Style Guide

French Country Style Guide: Fabrics

Toile, Buffalo Check Plaids, and French Grain Sacks—Fabric is at the heart of French Country decorating.

When most people think of French Country decorating, they think of “fancy” fabrics with elaborate scenes of hunting, birds or forest motifs. These ornate fabrics are often embellished with cording and tassels harkening back to 19th century French style. These principles are still at the heart of French Country decorating, but today, we’re seeing a more “modern” or simplified approach when selecting fabrics.

Classic “Toile”
Toile fabrics traditionally have white or off-white backgrounds with repeated patterns of  pastoral themes. Many classic French Country toile fabrics are in printed in muted yellows, reds, greens and black and white. Today, we are seeing more fun, and modern interpretations of Toile fabrics —utilizing more vibrant colors such as pink, soft blues and larger scale pastoral patterns. When it comes to French Country decorating, adding a touch of Toile is a must.


Buffalo Checks & Plaids
Big, hearty check patterns are a staple of French Country Decorating. Whether black and white, or red and white, or green and white—checks offer a simple counter-balance to the ornateness of Toile. Often Toiles are paired with Buffalo Check in upholstery. A French Country Ladderback Chair cushions may have intricate pastoral scene on the front with a wide check plaid on the back to accompany the pattern. Today, we are seeing a rise in the popularity of buffalo check fabrics in many styles of decorating from rustic to modern.  The large scale print offers a balanced geometric design that visually works like a “solid”—with personality.

Natural French Linen & Grain Sacks
Rough linen fabrics are incorporated everywhere in French country decorating—from upholstery to stair runners. The heavyweight, natural fabric has a durable, timeless quality that brings rustic style to a French Country room. Printed grain sacks are often repurposed for pillow covers, or used as slipcovers on chairs or ottomans. The rough fiber and neutral color blends seamlessly with distressed wood furniture, farmhouse decor and French antiques.

Rough linen is commonly used on upholstery and as runners on staircases.

Bold Mix of Patterns
Mix florals, geometrics, plaids and stripes—to create a sophisticated blend of French country fabrics with a “collected” feel. By mixing of related colors, patterns and scales creates a room that feels uniquely French Country. Upholster a chair in a damask, a sofa in a buffalo check, add throw pillows in floral prints, then complete the room with geometric fabric draperies for authentic French country style. It’s the blend of elegant fabrics that creates an inviting, sophisticated space.

Mixing similar colors with various patterns creates a “collected” French Country style in a room design.

See more of our favorite French Country Fabrics on Pinterest.

Read more about French Country Style and Decorating in our Style Guide:
French Country Style Guide: Overview
French Country Style Guide: Colors
French Country Style Guide: Furniture







5 thoughts on “French Country Style Guide: Fabrics

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