Sofa Upholstery Fabric Guide

By Maria Dinshaw | Oct 2020

What’s the best fabric for my sofa? A question that we get quite often, especially when visiting showrooms with clients. The choices available in the market can feel overwhelming.

Whether you’re customizing a furniture piece or buying it off the shelf, it’s important to know the difference between upholstery options so you can make the best choice for your requirement. The right (or wrong) fabric will not only change the look of the design but also impact the experience of sitting on that furniture piece. In this guide, we’ll examine the most common fabric types used by the best interior designers in India and highlight their advantages.  


If you’re looking for a sofa that will last a few decades, leather should be your top choice. Natural leather is a classic, timeless material that will never go out of style. Artificial leathers are also great alternatives for humanitarian and cost reasons.


  • Durable
  • Timeless


  • Not scratch resistant
  • Expensive

Designer’s Tip: Keep in mind that natural leather will fade if exposed to direct sunlight, so it’s best to keep leather items away from windows.


Most fabrics in the affordable price range will have some amount of polyester in them. This makes them not only cost-effective but also extremely durable. They are long-lasting fabrics and offer great value if you’re on a budget. However, if not selected property, polyester fabrics can look somewhat artificial. The best interior designers in Mumbai will advise selecting natural fabrics if you want a high-end look.


  • Durable
  • Cost-Effective


  • Less premium look  
  • Can feel scratchy


One of the softest fabric types, velvet is a must for a rich and elegant look. We love the way that light bounces off this fabric to create a truly sumptuous feel. One negative aspect of velvet is the texture which leaves a mark when it’s touched. This can appear messy if not smoothed out after sitting on the piece.


  • Extremely soft
  • Rich color tone


  • Can look untidy
  • Expensive

Designer’s tip: Use velvet in rich jewel tones when you want to make a statement. The texture of this fabric enhances the saturation of the color making the eye instantly gravitate towards that piece. It’s a bold fabric that is best used on accent pieces and not for the entire composition.

Linen & Cotton

These two fabrics are perfect for a natural, resort-like feel. However, keep in mind that they stain easily so it’s best to use them in low traffic areas and a protective spray is recommended. As top interior designers will agree, if you’re living in a climate that is prone to dust, pure linen and cotton fabrics are best avoided.


  • Natural look & feel
  • Organic options available


  • Prone to staining if not treated
  • Prone to wrinkle

Designer’s Tip: If you love the look of linen but don’t want the maintenance hassles, look for a blended fabric with a percentage of polyester of nylon. These fabrics will stain and wrinkle much less. 

Which Sofa Fabric is Best for Kids and Pets?

If you have small children or pets in the house, you’ll require special upholstery fabrics if you want your furniture to last. There is an entire fabric category called “performance fabrics”. These fabrics are specially designed to be stain and scratch-resistant. Although they are more expensive, it’s worth the cost to protect high-end pieces of sticky hands and claws.

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