How to choose the right fabric for upholstery: five tips

When you fall down the fabric rabbit hole, it’s quite possible you’ll emerge – hands full of swatches – agonising over which to choose. The choices are endless – from textile, to print, to colour – and picking which ones will work for you and your space can be tricky. To make the whole process a little more relaxing, consider these five tips…

1. You needn’t go down the matchy-matchy route with fabrics and patterns. The best rooms are diverse yet everything works together. Take time with fabric and add soft furnishings gradually. An gently evolved look – mixing patterns, weights and materials – is always best in the long run.

2. Upholstering in leather? Add these names to your address book: Altfield, Adam Bray and Christopher Howe.

3. Natural fabrics can be incredibly durable, particularly horsehair and mohair. Also, while white lambswool chairs are fashionable at the moment, unbleached brown is a much better option.

4. For plain fabric that won’t blow your budget, Designer’s Guild’s cotton/linen “Manzoni” is reliably brilliant and joyfully comes in 76 colours.

5. An odd, small chair deserves a pretty print. Decors Babares by Nathalie Farman-Farma, stocked by Tissus d’Helene, is an excellent choice.

RITA SAYS… Three fabrics for upholstery

Mohair: Two wonderful mohairs, from top: “Ash”, £252 a metre, from Bruno Triplet; and “Greville” (in drab and brûlée), £218.40 a metre, from Adam Bray.

Pattern: Raoul Textiles is ideal for a pattern splurge. A particular favourite of mine is “Nigel” linen, shown here in tobacco, £180 a metre, from George Smith.

Corduroy: “Palinuro”, corduroy/velvet, by Etro, comes in fantastic colours. £82.80 a metre from Pierre Frey.

MORE: For an in-depth view, check out Rita’s House & Garden column on upholstery fabrics here.

ALSO: The picture above is from one of Rita’s design projects in New York – see the full gallery here.