Few of the original furnishings from the Chintz Room survive, but the rich documentary evidence from account books, letters, and probate inventories, combined with the physical evidence from the room enabled curators to select period and reproduction furnishings similar to those that would have been used by George and Martha Washington.
By 1799, the Chintz Room would have taken on a distinctly layered look, indicative of the many changes in fashion, in the house, and in the Washington family over the forty years since the room had first taken shape in 1758.
The 1800 Inventory
The oldest furnishings in the room were likely the set of five mahogany chairs that appear on the inventory, valued collectively at $16. A look at Washington’s purchase records suggests the chairs used in the bedchambers in 1799 had initially been purchased to use in the public rooms of the house in the 1750s and 1760s.
As fashions changed and the Washingtons updated the rooms on the first floor, the good quality, but old-fashioned, pieces would have been moved upstairs. Washington acquired a set of English mahogany side chairs with “Gothic” style backs in 1757, and curators represented their use in the Chintz Room with a period set of English chairs.
The bedstead and bedding in the room appear to have been somewhat newer additions. On the 1800 inventory, the bedstead, hangings, and bedding in the Chintz Room were valued at $77.50, making it the second most expensive bedding suite in the house.
From the Shop of Betsy Ross
Further research revealed that the bedding suite in this room was likely one of the three bedsteads and upholstery sets that Washington purchased in Philadelphia in 1774. For the upholstery, Washington chose to patronize the up-and-coming business of none other than Elizabeth Griscom Ross, better known to history as Betsy Ross. Elizabeth Griscom and John Ross met while working in the upholstery shop of John Webster, and after eloping in November 1773, set up their own shop.