5 Key Considerations for Choosing the Perfect Fabric for Your Upholstered Furniture

5 Tips for Choosing Upholstery

With hundreds of textile options available at our fabric stores in Charleston, SC, we know reupholstering your sofa, chairs, bed, and outdoor furniture can be a challenge. It’s tempting to go with the first fabric that catches your eye, but while you may love the pattern or texture, it could be all wrong for your room. Making a mistake with your upholstery is not easily undone, so we want to help you get it right the first time. Before ever stepping into one of our Charleston fabric stores, we recommend writing down the answers to the following considerations so that you’re prepared!

5 Tips for Choosing Upholstery

Frequency of Usage

The best type of fabric for your needs will depend greatly on how often your sofa will be used. If it is going to be mainly used for decorative purposes, you can opt for more delicate upholstery like silk. On the other hand, if you are upholstering your living room sofa or a piece of furniture in a highly-trafficked room, then you will want a stronger fabric with a higher thread count like a cotton blend or performance fabric. 

Performance fabrics from companies like Inside Out, Crypton, and Lee Industries have unmatched durability for indoors and outdoors, making them our top-selling upholstery fabrics. They are almost better than being able to wash a slipcover! Our interior designers are happy to make suggestions when it comes to selecting a performance fabric. Stop by one of our fabric stores, Charleston, SC to get started.

5 Tips for Choosing Your Upholstery

Shape of Furniture

Not taking into account the shape of your sofa or chair is one of the biggest mistakes our interior designers see. If your sofa or other piece of furniture has a lot of unusual curves, it can be more difficult for your upholsterer to work with patterned fabrics. Often the pattern will look cut off at certain points because of the curvature of the sofa. We suggest you keep it simple with a solid color or small, repeating pattern and let the frame of your furniture do the talking. Alternatively, if you have a straightforward sofa, a bold pattern like a toile can spice it up and make it seem more luxurious. 

Yellow Leather Upholstery on Modern Couch


In most cases, the formality of your sofa will be defined by the piece of furniture itself as well as the room it is in. As is to be expected, a Chesterfield sofa will have different fabric considerations than an everyday sectional. For a formal sofa, consider velvet or leather. Popular fabrics for a casual sofa, like a sectional include cotton, chenille, or microfiber. Of course, a sectional also looks good in leather!

Modern Transitional Upholstery in Living Room


If you have pets, kids, or parties, go ahead and cross silk off the list of possible sofa fabrics. As much as we’d like to think we can keep a sofa clean, with any of these three variables you are almost certainly destined for at least one sofa spill in the future. The best upholstery fabrics if you expect a mishap are cotton, canvas, and leather. Cotton and canvas can be thrown in the wash and leather can easily be damp-wiped without damage. If you foresee needing to wash your sofa covers, we recommend ordering pre-washed fabric like our Seaside Midnight linen so that it doesn’t shrink when washed.

Blue Upholstery on Matching Chair Set

Color, Patterns, Print

Finally, it comes down to the aesthetic of your fabric. Neutral tones like white or cream make a beautiful contemporary statement in any living room, but if there are any concerns about spilling, we’d suggest choosing a darker color that won’t be ruined by a wine stain. Often, people choose a pattern that has a color palette that matches their room. Alternatively, if the sofa is the first thing you choose, you can set the tone of the room from the pattern or print of the fabric of the sofa. 

Final Tips:

  • If you can’t see the fabric in person at one of our Charleston fabric stores, order a large swatch that shows the full pattern. Drape this over your sofa to imagine the full effect.
  • If you are selecting a kid-safe upholstery fabric, you can always make the sofa more luxe with a throw or pillows.
  • Spritz your furniture with a fabric protector spray, like Scotchgard as soon as you get it. This will help keep any future spills from setting into your sofa.

Stop By Our Fabric Stores Charleston, SC

After you’ve made your upholstery checklist, head into one of our three fabric stores in Charleston, SC, to view our extensive collection of textiles. Our interior designers are always here to consult with you to help you create the sofa of your dreams. Learn more about our fabric options here!


Explore more of our latest styles and keep up-to-date with design trends by following GDC Home on our social platforms below. View our gallery and use the hashtag to find your next design inspiration!

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