How to Choose the Right Fabric for Your Furniture

person choosing fabric swatches

Choosing the right upholstery for a new sofa or chair is a fun and exciting step that transforms a well-crafted or vintage piece into the upholstered furniture of your dreams. 

Upholstery fabric is a great way to reflect your personal style. Plus, understanding which fabric will look best in your space and hold up to the wear + tear of daily life is essential to creating a piece of furniture you'll use and love for years to come. 

Our tips on choosing the right fabric for your furniture will make it easy for you to pick the perfect fabric for your next upholstery project or when you buy a new sofa or chair. 

Variety of Upholstered Chairs in warehouse style room

4 Questions To Ask Yourself When Buying Furniture

1. What's your style? 

Style is an important part of the buying process. Do you prefer the statement-making glamor of crushed velvet or the breezy elegance of pre-washed linen?

It's important to choose furniture that fits the decor + surroundings of your home and upholstery fabric that complements the frame of the piece. 

Here at abc, we love bright colors and bold patterns that add an eye-catching element to your living room, bedroom, or dining room. Don't be afraid to make a statement with your furniture. Just make sure the fabric's color, pattern, and texture make your custom furniture dreams come true beyond trends. Always ensure your furniture's style is true to you! 

2. Who will use the furniture? 

If you have children or pets, you have to consider their impact on your furniture and fabrics. Look for fabrics that are easy to clean and naturally resistant to stains. A durable, washable slipcover can be a lifesaver when it comes to young families and homes with pets. 

3. How will they use it? 

Think about the way you live and the way you interact with the furniture that you currently have. Are you looking to host large groups regularly in your living room and dining room? Do you want to create a personal piece full of comforts like a bedroom reading chair or a functional seat for your office desk?

A family room sofa calls for a more durable upholstery while a more delicate fabric is ideal for a loveseat or armchair. 

4. How will the fabric age? 

Darker fabrics are prone to fading in sunlit rooms while some other fabrics develop a deep patina with use. As you choose your fabric, imagine how it will age based on where it is placed and how it is used. 

Once you've considered these questions, it's time to explore different fabrics and consider how they'd fit in your space. 

abcFabric Options

Navy Blue velvet sofa

Velvet — an abc favorite! 

Velvet fabric stands out for its soft, warm touch and glamorous appearance. This supple fabric carries color beautifully and is the perfect fabric for bringing in rich, intense hues to add a splash of vibrant energy to your space. 

Durability: The durability of velvet is hotly contested by pet owners. Some complain that velvet attracts pet hair and dust, while others tout it as the only pet-friendly upholstery fabric that is safe from the restless claws of cats with its scratch-resistant qualities. 

Sustainability: Velvet can be woven from natural fibers like silk or cotton, as well as from synthetic materials like polyester or rayon. Typically, they are a combination of both. The fiber type will affect its longevity — synthetic velvet fabrics are more resistant to marking, crushing, and fading while silk velvets tend to be more delicate. 

abc's Pick: Geo Loveseat, Velvet

collage of 5 linen fabric swatches in different patterns and colors


 This classic material has recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity due to its breezy, effortless look. Its elegance is made more appealing by its comfort, durability, and resistance to static. 

Durability: If you have very active children and/or pets, linen upholstery may not be the best choice as it is more prone to weakening and stains more than many man-made textiles. 

Sustainability: Linen is celebrated as a highly eco-friendly textile. It is produced from the hardy flax plant which calls for far less water, fertilizers, and chemical farming than cotton does. It also involved minimal processing to arrive in its final form. We live linen tinted with natural, botanical dyes to bring out its organic beauty. 

abc's Pick: Linen Wingback Bed

White Cotton Sofa in living room with rug, coffee table, and chandelier

Cotton and Cotton Canvas 

Hypoallergenic and comfortable on the skin, cotton upholstery is available in a rainbow of shades to suit your color scheme.

Durability: Cotton, particularly cotton canvas, is a wonderful choice for homes with children and pets. The tighter weave of cotton canvas makes it highly durable and stain resistant. In the event of spills or soiling, cotton can be cleaned with simple soap and water. 

Sustainability: Cotton is generally known as eco-friendly, but there are some finer points to consider when making your choice. The production of cotton has historically involved unsafe practices, but you can rest assured that abc carries companies with positive labor policies only. 

abc's Pick: Cobble Hill Martha's Vineyard Sofa

Wool Fabric collage


Wool adds texture and coziness to any space. Its wide expanse of options, from richly hued solids to classic tartans, make it an incredibly versatile fabric. 

Durability: Wool's strongest selling point is perhaps its natural resilience — wool fibers spring quickly back into shape. Wool is known for looking great over time without wrinkling or creasing. A natural coating on wool fibers also provides some stain resistance, but heavier stains will require professional cleaning.

Sustainability: Wool is renewable and biodegradable. Its environmental friendliness is tempered by the fact that it is a material produced by animals. The highest quality wool is obtained via a process that ensures an animal's health and safety. Proper shelters, pasture grazing, and quality veterinary care are a few practices we seek to source responsibly produced wool.

abc's Pick: Sofia Bench

Indoor Outdoor Fabric Options

Indoor/Outdoor and Performance

Elegant style meets high-quality, robust materials with our assortment of indoor/outdoor and performance fabrics. These performance fabrics are incredibly versatile and work wonders indoors and outdoors. Some of the fabric options include outdoor velvet upholstery, outdoor textured upholstery, and outdoor chenille upholstery. 

Durability: Naturally, indoor/outdoor and performance upholsteries are made to be durable. Outdoor fabrics offer high-end, weather-resistant capabilities that otherwise would be impossible.

Sustainability: Depending on the fabric type, the sustainability of outdoor upholstery varies. abc strives to maintain sustainable measures of sourcing, no matter what the industry standard might be. 

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