in India. Besides selling fabric, they also sell reproduction furniture based on Swedish antiques. Though Chelsea is famous for their embroidered fabrics, it's their check fabrics that speak to me. Chelsea sells checks in every colorway, but, apparently, they must not be very proud of them because the checks are absent from their web site! Despite their second class status, I've become check crazy. I recently came to this conclusion looking around my house and going over projects I've worked on lately. I just can't get enough of checks. Here's what I mean. This is my sitting room with it's checked daybed and checked french chair:

And here's my unfinished bedroom with it's Chelsea checked headboard and drapes:

And here's a client's Swedish sofa that I covered in a Chelsea check:

And here's a pink Chelsea check:

Oh, look, here's a taupe check:

And here's another Chelsea check on the bench and a Chelsea embroidered duvet.

I'm not the only designer who loves checks. Mario Buatta has a thing for them too. Here he uses a check on the settee:

And here in a Houston home, Buatta uses a red check for the draperies:

Buatta must like big scaled checks, he uses a yellow one for these draperies:

Mariette Himes Gomez uses checks in the traditional way, on the back of a French fauteuil:

Someone who loves checks more than me, New York designer Jeffrey Bilhuber surprised people with his excessive use of checks in his new apartment:

Bilhuber's dining room:

Houston's Michael Siller also covered an entire room in his house with checks. Do you think he inspired Bilhuber?

Dallas designer Cathy Kincaid uses checks to line the bed's canopy.

Michael Smith is known for using this blue and white check in his designs. It shows up again and again:

Kathryn Ireland uses checks alot, also. Here she uses a dark blue check to contrast with the all white French styled bedroom:

In this vintage photograph, socialite Gloria Vanderbilt sits under one of the collages that she was famous for making. The check in the collage matches the fabric on the couch. The two matching Venetian mirrors are drop dead gorgeous! Playing next to her are her two sons. One is the famous CNN reporter: Anderson Cooper. Are you aware of what happened to the other son?

In France, checks are frequently used as a secondary fabric to toile:

John Stefinidis, interior designer extraordinaire, likes to use checks:

New Orleans' Gerrie Bremermann uses checks often. Here one shows up on the duvet:

Houston Designer Ginger Barber uses a check as the only pattern in an otherwise neutral room:

Despite the luxurious fabrics used in this room, a simple check shows up on the pillows:

Interior Designer Diane Burns uses silk checks in her French styled bedroom:

A checked fabric livens up a bedside bench:

Victoria Hagan puts the check on the floor with an Elizabeth Eakin rug:

Here, Ikea gets in on the check act with it's slipcovered sofa:

And finally, here on Chelsea Edition furniture, is, of course, a Chelsea Edition check!


  1. What a great post! There are so many wonderful pictures, so many great designers, and so many different styles...but the check links them all!

    I love the Chelsea bench, I have had my eye on that for months. I also saw a great Chelsea nightstand in one of your previous posts (you got it for a client, I think) that I am considering....

  2. Didn't GV's other son commit suicide?

  3. Hi Joni
    What a great & exhaustive posting you have done on checks. I love your sitting room. I want to come and have tea with you in that room. It looks so comfortable and inviting. I think that is what so appealing about checks. Everyone can relate to them. They are easy and are also a great compliment to florals and almost any other pattern and act like a neutral in conjunction. They are also interesting enough to stand on their own and can dress up or dress down a room.

    I love the Gloria Vanderbilt vintage picture. I read an article that this picture was featured in about Anderson Cooper but I don't remember it saying what happened to his brother. Please let up know.

    Great Post!!!

  4. Morning! LOVE your sitting room -- so charming, comfy and elegant too! I'll pour out the tea -- a strong Assam this morning with milk and two sugars please! LOL! Love checks -- everything from tiny gingham ones to those large graphic buffalo checks. Do bigger checks work better these days? Perhaps on a sense of scale -- larger checks show more of each color and seem less busy to the viewer's eye? Gorgeous photos!! The rooms are very livable -- and illustrate a fabric choice that is available to anyone on a lean budget (like me!) too!

    Thanks for another wonderful lesson!

    Jan x at Rosemary Cottage

  5. Joni,

    Your home looks lovely. Like I said before, so Charlotte Moss with a little Dan Carithers.

  6. Love this post! You should be writing a book! If you have any interest I know who to send you to.
    The picture of Gloria Vanderbilt is fabulous. That room looks so timeless it could have been done today. I've always love checks and use them quite often. They are a great unifier. Your sitting room is adorable.

  7. Although I am not one to us checks too much, I adore this post for all of the wonderful ideas! I am always loving whatever Victoria Hagan does and Eakins rugs are fab!

    Boy I'm away for a few days and it takes a week to catch up with all you bloggers!;)

  8. GV's other son died as a young man. He may or may not have been having mental trouble and chose to jump off a balcony while GV was running up the stairs after him. Anderson Cooper talked about this during his appearance on Oprah last year.

  9. You have a beautiful blog! Here via Maryam's.
    I love these checks...I really appreciate the look. It's very tasteful and elegant looking!
    Your bedroom fits right in with all that you have shown as well!

  10. Oh yes, and Gloria's son did end his own life sadly. Anderson talks about it in his book. Very sad indeed.
    We never know sometimes the sadness within that people disguise for us.

  11. Your room is soo pretty Joni. great post! I too love Jeffrey Bilhuber's room.

  12. I did not know that Gloria Vanderbilt did collages! Where would I find photos of these. I really like AC and I know that his brother's death was a very tragic event in their lives.

  13. When I started to read your post , I've thought I'm going to write a comment about using checks in France but You have already done it . In france , we use it a lot more particularly in Provence . It is part of our provencal decoration . There is a collection of Pierre Freay that is fantastic . I will send you some pictures . It is checks that originally serve to put on the back of the armchairs in th XVIII th century;

  14. WOW! I adore your home Joni! So beautiful. And of course I love the Stefanidis room. And wait, what about the Buatta rooms! Oh, there's just so much to love in this post! Thanks Joni!

  15. Oh I just love the floral/check combo. I seriously got the most amazing set for my bed - the duvet cover is white with a delicate dark red floral pattern and I found semi-matching red and white check pillows --- and you'll never guess where...IKEA! Ok, Ok, i know you just gasped and rolled your eyes - but I love them. And they're not even scratchy! ;)

  16. What a great combination of checky decor... not to be confused with cheeky decor!
    I love that you show it doesn't have to be pricey to be pretty.

  17. Bilhuber's use of checks was inspired by the Italian tastemaker Marella Agnelli ... read the ELLE DECOR article ...

  18. I've never seen so much check in one place, and it all looks so good. Great post Joni! Love all the images and info. I just love Jeffrey Bilhuber's use of check in the wallcovering, it's fab!


  19. Wow - thanks everyone! I love all your comments. Yes, Anderson's brother jumped out the window in front of his mother. She blames it on a reaction to sinus medicine, I believe! And yes, she is an artist and used to make those collages, I don't know where you would get one today, and I assume they would be pricey. No one commented on the mirrors! And I was teasing about Bilhuber copying Houston designer Stiller with the checks. Yet when you see the two pictures up against each other, you wonder - of course he would never credit Stiller though! Not chic enough. Thanks again for the time and effort you all put into your comments.


  20. Hi Joni! I do love the checks! They look so good with florals and toiles! Your photos are always so inspiring! Wish I was coming over to the States! Sadly, it's just wishful thinking! One day maybe, if I ever get over my flying phobia...

  21. What a great post! I too love checks. These photos are wonderful inspiration!


  22. What a great post. I'm redoing my living area where Ralph Lauren Bedford Gingham Light Blue check will feature prominently. The walls will be Ben Moore Antique Parchment and others Palace White. Still trying to decide on a "white" for the kitchen cabinets...any suggestions?

  23. Ennisthop = I would only do white white if you use white marble or I would do either cream with limestone or dark brown cabinets. Another alternative would be a Swedish gray color on the cabinets with white marble.

  24. Thank you so much for steering in the right direction. I actually have dark gray soapstone counters. Do you have a Ben Moore paint suggestion?

  25. ennistbp:
    Hi - why don't you email me direct so we can take this out of the comment section:


  26. I keep landing on your blog as I google for images of things I am adding to my work... I decided I better just subscribe to it ;)
    keep up the great work!

  27. What is the name of the Large Check blue by chelsea editions . It was also on a decorating with sheets blog.