Thursday, August 28, 2014

Not-So-Basic Bedding

For years, I had seen photos of boutis, those Provençal quilts that are often made of solid-colored cotton or silk, but I never thought much about them. Certainly they always looked charming, but I assumed that boutis were a little too countrified for my home. But then, a few years ago, I saw a photo of M. Givenchy's guest bedroom at Clos Fiorentina, his house in the South of France, in which the bed was dressed in a pretty deep-blue boutis. Any country-ness was tempered by the smart-looking fabric used throughout the room.  And then there was KK Auchincloss's Paris bedroom, featured a few years ago in World of Interiors, where a crisp white boutis was draped over her bed.  Givenchy? KK Auchincloss?  Maybe it was time for me to reconsider the boutis.

Although in theory, boutis might be better suited to country houses where rustic charm is the order of the day, there really isn't any reason why you can't use one in a city home.  I think that it's all about context.  If you provide a polished backdrop for these quilts, they seem to take on a bit of polish themselves.  And silk boutis, especially those in urbane colors, would look downright smashing in a jewel-box city bedroom.

Of course, I might be a little prejudiced at the moment because I'm in a quilted state of mind (so much so that I recently bought pretty matelassé bedding from Peacock Alley.)  Then again, it might be high time to reconsider the humble yet immensely charming boutis.

The "Bunny" Bedroom, named for Bunny Mellon, at Givenchy's South of France residence, Clos Fiorentina (Photo from The Givenchy Style)

A white boutis graces the bed of KK Auchincloss (World of Interiors, November 2012, Fritz von der Schulenberg photographer)

 In the South of France home of decorator Jean-Loup Daraux (Photo from Veranda, Jacques Dirand photographer)

 A quilted bed in the São Paulo apartment of Fabrizio Rollo (Elle Decor, Eric Piasecki photographer)

In the Paris residence of designer Jacques Grange (Photo from Elle Decor: The Grand Book of French Style)

Boutis are also frequently used as table cloths. (Photo from The French Touch by Daphne de Saint Sauveur)

Photo at top: A pair of boutis, which are made of 19th-c. pigeon-breast silk, in the home of designer and antique dealer Michel Biehn (Photo from Elle Decor: The Grand Book of French Style)


  1. Jennifer Dengel10:21 AM

    Sigh, yet another thing to fall in love with...Thank you for these beautiful images. Now I must go in search of a boutis!

  2. Very attractive post, Jennifer! However, I disagree that the bouts is any way humble! On the contrary, these quilts have always been expensive status symbols! They don't necessarily need the endorsement of Givenchy or K.K. Auchincloss and are quite lovely in themselves. I particularly like them used as tablecloths, as in the last image, but they are just perfect for beds - warm but not too heavy. I have a red one tucked away somewhere (from a red-and-white striped, toile de Jouy French phase long ago :-))). They will never go out of style! Thank you for the post.

    1. Precisely my feelings on the subject. Those quilts never struck me as "countrified" in the least!

    2. Anonymous4:04 PM

      I completely agree!!

  3. The boutis is the perfect cover for someone who does not like complicated bed-making. It serves as cover and a layer of warmth. In the winter, I put a down blanket (NOT a comforter!) under my boutis and it is perfect, even when sleeping in a very cold room.

    I've never thought of them as "country", unlike patchwork quilts. The "Bunny" bedroom shows just how wonderful this look can be. What is necessary, though, is a top sheet that has a VERY big turn back, and that is nearly impossible to find in the US these days. I simply order my sheets from Cologne & Cotton in England - wonderful 24" turn backs and not outrageously expensive. English sheets also have the long side drops such as that picture - both a husband and wife who are side sleepers won't have their bottom hanging out when the other partner is comfortable!

  4. We have some very beautiful toile de jouy ones in the countryside that we always pull out when it's cold. They really insulate so well!

  5. These are all lovely photos. I love the last photo - The French Touch since it has a vintage and homey feel to it.