New furniture or furniture reupholstery is an investment, so you want to make sure you’ve made the right decisions to achieve your vision for what the piece will look like when completed. Fabric selection plays a big role in the overall look of your furniture, and while fabric color may be the first aspect to catch your eye, there are a few other considerations to make when selecting your fabric.
Ok, I know I said colour shouldn’t be your only consideration when choosing fabric, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good place to start! Obviously, you want your fabric to last a long time, so make sure you choose a colour that you can live with for many years to come. This might mean forgoing a bright colour that’s trendy at the moment in lieu of a more practical neutral that you won’t regret two years from now. Remember, you can always add pops of color in throw pillows or area rugs that are much more affordable to change with your evolving taste.
Even among neutral colours, there are endless options, so you’ll want to think about what mood you’d like to create in the room. Do you want to go with a more energising warm color scheme (think terra cotta, gold, or chocolate) or a cooler, more relaxing palette (sage green, slate grey, or navy blue)?
Finally, also want to take into account how much wear and tear your furniture will likely go through. If you have young children or pets, it’s wise to avoid very light colors and instead choose a darker hue that will better mask stains or tears, should they occur.
The fabric you choose should make sense on the piece of furniture you are upholstering, especially when talking about selecting fabric for antique furniture. That said, however, if you are not going for a traditional look and feel confident about your vision for the piece, a funkier combination can work.
Your furniture upholstery should also match the overall look of your home. If your style has a contemporary feel to it, make sure the furniture fits that aesthetic.
You’ll also want to consider the size of the room where the furniture will be placed. If the furniture is large and/or the room is small, your best bet is to go with a lighter neutral color. A color that’s too dark or bright will make the room look smaller and more cramped.
Bold patterns can also have an effect on how the rest of the room looks. A pattern that seemed pretty when it was on a swatch of fabric can end up making a room look busy and frenzied if there are too many other colours or patterns going on. In general, larger-scale patterns tend to work best in larger rooms, while smaller, more muted patterns can fit well in a smaller room. If a multi-coloured pattern isn’t an option but you don’t want a totally solid colour either, a textured fabric can be a great compromise.
The type of upholstery fabric to choose depends greatly on how much wear you predict the piece of furniture will take. If it’s more of a show piece that will only be used on special occasions, then durability is less of an issue. But if you are choosing fabric for a sofa that will be used every day and will be jumped on by children and pets alike, then you will definitely want to choose a durable fabric to get the most life out of your furniture.
When considering the durability of a certain fabric, you should take a look at the thread count. Thread count typically refers to the number of threads per square 10cm (if you are buying sheets that have been imported, it may refer to the number of threads per square inch), with higher thread counts translating to denser, more durable fabric. Woven patterns are generally more durable than printed patterns because they create a denser fabric.
A few other recommendations to make sure you’ve chosen a fabric that will be durable in your specific home conditions:
- Pets – if you foresee that your pets will be on the furniture, you may want to go with a leather or microfiber fabric, as they will hold up better to scratching and stains. Avoid silks or other delicate fabrics that can easily tear.
- Climate—if you live in a sunny place and there will be consistent sunlight coming into the room where your furniture will be placed, make sure you choose a fade resistant fabric. If you live in a very humid area, ask about fabrics that will resist mold and mildew growth.
- Allergies— if you or a family member have allergies, look into microfiber options, as they are easy to clean so they will not harbor lots of dust or animal hair.