Upholstery Fabric

Furniture Upholstery 101: How to Choose an Upholstery Fabric

Upholstery Fabric

Every decorista loves scoring an amazing flea market chair. While past-its-prime upholstery is often part of the deal, design hounds know reupholstering is fun and rewarding. With the right upholstery fabric – and upholstery pro on your side – you can personalize your furniture while giving it the designer look you crave. Here’s how to jump in.

Step 1: Choose a fabric

Finding the right fabric for your chair is about personal choice, not design rules. (After all, the biggest rule is there are none!)

If you’re a traditionalist, by all means, match upholstery fabric options to your furniture’s design era and style. If you’ve got a gorgeous bergère in the French Empire style, a historically on-point choice would be an ornate brocade or silk damask upholstery fabric, for instance.

But if you want to try something more eclectic, there’s no reason why you can’t counter the ornate design with rustic simplicity along the lines of a rustic hessian upholstery fabric.

Or go for contrast with a bold modern embroidery: the point is, let your taste drive your options.

Work with a shortlist of 3 to 5 fabrics you like best, and bring swatches to consult with your fabric upholsterer.

TIP: You can save time by hiring National Drapery to reupholster your furniture. Why shuttle from showroom to upholsterer, when you can take care of it all in one place?


Step 2: Make a budget

Consider your budget. Upholstery fabrics run the gamut from bargain, to big bucks. Eliminate any shortlist options that are way out of your budget. But maintain an open mind on options only slightly out of your budget: your upholster may have some tricks for cutting back on fabric yardage.


Step 3: Hire an upholsterer

Find a great upholsterer. The best ways to find a reliable pro are:

  • Word of mouth from people whose design sense you admire;
  • Affiliation with a company you trust, who will put their reputation behind their upholsterer (ensuring – or better yet, guaranteeing – customer satisfaction);
  • Local newspaper or magazine “best of” lists. Be sure to read the comments underneath the article, and scan Yelp reviews, as part of your research. Were their customers happy? If not, how did they respond to customer complaints?

Your upholsterer will provide feedback on how much yardage they’d need to cover the piece in each of your fabric options (amounts vary, since some patterns need lining up). This will help narrow your choices by budget.

Finally, go with your gut. If a particular upholstery fabric just feels like “the one,” go for it: it probably is!