What fabric where? A guide to selecting the right fabric for your home and why choosing well will save you time and money.

Choosing the right furniture fabric for your specific needs can extend the life of your furniture by 5 to 10 years (or more!). Consider where the furniture will be placed, who will be using it and the level of maintenance you’re willing to undertake to ensure it looks like new for longer. Think of the money saved by selecting appropriately the first time around.

Do not select your fabric based on what you see in a store because it “looks nice” but give thought to how it will be used, by whom and where. Stains, marks and tears are not inevitable if you choose wisely.

Kid-friendly fabrics for sofas and furniture

There are many beautiful yet practical fabrics that will repel or withstand whatever your family throw at it and leave you to enjoy your furniture rather than become a slave to it. We often work with families to find fabric for their home that is durable, stain resistant and easy to maintain (at The Cullin we have a free 20-minute design consultation if you have a project in mind!). Some points to consider:

  • Fabric protection is a useful tool for busy family homes. Marks and spills can be easily treated.
  • Patterned fabrics are good for disguising marks and stains or plain (flat) fabrics with multiple-coloured threads running through them.
  • Fabrics made from man-made fibres are excellent as they are generally hard-wearing. Some great examples are polyester, vinyl and acrylic.
  • Natural fibres are also possible- look for those that are treated with fabric protection. Leather and velvet are particularly durable as well as some linens.



For allergy sufferers, soft furnishings, carpets and heavy window drapes can aggravate symptoms. Fabrics that don’t have a deep pile where dust can gather easily are best. Leather or vinyl are fabulous options as their surface can be easily cleaned. Linen and wool are also suitable as they are naturally antibacterial and hypoallergenic.

Does fabric protection really work?

There are several types of fabric protection on offer, with the main difference being when the protection is applied and what the fabric is made from. Fabric protection means liquid spills don’t immediately absorb into the fibres and other marks can be wiped off easily if treated promptly. It’s a smart option.

  • Halo is a popular fabric from Warwick and is incredibly useful for various applications. It repels stains and has a high abrasion standard due to its 100% polyester construction.
  • Fibreguard is a fabric where a treatment is built into the textile itself. Available through Zepel fabrics, the engineered textiles are easy to clean, suitable in both commercial and residential settings and very durable.
  • There is also the option of applying treatment to finished fabrics, such as OnGuard from Warwrick, which comes at an additional price. It also may need to be reapplied over time, which is an important consideration.

Best fabrics for living with pets

Pets should come into the fabric selection criteria if you have them. They have paws, claws and muddy feet and can shed like crazy. Living with pets inside can be a constant battle to keep up with the mess (luckily, they’re so cute!) but there are fabrics that are far more appropriate than others if your pets are couch/ chair/ bed dwellers.

Look for fabric protection, patterns and synthetic fibres that are easy to clean. It’s also worth noting that pet claws can get stuck in and pull textile fibres. Loose weave fabrics that easily pull may not be the best option for homes with pets.


Fire, water and sun

Some fabrics withstand the elements better than others and in Australian homes, it is very common to be looking for materials that will be appropriate in these environments.

  • If you’re searching for fire-retardant fabrics many commercial-grade fabrics will be suitable and will state this in their information details.
  • For fabrics with anti-fade qualities, try solution-dyed fabrics, commercial-grade fabrics or cotton and wool if not in direct sunlight. Outdoor fabrics are a winner too if suitable. Fabrics that are lighter work better than dark ones as any sun damage is less visible.
  • Outdoor fabrics are excellent in scenarios where water resistance is key. Outdoor upholstery and cushions (and even within rumpus rooms or kids’ spaces indoors) are perfect places for outdoor fabrics. There are so many beautiful designs available they won’t look out of place inside!

Finding a fabric you love for your home requires consideration beyond aesthetics. Give thought to how you live, who lives in the space and how it will be used so you’re not looking to replace it in a few years. We would love to help with your next project, whether it be re-upholstery or something new. A good place to start is our complimentary 20-minute design session to help you find the perfect pieces for your home.

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