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How to Choose Fabrics for Upholstery

Since soft furnishings tend to be the largest pieces of furniture in a room they can often define the aesthetic. Upholstery fabric for a new sofa or armchair can also be a big investment and not something that can be easily rectified if you change your mind. So here are some key considerations when choosing upholstery fabrics.

Sanderson Port Issac - Photograph by Andy Gore - Styled by Alice Margiotta

Find balance between practicality and style.

You might be tempted by a beautiful design but practicality is key when choosing upholstery fabric. Consider how the item will be used. If you are looking to cover a sofa in a family room there is no point in choosing a beautiful design if it won’t stand the test of time. If you are picking fabric for a piece in a high traffic area you are likely going to have to clean it more regularly so opt for an easily washable fabric, such as cotton.

Harlequin Salinas - Photograph Dan Duchard - Styled by Alice Margiotta

Consider Colour

Consider what you are you trying to achieve with your piece - will it be a focal point or do you want it to blend in? A bold colour can have a really dramatic effect however it can make it harder to redesign your room in the future. Keep in mind though neutral, lighter colours will show marks more quickly.

Zoffany Icons - Photographed by Andy Gore - Styled by Alice Margiotta

Study Shape

It’s important to take the shape of the furniture into consideration when you're choosing a fabric. If you’re upholstering a curvy or complex piece it’s wise to stick to solid-colored fabrics. Heavily patterned fabrics don’t always upholster well plus you will need to purchase more fabric for large pattern repeats meaning a bigger cost. Save the heavy patterns for cushions as they are easier and cheaper to replace if your tastes change.

Do you have allergy’s?

Your allergy’s may not be something you first consider when picking upholstery fabrics however natural blends and thicker textures are likely to cause you a problem if you or your family have allergies. Long natural fibres trap dust, dirt, and pet hairs, so if you have an allergy, synthetic blends will be a more fitting choice. There are lots of clever blends on the market so don’t worry about the look or finish.

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