Life as a Designer. Textiles and Upholstery

When you stand back and look at a room, the textiles ( rugs, pillows and throws) and furniture upholstery should feel cohesive, playing off one anothe to give you the perfectly pulled-together look and feel.

But as important as aesthetics can seem, there's more to choosing fabric than what looks good. You don't want to pick upholstery that pills easily on a couch that's going to see a ton of daily use. How a fabric 

or textile wears, how easy it is to clean, and how expensive it is by the yard (or foot) are major deciding factors.

Much of that  decision rests on what the fabric is made out of: natural fibers, artificial fibers, and, most common in this day and age, a combination od the two. Manufacturers will frequently blend fibers together to make them more burable and flexible, and to create different textures and colors. If the thought of choosing between a million and one swatches makes your head spin.

VELVET: The coziest and softest of all the upholstery fabrics, velvet has come a long way from its original fragility, and when blended with polyester or rayon it can withstand real wear and tear, while still ading a bit glam, texture, and reflection. With a tight weave, velvet is great for those who have cats because they can't sink their claws into the fabric so easily.

Many fabric labels will tell you whether the fabric is light, medium, or heavyweight, which is a solid clue as to how well it will hold up over time. Lightweight fabrics can give you roughly three years of regular use before you start to see some wear and tear, whereas heavyweight fabrics can handle five times that. Order swatches to get a feel for how durable your upholstery is before committing to a bunch of yardage.



COTTON: Cotton is a popular textile because it is resistant to wear and pilling. Blending cotton with other fibers can strengthen it, making it more family-friendly.

LINEN: With a beautiful, timeless texture, linen gets better with time. It also resists pilling. If you like this fabric, you're likely ready to commit to a lived-in look: It wrinkles and soils easily, and needs to be cleaned professionally, which can be a huge annoyance for anyone with pets, kids, or obsessive cleaning tendencies.