When it comes to selecting a new sofa, you want to get it right. Not only is it a big investment that will form the backdrop of your home life for years to come, there’s also a range of factors to consider in terms of the upholstery to ensure it will match your household and lifestyle. Do you have kids? Pets? Messy teens? Is white linen the right choice in the ‘Vegemite fingers’ toddler years or should you opt for a wipe-down material? Are you ready to invest in leather or is coastal-look cotton more your vibe? From bouclé to velvet, we’re spilling the tea on textiles (figuratively speaking) to help you choose the best sofa material for your home and lifestyle.
Oh-so-snuggly with its warm, woolly appearance, this beloved fabric is characterised by its fleecy texture that invites you into a cuddly embrace. Bouclé (which means ‘curl’ or ‘loop’ in French) refers to the type of weave, which creates little loops in the yarn, and can be made from wool, linen, cotton or polyester. The plush appearance of this beloved vintage fabric that’s now back en vogue and pairs perfectly with curved and cushy sofas, armchairs and ottomans, adding texture, interest and comfort to rooms.
Super soft with its protruding pile (named after the French word for ‘caterpillar’… awww), chenille is a style of weave. Able to be woven from a variety of fibres, including cotton or polyester, the fuzzy texture is created through a unique weaving pattern of wrapping and tying, which makes it stronger than many other fabrics and very durable, while also retaining its softness. The plush pile and velvety finish of chenille-upholstered furniture combine cosy and classy in the most alluring way.
An au natural material derived from the boll-producing plant, cotton is a very popular woven fabric choice with a linen-like appearance. As a material, it’s very breathable, allowing heat to wick away from the skin. As such, it’s considered to be one of the most comfortable upholsteries and comes in a variety of textures, such as silky or textured. When woven more densely, it is used to create heavy-duty fabrics such as denim and canvas. Cotton is hypoallergenic, easy to maintain and highly resistant to fading and piling.
Much adored in the 1970s, corduroy can be used for so much more than just flamboyant flared trousers… in fact, it’s a superb choice for sofa upholstery. How groovy is that? Cord refers to the weave of the yarn, which can include cotton, polyester or blends, and is notable for its unique ridged pattern of evenly spaced, vertical rows of soft pile forming a ribbed appearance (called ‘cord’ or ‘wales’). Soft, sturdy and visually appealing, this funky fabric is enjoying an exciting comeback in furniture design.
An animal-free alternative to genuine leather made from thermoplastic polymer, also known as polyurethane (PU) leather, this high-quality material offers a realistic imitation of the real thing in both feel and appearance. Unlike vinyl or synthetic leather, PU leather is supple and will remain soft without cracking or peeling. As this material is manufactured, it’s easier to get a consistent texture and colour throughout, right down to the pores. Additionally, faux leather requires fewer resources to produce than genuine animal hide.
The blue-chip upholstery for sofas, armchairs and ottomans, leather is a highly durable and flexible material (most commonly made from cattle hide). Typically a little more expensive than synthetic alternatives, it’s worth the investment — it will last longer and become softer and more beautiful with age. As a natural material, the imperfections are unique to each piece, which forms part of the beauty of genuine leather. Generally very stain resistant, leather is easy to clean by wiping it down with a cloth.
The perfect choice for relaxed beachy boho, Hamptons coastal and casual country spaces, linen is a soft, durable and breathable luxurious natural material that doesn’t pill, making it a very comfortable choice for furniture upholstery. The slightly raised bumps (with the unsexy name of ‘slubs’) are created in the weaving process from the uneven fibres, giving linen a luscious textured look. Made from the flax plant, pure linen can be delicate, so it’s often blended with stronger fibres, such as cotton, to give it greater strength and flexibility in your fresh and breezy spaces.
Marle is a type of weave achieved by combining two or more colours or types of yarns, such as cotton and polyester, into one thread, which is then used to make the fabric. This blended material has a distinctive deep textured appearance, often with a lighter shade running through a darker shade. The most common version of the fabric is ‘grey marle’, yet it can be used for variety of colours and weaves. Marle offers a relaxed look with excellent durability.
Polyester is a great fabric choice for sofas, armchairs and other furniture as it’s very durable, easy to clean, lightweight and affordable. As a synthetic fibre, it’s sometimes blended with natural materials, such as linen or cotton, to make those fabrics more resilient. Polyester is resistant to mildew, doesn’t shrink, stretch or wrinkle easily. It is also a very economical and practical choice for sofa upholstery, especially in high-traffic areas. All of Early Settler’s velvet sofas are made from a polyester fibre, as its durability makes it ideal for households.
With its oh-la-la lusciousness, velvet adds instant glamour to spaces. The word ‘velvet’ is derived from the French word ‘velu’, meaning ‘shaggy’, and is a type of woven tufted material with a short, dense pile. Originally made from silk (which was hard to get, expensive and fragile), today’s velvet is usually crafted from polyester, which is far more robust, easy to clean and has excellent resistance to staining and snagging, yet with the same opulent look and feel achieved by the weave. Velvet is an increasingly popular choice in furniture upholstery.
‘Vintage’ refers to the distressed finish intentionally given to cotton to create a soft, aged, relaxed and live-in feel and appearance. Early Settler’s vintage cotton sofas and armchairs are crafted from a soft, tightly-woven cotton canvas with a robust distressed finish and aged aesthetic. (‘Vintage’ can also be used to refer to reclaimed materials.)
‘Vintage’ refers to the distressed finish intentionally given to leather to create a soft, aged, relaxed and live-in feel and appearance. Made from a high-quality, full-grain leather, the vintage effect creates a beautiful patina, superb softness and character. (‘Vintage’ can also be used to refer to reclaimed materials.) All of Early Settler’s sofas, armchairs and ottomans are given a soft distressed finish.
Weave fabric is created by combining the warp (lengthwise) and weft (crosswise) components to make a woven structure. Examples of textiles used in weave fabric are linen, cord and cotton. The woven effect not only adds strength to the textile, it also offers a sophisticated textured appearance that looks particularly stylish in neutral tones, such as grey, charcoal, cream, taupe and beige.
Visit us online or in-store at Early Settler to see our full range of sofas and fabric swatches. You can easily tailor your sofa style, size, colour and fabric with MyStyle Select. You can also view your sofa virtually in your home before you buy with augmented reality!