What is Calico?

Calico is a type of cotton fabric characterized by its unbleached, plain weave.


Calico is a natural, unbleached cotton fabric that often retains some of the original color of the cotton plant. It's defined by its simple, plain weave which gives it a sturdy, yet breathable quality. This makes calico a popular choice for a variety of uses within the interior design world, notably for mock-ups of more expensive fabrics, durable totes, and rustic or eco-friendly home decorations.

The fabric gets its name from the Indian city of Calicut (now Kozhikode), where it was first traded in the 11th century. It became a staple in the global textile market, especially after being introduced to Europe in the 15th century. Today, calico remains an essential material in both fashion and interior design for its versatility and environmental sustainability.

In interior design, calico can add a touch of simplicity and natural charm to a room. Its neutral color and texture make it an excellent backdrop for more vibrant colors or patterns. Additionally, its affordability and durability make it a practical choice for everyday items that need to withstand wear and tear.


Calico is widely used in interior design as a budget-friendly option for draperies, slipcovers, and upholsteries. It is also popular for creating prototypes of designs, allowing designers to work through the look and fit of items before committing to more expensive materials. Eco-conscious designers often choose calico for its natural, minimal processing and sustainable attributes. Additionally, calico's simple aesthetic can contribute to rustic, farmhouse, or minimalist decor themes.


  • Is calico suitable for all types of furniture upholstery?

    While calico is durable and versatile, its plain and sometimes rough texture may not be ideal for all furniture types, especially those requiring a more delicate or luxurious fabric. It's excellent for casual settings or prototypes.

  • Can calico be dyed or printed on?

    Yes, calico can be easily dyed or printed on, making it an excellent canvas for custom designs and patterns. This adds to its versatility in interior design projects.

  • Is calico eco-friendly?

    Yes, calico is considered eco-friendly due to its minimal processing and the fact that it's made from 100% natural cotton fibers. It embodies a sustainable choice in textiles.

Practical Application

When incorporating calico into your design projects, consider using it in areas where its natural texture and durability can be appreciated, like casual seating areas, simple curtains, or as a base for custom designs. Experiment with dyeing or printing to personalize calico fabrics for your space. Remember, while calico is robust, it may shrink slightly when washed, so factor in some extra material during the planning stage.