Practical Tips

Today's textiles offer an endless spectrum of colors, rich textures and come in every pattern imaginable. With so many choices, it is easy to feel overwhelmed when seeking upholstery or drapery fabric. In order to pare down your selections, consider the following:

* How much and what kind of use will it receive? Will it need to stand up to daily use?
* Is the setting relaxed or formal?
* Will the area be exposed to direct and consistent sunlight? What about humidity?
* Will the area be used by pets and or children? If so, how much?
* How much care does it need and how much are you willing to give for its upkeep?
* How long do you want it to last?


Furnishings subject to daily use and heavy wear require durable, tightly woven fabrics. Generally, fabrics that have their pattern “woven in” will wear better than printed fabrics.

Thread Count

The higher the thread count, the more tightly woven the fabric and the better the wear. Thread count refers to the number of threads per square inch of fabric.


Consider the style and character of a piece when choosing fabrics. Traditional frames typically call for traditional fabrics such as toiles and tapestries. Likewise, modern frames look ideal in fabrics that reflect their modern, clean edge. When working with patterns, always consider scale. As a general rule, large repeating patterns are best suited to larger rooms that can accommodate oversize prints.

Fade Resistance

Rooms exposed to direct or consistent sunlight place extra demands on fabrics. To reduce the chance of fading, consider fade resistant textiles. For outdoor use it is wise to contain your search to outdoor textiles. These fabrics have been treated for protection against the elements and are designed to resist fading.

Durability and Stain Resistance

Certain colors and textures may not be the best choice for pieces requiring durability and stain resistance. When choosing textiles for households with pets and or animals, consider options that won't readily show dirt and wear.

Care, Upkeep and Longevity

To learn more about maintenance and long-term durability of various options, review our overview of fabric types.