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The Textile of Toile in the Home

Updated on February 17, 2011

I have spent a lot of time recently researching different textiles for home decorating. One of the most fascinating materials that I’ve come across in this research is toile. It’s a bold material that can’t be missed once you know how to recognize it. It’s common in many homes and yet a unique choice for modern design. I think it’s a great option to consider for adding some fun to the space that you live in.

What is Toile?

Toile is a type of material that is designed with scenic images that are printed in a repeating pattern. Typically these images are done in a single solid color (usually black, blue or red) on a white-background although this can vary when it comes to modern toile décor. The toile material itself is a cotton fabric. It is a lightweight material that is durable, versatile and easy to clean. It is especially popular for country-influenced decorating, decorating in granny chic style and decorating for the warm months of the year but it can be used in many different types of homes during all seasons if you get creative with it. The trick is to really play around with it and to see where it fits best in your home.

Toile on the Table

The place where you have most likely already seen toile in home design is on the table. This fabric is commonly used for table linens including tablecloths as well as cloth napkins. It is an old-fashioned dining room design option that has regained some appeal with the growing trend of vintage and granny chic design spreading around the nation. Toile table linens are often complemented by porcelain tableware in a similar design. The typical effect of toile on the table is to add formality and elegance to the space. However, it can also have a tongue-in-cheek retro effect.

Toile Upholstery

If you really enjoy the look of toile in the home then you may want to go so far as to get furniture with toile upholstery. This can be a bold design choice but it doesn’t have to mean that you go overboard. The repeating pattern of toile can be toned down in a room by limiting the patterns and colors used throughout the rest of the space. For example, you might get a toile couch in black and white and then select solid black and white furniture for the rest of the living room where the couch is placed.

Toile Window Treatments

The cotton lightweight material of toile makes it an excellent choices or curtains and other window treatments. As with the choice to use toile on large furniture items, you’ll want to be careful not to overdo it when using such a bold pattern on large windows or in rooms with a lot of windows. Alternative toile with a solid curtain in rooms with many windows would be an option. Alternatively, you can simply make sure to select furniture and other items for the room that are less bold than the toile in their design so that there aren’t a lot of items competing for attention in the space.

Toile Pillows and Accent Pieces

If you’re afraid to commit to toile in large areas of the home but don’t want to limit its use to the table then you may want to consider adding toile throw pillows and accent pieces to the home. Toile is a pattern that can be repeated on non-fabric so it can be used in conjunction with fabric items like pillows to bring the design into the space in a less non-committal fashion. Toile lampshades and even toile pet beds are now available to bring this fabric into your home in myriad ways.

Toile Bedding

Toile bedding isn’t necessarily common but it is an option for adding toile to the home. You may get a blanket that has a toile pattern, for example. Alternatively, you may get a toile bed sheet that complements the color scheme of the rest of your bedding. Notably this is also a common choice for patterned baby linens used in home nurseries.

Toile Wallpaper

The design of toile also pops up on the walls of homes in the form of toile wallpaper. Of course, this really requires some serious commitment to the pattern. Wallpaper itself has recently made a comeback, though, and if you’re the kind of person who can turn a bold design into a great look for the home (or you have someone in your life that can do that) then this can be a really unique design option that makes your home truly beautiful and special.

Toile Fabric Art

One of the worries that many people have when adding toile to the home is that the look will be too old-fashioned of “countrified”. There are a lot of things that you can do to add toile to the home in a more modern manner. One of the simplest way is to use toile fabric as artwork in the home. A single piece of toile fabric hung in a very modern frame can be an amazing item for a 21st century home. It’s also a great way to start playing around with the effect of toile in your home so that you can get a sense of how it works (and doesn’t) with the other materials and patterns in your personal space. Many toile designs have a playful look to them so they also make great fun art for a child’s room or play space.


Submit a Comment
  • N.E. Wright profile image

    N E Wright 

    7 years ago from Dover, Delaware

    Hey Kathryn,

    I was watching a movie with the late actors Jessica Tandy, and the great Paul Newman, and Newman's character was seated on Tandy's character's Toile decorated furniture.

    I was so happy to recognize -- because of your Hub -- what it was I was looking at. LOL.

    I was like, "Hey that is a Toile decorated arm chair!" I felt smart. LOL.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    Take Care,


  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    7 years ago from London, UK

    Excellent hub with lots of ideas and help.

  • Eiddwen profile image


    7 years ago from Wales

    Hi Kathryn,

    Another interesting and I have also lerned what "Toile" is.

    Thanks for sharing

    Take care


  • dallas93444 profile image

    Dallas W Thompson 

    7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

    I learned what "Toile" is! Thanks for sharing. Flag up!

  • N.E. Wright profile image

    N E Wright 

    7 years ago from Dover, Delaware

    Hi Kathryn,

    This article was informative, and truly interesting.

    I like the idea of placing Toiles inside some nice modern frames. That I am going to look into for my own apartment.

    Thanks for sharing this information.

    Take Care,


  • cheapsk8chick profile image


    7 years ago

    Great hub! Toile is truly beautiful, and is gorgeous in the home. I especially find it appealing in the bedroom. It really is a classic look.


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