Learn the Basics of Upholstery Then See What’s Showing at Maison&Objet Paris
By Katricia Lang
When it comes to the hottest new design trends, all eyes turn to this month’s Maison&Objet in Paris. But not all fabrics are created equal. Learn to look beyond those gorgeous prints to recognize which fabrics are right for your next upholstery project, then start designing.
Whether you’re looking to reupholster a La-Z-Boy, custom build a new couch, or restore an heirloom, your choice of fabric can make or break that upholstered piece.
Choose pure cotton for that couch or armchair and you’re asking for wrinkles, fading, and indelible stains. Choose a cotton-polyester blend and avoid all of the above.
Cotton, along with polyester, linen, and wool is at its best in a fabric blend. Even so, every fabric has its own applications. Pure cotton is absorbent and breathable, helping you keep cool and dry in a city with regular heat advisories. It also dyes extremely well and is perfect for slipcovers.
Linen is a lustrous combination of strength, durability, and softness. It shrinks but doesn’t pill or fade. The affordable natural fabric works wonders for the smart, tailored furniture found in formal rooms. However, take heed, linen is not approved for a general audience. Since it stains and wrinkles easily, it belongs in adult-only spaces.
Wool has a number of positive qualities. It’s wrinkle, stain, fade and — for those who like to live dangerously — flame resistant. Still, the natural fabric flowers when joined with a synthetic fiber. It becomes more durable and easier to clean, a great choice for a living room sectional.
Polyester is more than the tight, itchy pants so popular in the ‘70s. Though synthetic, it has the soft feel of natural fabric. It’s also durable, easy to clean, and doesn’t wrinkle or fade.
You know the benefits of silk, the sumptuous natural fiber synonymous with elegance available in a wide variety of colors. But it’s high maintenance and doesn’t stand up well to everyday use.
Velvet is luxurious and color rich like silk but more durable and can be used for sofas, chairs, and benches. That said, it’s difficult to clean and very expensive.
Chenille is the opposite of silk. It’s a casual fabric suited for the furniture found in man caves, dorm rooms, informal living rooms, indoor bars (bar stools), and even children's rooms.
Leather is the big kahuna of upholstery fabrics for good reason. The natural material is at home in modern and traditional decor, conservative and bold color schemes. It also prevents stains, cleans easy and, in the case of distressed leather, conceals scratches. The only trouble with leather is its hefty price tag. It’s definitely an investment.
jute is a natural fabric primarily manufactured in India and Bangladesh. It’s incredibly susceptible to wrinkling and, historically, has been used for rope and matting. And unfortunately, that’s how it feels. Still, it’s an ideal material for an ottoman, adds textural elements to accent pieces, and couples with leather, wood, and neutral decor.
Nylon is a resilient synthetic fiber that plays well with other fabrics. It does fade, but is ready-made for the wear and tear of a children’s playroom and easy to clean and maintain.
Olefin holds up well outdoors thanks to its extreme durability. The synthetic fiber also retains color, so it can be cleaned with strong detergents and bleach.
Below are just a few of the exhibitors showing at the international trade fair dedicated to lifestyle fashions and trends.
Andrea Brand Designs, South African designs, www.andreabrand.co.za
Biella Fabrics, wool with elegant finishes, www.biellafabrics.com
Indigo Difusion, including a complete Alpine theme range, www.indigo-diffusion.com
Linder Home Linen, one of the last European industries mastering design, weaving and dying, www.linder.fr
Liora Manné, revolutionary, patented Lamontage process yields endless possibilities, www.lioramanne.com
Martine Goron/Ladivayne, unique textiles from Morocco, www.martinegoron.com
Pondicherry, 100% recycled cotton from Tunisia, Turkey and India, by Foutas Paris, www.byfoutas.com
Soup Design House, based in Cairo, www.soupdesignhouse.com
Discover more at www.maison-objet.com
Hien Lam Upholstery
819 West Drew
2045 Richmond Avenue
6705 Cypress Creek Pkwy # B
The Upholstery Shop