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The Value & Care of Performance Fabrics

One incredible benefit to hiring interior design professionals is the access you gain to custom and top of the line furniture makers and specialty trades like upholstery work rooms. These high-end pieces don't just look great - they LAST.

While there is an almost endless list of why to choose these well-crafted pieces (strong framing materials, better craftsmanship, striking design, non-toxic, etc.) there's one that can't be duped by retail knock-offs: the quality and longevity of the upholstery fabric. Piling, tearing, wearing and staining can make a year old accent chair look shabby (and not in an aesthetic way). We are HUGE advocates for investing in performance fabric for all upholstered furniture pieces.

What is performance fabric?

Performance fabric is a naturally and/or specialty stain and wear resistant upholstery material. They are not easily discolored or worn out. They are simple to clean and care for because each fiber is protected and coated, it is easy to blot up spills, resist dirt and resist fading.

These are the fabrics we insist on for homes with pets and kids but we also suggest these durable options to our clients without children or inside animals because life and unexpected spills happen to all of us!

Types of Performance Fabric

10 to 15 years ago, performance fabrics were limited to indoor/outdoor types of upholstery. Sunbrella made a signature stain resistant option that we immediately saw as beneficial for interior use, not just on the patio. Thankfully, the industry has followed and now there are thousands of options in textures, colors, prints and patterns that make more sense than outdoor canvas for our furniture. And they have health and safety in mind too.

Whether you want a velvet chair, a boucle ottoman, a linen couch or a textured weave upholstered bed, there's a performance fabric in the perfect variation for your needs.

Care & Maintenance

While each type of performance fabric has a specified way to care for and clean up spills, the main idea behind all of them is that it's simple. Vacuuming gently is our preferred way of dusting upholstered furniture. A dry microfiber cloth lightly brushing the upholstery is also a great way to freshen up the fabric.

Generally for spills, each fabric should be blotted with a clean, water dampened white towel. Then go back over the spot with a clean and dry white towel. White is important so that no color from a cloth transfers onto the furniture during the cleaning process. Water is important because harsh chemicals shouldn't be used on specialty fabric. For tough or set-in stains, use a dye-free mild detergent on a cloth and rinse it through with water before applying to the furniture. Test a covert area of the piece before blotting the stain.

Additional Tips

  • Pillows and cushions can also be made out of performance fabrics - let us know if you'd like to order some custom pillows for an instant refresh!

  • Try to limit harsh light on any upholstered pieces. Regular sunlight is just fine, it's glaring, direct sun that can hurt the vibrancy of the fabric.

  • Don't be afraid of white and light colored sofas! One of the best things about performance fabrics is that it protects even the lightest furniture from dirt and stains.

  • Socks protect fabrics (and even carpets!) from oils from the bottom of the feet and oils set in stains easier. Time to pull out the slippers and socks.

  • Furniture you've had and love can be given new life with a performance fabric. We can arrange reupholstery for your favorite items.


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