Fabric plays a vital part in any room, and therefore each and every interior design project I work on. My clients often come to me feeling overwhelmed and confused by the number of choices offered! Which color, what texture, is it cleanable – are among some of the most commonly asked questions.

But why is selecting the right fabric for your new furniture so important? And how can you make the right choice?

In this article, I share why the right fabric is so important, and how you can make the right choice when shopping for furniture! Let’s take a look.


The Importance of the Right Fabric


The design and style of furniture is important, but have you considered the fabric or upholstery as closely? It’s time to start looking at the fabric choice of furniture in the same way – and similar importance – as the design or style of the piece.

The material and fabric choice of furniture pieces can make a huge difference to the visual identity of a piece, and can either make it more or less comfortable too. From its color, texture, or pattern of the fabric, this can really add to the overall piece of furniture and give it personality. 

Whether you’re in the market for a new dining chair, accent chair, or larger piece such as a sectional sofa, understanding how fabric plays a vital part in the decision process, will help you to purchase a fantastic piece.

In this project, we selected a colored and lightly textured fabric for the sofa, and a lighter performance fabric for the recliners. This is because the sofa gets used by all sorts of people in the family, and the recliners needed to be durable for the kids.




First, consider where the piece of furniture will be used and its main purpose. 

Ask yourself questions like: will it be used every day? Or only a few times a month, or a year? And who will be using it? Families with kids or pets will need to take this into account when choosing fabric for any piece of furniture.

For example, a dining chair that is only used a few times a year when you entertain guests in the main formal dining room, may not need to be as durable as an everyday dining chair that gets used multiple times a day. Or an upholstered headboard won’t get much tactile use in the way a sofa or sectional will! So it is important to consider how and when the piece will be used.

This is a games area of a family room we recently designed. And while it’s not used every day, the area is used regularly and needs some performance fabric properties so it’s easy to keep clean.




Durability is one of the most important aspects of fabric to consider. Based on the purpose of the furniture, this will influence how durable you need the fabric to be.

The easiest way to understand how durable a fabric is, is to look for the double rub count. This is determined by the Wyzenbeek method where the fabric is tested for how many mechanical rubs (or arms) of a heavy canvas can move back and forth over the fabric. The higher the rub count, the more durable the fabric.

Aside from the double rub count, you can determine durability off the content of the fabric. Some fabrics used in residential settings are also commercial grade which is wonderful from a durability standpoint. 

If you have kids or pets, look for fabrics that are easily cleanable or have stain-resistant properties. Look for “Performance Fabrics” as they have been designed specifically with families in mind.

The durability of your fabric choice can literally make or break a piece of furniture, as it could be the difference between having it for a few months, or a number of years. Choose a fabric based on durability that will meet the needs of its purpose.

While this family regularly uses their family room, their sectional has performance fabric, is easily cleanable, and has stain-resistant properties!


Color and Pattern


Along with the feel of the fabric, the color and pattern of it can dictate whether or not it works well with your room’s overall color scheme.

It may seem controversial to some, but I actually choose paint colors last! And almost always after upholstery fabric. This is because it’s more difficult to change the upholstery of a sofa than the paint on the walls. 

Furniture can be expensive, so choosing the right fabric – in every aspect! – is super important. Larger pieces like sectionals, sofas or accent chairs, are investment pieces so it’s crucial to choose a fabric that you love.

If you prefer a timeless interior, or plan to keep a specific piece of furniture for a long time, choose a neutral color or subtle pattern as this will work with a wider range of color schemes.

For large pieces of furniture, choose a timeless color or subtle pattern to ensure the piece of furniture will stand the test of time. And for smaller furniture (or for those you’re likely to change more regularly) choose a bold pattern or color.

Choosing a color or pattern that works with your personal interior design style is super important! In this living room project, we selected a neutral sofa fabric, and a colored one for the accent chairs to inject personality into the space.




Lastly, you should consider the cost of the fabric. Oftentimes furniture manufacturers have different levels of fabric that is also reflected in the cost. It’s important to decide on an overall budget for your project or specific piece of furniture, and stick to it! 

Your new furniture should be enjoyed and not resented because of the cost involved.