When we talk about upholstery and reupholstery projects, we typically focus on the aesthetic effect–we want it to look good. But it’s also really important to consider how you’re using that piece of furniture, and how your lifestyle might affect its appearance and longevity. So by all means begin with what appeals to you visually, then consider how it might work in your home.
These are the three lifestyle factors I think everyone should consider when choosing fabric for upholstery:
- Kids. Children are wonderful…and messy! It’s really no fun to have to ban children (or anyone for that matter from using a particular piece of furniture in the home. So it’s probably wise to avoid: white or very light colored fabrics (as these will show every spill and smear of dirt), and delicate fabrics like many silks and suedes (these don’t do well with even small spills or oils–from sweaty basketball gear or post-snack fingers–because they don’t like soap or water, thus making a tiny little blot-up job nearly impossible.
- Pets. Let’s face it, regardless of how much we’d like to keep our pets off of our furniture, our constant companions have a way of earning their spot on our couches as easily as they won a spot in our hearts. They’re messy too! Even if you have indoor cats who aren’t tracking in mud from outside, they will still shed all over your lovely furniture! Dogs can be rough and tumble. In addition to dragging in dirt and muck from outside, they have a tendency to inadvertently scratch as they leap on and off of furniture. To avoid the pet hair issue, choose a fabric in the similar color to your pet’s coat. To avoid the wear and tear of larger pets, choose a durable fabric–some wools are great, as are (surprisingly) heavyweight leathers, and heavyweight woven textiles are often the best of all.
- The Room’s Function. It’s important to understand how you’re going to use the room when choosing a suitable fabric for upholstery. If you live in a home of only adults without pets, and you’ll be using the room for quiet, messless activities, then you’re just about free to choose whatever fabrics you want (though I do warn against certain fabrics like dyed leathers and silks that spend a lot of time in direct sunlight). But if it’s a room where you might snack in front of the TV, or a place where you do art projects, or entertain guests with wine, then maybe you’ll consider choosing your upholstery fabric carefully. I often think patterns are a great way to hide small stains or blemishes (and many textiles do well when spot cleaned carefully) so they’re versatile for all kinds of upholstery needs.
Considering your lifestyle when choosing upholstery isn’t meant to limit your options, but better understand how to make the piece as beautiful and functional as possible. Below is a small sample of recent upholstery work that we’ve done. Many are patterned, as you’ll notice;) We’re also thrilled to be carrying a whole new line of Laura Kirar fabrics, too. Feel free to post questions, fabric inquiries, or feedback in the comment field below. We’d love to hear from you!