Growing up in a small revolutionary war era town in New England, I saw lots of homes decorated with Toile de Jouy. Toile de Jouy, often abbreviated as toile, is pronounced “twall.” It means cloth from Jouy-en-Josas, a suburban Paris town where this fabric was produced in the 18th century. Toile is a pattern of fabric or wallpaper characterized by a single-color illustration of a scene from daily life that is repeated against a white background. Often the the scenes depict 18th-century country living, such as picnics, boating parties, and farmhouse activities. The scenes are always happy, cheerful and pleasant. Toile fabrics were first produced in Ireland, England, and France in the 18th century. Toile has remained popular ever since, especially in French country, English country, and Colonial style homes.
Some examples of toile fabric:
Traditionally, the background is always white or off-white, and the pattern is printed in red, blue, black, or green. Today, there are more variations available.
Sometimes rooms are completely covered in matching toile– as seen in the guest bedroom pictured below, which used over 90 yards of toile fabric to cover the walls and furnishings!
Toile has traditionally been popular as a bedroom fabric, perhaps because of the happy and calming scenes it depicts. Below is a traditional bedroom designed by Cathy Kincaid:
Toile is versatile and works well with other printed fabrics such as checks:
It also works well with stripes:
Although it is undoubtedly traditional, toile can look fresh and modern, too–especially when used in smaller doses. Here are some current uses of toile that I find inspiring:
Marie Claire’s style director, Taylor Tomasi Hill in front of some pretty Schumacher toile:
This modern toile of orange and hot pink would be fun in a girl’s bedroom (some modern toile uses background colors other than white):
Some toile prints have Chinese-inspired themes, as does the pretty pink headboard and bedding pictured below:
A cheerful dining room covered in toile wallpaper:
Toile makes for a sweet nursery:
Lovely, romantic toile tablecloths:
Cakes at a toile-themed wedding:
Designer Carolina Herrera’s daughter in a toile dress at her mother’s Manhattan apartment covered in Le Coq Toile by Pierre Frey:
Pretty toile wallpaper in a butler’s pantry:
Chinoiserie toile can have a great impact on a small powder room:
Alessandra Branca designed this small bedroom with red toile:
Toile makes any room elegant, even a laundry room:
Paired with a zebra rug and a modern light fixture this toile looks quite modern:
I especially like toile when used in small doses, as in the next four photos:
I recently added a little toile to one of our vintage bathrooms, too:
When my husband looked at a photo of toile wallpaper, he said it looked like “something from an outdated home that needs a gut renovation.” So I imagine that others may have equally strong reactions to it! What is your opinion? Do you think it looks too fussy and granny-like in style, or do you find it classic and pleasing?