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How to choose the right sofa fabric for your space

  • fabrics
  • how to guide
  • sofa colours
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Ed Hawes
How to choose a fabric for your sofa

If there’s one question we get asked the most, it’s this. Choosing a fabric for your sofa or armchair isn’t just an aesthetic decision, it’s a practical one too. 

With so many options out there, we understand it can be a pretty overwhelming choice. In this guide, we’ll highlight some of our most popular fabrics and debunk some upholstery myths to help you decide what’s right for your living space. 

Take our fabrics for a test run: tap here to order a free swatch box.

What’s the best material for a sofa?

The best material for a sofa is one that meets your needs. If you’ve got a style in mind, your sofa fabric should match this and if you’ve got other requirements like durability and ease of cleaning, you’ll want to take this into account when picking a sofa fabric. In conclusion, there isn’t one ‘best’ material for a sofa - it’s all individual. Need help? Here’s a few pointers.

Velvet sofas 

Velvet green sofas

As our most popular fabric, we had to put velvet at the top of the list. Velvet has been a firm favourite from the start, and for good reason - it’s soft to touch, comfortable and looks the part. Flat velvets like Vine (pictured above) are short-pile and in some cases, stain-resistant. At first touch, velvet seems like a delicate sofa fabric, but its durability soon does the talking. If you’ve got pets or children, opt for stain-resistant velvet sofas that make cleaning up spills and muddy paws a breeze.

Velvet sofas work well in bold colours like red, yellow and blue, but can also be used in neutrals for an equally impactful look thanks to their unique sheen. If you want something more textural, go for mottled velvet or chenille sofas to create more interesting accents in your interior.

Faux Leather sofas

Faux leather sofas

Gone are the times when faux leather sofas meant a 3-piece reclining suite. Faux leather’s got a new, softer, matte look that really does feel like the real thing, without any hide needed. It’s soft, supple, and surprisingly warm to the touch - perfect for lazy lounging. In conclusion, this fabric is a brilliant option if it’s comfort you’re after.

Faux leather sofas have a timeless quality to them, making great investment pieces that hold up as styles change. Choose a sofa silhouette that works for your interior - whether that’s a classic mid-century look or a boxy, straight-edge contemporary shape.

Boucle sofas

white boucle sofas

When we introduced Boucle to our Made to Order range, we loved watching it take off. As a relatively new fabric to the scene, boucle has grown in popularity, and fast. Boucle sofas have a looped yarn effect, giving them the most tactile feel of all the sofa fabrics available right now. Boucle is great for introducing another layer of soft texture to living rooms, which is why we’re seeing boucle chairs and ottomans everywhere at the moment. As well as smaller items, this cloud-like fabric works well for larger statement pieces, as seen here on our Model 03 modular sofa.

Although it might be slightly trickier to clean, good quality boucle is surprisingly durable and can withstand lots of everyday use without any issues. At the moment, creams, beiges, whites and greens are among the most popular boucle fabric colours, but we’re also set to see other tones enter the interior design space very soon. Watch this space.

Linen sofas 

Linen sofas

Next up are linen sofas. As another of our very first fabrics, this woven option is still really popular with our customers and interior design clients. Sofas are all about relaxing, and linen’s great for people who prefer a little more of a laid-back, textured finish. This sofa fabric gives a cooling feel which is great for lazy lounging year-round. If you’re wondering about the durability level, you’re not alone. Choose stain-resistant linen sofas for busier households - even the light colours of this fabric hold up well against daily family life.

Wool sofas 

wool armchair

We’re really excited about wool as a sofa fabric - it’s about time this material made its way out of our wardrobes and into the interior design world. Wool is a naturally derived fabric that holds comfort at the top of its agenda - ideal for sofas and armchairs. Wool blends on upholstered furniture are surprisingly soft and hold a warming effect due to their natural fibres - great for cosying up in living rooms. 

But how about durability? Wool sofas are naturally very good at dealing with anything - anyone with a wool rug or carpet can attest to how well this unassuming fabric stands up to frequent use. If it’s something different you’re after, a wool accent chair or sofa should definitely be considered. 

Suede sofas 

Suede sofas

As a cousin of leather, Suede is emerging as a Swyft favourite, with more colour options available than ever before. This time, it’s got a contemporary upgrade with plenty of faux and imitation suede sofas on offer. Although suede sofas feel similar to velvet, they’re more closely related to suede, which can be seen in the extra movement of the fibres. 

Suede sofas are a great way to move towards the retro interior style trend - especially with the addition of Tan colours (pictured above on our Model 02 sofa). Either way, these warm tones are perfect for anchoring down a mostly neutral living room space and can be combined with oranges, browns and deep reds colours for a really cohesive interior look.


What sofa fabric is the most durable?

The most durable sofa fabrics are those with a high rub count. Fabric durability is measured on the Martindale scale, which tests how fast the fabric wears down over time. To choose the most durable one for your sofa, opt for fabrics with a rub count of 40,000 or more. If you’re not sure what the count is, ask the retailer for details.

What sofa fabric is the easiest to clean?

Stain-resistant sofas that come in velvet, linen and suede and are the easiest sofa fabrics to clean. These fabrics have been treated with a stain-resistant coating on each fibre and can be easily spot-cleaned with just water. If you’ve got pets, opt for easy-clean sofas in flat or short-pile fabrics like velvet. These have less texture for pet hair, dander and mud to get caught in, making them much easier to maintain.

Is cotton or polyester better for a sofa?

Consider your lifestyle if you’re choosing between a cotton or a polyester sofa. Cotton sofas are a natural material, but are a little harder to clean tough stains. Polyester sofas are better for stain resistance, but you may prefer the feel of a natural material. In conclusion, cotton and polyester are great options, and whichever you choose depends on how durable you need your sofa to be.
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