Many of design’s most beloved finds come from humble beginnings. The delightfully striped dhurrie was once considered to be a poor man’s carpet. Sturdy campaign furniture was used as luggage by traveling military officers. Depression glassware was inexpensively produced in the 1930s to lift the spirits of struggling Americans.
Ticking stripes, the popular upholstery that’s as at home in a country cottage as it is in a grand estate, comes from similarly rough-hewn origins. First called ticking fabric, it was a thickly woven cotton or linen textile that served as a mattress cover to prevent straw or feathers from poking out. The name comes from the Greek word theka, which translates to “case” or “covering.”
It’s most often made up of thin vertical stripes on a white background, sometimes in degrees of varying thickness to create a repeated pattern. Blue is the most popular stripe color, though you’ll find stripes in red, green, tan, and other hues as well. Many credit American designer Sister Parish for elevating ticking stripes from their utility status in the 1940s, bringing them out of the bedroom and using the fabric for pillows, drapes, and furnishings alike, sometimes pairing with chintz.
Read on to discover our favorite ways to decorate with the ever-versatile fabric.