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Buyer's guide: choosing the right fabric for reupholstery

It's easy when you know how… just follow our advice.
Buyer's guide: choosing the right fabric for reupholstery

Popping down to your local interiors shop and choosing a new sofa is easy – and we all love an easy life – but sometimes the lure of vintage is too great to resist. A Victorian slipper chair looks surprisingly good in the smaller modern home and most of us have hankered after an old battered Chesterfield at some point in our lives. For various reasons, what looked good in the antiques shop often doesn’t cut it at home. Maybe slightly worn now looks tired and that oh so fun 70's print suddenly feels rather outlandish.



Thank goodness for upholsterers… they’ve been busy trading their wares since medieval times, but really came into their own in the 17th and 18th centuries. Finding a good upholsterer is like finding a good hairdresser, you have to spend time together and make sure you are on the same page. Check our list of experts to find a company near you, all are more than capable of re-stuffing, re-springing or revitalizing your new found sofa.


Each will have shelves bulging with pattern books from all the big fabric companies, which can be rather daunting. So, to get you thinking about your fabrics, read on to find out what you should consider in terms of durability, comfort, and style.


Heavy or light use?   

I know, I know, we all have a vision of how we would like to live but this is where honesty is essential. House full of pets and kids? Then you’d be crazy to pick a fabric that’s not hardwearing and stain resistant. If you have a house of kids or pets, you probably also enjoy a glass of red – again, think durable fabrics. One of our most timless ranges is Balvenie (above) – it's a classic weave made in England treated with an effective eco stain resistant finish. There's a plethora of colours to choose from, so the options for upholstery are almost endless. 


Top tips for choosing a durable fabric


  • Look for the number of rubs competed on the abrasion test. A fabric should be 15,000 or higher for residential use.

  • Woven fabrics usually last longer than prints

  • Look for fabrics with tight weaves





Neutrals… timeless option

A sofa is one of the biggest investments for your home, so many of us choose a neutral fabric that will last for years. Over the years you can update your walls and accessories, while you trusted sofa remains centre stage. We have many plain collections, one of our newest is Niva (above) which is a semi plain made from a mix of natural linens and cottons. There are 28 colours to choose from including useful natural shades such as Smoke and Mouse that would look good on any style of sofa. Again, this fabric is stain resistant. 


Leather is another great option – again, it’s particularly pet and kid friendly so you don’t have to worry about the occasional scuff or scratch; in fact it just gets better with age. Linwood's Saddle II range of recycled leather in classic hues is made from off-cuts from the fashion industry, so you will be doing your bit for the environment too.


Add a little colour

Colour can affect your mood. ‘Colours, like features, follow the changes of the emotions,’ the artist Pablo Picasso once remarked. Red, orange and yellow are known as warm colours and they evoke feelings of comfort, whereas blues and greens are more calming. We love colour at Linwood but understand how people can be a little scared. Check out our very reasonably priced new Juno range. There's more than 100 colours to choose from, which range from vivid greens such as Mantis on the sofa above, to useful neutrals. This durable fabric is treated with an innovative fire retardant treatment, which is ecologically friendly.


Now to velvet

No wonder it's enduringly popular, soft to the touch and now easy to live with thanks to modern stain resistant finishes. Linwood is slowly becoming known as the ‘House of Velvet’, and no wonder as we have so many ranges to choose from, including Omega, Tango, Moleskin and our new Cosmos Velvet. If you are looking for a little luxury, one of these collections is just right for you. Just imagine sinking into this super inviting sofa covered in Omega (above). Omega not only looks good but it's also particularly hard-wearing and durable and feels like more expensive cotton velvet.


Pattern is back

Pattern is back in a big way and it will be covering everything in your home soon. ‘Chuck out the chintz’ is no longer the cry of the fashion set. If you want to dip your toe into this trend, we’d suggest sticking to a plain sofa and introducing a little fun with an armchair. Just as we all wallpaper our loos, the patterned armchair allows you to enter the world of pattern without fully committing. Colours, textures, and patterns should work well together though, but don’t make things too matchy matchy. This loveseat covered in Louis from our new Belleville collection could be the perfect addition to your living room. The fabric is pure linen and has a lovely soft handle.


TOP TIP: The fabric pattern needs to match up when you look at the finish piece from the front. Be clear if you want a specific motif on the back, too.



Loose covers could be the smart choice

Loose covers have rather gone out of fashion, but it is really useful to be able to remove and wash covers. The other benefit to loose sofa covers is how quickly and easily you can change the style of your sofa and your room; you could even think about having summer and winter covers. Our Luna range, which is woven and dyed in Italy, has a casual washed finish. Created with a mix of linen and cotton yarns in 25 sophisticated colours, it is durable and feels soft to the touch and is ideal for both fixed and loose covers.


Hopefully, we’ve given you something to think about. If you would like further advice we suggest contacting The Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishings is a great place to start. 

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