There’s just something about French Country – isn’t there? The style of the French show up in their decorating, their food, and their joie de vivre.
A few years back I took my daughter to France to experience the culture first hand. We loved it there as much as we love Italy. There is something so wonderfully mystical about the French.
They may grow the same chickens, milk similar breeds of goats, eat and share the same food we do; yet their country living style makes me yearn to end my days there.
Sunny lush hillsides, fields of lavender, warm breezes year round. I have written about French country decorating and living since the day of our return and this article is no different although I’ll be focusing on the fabrics used in French decor. This isn’t all about the country fabrics so rich in barnyard scenery, but about toile, specifically.
A reader asked me just last week “What are you talking about when you say toile?”
Toile is used on a variety of fabrics both economical and elegant. The word itself is used to describe a printing technique that looks almost engraving or stamped into the fabric. Toile can be seen in anything from fine pressed velvets to thin cotton sheeting. The patterning most often depicts a scene such as the barnyard scene or two lovers embracing in a field of flowers.
Toile is most often only available in two tones. The relief and the background. The most common is white/black but you can also find these printed fabrics in any shades – dramatic or demure.
Toile first hit the decorating scene in the 1700s. It showed up in curtains, wallpaper, tableclothes and bedding of the elite. Quickly the style moved into the homes of all income brackets and over 300 years later it is still a French staple in home decorating.
French Country Decorating Popularity
As I write this there is a huge increase in French Country decor across the United States and Canada. As more of us focus our energy on the home front – either we’re getting too old to go out much anymore (aging Baby Boomers), or too poor due to the recession.
The French know that love and happiness exists no matter of age or income or circumstance. That feeling is infused into our bedrooms and living rooms the very first day we bring home our toile pillowcases or throw pillows.
If you love the romanticism of French country decorating but can’t decide on a particular color scheme, look no further than some of the gorgeous photos of French villas in decorating books as well as travel websites. When we visited Villefrance, Paris and Nice we found beautifully faded villas and buildings in all colors – each one of them sun-drenched and faded. Not as brilliant or ‘sweet’ as pastels these colors were more reminiscent of your favorite demin jeans that have been well worn and faded over the years.
The fabrics that hang in the windows of these buildings, or adorn the tables and sofas within the walls, can be of almost any design that pleases you as long as the colors are either brilliant and fresh or faded and demure. High or low contrast – very little in between.
For ideas on French Country Decor please visit our country store pages.