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What is Matelasse? How to Use Matelasse in Home Décor

Updated on February 17, 2011

I recently wrote an article covering the topic of ten different textiles that are commonly used in home décor. Of all of the different materials that were discussed in this article, the one that people have asked me about most often is matelasse. This is not a fabric that many people know by name and a lot of people have been curious about just what matelasse is.

French for Padded

Matelasse is a French word that translates essentially to padded, which helps to give you an idea of what this type of fabric is like. It’s a thick, heavyweight fabric that tends to have a cushioned appearance. The fabric itself isn’t padded but it has the appearance of being padded because of the thickness of the material.

Matelasse is a Quilted Fabric

Matelasse fabric is not only padded but it’s also stitched to look quilted. It can be hand-stitched or it can be woven on a Jacquard loom to have the appearance of quilted stitched. Either way, the effect is a fabric that looks and feels much like a quilt.

French Influenced Design

The Matelasse fabric is specifically designed to mimic a style of quilts that were made in Provence, France in the past (according to WiseGeek). This adds a bit of French or Old World European flair to the design of the fabric. This is something nice to keep in mind as you begin adding matelasse to your home. You may want to look at the influence of this style and how it can be incorporated into other aspects of your home design to fully achieve the effect of matelasse in your space. Doing some research into French Provincial decorating would give you a good overview of how this type of design might work well in your home.

Country Décor

The quilted style of matelasse makes it a great choice for a home with a “country” inspired design. This could be European country style but it could also have an American country décor feeling. Matelasse fabric has a diverse range of different graphic options including simple geometric designs and intricate floral designs. This allows you an array of choices for creating a country-style feeling in the home.

Granny Chic Décor

One trend in home design right now that is of interest to some people is granny chic (a trend similar to the shabby chic trend). Basically the goal of this trend is to take the types of items that “grandma” favors and modernize or dress them up to be suitable for the twenty-first century home. Matelasse fabric fits in perfectly with this home design trend. Add matelasse bedding to modern bedrooms, toss it over modern sofas and use it to add some old-fashioned style to the windows of a modern home or apartment. All of these options bring an appreciation of an older style into a chic space.

How Matelasse Dovetails with Other Fabrics

Matelasse itself is made from other textiles. Typically this material is made from cotton. However, it can be found in a blend of cotton and polyester, which may be a more affordable option in some cases. Alternatively, it can be found made with chenille, which adds a lovely texture to the fabric, making it terrific to the touch. The design of the fabric sometimes also mimics the design of other fabrics such as paisley. It’s good to keep all of this in mind when selecting the matelasse for your home. However, it’s also good to keep it in mind when selecting other home décor items because you’ll want to choose fabrics that complement the exact material of the matelasse that you select.

Dark vs. Light Matelasse

One thing that you’ll want to pay close attention to when choosing matelasse fabric for decorating your home is the color of the fabric that you select. Since this is already a thick and heavy fabric, it may feel quite hefty when you select dark colors and patterns. This is fine for homes that have other lightweight, light-colored fabrics to offset the heaviness of the matelasse. It’s also a common choice for winter decorating since it exudes a feeling of warmth. However, in homes that already have a lot of dark materials (and also for summer decorating) it is best to choose matelasse in white or light colors.

Where to Use Matelasse in the Home

There are many different places in the home where you might choose to use this Old World material. In the bedroom is the most common choice. Matelasse fabric is used for bedding including not only blankets but also pillow shams, throw pillows and duvet covers. Because of its warmth and coziness, it is also frequently used in nurseries and children’s bedrooms as bedding for cribs and small beds.

Outside of the bedroom, matelasse is most commonly used in the living room. Throw pillows made from matelasse may be tossed on the floor or the sofa. Upholstery itself may be made from matelasse. This can be a large commitment for many people but a great choice if you find the right chair or sofa in the right type of matelasse fabric.

The same can be true of matelasse draperies or curtains. They are a big choice for many homes but can be right in certain settings. Play around with this fabric in your own home, trying to find the right combination of different materials to complement it wherever you decide to place it in your space.


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  • profile image

    Altan 3 years ago

    Babooshka : Well , the queen of hrtaes is the queen of hrtaes isn't she? :) THe nanso pattern is nice!Kathryn & Wanja B : yes draw with my wacom pen in illustrator (on a mac of course :)Boobookitty : that's cute!GInny : Oh wow, wil check it out!!Olivia Rouge : Well if you make one I'll buy it :DSofia : jovisst, ve4ldigt sf6t!Laura : oho!Pakko menne4 tsekkaamaan, mahtavaa :DVasiliisa : I had totally forgotten about that print, it is rather nice. Must do a little bit of interet hunting then :)

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    Retta 3 years ago

    I feel saisfited after reading that one.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

    Thank you for this fascinating information about a material I have never heard of.

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    Bethany Culpepper 6 years ago

    "Granny Chic" - I like it. I'm always on the look out for the perfect matelesse. They are old fashioned and refined at the same time.