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If you’re not careful, you can get so carried away by the fun of choosing new sofa upholstery that you forget to be practical. It’s easy to get your head turned by all the beautiful choices that are available, but it’s wise to make a list of the things you need beforehand – and to stick to it unless you see a better alternative. If you make up a list, you’ll avoid impulse purchases that may be motivated more by a desire to be trendy than the need to be practical. Here are five tips for choosing new sofa upholstery:

Choose a Durable Fabric

Even if you don’t have a houseful of small children or playful pets, it pays to choose a sofa fabric that can stand up to stress. Unless your family is only made up of adults, avoid embroidered fabrics, fabrics that are easily ripped or snagged, and fabrics that are easily marked or scratched. That beautiful silk upholstery won’t look so good to you if it gets ripped two months after you buy it. It’s true that couch upholstery repair is always available, but upholstery that stays strong and beautiful for years will make you glad you didn’t buy that shiny (but flimsy) fabric.

Choose a Look You Can Live With

When you get into a showroom and suddenly see a gorgeous upholstery fabric, the temptation is to buy it just because it’s beautiful, not because it works with your décor, or is even practical for your needs. Sure, that bright red paisley blew you away at the store, but you may suffer buyer’s remorse when you see it in your living room next to the plaid chairs. It’s better to be conservative with sofa upholstery colors and patterns unless you’ve chosen the fabric ahead of time, and have had time to consider how it will look with other pieces. It’s easier to add bright pillows or throws to a solid color sofa, than it is to damp down a sofa that’s too bright or busy for your look.

Choose a Fabric with Maintenance in Mind

Never buy sofa upholstery without asking about maintenance. Every kind of upholstery fabric needs to be cleaned regularly, and some kinds of upholstery, such as leather, are maintained differently than others. Be sure to ask how often the material should be cleaned, and with what. It also makes sense to ask the vendor about fabric protection.

Cost

This seems like an obvious consideration, and it’s the one that most people think of first. But there may be more to cost than just the sticker price. How durable is the material? How is it cleaned, and how often must it be cleaned? Is it a high-quality product? If it has to be repaired or replaced, how much will that cost?

Environmental Risks 

You may not be free to choose the material you like best – at least, not in practical terms – if you have small children, pets, or an environment that might damage your choice. It makes little sense to choose a delicate upholstery if you have cats who love to jump up on the sofa, or a fabric that might fade, if it will be placed in a sunny spot. Consider your sofa’s environment, and choose a material that will stand up to it.

If you make out a practical list ahead of time, you can choose an upholstery material that will stay strong and beautiful for years. But if the worst should happen, don’t despair – there are plenty of upholstery repair pros in NYC who can make even a damaged sofa look brand new.