What Is Toile de Jouy? A Brief History and How to Weave It Into Your Space

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"Toile" comes from the French word for cloth. Toile de Jouy is a specific type of linen-printed fabric depicting intricate pastoral, romantic scenes historically in a single color — red, green, black, or blue — on an off-white background. Although printed toile was originally produced in Ireland in the 18th century, its popularity in France (and then subsequently across Europe) surged when a German-born engraver and colorist named Christophe-Philipe Oberkampf opened a factory in Jouy-de-Josas, France and began designing and printing the famed prints there. Thus, the name toile de Jouy, or toile from Jouy, is now referred to most often as simply toile.

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Over the years, the colorways and subject matter have evolved from strictly nature-driven settings to include of-the-moment commentary on travel and current events, cityscapes, and historical figures. The term toile encompasses anything from wallpaper to china to clothing with the characteristic delicate repeating pattern. While the names are often used interchangeably, toile is different from chinoiserie, which is from China and includes Asian-inspired motifs, and chintz, which is from India and is most often a floral design.

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Since toile was costly to print and was favored by aristocracy like Marie Antoinette, it was reserved for the bourgeoisie and has had a reputation for being staid and a bit stuffy. It was generally reserved for use in traditional homes or those with a cottagecore bent as curtains in bedrooms, as wallpaper in dining rooms, or as throw pillows. The updated patterns and palette, however, have broadened toile's appeal to an edgier more modern audience and today toile is once again rising in popularity. To keep traditional toile from looking dated, use it with modern elements and in conjunction with other styles.

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Here are 11 modern ways to incorporate toile into your home.

11 Modern Ways to Decorate with Toile de Jouy

1. Soften an industrial look

Seemingly on opposite ends of the design spectrum, industrial decor looks surprisingly fitting alongside an unexpected feminine print like toile. This pared-down bathroom by Regan Baker softens the aesthetic's signature clean lines with wallpaper showcasing a toile-print in muted gray and white. Relegating the pattern to just one wall keeps the overall look edgy and youthful.

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2. Adorn an accent wall.

Introduce just a touch of the decorative fabric by using it on an accent wall. A little bit of toile's intricate pattern can go a long way; case in point: this welcoming bedroom by Katie LeClercq which showcases a dark blue design on an accent wall behind the bed. Pairing a classic element with on-trend and vintage pieces like a rattan bed, reclaimed wood trunk, and high-pile rug results in a space that's welcoming and timeless.

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3. Use it to add pattern to a monochrome space.

Infuse dimension and interest into monochrome spaces with toile paper in the same color scheme. We love tonal spaces for their simplicity and modern approach to design, but they can lack contrast and depth. Introducing a print (like the pink and cream toile wallpaper in this living room) in the same colorway maintains a cohesive look with the added benefit of pattern and character.

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4. Mix patterns.

Stick to a single color story to easily integrate toile with other graphic patterns. For instance, this bathroom by Lisa Michael Interiors, adorned with black and white toile wallpaper, doesn't look visually overwhelming adjacent to a bedroom with a buffalo check comforter because they share the same hues. With a monochrome palette, the addition of a pink dresser brightens up the look.

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5. Bring intimacy to a lofty space.

Anchor a lofty space, like this dining room spotted on Chris Loves Julia, with the addition of wallpaper. Sure, all white spaces are enduring and look clean and bright, but when you have high ceilings, a grounding element like this inky blue pattern can add intimacy and a cozy vibe. Windsor-back chairs and wainscoting infuse a welcoming old-world vibe.

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6. Round out a cottagecore bedroom.

With its emphasis on pastel hues, layered feminine textiles, and a blend of rustic and ornate styles, cottagecore decor and toile's romantic undertones are a perfect match. This cozy bedroom profiled on Cup of Joe illustrates how seamlessly the two styles work together. Pink toile wallpaper is paired with ruffle-trimmed pillows, distressed wood, and a hint of kitsch giving the space loads of character.

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7. Add elegance to a quiet workspace.

Add sophistication and cottage-core vibes to pared down spaces with floor-to-ceiling toile wallpaper. This clutter-free workspace is stripped down to the bare necessities, but retains an elegant and inspiring atmosphere with walls covered in navy and cream toile and thoughtful extras lie a porcelain lamp, cameo artwork, and antique furniture.

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8. Add visual interest to a bedroom.

Toile's intricate pattern is prime for more is more spaces. Layer it in unexpected vibrant shades, like the sorbet hue seen in this sumptuous bedroom by Sabbe Interiors, with other bold contrasting shades. A sweetheart-shaped bed frame upholstered in textural velvet makes an eye-catching statement against a background of cream walls and toile drapery.

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9. Opt for a unique colorway.

A surefire way to inject a modern note to toile? Embrace it in an unusual color combo. For example, this contemporary bedroom by Alyssa Rosenheck features an ebony and gold wallpaper depicting iconic buildings from some of the most famous cities in the world. She upped the contrast with bold pops of lavender, orange and yellow for a look that's decidedly au courant.

10. Use it with masculine furnishings.

Not all spaces that flaunt toile need to feel overtly girly. Opt for the print in a black and white colorway to infuse instant edge and moodiness to rooms. This handsome bedroom by Emily Henderson uses a combo of masculine-leaning textile like pinstripes and suede alongside darkened metal finishes. Wood details add warmth.

11. Introduce whimsy to a nursery.

Toile is equally fitting in rooms geared for children as grown up spaces. Introduce whimsy to a nursery with toile imprinted with various animals for an understated circus theme that will appeal to adults and kids. Residents Understood kept the look elevated in this charming space with a natural wood Jenny Lind crib and minimal decor.

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Best Places to Shop for Toile de Jouy

Image Credit: Catherine McQueen/Moment/GettyImages

Toile de Jouy is a fine-lined printed textile historically depicting pastoral and romantic scenes from everyday life. It's steeped in history and can be traced back to the 18th century when it was first printed in Ireland. Eventually, the fabric design made its way to France and greater Europe thanks to Christophe-Philipe Oberkampf who helped popularize the textile with the invention of the first wallpaper printer.

At one time, toile was reserved for the upper class, but today it's available from a variety of stores in a range of price points and mediums including fabric, china, and wallpaper.

If you're ready to weave the unique pattern into your own space, here are a few retailers that offer unique and modern toile designs:

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