Practical fabric upholstery ideas for divan beds and sofas

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Practical fabric upholstery ideas for divan beds and sofas

Natasha Kurien Natasha Kurien
modern  by Sunbrella, Modern
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A recent shift in home décor trends has caused modern furniture to become more popular than traditional furniture. In India, conventional furniture features carved wood with intricate designs on them, and the cushions are built right into the fabric with springs tied down to the bottom. If the cushion breaks or the fabric tears, it is very likely that the whole couch would need to be refurbished. Due to this inconvenience, modern sofa designs with replaceable cushions are the preferred alternative for most homeowners.

Sofa fabric upholstery can be divided into a wide array of categories, namely, natural fibres, leather, and synthetics. Each material has pros and cons, thereby making the process of picking the perfect one rather challenging. 

  1. Natural fibre: Plant-based cotton, linen, silk, rayon, and wool fall under this category. Linen, cotton and wool are the most durable natural sofa upholstery fabric but are susceptible to damage from sunlight and moisture. Wool, on the other hand, needs to be moth proofed before it is used for the sofa upholstery. 
  2. Synthetic fibre: Polyester, nylon, olefin, acrylic, and polypropylene fall under this category. Synthetic fibres are petroleum products that are made by ejecting chemicals into fine strands that are subsequently woven into the fabric. These products are blended with natural fibres, which add durability and resistance to stains. Some brands of performance fabric for sofas such as those from Sunbrella comes with a range of low-maintenance features such as being stain resistant, UV and fade resistant, mould and mildew resistant, and bleach cleanable. They can withstand wear and tear and long-term use without losing their sheen – a feature that sets them apart from regular fabric.
  3. Leather: The highest quality of leather makes use of the entire thickness of the animal hide. Other variants include split grain or suede leathers which are much thinner. The downside of using leather, however, is that it cannot be easily replaced.  

Fabric upholstery for sofas

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The upholstery of the sofa, divan or chair defines the character of the room. Plush velvet, elegant silk, and robust leather come with their fair share of pros and cons. Before focusing on the sofa fabric texture, there are several more important factors to consider, such as:

  1. Durability: Before settling for a type of upholstery fabric for the sofa, you need to consider its durability – whether it is suitable for light, medium or heavy use. Engineered fabrics are stronger than natural ones. Even though cotton seems the best option for the tropical climate, it should be restricted to pillows and cushions. A combination of cotton and rayon, on the other hand, makes a durable option. If the living room sees heavy foot traffic, usually, it is advisable to stay clear of printed and heavily textured fabrics that wear out quickly. However, opting for Sunbrella fabrics which have jacquards and chunky neutrals that are durable and won’t wear out is a good choice.
  2. Maintenance: It is vital to understand how much wear and tear the sofa can take. To prolong the life of the upholstery, vacuuming once a month is necessary as the dust and dirt combined with friction breaks down the fabric. Washable fabrics are also sought after as they come with cleaning codes on their labels when purchasing. Moreover, fade-resistant washable fabrics, such as those from Sunbrella, are a bonus as they won’t require replacement for years.
  3. Décor theme: Sofa fabric material is vital to creating different themes in a particular space. Silk appears to be formal and can be used on furniture in a traditional Indian setting, whereas an English sofa can pull off a conventional woven or textured fabric. Linen, on the other hand, is casual and works best on modern furniture.  

Choosing fabric upholstery for divans

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Cotton has been the fabric of choice for divan sets as it is easy to wash and maintain. Comfort and style are essential as the divan can be used as either a bed or a sofa. Each utility requires a different kind of decor. In terms of decoration and design appeal, the choice of fabric and colour is entirely up to one's styling preference. Solution-dyed acrylics, blended polyester, performance fabrics, leather or microfibre, are the most common options for fixed seating. 

Upholstery fabric for sofa-beds

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Finding a durable sofa-bed fabric that also matches the overall décor style of the home can be a daunting task. However, before choosing a material, there are several things to keep in mind, such as the type of weave, the content of synthetic and natural fibres in the fabric and its strength. The following are viable options for materials for sofa-beds:

  1. Cotton velvet: It has many advantages in that it is durable, aesthetic and soft to touch. High-quality cotton velvet holds up well and can last up to 30 years without any trouble. It can, however, be quite expensive but considering the longevity, the price is worth bearing.
  2. Mohair: It’s an extremely durable and long-lasting upholstery fabric as it is soft, plush and insulating. The downside of the material is that it can sometimes be scratchy to touch. Synthetic or commercial variants are preferred.
  3. Performance fabrics: Solution-dyed acrylic fabric such as Sunbrella are stain-resistant, making it ideal for any sofa bed or divan. Moreover, they are available in an array of choices to match absolutely any theme. 

How to accessorise sofas and divans?

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Sofa beds come in several designs, ranging from ultra-minimalist futons to large comfy couches. Accessorising them with cushions and throws helps to create colour contrasts or accents, which enhance the overall look of the room. 

Futon: Futons are the simplest versions of sofa beds that consist of a single cushion over a wooden or metal frame. They can be folded up to sit and unfolded to sleep. Futons are an excellent choice for apartments due to their low profile casual look and minute footprint, and the minimalist design of the futon makes a fabric throw the perfect accessory for it.

Divan: If you are particularly short on an extra room but need additional seats or a bed, then a divan is ideal. They come in a variety of design options when compared to futons and are broader than them. They can be accessorised with plush faux pillows with tassels or small printed cushions to suit the theme of the area.

Pull out couches: Pull out couches are the most common choices for a sofa bed as they perform the duty of a full-size sofa as well as a bed. They come in many sizes and styles, ranging from small structured love seats to hefty relaxed sectionals. Accessorising them will depend on the style of the furniture as well as the décor theme, which is a task best left to professional interior decorators.  

Advantages of using Sunbrella fabrics for sofa and divan upholstery

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Bedroom pillows


Sunbrella performance fabrics are ideal for sofas and divans for either interior or exterior furniture as they offer the utmost comfort. Their primary advantage is colour, as the fibres in the fabric are colour treated using a meticulous process before being spun into yarn, ensuring that the hue goes all the way through the material. It keeps the colour vibrant and fresh for years. In comparison, regular upholstery fabric manufacturers use just a topcoat of dye, which means that the colour stays only on the surface instead of penetrating to the core. 

The versatile features of Sunbrella fabrics, such as being fade-resistant and stain-resistant, make them ideal for indoor areas as well as the outdoors. They look just at home in the living room and bedroom as they do on the terrace, balcony, garden, patio or poolside.

Get excellent tips on how to choose the right type of upholstery fabrics.    

Which fabric would you use for sofa sets and divans? Leave us a comment!
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