One of my favorite parts of my job as a designer is the material specification stage. The main design and layout is figured out so I can then move onto the materials and finishes. More often than not, I’m exploring new products for my clients and end up learning something new every time.

A huge part of this stage is choosing fabrics. Fabrics are so important throughout the home because they can make or break the design. I’ve always loved textiles and even worked at a fabric shop in high school and college. Choose something too harsh for a sofa and it won’t be comfortable, but choosing something too soft could be prone to wear and tear more quickly. And that is why using different fabric types throughout the home is so important! The fabrics have to be fit for their purpose and your lifestyle.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into this topic… Today I will take you through some of the common places for fabrics and what key characteristics you should be on the lookout for.


Sofas and Armchairs


When choosing fabric for sofas and armchairs that get regular use, you should consider either Crypton or Revolution performance fabrics. These types of fabric are designed with families in mind and are great for heavy-use upholstery.

It’s important to think about who uses the furniture on a regular basis. Do you have kids? Pets? Regular guests for dinner parties? The answers to these sorts of questions should be your guide to choosing the right fabric.

For those homeowners with kids and pets, you should focus on finding fabrics that have higher double rub counts. What this means is that the fabric has gone through a series of tests and the rub count determines how durable it is. The higher the number, the more durable it is. 

You may also find stain-resistant fabrics useful, especially if you have young kids, and fabrics that are washable are a huge advantage.

I mentioned Crypton fabric above, and the reason for this is that they don’t contain any heavy metals or toxic chemicals during their making or dying process. It is a naturally soft fabric that repels oil and water-based stains – the perfect choice for busy families. Crypton was once reserved for Healthcare and the commercial design environment, but now it’s readily available for residential applications. 

Similarly to Crypton fabric is Revolution performance fabrics that are woven with Olefin yarn. These fabrics are virtually unstainable, super easy to clean, and very durable.

In this project, the family needed a performance fabric for their sofa and armchairs, and we also recommend stain and water-resistant fabric for dining chairs. Although it’s an open plan living and dining space, using slightly different types of fabrics was needed to suit their lifestyle.


Other Upholstery Items


Aside from sofas and armchairs, there are some other furniture pieces that require upholstery too. Headboards, bar stools, and dining chairs all gain comfort with textiles! Again though, your lifestyle and who uses this furniture on a regular basis should influence which fabric choice you use.

For dining chairs and bar stools, a stain-resistant fabric should be at the top of your priority list because these pieces of furniture will be more prone to food and drink spills. Therefore you should consider a similar performance fabric like Crypton or Revolution performance fabrics.

However if you have older, teenage kids, or perhaps it’s just you and your partner at home, your choices do widen slightly because durability may not be your number one priority. If you are able to use a fabric that is washable or stain-resistant, it will be great for bar stools and dining chairs.

Headboards are another upholstery item however durability isn’t necessarily as important here. While a headboard fabric should be long-lasting for many years, they don’t go through the same level of use as sofas or armchairs so you can be more creative here. A good multipurpose fabric or elegant texture is a great starting point.

It is important that dining chairs and bar stools are upholstered with a water and stain-resistant fabric. If you have kids this will be especially important, however, a multipurpose or wipeable fabric will be good too for those without kids.


Window Treatments


Window treatments like curtains, drapery panels, and blinds are an important part of any home’s interior. Not only for providing privacy where you need it most, but window treatments also help to bring a room’s design together and are a good opportunity to bring in a different texture and pattern.

So what should you look for in a fabric for window treatments? 

First of all, for kids’ rooms or playrooms, you may want to consider a performance fabric (similar to the sofa and armchair section above) or opt for a store-bought set of curtains that are washable. I often suggest to my clients with kids that their kids’ rooms or playroom should include low-budget items as their interests change every few years. This helps to keep costs down by shopping around at places like IKEA or Target for these window treatments.

For living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms, the durability of the fabric isn’t make or break. Although these rooms are heavily used by members of the family, they’re not used as something for the kids to jump around on while watching TV like a sofa might be… So I would recommend a multi-purpose fabric here or something elegant depending on your style. 

The kitchen and bathroom are slightly different than the above because of the potentially high levels of moisture they are exposed to. I recommend using stain and water-resistant fabrics for the kitchen and bathroom window treatments where possible.

For this kitchen project, I chose to use an elegant pattern fabric for the blind but this fabric is water-resistant which is great for being above the sink area.




As you can see from the above sections, each upholstery item in your home has different roles to play and therefore should have a different fabric type to match. Whichever area you are choosing a new fabric for, always examine your lifestyle and who will be using the space to determine which characteristics of fabric will be the most important to keep in mind.


I hope this blog post has been informative and given you some ideas as to which types of fabrics are suitable for different areas of your home… As always, please leave a comment with your thoughts below, and don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss your fabric needs!