There is so many fabrics out there, it gets really difficult to chose the perfect sofa fabric that will suit our style, use and space. And unless you don't work with fabrics everyday all day, it will not get easier. So here is a little "Guide to fabrics" I put together so you know what to pay attention to while choosing a perfect fabric for a domestic use sofa.
First of all, ask yourself who will be using the sofa? Is it for a cinema room for the whole family and friends to hang out in? Is it for a formal living room you will receive guests from time to time? Maybe for a library-or a playroom? Each upholstery fabric undergoes a special rub test called the Martindale test - the result of the test indicates how durable the fabric is. Knowing the rub test result will help eliminate the fabrics that are not suitable for your needs.
Less than 10,000 rubs : Fabric for decorative use like cushions or curtains. Won't be suitable for upholstery (but you may use it for a back of an occasional chair).
15,000-25,000 : The fabric will be suitable for a light domestic use, occasional armchairs or a formal living room sofa you use from time to time.
28,000 - 30,000 - The fabric with this test will be good for general domestic use on an everyday sofa for a living room.
Over 40,000: If you have kids and friends over all the time or use a fabric in a busy family/cinema room the higher rub test the better. Look for fabrics over 40,000.
Type of fabric
Depending of the style you want to achieve and the use of a room, you might go for a plain, chenille, suede, linen or wool fabric or velvet.
Plain fabrics, especially cotton blends and linens are casual and will look great in a contemporary space. The choice is REALLY wide but you can find great plain fabrics in any price range.
Wool fabrics are durable and stain resistant and will be best in traditional and rustic interiors, cottages and country houses.
Velvet reflects the light which make it look more shiny and therefore formal. Although, if you like the softness of a velvet but don't like the shine - go for a 100% cotton velvet. Pay attention to the the pile as well. Touch the sample back and forth to see how it moves. You don't want to have to brush it back to smooth all day at home.
If you are on the budget, don't overlook the synthetic fabrics- they are much cheaper and some of them really look and feel great and have a high rub test in the same time (example of my recent favorite this fabric from Houles or this velvet).
Texture and color
Even a fabric considered "plain" can have a texture so really "analyse" the fabric before going ahead. Some fabrics have metallic tones to them, some of them a bigger, irregular weave and some will look really smooth and regular. The important thing is to take the sample home and test in a room you want to use it in - the color may look completely different in the natural light and you don't want a surprise on the delivery! If you liked a fabric with a big pattern - try to use it on the cushions or back of chairs - with sofa being a focal point of the room you don't want to have to change it when you get bored with it - it's much easier to get new cushions!
Care and maintenance
Ask if the fabric is washable and if it is, make sure the sofa has a removable covers you can take cleaning- this will make your life so much easier. Also, ask if the company you buy the sofa from can supply a spray fabric protection - it usually comes with a full cleaning service - in case of accidental spillage your sofa will be professionally cleaned or if not possible - the fabric replaced. This only works on plain fabrics, if you want a velvet sofa, ask for a dry policy protection!
I hope this is helpful, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section below! x