Toile De Jouy Fabric: Why You Should Stop Using It Everywhere

You absolutely love French country fabrics. You already heard about Toile de Jouy fabric.

But do you know exactly what it is?

And where to add it to your French country decor?

Here’s everything you need to know, but feel free to jump to any section that interests you:

I. What is Toile de Jouy fabric?

Toile de Jouy is an antique fabric made of cotton, with repeated patterns of hunting scenes, rural landscapes, mythological characters, fauna and flora.

It’s printed in a single color – usually blue, green, purple, gray or red.

Toile de Jouy fabric was originally produced in Ireland in the eighteenth century.

Christophe-Philipe Oberkampf opened a factory in Jouy-en-Josas (near Paris) in 1760.

What is now called toile de Jouy is in fact only a small part of the manufacturer’s productions.

The French toile was inspired by the “Indiennes”, these traditional oriental cotton fabrics with very bright colors and floral motifs printed by hand or with a stamp.

To illustrate his fabrics, Oberkampf called on renowned painters to create the traditional motifs of the Toile de Jouy.

A certain part of the History of France is depicted on these fabrics.

It’s even said that the French Toile was the “first comic strip in history”.

Some motifs reproduce scenes taken from philosophical or literary works such as the fables of La Fontaine.

Some illustrate exotic landscapes which feature wild animals still unknown in Europe.

The term toile de Jouy is not the registered trademark of a product only manufactured in Jouy-en-Josas. Even in Oberkampf’s time, other factories produced identical fabrics and the term became somewhat of a generic name.

II. What does Toile de Jouy mean?

The French word « toile » means linen cloth.

Jouy comes from Jouy-en-Josas, the name of the French town where this fabric was made.

Jouy-en-Josas is located in the suburbs of Paris.

There is now a museum of Toile de Jouy, in the beautiful Chateau de l’Eglantine.

If you go to Paris one day, I think it’s definitely worth the detour. You’ll learn more about the history of Toile de Jouy fabric and you’ll admire the gorgeous collection. There are more than 30,000 different Jouy patterns! That’s crazy.

III. How do you pronounce Toile?

Toile is pronounced « twall » and Jouy « jwee ».

toile-de-jouy-pronounciation

IV. What can you do with Toile fabric?

Toile de Jouy fabric became popular in France under the reign of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI.

So today, when we think about French Toile, we associate it with French chateau decor.

At the time, the fabric was kind of everywhere…

Curtains and valances, chairs, pillows, sofas, bed sheets, duvets, canopy covers…

I have provided a direct paid link wherever possible, at no added cost to you, so that you can easily shop and decorate.
toile de jouy bedroom

Pinterest

Please, don’t do that! This is way too much. Use it in moderation.

Too much toile means too much visual information.

Tip: Choose the color of your Toile de Jouy fabric according to your own French country color palette. Stay sober for the rest of your decoration.

Here are some examples of where you can use Toile de Jouy print.

But again, resist the temptation. don’t use them all! 1 or 2 per room is well enough.

1. In your kitchen

  • Kitchen towels

  • Curtains below the sink

  • Window valance

  • Inside the cupboards

  • Wallpaper on a small section of wall

TOO MUCH

toile-de-jouy-kitchen

GREAT

toile-de-jouy-kitchen

2. In your dining room

  • Chair linen

  • Chair upholstery

  • Inside the dresser

TOO MUCH

toile-de-jouy-dining-room

GREAT

toile de jouy chair

3. In your living room

  • Chair upholstery

  • Frame mount

  • One or two pillows

TOO MUCH

toile-de-jouy-living-room

GREAT

toile de jouy chair

4. In your bedroom

  • Door

  • Bed linen

  • Curtains

TOO MUCH

toile-de-jouy-bedroom

GREAT

toile-de-jouy-bed

V. How to combine Toile de Jouy with other French country PATTERNS?

Toile de Jouy can’t be mixed easily because it’s a fancy pattern.

It’s better to combine it with simple geometric patterns like stripes and checks. And always choose no more than 2 pattern colors.

To learn more about mixing French country patterns, check this post!

Toile de Jouy pinterest pin 1 Toile de Jouy pinterest pin 2

17 thoughts on “Toile De Jouy Fabric: Why You Should Stop Using It Everywhere”

  1. Definitely personal preference. When the same toile pattern is used throughout….. bed, wall, canopy, it’s stunningly beautiful and even mixing a few diff patterns. Faudree was a genius at enveloping a room in toile and it was gorgeous.

  2. Loraine N Sundquist

    Thank you for showing how to be able to use toile de jouy in moderation. The fabric is very expense and a bit hard to find. This really helps!

  3. Alexandra Victorine

    Definitely disagree. Toile in repeat in an entire room is the historically accurate way that toile should be used and is used in France in châteaux everywhere. The way you are showing it here, on the back of a chair covered in sackcloth tea towel is both common and low class, bourgeois way to do it.

    1. Mathilde | Brocante Ma Jolie

      Thank you for your comment Alexandra. I understand your point of view, but as you say, this is only seen in the châteaux we visit, and whose owners wanted to reproduce the decor of the time. Toile de Jouy "everywhere" is completely extravagant in a classic house in France.

  4. I have read your article on different French styles. 28 years ago I built & designed my home. I have such a mix. I have some Italian antique furniture, some very fancy French antiques, lots of plaster busts , some Toile, quite a lot of antique iron pieces, both inside & out. What a jumble, but it suits me fine. I am now taking a house built in 1999 & turning it into a French style, tumbled brick floors, lots of chandeliers and keeping all my busts, iron pieces & iron & plaster pottery. Love it all. Thanks for your articles. I follow you.

    1. Mathilde de Brocante Ma Jolie

      Thank you so much for your comment, Nora! Feel free to email me any time if you need some additional tips, I’d be happy to help 🙂

  5. Absolutely disagree with this analysis of toile de jouy. In a profusion of patterns, it is most authentic and heartwarmingly beautiful. Am glad of the other remarks here, gently tweaking how this was presented. . .

    1. Mathilde | Brocante Ma Jolie

      Thank you for your comment Hildegarde. As a French, I can say the profusion of Toile de Jouy is almost only seen in the castles we visit, and whose owners wanted to reproduce the decor of the time. Toile de Jouy "everywhere" is completely extravagant in a classic countryside house in France. You are absolutely free to put it everywhere in your interior, but I refuse that this way of doing things is seen as a usual thing in French homes.

  6. Christopher Moore

    Madame. It is extremely rude of you to use other peoples rooms as examples of what not to do or how “not” to use toile, especially without their permission or without crediting them. My bedroom is using toile in the manner that it was originally used in 18th century France. I would be grateful if you remove pictures of my bed/bedroom immediately. Your personal opinion is just that, personal, and should be kept so. Fortunately I have a worldwide reputation as a toile de Jouy expert of many years standing, and can withstand unprofessional comments and opinions like yours, and you are also entitled to your personal opinions as an obvious non-professional. The wonderful thing about toile, is that you can use as much or as little as you like, and there is absolutely no one in a position to say that either this way or that way is right or wrong! My photographs are all copyright and may not be used without my permission or without credits. Thank you.

    1. Mathilde Boudard

      Hi, I’m sorry if you were upset, it’s not my goal to offend anyone. I deleted your photograph. Thank you for your comment.

    2. My husband and I were farm kids from Minnesota in north central US.
      Not on the farm anymore, we still love those country toile de Juoy prints.
      For years we had the blue print of a boy and girl playing by a well in the country on our dining room walls.
      Our home was water damaged and we still can’t find that print, but we have photos…..
      We now have toile print long curtains in our garden porch.

      It’s good to decide with whoever is living with you just how much of the print you wish to use.
      I was surprised he liked it as much as I do, which made it comfortable to openly monitor how much was too much.

      Your article is wonderful.
      Thank you.

    3. Chrissylover69

      I love you so much. You make my day so much better. You are the light of my darkness, the hope of my world. I love your bedroom. I dont care if its too covered in toil de jouy, I will always appreciate your stylisic choices. I would like your bedroom even more if I was in it. My love you will never fade.
      Here is my poem for you:
      Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
      Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
      Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
      And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
      Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
      And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
      And every fair from fair sometime declines,
      By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
      But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
      Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
      Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
      When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
      So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
      So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

  7. Karol Nowak

    Thank you for your wonderful article on the use of Toile. Your suggestions have become the foundation of our sunroom remodeling project. Interestingly, it seems to be a somewhat controversial topic. Here in the States I would equate it to the discussion of which is the better pizza, thin or thick crust.

    1. Mathilde | Brocante Ma Jolie

      Thank you so much for the good laugh, Karol! And I’m glad you liked this article 🙂

  8. I do think this article is based on opinion and given the subject, there is no right or wrong.
    What’s a little offensive is the implication of inferiority in peoples decor choices. I actually like both examples, but I do take issue with the stance that one is superior and ‘correct’, particularly as it refers to peoples individual personal space.
    It does smack of snobbery.

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