Bold vs Subtle Upholstery: Designing Custom Furniture

Choosing the right upholstered furniture pieces is an important part of executing your interior design vision. You want upholstery to be both beautiful and luxurious while serving its purpose; the perfect balance of form and function. At GDC Home, our design center gives you the opportunity to customize your upholstery to best fit your interiors, whether it’s bold and luxe or subtle and elegant.

Begin by evaluating your space. How do the current pieces in your space work together? How would the new upholstery change that dynamic of color, texture, and visual balance? Does your upholstered furniture need to be a complementary accent, a standout statement, or a visual anchor for the room?

Answering these questions can help you make the decision between bold versus subtle upholstery for your custom furniture pieces.

Be BOLD: Choosing Bold Furniture Upholstery

Bold upholstery provides visual interest that immediately reinvigorates a room.

Bold Upholstery Colors

Color is one of the easiest ways to go bold with your upholstery. Bright colors enliven a room, either as accent pieces or stand-alone statements.

Jewel tones add a luxe quality that can brighten any area. Try going bold on accent pieces of upholstery. Fireside chairs, ottomans, and bedroom chaises for example are a great place to get bold! When selecting upholstery colors, choose complementary shades to avoid clashing. Select solid-colored fabrics in vibrant shades that you expect to love for years to come. But don’t be afraid to change your mind down the road. Quality upholstery is meant to be recovered!

Bold Prints

In selecting printed fabric for your upholstery or accents, it is important to consider how the print will translate on a large scale, as well as the layout of your selected frame. For example, avoid huge prints on a small chair. Make the biggest impact with large or multicolored prints that work with, not against, your interior concept.

Take it one step further by mixing prints and color in your space, or more than one print by adding multiple pieces that complement each other. The subjective art of bringing in more than one print is a difficult one. When mastered, it lends effortless elegance to a room so it seems curated, not copied. If you’d like an expert eye, GDC Home interior design services can assist with your vision.

Bold Textures

Velvets, tufted details, and natural textures can have an impact without seeming overwhelming. Take a foray into bold furniture design by selecting textured upholstery with visual depth and interest. Our Duncan leather sofa is a perfect example of how texture can be used to make a statement. 

Try it out: If you are drawn to bold upholstery but aren’t quite ready to invest in a large-scale statement piece, try incorporating other elements that mimic the effect. Switch out your current throw pillows for ones in bright shades, with embellishments, or made with unique textures. If you like the way it brings more energy to your room, start looking at custom furniture pieces with bold upholstery options.

Stay SUBTLE: Choosing Subtle Furniture Upholstery

Subtle upholstery lends effortless sophistication to interiors.

Subtle Upholstery Neutrals

Neutral shades are timeless and elegant. They won’t always be listed as the hot new shade of the season, but neutrals transcend trends. Subtle upholstery will leave you with a classic furniture piece characterized by understated elegance.

When selecting neutrals, choose shades that complement your existing palette. Select soft hues of lighter-colored upholstery if you need to make a room feel more open and darker shades for a cozier feel. If you still want to incorporate a little color, upholstery in muted colors can make beautiful neutrals, too.

Subtle Prints

You can still use prints in subtle upholstery. Small prints in soft variations of similar shades add a bit of visual interest without being overly loud or flashy.

If you want your furniture to remain subtle, stay away from upholstery fabrics featuring large prints or prints that use bold colors. A subtle print can be the perfect quiet accent for a room, helping to discreetly balance the design and feel of the space.

Subtle Textures

Just as you can make a statement with certain textures, others can be used in a more subtle approach.  Leather without a lot of specialized detailing can have an impact without being overwhelming. Linen also has a sophisticated quality while contributing to a relaxed atmosphere.

Of course, traditional textures will always be elegant. When choosing any upholstery texture, opt for high-quality, fine fabrics for a subtle but definite impact.

Try it out: If you think you would prefer your custom upholstered furniture to be more subtle, reduce the rest of the color and accents in your space to help determine if you feel at home in a more zen space.


Making the Decision Between Bold and Subtle Upholstery

GDC Home offers swatches of all our upholstery fabrics so you can better understand how they would complement your home. Consider again your desired balance of form and function, as well as the design vision you have for your home. When shopping for custom upholstered furniture, bring inspiration images. Our in-house design team can help you translate your vision with the perfect piece of furniture customized just for you.

Whether your style is bold or subtle, the right upholstered furniture will have a beautiful effect on your home’s interior design. At GDC Home in Charleston, SC, our team of interior designers love helping our clients combine quality fabrics and fine craftsmanship to create furniture that is all they imagine and more. Visit us today to begin creating your dream pieces.


Shop the Look


Tanner Sofa

The Tanner Sofa has three seat and back cushions and a track arm, and comes standard with topstitching and a down cushion package

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Henry Slipcovered Sofa

The Henry series features bench seats, clean lines, a smaller silhouette and an exposed wood base for an added accent.

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Angel Daybed

The Angel Daybed is a versatile piece for any flex space. Keep it closed for the perfect daybed or slide the trundle out to reveal a twin sleeper.

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Marge Sofa

Standard with topstitching & (2) 20×20 throw pillows, and Pecan finish as shown.

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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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