As you shop for an upholstery fabric, let your practical needs lead, advise Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams, cofounders of the home-furnishings company that shares their names. “First, consider how you live and who will use the piece,” says Bob. “This will help guide you on the type of material to choose.” You may love the look of that silk velvet, but it will quickly get destroyed in a house with kids or pets. Pieces in high-traffic areas, such as family or living rooms, will need durable fabrics, while furniture that doesn't get as much wear and tear, such as a bedroom settee or headboard, can sport any type of textile.
A big mistake people make, Bob says, is not considering how a fabric or leather may age over time. Check the label and ask questions at the showroom to find out about the material’s content and cleaning needs, then think about how much maintenance you’re prepared to do to protect your selection. “How will it look in five years?” asks Bob. “Will you still love the leather as it develops a nice patina from everyday living? Will you vacuum the upholstery fabric regularly? Will you close the drapes when away or not using a room to avoid some of the fading that naturally occurs from exposure to sunlight?”