How To Select The Best Upholstery Fabric


If you’ve hung around here for long enough, you know that while I appreciate beautiful interiors, I appreciate practical ones even more. If a space is beautiful, but you cannot live your life in it, then what’s the point, am I right? One of the biggest things to get right when decorating a home is the fabric selection, so today, I’m sharing my tips and tricks to help you know how to select the best upholstery fabric for your space.  

beautiful neutral living room with white sofa and dark grey velvet chairs and gold accents

Rub Counts

The first thing to consider is how often the furniture piece will be used. If it’s your main family room sofa that is being sat on by everyone every day, it needs to be very durable. Whereas if it’s an occasional chair for the corner of your bedroom that is mostly decorative, the fabric can be a bit more delicate. When selecting upholstery fabrics, we consider this, and if it’s a furniture piece that will be used often, we’ll choose a fabric with a high rub count, and if not, then a lower rub count could be fine. Rub tests are completed by the fabric manufacturers and give a rating to each fabric to ensure we’re selecting the best one for the job.

Leather & Faux Leather

I think leather and faux leather are great options where there will be a lot of messy spills, such as dining chairs and kitchen island stools. I don’t find leather very comfortable to sit on, so I don’t love it for sofas or armchairs. I do like the look of leather and think it’s great to use in a living room to introduce a different texture, so I would likely use it to upholster ottomans, footstools, and benches. 

Linen & Velvets

Linen and velvets are the fabrics most requested by our clients and most used in our office – I love linens and velvets, but they have their place. Linens and velvets are usually durable enough when it comes to rub counts, but they don’t do well if they’re ever spilled on. I typically keep linen and velvets in areas where they’re safe from spills, like in the bedroom. Now, we do have spill-proof options, which I will speak about next, so it is possible to get that look in your main living areas as well without having to worry about spills.  

Spill-Proof Fabrics

There is great technology out there now for fabrics, so spills are no longer an issue. Oh, and if your toddler finds a sharpie marker in your partner’s bag and then colours all over your new sofa, you don’t have to kill your partner because the sharpie will come off with a bit of soap and water – Trust me, I know. You can click HERE to see me on CHCH Morning news a few years back doing a demo. It’s magical. So, if you have a busy household, messy kids and a husband, you don’t need to worry about your upholstery if you’ve got the spill-proof fabric. And yes, it’s coffee and red wine friendly too!    

shop my favourite pillows


We’d Love To Help You

Are you interested in working with an interior designer for your next project? Be sure to get our free guide, “5 Things You Should Ask Yourself Before Hiring An Interior Designer” by clicking HERE.

If you’d like to discuss your upcoming interior design project, please email us at to let us know a bit about your project, and we’ll schedule a call. Whether it’s a new build, renovation, or a simple refresh for your home, we’d love to hear from you. You can also visit our Services Page HERE to learn more about what we offer. Thank you!    

Staci Edwards and her team provide interior design and decorating services to help you create a home that you truly love. 

Founder of Staci Edwards Interior Design

Staci Edwards

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