How to Select Appropriate Fabric for Specific Furniture Types

Written by tiffany holley
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How to Select Appropriate Fabric for Specific Furniture Types

A little paint and some new furniture can go a long way in updating a room, as well as give it a whole new look and feel. You can create a high-end look, a casual cosy look or somewhere in between simply by the fabric choices you make for your furniture. If you are in the market to purchase new furniture or have your existing furniture reupholstered, then you may have noticed the plethora of choices available in fabrics. Narrow down your options by first assessing the needs of your family and then deciding on the look you are going for in the room. Furniture styles also matter when making fabric choices.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Assess your decorating style. Before embarking on a new furniture or fabric purchase, assess you room's current decor or decide on a new style that you would like to go with. Not all fabrics go well with every style of furniture. If you have a very modern style, choose solids or a print with very straight lines. If you like traditional furniture, go with tonal patterns or leather fabrics. If you fancy the Victorian era, buy fabrics or furniture in florals and pastel shades. The texture or thickness of the fabrics you choose should depend on how much the piece will be used. For example, don't choose silk fabrics for your husband's recliner; it will wear out in no time.

  2. 2

    Get a professional opinion. Check with a local or online fabric store regarding what types of fabrics to use in your room. Upholstery fabrics range from silks, chenilles, cottons and leathers to faux leathers, faux silks, indoor-outdoor, microfibers and more. There are also fabric colours and patterns to consider. If you are furnishing a formal living room with Victorian-style furniture, you may feel comfortable in choosing more delicate fabrics such as silks and chenilles. On the other hand, if you are choosing fabrics for a sectional sofa in a family room where there will be a lot more traffic and use, then you may want to choose a microfiber fabric or a leather material that can be easily cleaned should a spill occur. Dining room chairs are typically used a lot and should be covered in durable fabrics such as broad cloths, microfibers or indoor-outdoor fabrics.

  3. 3

    Visit a local furniture showroom. Ask a furniture salesperson to show you the fabric swatches that your furniture selections come in. Many times the swatches attached to the tag are not the only choices available; however, most furniture stores carry only a few fabric and colour selections. You may want to search a few different furniture stores to see what is available in your area before making a final decision.

  4. 4

    Hire a professional furniture upholsterer. If you are unsuccessful in finding desirable fabrics from furniture store selections, enlist an upholsterer to cover your existing furniture. They have many fabric swatch books with virtually any colour, type, texture and pattern of upholstery fabrics to fit your room's needs. An upholsterer can make your furniture look brand new again and may save you some money in the process. Although in many cases, having your furniture reupholstered can be quite expensive, depending on the fabric selections you make. You must ultimately decide which is more important, getting the fabric that you want or saving money.

Tips and warnings

  • Have a professional sew coordinating draperies, shades or pillows to give your room a custom look.

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