Design School at Havertys

Think of your favorite, most frequently used piece of furniture in your home. An upholstered item probably springs to mind – that comfy sectional in your living room ideal for family movie nights, your cozy accent chair where you can indulge in a good book, or the supple leather recliner that’s perfect for mid-day naps.

Upholstered furniture receives plenty of use, and you want it to last for years to come. Before selecting your next piece, it’s important to consider the many fabric options available and what kinds of wear-and-tear you might expect. Take a look at our list below to find out which fabrics are best depending on your space’s specific needs.

High-traffic areas

For high-traffic spots in your home – like that sofa you love to crash on each evening – you’ll want to consider fabrics that are highly durable and resistant to wrinkles and fading.

Olefin is a great choice – this manmade fabric is strong, stain-resistant, and it holds color well over time. Easily cleaned and perfect for upholstery that may experience a lot of use, Olefin (also sometimes referred to as polypropylene) is often blended with other fabrics to create equal parts beauty and function.

Want another option? A polyester-cotton blend also boasts many of the same benefits as Olefin, including excellent strength, color fastness and resistance to wrinkling.

Family-friendly spaces

Where kids go, spills will follow. Protect your investment by purchasing upholstery in fabrics that are not only comfortable, but also easily cleaned.

Acrylic works well in this case. This synthetic fabric was invented as an alternative to wool, so it boasts plenty of strength – but its soft and supple feel has also made it a durable alternative to cashmere. Acrylic pieces will hold color and resist shrinking, plus they fight stains and wrinkles.

Want another option? A nylon blend is great for family rooms, as it’s considered one of the strongest upholstery fabrics and doesn’t soil or wrinkle easily.

Fit for furry friends

Dog and cat owners know – furry pets will take a toll on your upholstery if you’re not careful in choosing the right fabric.

Top-grain leather works well for pet owners for a number of reasons. It’s durable, won’t absorb odors like other fabrics, and it can be wiped clean with ease. Best of all? Your pet’s fur won’t stick to leather like it would to other fabrics. However, it’s important to consider the varying levels of quality in leather, especially if your pets like to use your sofa as a scratching post.

Want another option? A cotton blend may also work for your pet-friendly home. This natural fiber is breathable, comfortable and is resistant to signs of wear-and-tear, especially when blended with strong synthetic fibers.

Formal spaces

With less traffic and fewer chances for soils and wrinkling, your formal living or dining space can be filled with more luxurious fabrics for added style.

Silk instantly brings an element of richness to any space, even when used sparingly on pillows or an accent chair. The fabric’s soft luster adds a touch of shine, and it can be backed by cotton or other fibers to add weight and durability.

Want another option? Linen can be a great choice for larger upholstery items used in a formal space. This natural fiber, made from the flax plant, is super soft and naturally lustrous. Plus, it’s often blended with cotton for extra versatility.

Indoor/outdoor areas

Soft, stylish upholstery doesn’t have to stay indoors. Your porch or deck can be well-appointed with a comfy sofa and chairs, as long as you select the right pieces.

High-performance fabrics like Sunbrella® will hold color even when bathing in sunlight for hours each day, and they’re resistant to mildew despite sitting through the rain. To clean, simply brush off loose dirt or gently wash with mild soap.

Want another option? Polyester is also extremely versatile in this regard, as it can hold color while absorbing plenty of natural sunlight. It's also durable, easy to clean and resistant to abrasion.