tooltipWhen it’s time to order furniture upholstery material for major living room occupants like an easy chair or sofa, or for smaller things like dining chair seats, or an ottoman, it’s best to be systematic. Otherwise the tremendous variety of choices is just plain overwhelming. Unless you’re a veteran home-furnishings maven, all the types of fabric, the colors, textures and weights, are likely to make you feel like your head’s spinning around pretty fast! The easy way to avoid confusion is to sit down and get your needs and priorities straight before you even start to shop.
1. Assess your lifestyle. This can be a series of questions you pose to yourself about how the newly upholstered furniture will be used. Live alone or are you a family? Are there active kids in the house or pets that will be using the furniture? Do you like to entertain? Do people gather to watch games or movies on the widescreen? What’s the indoor/outdoor environment like – hot and humid, chilly winters, city air pollution, lots of daylight? Answering these questions will indicate whether you should look for fabrics that stand up to abrasion, are stain-repellant and easily cleaned with vacuuming and household upholstery cleaners. Climate and amount of daylight will tell you whether to pick colors that won’t show fading over time and whether to consider things like airborne grit or mold.

2. Look at the furniture itself. The piece to be covered will tell you a lot about what will look best on it. If it’s curvaceous, like a plump overstuffed chair, it will look odd with geometrics; give it a self color, or pattern with curving natural lines. Conversely, geometric or linear abstracts will suit the straight contours of an upright dining chair or a sleek retro couch. Scale counts too; reupholster a couch like a big sectional in a small, busy pattern and it may look like a measles outbreak; the same sofa in a bold mega-print may seem to crowd everything else out of the room!

3. Look at the room. Do you plan to renew furniture piece by piece or as part of a whole room re-do? In other words, will the new covering need to fit into an existing color and style scheme? Where will the newly upholstered piece or pieces sit in the room? Do you want a relaxing continuity of color, or a shot of accent color or pattern? Will the fabric you choose make the piece look bigger or smaller, and how will that effect fit into the rest of the room?

4. Consider comfort. The item may be a thrift-shop rescue or a custom made sofa built just for your space, but it must be pleasant to sit on. Think about fabric texture; what makes you want to lean back and relax?

5. Look at fabrics in person! Local, mail-order or online retailers should provide swatches or larger samples. Look at them in the room in different lights. It’s the only way to choose!