Originally a cotton fabric decorated with Indian and Chinese traditional designs using flowers and birds, and with a characteristic sheen that repels dirt. Now mostly used to describe any patterned or plain glazed fabric.
The term derives from Hindi and referred to shiny CALICO cloth from India with a thin glazed coating. In the 18thC, the glazing process consisted in applying a coat of wax, which was then polished with marbles. Today we use a chemical resin that is longer lasting.
Floral chintz has been popular for home decorating in the US and the UK from the outset, mostly for bedroom curtaining and bedcovers, but also for summer slip covers over chairs and sofas, for cushions, and for curtaining morning rooms and sitting rooms. Chintz in the dining room and drawing room should be kept to the more subtle and less flamboyant designs and colourings.
If you want a glazed chintz to look fresh and shiny avoid using steam to press and never fold the fabric ( folds will crack the glaze immediately ). And as the glaze will eventually wash out only dry clean your furnishings.
If you wish the fabric to look aged, then steam press it all over to remove the sheen and allow the fabric to crease slightly whilst making it up. For curtains, once they are hung just open and close them as may times as you need (sometimes up to 1000 times) to accelerate the shabby chic effect, which can only really come from extensive usage.