Usually, when people go shopping for sofas, they’re looking for a specific list of features. These lists often contain the general dimensions they need as well as the style and color they’d prefer. Even though different upholstery materials can make or break a sofa, most people don’t think about that until it’s too late. So how do we make sure the sofa we’re getting is upholstered with a suitable fabric?
Things to Consider When Looking for Suitable Sofa Upholstering Fabrics
When it comes to choosing the best fabric for a sofa, there are several things we ought to consider. First, you’ll want to decide whether you want a natural fabric or if a synthetic one would do. Next, there’s the matter of textures and the way they influence the maintenance of a piece of furniture. Only then should you think about the colors of the sofa and the way they’ll play into the rest of the room’s design.
Natural or Synthetic
The most important thing to decide is the origin of the materials you’re using. On the one hand, you have natural fabrics like cotton or linen. Those are fantastic, breezy sofa covers. If nothing else, they won’t stick to your legs or make you sweat on hot summer days.
Alternatively, you can get synthetic fabrics like velvet, chenille, or microfiber. Those options are generally cheaper and easier to clean. However, they also tend to retain more heat.
Some of these fabrics can be either natural or synthetic materials. For example, while velvet was originally a silk-based material, most “velvet” products you’ll find nowadays are made of polyester. And the same goes for leather.
Even though leather is a natural, though certainly not vegan, material, you can get faux leather couches. Still, both versions of that particular material have their pros and cons.
Whether you opt for a natural fabric or a synthetic one, upholstery materials usually come in a range of different textures as well. To stick with the example we just used, leather can make any style of sofa appear sleek and elegant. That’s the magic of having such a smooth finish — not to mention that it makes the sofa easier to clean.
On the other hand, depending on the upholstery style that was used, that same material could add a new dimension to the sofa. Rather than simply stretching the material over the sofa, the maker could give it a tufted texture instead.
Then, of course, some materials have unique textures that can’t be replicated. For example, cotton and linen fabrics have a discernible weave texture in the material. Moreover, there is a notable difference between cheap, low-thread-count fabrics and luxurious high-thread-count ones.
At this point, you might have noticed that we’ve excluded one natural fabric from the beginning — wool. After all, even though that material is natural, it usually has a scratchy texture that’s certainly not the ideal finish for a couch.
Needless to say, different sofa fabrics have different maintenance requirements. Genuine leather couches are pretty easy to clean even if you spill something. However, they may require the occasional rubdown with a leather conditioner if you don’t want them to crack.
On the other hand, cotton and linen fabrics tend to be on the thinner side, which may result in some wear and tear. Moreover, they’re generally not that easy to clean — unless the cover is removable and washable. If you have pets around, you should look for sturdier (synthetic) fabrics that are easy to clean.
If you don’t have pets or kids, you should be able to keep your couch clean by vacuuming or wiping it every once in a while. But if the sofa fabric you choose is more aesthetically pleasing than functional, you can always top it off with another material.
After you settle on the type of fabric you want to see on the sofa of your dreams, it’s time to think about the color. Most people want a solid color on their sofas and, to be fair, that is the safe choice. But if you’re looking to branch out, there are plenty of subtle patterns that could elevate your space.
We don’t recommend using huge, bold patterns on large pieces of furniture like sofas or beds because they tend to swallow the whole room. However, you shouldn’t shy away from vibrant colors. Even if you do opt for a solid color, at least make it an interesting one. If not, you can always add visual interest to the piece with patterned throw pillows and blankets.
A word to the wise, however: keep in mind that dark and vibrant colors are more likely to fade over time. Still, pigments tend to evaporate from natural materials more quickly than they do from synthetic ones. So if you want your sofa to be bright and lively, synthetic fabrics would be the better choice.
How to Choose the Best Fabric for Your Sofa
Since sofas are usually one of the biggest pieces of furniture in any room, fretting about their design makes sense. Hopefully, our little guide will help you decide which fabric is most suitable for your sofa, at least.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t let certain drawbacks keep you from getting the sofa you want. After all, with the right accessories, you can get around any shortcomings, particularly those that come from the upholstery fabric. For example, if you find a faux leather sofa that matches the aesthetic you’re looking for, top it off with a cotton or linen cover. That will prevent you from sweating or sticking to the sofa while adding visual interest to the room.
How to Buy a Sofa is a feature post