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Choosing upholstery fabric and furniture doesn't have to be difficult or confusing. And the more thought you put into your decision now, the better your precious pieces will look later. Need a little advice? We're here to help! 

Fabrics for Your Family (& Your Furry Friends)

Ralph Lauren Downtown Modern Collection

Before you pick a fabric, consider your lifestyle. Any chance the piece might encounter some spills from your little ones? Try an indoor/outdoor fabric that's moisture-resistant, a pattern that hides stains, or a leather that's easier to wipe clean. Sharing your sofa with your pets? Avoid delicate fabrics like silk, or any highly-textured surfaces – like course weaves or chenilles – that claws might get stuck in. And don't forget to match the fabric to your pet's fur color!
For any high-use area, keep an eye out for fabrics labeled "performance." Performance fabric has a specific functional quality for a particular end use. For example, outdoor fabric – a subcategory of performance – has mildew and fade resistance.

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Upholstery Measurements: A Reference Guide

barrel chairs design by emily wallach photo by mark jaworski

We always, always recommend getting a yardage quote from a professional upholsterer before purchasing your fabric! If you're just looking for a quick estimate to price out a project, though, consult our simple measurement guide.

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Understanding Abrasion Resistance

teal chair design by katie raffeto

While you're shopping for upholstery fabric, you may come across Wyzenbeek or Martindale ratings. These scores are the result of a test that determines the ability of a fabric to resist wear caused by rubbing against another fabric. The higher the rating, the more durable the textile. For heavy-duty home use, we recommend looking for a rating of at least 30,000 single rubs (Martindale) or 25,000 double rubs (Wyzenbeek). 

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How to Shop for Upholstered Furniture

living room design by timothy corrigan photo by eric piasecki

With the abundance of furniture options available, it can be a challenge to determine the quality of your purchase. When you browse options, bring this list of factors to check:
Weight: Furniture with a sturdy frame should be quite heavy. In frame construction, kiln-dried hardwood like maple, ash, birch or gum is stronger than a soft wood like pine, poplar or fir.
Legs: Make sure they’re part of the frame – not screwed on.
Back: Walk around and pat your hand on the back of the sofa or chair. Does it feel hollow? That’s a sign of poor construction – time to move onto the next one!
Padding: Squeeze various spots on the item. You shouldn’t be able to feel the frame through the padding.
Lastly, look for a gold UFAC tag. This tag shows that the piece was made to meet the Upholstered Furniture Action Council’s fire safety standards and is more resistant to ignition.


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A Crash Course on Cushions & Fill

windsor smith corner sofa photo by michael wells

While you're inspecting a sofa or chair at the store, make sure you sit down. Does the cushion hold its shape? A well-made piece of furniture shouldn't sag. Hand-tied steel coil springs the most stable and will last longer than interwoven bands (a less expensive option).
Down cushions are soft and comfortable, but they don't hold their shape as well as cushions made with springs, so hey'll need to be fluffed often. For the best of both worlds, consider a down cushion with a spring core. Allergic to down? Dacron foam is hypo-allergenic and might be your best bet.
As you move into more affordable fill options, you may see cushions made of a single piece of polyurethane foam. Look for foam cushions that have been wrapped in batting – they cost a bit more, but are more comfortable than a foam-only seat.



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Photo Sources:Ralph Lauren | Emily Wallach/Mark Jaworski | Katie Raffetto/Aubrie Pick Photography | Timothy Corrigan/Eric Piasecki | Windsor Smith/Michael Wells