Monday, January 19, 2009

History Lesson: Toile

Toile -- one of my all-time favorite patterns. So classic, so French, and in today's more modern interiors, so transitional in unexpected colors like lime, mimosa, or fuschia.

Officially known as Toile de Jouy, toile is a type of decorating pattern that more traditionally consists of a white or off-white background, on which a pattern that usually depicts a fairly complex scene -- generally of a pastoral theme -- is repeated. Toile fabrics can also consist of arrangements of flowers, birds, or in more contemporary patterns, American urban dwellings.

The pattern most often consists of a single color, traditionally black, dark red, or blue. Greens, browns and yellow toile patterns are less common but becoming more prevalent in modern interiors, where you are also likely to find toile patterns in even less-traditional colors, like:

Green with magenta:

Electric orange with fuschia:

Black with a cream:

Toile de Jouy originated in France in the late 1700s. In the French language, the phrase literally means "cloth from Jouy-en-Josas", a town of north-central France. Although it has been continuously produced since then, it experienced a marked upsurge in popularity around the year 2000, and today you'll find it in interiors of all kinds -- traditional, shabby chic, transitional, and modern.

Do you use toile in your home? If so, how so?

1 comment:

Alysa said...

I love toile! While I am not one of them, I can see how toile might be kind of intimidating for some people- it's such a statement, esp the bright modern prints! There are some really cute ways to try it out before committing to wallpaper, a chair, curtains, bedding, etc:
-DIY bedroom lampshades ( )
-framed prints: frame and mat a few bold coordinating toile prints and hang with your other art
-update a small piece of furniture: hard decoupage just the drawers of a bedside table with a toile wallpaper print