The use of buffalo check fabric in design isn’t new, in fact, it’s a centuries old pattern whose timeless beauty has captured the hearts of designers and decorators alike.  Like me, you might not have ever given much thought to this simple, yet charming, pattern, but as I’ve learned, it has an interesting history and a varied use in today’s world of decorating!

{via Interior Designer Michael Siller}
{via Interior Designer Michael Siller on Houzz}
{via Forever Cottage}
{via Forever Cottage}

What is Buffalo Check?

Buffalo check is often a two- or three-color striped fabric whose pattern creates large squares of equal size in all directions (as opposed to checked gingham fabric, which has small squares).  While it often includes black as one of the colors, black is not required in order to qualify the pattern as buffalo check.  Centuries ago, this pattern was primarily produced in white combined with either red, yellow, or blue, as these were the colors found in the natural dyes available in the 17th century.  Modern buffalo check fabric now comes in a wide variety of colors, but regardless, the pattern creates squares of equal size in all directions.

{Available via Fabric Bee on  Etsy}
{Available via Fabric Bee on Etsy}

Queen Charlotte’s Check (aka Buffalo Check)

I had never given much thought to this particular fabric until I spotted it while touring the Governor’s Palace while visiting Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.  {Please excuse the quality of the photos; the tour was full and it was hard to get a shot without another tourist in it!}

TIDBITS & TWINE Williamsburg Governor's Palace

You’ll notice that in these very classic rooms with white-trimmed walls, the red buffalo check pattern makes quite a bold statement.  As such, I asked the docent whether the pattern was original to the period home.  Her response was “yes” and that in fact, it was so popular with the Queen at the time, that it was often referred to as “Queen Charlotte’s Check.”

TIDBITS & TWINE Williamsburg Governor's Palace 2

Who was Queen Charlotte?

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz lived from 1744 to 1818.  In 1761 she married King George III and subsequently, had 15 children while living in Bukingham House (now known as Bukingham Palace).  Along with being a passionate music connoisseur and amateur botanist, she apparently also had a fondness for this classic check pattern!


Buffalo Check Fabric in Decorating

The simplistic design and wide variety of colors allows this pattern to work well in a variety of decorating styles from French country, to traditional, to contemporary.  I love that the two photos of wallpaper below demonstrate how easily this pattern can transition between styles!

Contemporary Buffalo Check Wallpaper
{via Interior Canvas}
{Source unknown}
{Source unknown}

Buffalo check is also subtle enough that it can easily mix with a variety of other patterns, including stripes, florals, toile, and a myriad of small-scale patterns.  {For more information about mixing patterns, click here.}

{via Houzz}
{via Houzz}
{via Chinoiserie Chic}
{via Chinoiserie Chic}

When used as part of a monochromatic color scheme, the pattern simply adds texture and character to a space.

Buffalo Check Banquette
{Isn’t this custom gray blue buffalo check banquette from decorator Iris Thorpe amazing?! Source}
{via Alidad Interiors}
{via Alidad Interiors}

It can also be used as that little extra “pop” to draw attention to a space!

{via Color Outside the Lines}
{via Color Outside the Lines}
{via Pinterest}
{via Pinterest}

Regardless of how and where this pattern is used, it makes an elegant and timeless statement when used in decorating.

{via Tumblr}
{via Tumblr}

My living room redo is on hold until our new puppy arrives (just in case he/she decides to chew the new sofa), but I’m now on the lookout for some buffalo check pillows to use in this room for the day this project finally gets back on track.  And while I know that this pattern is typically called buffalo check, somewhere inside my mind,I will forever think of it as Queen Charlotte’s Check.  ;)


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  1. Thanks for this post and posts. I didn’t know about Queen Charlotte. If I am remembering correctly according to a Williamsburg Governor Palace guide, the buffalo check was pretty expensive and was not affordable for anyone but the wealthy because it was expensive to make. Glad we can get it readily today. Like you and others, I have a definite fondness for it.

  2. Thank you for that informative article on buffalo check. I am at my wits end trying to find a sofa in blue or black buffalo check . Do you know of any manufacturers that have it in their color swatches ? Thank you .

    1. User Avatar Tidbits&Twine says:

      Hi Rita – I don’t know of one off the top of my head but I’ll keep an eye out for it! Ballard Designs does have buffalo check sofas but in taupe, not blue or black. I’ll definitely let you know if I come across one. Good luck with your search! Sounds beautiful! :) Kim

  3. I just love the Buffalo Check fabric. Thanks so much for the history on the material, very interesting. My first love is toile and then buffalo check.
    Good luck with your new puppy – what kind are you getting?
    Have a wonderful weekend and looking forward to your remodel.

    1. User Avatar Tidbits&Twine says:

      Hi Mary – I love toile, too! We’re getting a Labradoodle but we’re so far down the wait list that it might not be until Fall or later. Until then, the redo is on hold but I’m still planning it out in my mind…. :)

    1. User Avatar Tidbits&Twine says:

      Thank you, Pamela!! :)

  4. What a great post. I love “Queen Charlotte’s Check”. One of the images has been in my ‘favorites’ file for years, the lavender buffalo check reading room is stunning.
    How exciting, a new puppy. You are so wise to wait to redo the living room. :-)

  5. Beautiful images…I love love love buffalo check and use it quick often!!

  6. I love Queen Charlotte’s Check (see? it’s catchy!), especially in all the classic stylings you’ve shown here (and yes, that Iris Thorpe banquette is pretty amazing!).

    1. User Avatar Tidbits&Twine says:

      Too funny! :) I didn’t realize how much I liked it until Williamsburg and then yesterday, as I was browsing some of my previous Pins, I noticed that I’ve pinned tons of images with Queen Charlotte’s Check. Turns out I’ve loved it longer than I even knew!

  7. That is such an interesting history! So did Buckingham House later become Buckingham Palace? I have a photo somewhere of my mom, in the 1940s, wearing a jacket that was the huge check like that. I have a feeling that she didn’t call it Buffalo Check. Maybe Queen Charlotte’s Check. Fascinating info on this fabric!

    1. User Avatar Tidbits&Twine says:

      That’s a good question….perhaps I can convince my hubby that we need to take a trip to England to learn more about this fabric and Buckingham! Lol! It really is a great pattern, though, isn’t it?!

  8. I love buffalo check. After seeing it as curtains on the blog The Endearing Home I made some for my living room in the classic black

    1. User Avatar Tidbits&Twine says:

      Your curtains sound stunning and dramatic! How wonderful!

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