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Interior design Fabrics


Article by Victoria Larsen

Photography by Hunter Douglas

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A Guide to Interior Design Fabrics

There truly is something to suit every space, every style, and every preference in the wide world of interior design fabrics. From comfortably casual to fabulous and formal, you have so many options to choose from. But while having a broad range of choices is one of the biggest benefits to custom upholstery and design, it can also be a challenge – how do you pick the best interior fabrics for your home? 

That’s why we’ve created a comprehensive reference guide for interior fabrics, focusing on a balance of durability and aesthetics, giving you an easy-to-use resource that will never go out of style. 

Interior Fabrics for Upholstery & Decorators

When you’re discussing the fabrics used for interior design, most of today’s top options are blends. Each type has its own pros and cons and essential performance properties, making certain fabrics more suitable in specific situations. 

Regardless of how you plan to incorporate upholstery into your home, it’s important to select fabrics that are designed to withstand the expected level of use. For example, fabrics in less-used formal spaces, such as a formal dining room, may not need to be as durable as those in a family-friendly living room. Assessing your lifestyle, the purpose of each space, and other factors will be key in making the right choices for fabrics throughout your home.

Understanding Fabric Durability

Every home – and every room – is unique in its requirements for fabric performance. Furniture pieces that you expect to endure everyday use should prioritize durability, while those that are more for decorative use may not need to put performance first.

The fabric industry has developed an array of options to choose from, and throughout any interior designer’s career, a multitude of new fabrics will continue to be released. While there are certainly benefits to having so many options available, it can also be confusing.

However, when you understand how to measure a fabric’s durability, finding the right fit becomes significantly simpler. Here are some of the common terms and factors to familiarize yourself before selecting a fabric for your interior:

  • The “Double Rub Test”: In the fabric industry, manufacturers often administer what is known as the “double rub test.” Using a back and forth motion, authentic wear and tear can be closely mimicked to measure how well a specific fabric can stand up to regular use. Fabrics with higher “double rubs” can offer a higher level of durability and quality. For example, you may see one fabric option labeled a 10,000 double rubs and another with 100,000. The higher double rubs are ideal for more frequent use.
  • Thread Count: The higher a fabric’s thread count, the more tightly woven it is (thread count refers to how many threads are contained within a square inch of the fabric). With a tighter weave, the higher thread counts will typically wear better.
  • Stain Resistance and Water Repellency: Fabrics for upholstery are often treated for performance, making them more capable of repelling stains. Particularly if you plan to use a specific fabric in a high-traffic space or in an area where food and drink will be enjoyed, this can be an excellent quality to look for.
  • UV resistance: The sun can fade fabrics to a shadow of their former vibrance, especially if a piece of furniture is positioned in front of a window. But with UV resistance, the life of the fabric is extended considerably. 

Fabric Types for Interior Use

There are both natural and synthetic options for interior fabrics, including a myriad of blends that are specifically crafted with both form and function in mind. Here is a quick reference for some of the most commonly-used fabrics and how they stack up in terms of durability.

  • Cotton: Although the specific performance level depends on the weave and finish of a cotton fabric, you can generally be confident that cotton can resist wear, pilling, and fading relatively well. On the flip side, cotton is less resistant to wrinkling, soil and stains, and fire. For highly durable cotton fabric, consider canvas options for a casual look.
  • Cotton blends: A favorite for families, cotton blends are often sturdy, especially when treated with a stain-resistant finish. The weave can impact performance somewhat, so keep that in mind.
  • Leather: Frequently used for sofas, armchairs, and other high-use pieces, leather is impressively tough. It can be damp-wiped, cleaned with leather conditioner, and gently vacuumed when needed. One drawback to leather is that some types can scratch or tear.
  • Linen: There’s a reason that linen is associated with luxury – it’s designed for formal spaces or adults-only areas because it simply won’t stand up to heavy wear. It does resist fading and pilling very well, though it can become wrinkled or soiled quickly and requires professional cleaning.
  • Microfiber: With a soft, velvet-like texture, microfiber is wonderfully comfortable and also highly durable. Perfect for living areas, playrooms, and family rooms alike, it can withstand stains, water, and fading.
  • Silk: Another fabric that’s famous for being delicate, silk should be reserved for low-use areas or rooms where spills aren’t likely to occur. It’s easily soiled and will need to be professionally cleaned after a spill.

The Flexibility of Your Fabric Options for Custom Furniture

Oftentimes, it can be a challenge to find furniture that suits your preference for fabric, color, style, size, and construction alike. If you are experiencing difficulty in locating pieces that can accommodate all your wants and needs, custom furniture may be the ideal choice.

With custom-designed furniture, you have the freedom to create pieces that check all the boxes: durability, style, footprint, and more. Combine the sleek lines of an ultra-modern sofa silhouette with the high-performance durability of microfiber; or, elevate a classic upholstered headboard with a lovely linen. Add a sense of luxury to a formal living room with silk, or set up a kid-friendly space using quality leather. Ultimately, you have the freedom to decide how to marry your style and your performance needs.

Because there are virtually no limits to the possibilities of custom furniture design, it is truly the best way to craft interiors that flawlessly fit you.

Shop Designer Fabrics for Home Interior Design in Scottsdale and Gilbert

Before you begin bringing your design vision to life, you’ll need a trusted source for fabrics, custom furniture, and decor. At Interior Essentials, we’ve curated an exceptional selection of designer styles, including a delightfully diverse catalog of custom options for furniture, window coverings, and more. 

Here, you can find a wide variety of designer fabrics, all of which are an outstanding investment in transforming the look and feel of your home. Because our team has extensive experience in the industry, we are well-equipped to provide personalized recommendations to suit your lifestyle, preferred look, and more. 

Visit our interior design showrooms in Gilbert and Scottsdale to browse a full fabric selection and meet with our design experts today!

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