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Using Toile in Interior Design

by Nikki Willhite


picture of a blue toile fabric picture of a pink toile fabric

Toile is decorating pattern that has been around since the 1800’s. It is a classic. It is good for the frugal decorator because it never goes out of style. Right now it is extremely popular.

The Toile design came from the French. If you’ve never heard the word spoken, it is just one syllable and sounds like "twall." 

Using Toile is like using a floral print, but is not as easily dated as a floral print. You can always recognize a vintage floral print. They are very abstract. The flowers are not as real looking as they are in today’s prints. The pinks are peach, and the blues lean toward aqua.

Most Toile fabric is only two colors. The background is usually white or cream, and the design is printed in blue, white, black/charcoal or red. These limited colors help keep the fabric from looking dated.

Toile is often made in a very soft fabric so that it drapes well. At first it was used for draperies and bedspreads, but now you will find it on all types of furniture, accessories, and even clothing.

Toile is considered an elegant and romantic fabric. You can decorate very dramatically with Toile by painting your walls a vibrant color and then using nothing but Toile in your room. This is often done with red walls and a black and white toile print.

Toile fabrics picture scenes from daily life, from peasants working in fields, to exotic landscapes and cherubic angels. American Toile often depicts historical American patriotic events and symbols. The scenes depicted on the cloth are meant to tell a story.

There is a lot of rhythm on the fabric, as the scene is a pattern repeating all over the fabric. Toile has a lot of curved lines, which is why it is treated as a floral. It goes well with stripes and plaids.

Toile designs are suitable for both formal and informal rooms. At one time, they were used extensively in almost every formal room. Toile blends wonderfully into a shabby chic room, giving it a sense of age, which people try so hard to get by distressing furniture.

You will find Toile prints for upholstery, drapes, bedspreads, wallpaper, and even on dishes.

If you want to add a touch of elegance to your home, think about adding some Toile fabric. Start with a pillow. It doesn’t take much fabric to bring a little elegance and sophistication to your home.

About the Author: Nikki Willhite, mother of 3 and an interior design graduate, has been writing and publishing articles on the topic of frugal living for over a decade. Visit her at where you will find hundreds of frugal living tips and articles. Frugal Happy Families- more than just money!

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