You don’t want to second-guess your sofa or chair’s fabric a few months after it comes. The improper material will cause snags and discoloration. If you choose the wrong color or pattern, the room suffers (or you’ll have to reupholster). Read on to learn about durable, comfortable, and stylish upholstery fabrics. How to choose long-lasting cloth.
How to Choose Sofa (or Chair, or Headboard) Fabric
When shopping for upholstery fabric, prioritize practicality. Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams cofounded a home-furnishings company. Bob replies, “Think about how you live and who will use it.” “This will help you choose stuff.” Silk velvet may seem great, but kids and pets will damage it soon. High-traffic pieces, such as family or living rooms, need sturdy materials, whereas a bedroom settee or headboard can showcase any textile.
People often overlook how fabrics and leathers age. Check the label and enquire in the showroom about the material’s content and cleaning demands, then consider how much upkeep you’re willing to perform. “In five years?” “Will you still enjoy the leather as it patinas? Vacuum upholstery regularly? Will you close the drapes when gone or not use a room to avoid sun fading?
Today’s upholstery materials combine style and durability. For children, pets, and red-wine aficionados, he recommends imitation suede or Sunbrella indoor-outdoor fabric. “We love slipcovered furniture.” And distressed leather is great—no scuffs or scratches.” If you have a busy household, avoid fragile or textured fabrics like silk, which can pull and aren’t stain-forgiving.
If you don’t have messy kids or pets, “flaunt your freedom,” adds Mitchell. Tibetan wool (“it feels very delicious, but it’s not a wonderful spot to eat peanut butter crackers”) and Belgian linen are his top selections. “While linen is incredibly durable, lighter colors don’t offer the stain resistance a kid-friendly family might need,” he explains. If you’re worried about care (or cost), use these luxury fabrics on pillows, which can be replaced when they’re worn out or a new trend arrives. Consider furniture shape before choosing cloth. Your upholsterer will appreciate it. Bob prefers solid-color textiles for curvy pieces. “Striking patterns or textures may not upholster properly.” A pattern that looks fantastic on a bolt of cloth may not look great on your sofa, especially if it’s an intricate shape. Consider furniture size. “We favor huge pieces, like sofas, in rich solid colors or traditional neutrals,” explains Bob. “Liven things up with smaller pieces, like a bold statement chair” Consider the room’s other furniture, especially upholstered pieces. You should coordinate colors, textures, and patterns. “The quickest way to know if you’ll like a fabric on a frame and how it feels is to try it in the store,” explains Bob. If a fabric isn’t on the floor, ask for a swatch to drape over a piece of furniture. If you choose a bespoke option, see a wide swatch of patterned textiles to see the whole theme and color palette. A little research will prevent a big (and upsetting) surprise.
If you have a good upholsterer in your Rolodex, you’re not confined to shopping fabrics (or some serious DIY skills). Consider old blankets or kilims. Pair a vibrant fabric with a traditional piece like a wingback chair or camelback sofa.