sofa upholstery fabric

From Leather to Linen: Navigating the World of Sofa Upholstery Fabric for Your Ideal Comfort and Aesthetic

While there are many things to consider when selecting the ideal sofa for your home, such as style, comfort, and aesthetics, one of the most important elements is the sofa upholstery fabric, as this will have an impact on the look and feel of this fundamental piece of furniture.

Your sofa will take centre stage in your room, so you should take time to consider what upholstery will complement the overall design of the space and any additional furnishings. There are a multitude of upholstery options on the market to choose from, each with their own texture, colour, look, and feel. Many of our suites and sofas can even be custom made to order to suit your exact specifications and match your interior design dreams.

Whether you choose a bold statement pattern or a neutral and streamlined option, you should make sure to invest in sofa upholstery that you will love for many years to come.

This blog will examine some of the most popular sofa fabric options available to you and will guide you towards selecting the most comfortable and aesthetically pleasing one for your living space.

Before we dive in – something to remember when you’re selecting the best fabric sofas for your home is that different fabric types require different types of care to get the longest lifespan out of your new furniture. We’ve got some tips on furniture care and cleaning, but the best thing to do is read the manufacturer’s instructions or talk to our furniture experts for advice. You might also consider a furniture protection plan from Guardsman for an extra layer of piece of mind.

Leather sofa upholstery: timeless elegance and durability

Leather sofas are a timeless and elegant choice. They are durable, stylish, and sophisticated, and they have remained at the forefront of the sofa market for many years. One of the main reasons why leather sofas are so popular is due to their versatility; they complement a variety of décor styles, and they are easy to maintain.

Three seater cream leather recliner sofa.

Here are the pros and cons of choosing a leather sofa for your home:

Pros of leather sofa upholstery:

  • Versatility: A leather sofa is adaptable and will work with a variety of styles, be they traditional, contemporary, retro, or rustic. They work seamlessly as a statement piece, and they also easily blend in with other furniture options.
  • Durability: When you select a leather sofa for your home, you are investing in a timeless piece of furniture that will last for many years to come. Genuine leather will last up to four times longer than faux-leather versions and other fabrics, and the durability of a leather sofa is displayed through its resistance to water and its sturdy texture.
  • Low maintenance: Leather sofas are the ideal choice if you have a busy household or if you have kids and pets. They are low-maintenance and easy to dust and wipe clean, and as leather is odour-repellent, it is ideal for snuggling up with your four-legged fur babies. It is also far easier to clean pet hair off a leather sofa than fabric materials.

Cons of leather sofa upholstery:

  • Cost: One of the main cons of leather sofas is the cost factor. Genuine leather sofas tend to be a lot more expensive than many alternative upholstery options. But thanks to their durability they do in fact represent excellent value for money.
  • Temperature: A leather sofa can be sensitive to temperature. It can feel cold in the winter and warm in the summer, which is not ideal for either season. If left in direct sunlight, leather can fade over time, so it is important to position a leather sofa away from large windows.
  • Ethical considerations: Leather sofas may not be a popular choice with vegans and vegetarians due to concerns about animal welfare. In this case, a faux leather version may be more suitable.
  • Design choices: Leather upholstery generally doesn’t have as many colour choices as fabric materials, so you may have to compromise slightly on the design and size. Mainstream leather sofas are mostly found in neutral colours, however, there is the option of getting a leather custom made sofa to suit your individual décor style.

Faux leather sofa upholstery: a budget-friendly ethical alternative

Faux leather isn’t just a substitute for natural leather, but an excellent upholstery option in its own right.  Budget-friendly and not relying on animal products, faux leather provides an appealing facsimile of this popular upholstery type with a smooth, sleek look and feel. 


Two seater leather sofas and chairs.

Here are the pros and cons of choosing a faux leather sofa for your home:

Pros of faux leather sofas:

  • Budget-friendly: Perhaps the biggest draw towards faux leather sofa upholstery options is the affordability factor.
  • Ethically sound: Faux leather sofa options provide a cruelty free option for those concerned about animal welfare.
  • Low maintenance: Like genuine leather options, a faux leather sofa is easy to maintain and clean, making them an ideal choice for busy homes and for those who love to entertain.

Cons of faux leather sofas:

  • Environment: A faux leather sofa can have a negative impact on the environment due to the materials used in production. Many manufacturers, however, are striving to address this issue by replacing plastics and chemicals with plant-based materials.
  • Durability: Faux leather sofas are not as durable as genuine leather versions, so you may have to change them more frequently than alternative sofa options.

Linen sofa upholstery: breathable comfort and casual elegance

Linen upholstery is known for its breathability and comfort. It offers a natural and organic sofa upholstery option for homeowners in the market for a casual and appealing look and feel.

Grey Scandi three and two seater sofas with wooden legs.

Here are the pros and cons of choosing a linen sofa for your home:

Pros of linen sofa upholstery:

  • Attractive: A linen sofa will add laid-back luxury to any home. It is an attractive option for any living space, as it will blend in with a variety of décor styles and themes.
  • Low maintenance: Linen upholstery is easy to care for, as sofa slipcovers can be cleaned with regular washing machines and dryers from the comfort of your own home. Linen also ages well, which makes it an ideal choice when looking for longevity in a sofa.
  • Durability: Linen fabric is very durable due to its natural flax fibres. While many fabrics display wear and tear and may fade after multiple washes, linen is the opposite; it will get softer the more you wash it, so it ages very well.
  • Comfort: Linen is one of the most comfortable fabrics you can choose for your sofa. This is because linen is moisture-resistant, breathable, and hypoallergenic. It is therefore very well suited to warmer climates.
  • Eco-friendly: Linen is made from one of the most ethically sound and sustainable fabrics available. Made from flax, it requires very little water and fewer pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides when growing. Flax is also biodegradable, so it is an ideal choice if you are looking for an eco-friendly upholstery option.

Cons of linen sofa upholstery:

  • Wrinkles: Linen is known for wrinkling easily; however, this can be avoided with a few clever tips. For example, if you place your linen sofa covers back on when they are slightly damp, it will help to prevent the fabric from wrinkling.
  • Bleaching: Bleaching and scrubbing linen is not recommended as this will discolour the fabric and weaken the flax fibres used in the upholstery.
  • Cost: Linen is one of the most expensive fabrics on the market due to its high-quality, versatility and durability.
  • Maintenance: Some linen options can be harder to clean than alternative upholstery options and may occasionally require professional cleaning.

Cotton sofa upholstery: classic comfort and versatility

Cotton is a very popular sofa upholstery option. It comes in an array of fabric colours and the texture is long-lasting and breathable. Sofas upholstered with cotton will work very well with a variety of design styles, and they can be found in a multitude of stunning patterns and colours.

Grey Scandi three and two seater sofas.

Here are the pros and cons of choosing a cotton sofa for your home:

Pros of cotton sofas:

  • Texture: One of the most appealing things about cotton-upholstered sofas is that the fabric is breathable- and resists pilling.
  • Durability: Cotton is extremely durable and versatile, and can withstand many years of daily wear and tear. It can also be woven into a variety of patterns and textures, making it an ideal choice for many homes.
  • Comfort: When you think of cotton, comfort immediately springs to mind. Cotton fabric is extremely soft, and a sofa upholstered in cotton is perfect for creating a cosy, inviting, and relaxing atmosphere.
  • Low maintenance: Cotton is very easy to clean and is machine washable; this makes it a great choice for many homes, particularly busy ones! A cotton-upholstered sofa is also hypoallergenic, making it an ideal option for those with allergies.

Cons of cotton sofas:

  • Wrinkles and shrinkage: Cotton can sometimes wrinkle and shrink after laundering, and it may require frequent washing and ironing to soften out the fabric.
  • Low stain resistance: Cotton fabrics can stain quite easily and may discolour over time. It can also fade if left exposed to direct sunlight.

Velvet fabric sofas

If you’re after a glamorous sofa, an on-trend sofa, or an elegant sofa, then a velvet sofa has to be on your shortlist. Velvet fabric is soft and tactile, available in classic neutral hues and vivid jewel tones, and velvet sofas are sure to bring fashion-forward flair to your space with ease. 

Velvet is an ideal upholstery type for button-tufted and channel-tufted furniture, the soft feel of the fabric contrasting beautifully with the textured look of the design. Velvet also makes a chic companion to sleek metal or glass coffee tables for a contemporary look

Teal velvet three seater sofa and ottoman.

Here are the pros and cons of velvet sofas:

Pros of velvet sofas:

  • Luxurious aesthetic: Velvet has a rich and vibrant look that adds an air of luxury to any room. A velvet sofa has a beautiful, deep colour that other fabrics find difficult to match.
  • Comfort: Velvet offers the ultimate experience in comfort and style.
  • Durability: As well as being aesthetically gorgeous, velvet is extremely durable, and with proper maintenance, it can withstand years of wear and tear.
  • Variety: Available in a variety of patterns and colours, velvet provides a great fit for most décor styles and colour schemes.

Cons of velvet sofas:

  • Maintenance: Velvet upholstery can be high maintenance as it’s prone to attracting lint, dog hair, and dust. It may require frequent cleaning, brushing, and vacuuming, and in general, it is not machine washable.
  • Appearance of wear: As velvet is prone to pilling, where the fibres stand up from the fabric’s base, it can sometimes look a little worn. If you are not into the shabby-chic look, velvet may not be the right option for you.
  • Heat and stickiness: A velvet sofa is not suitable for warmer climates as it can feel a bit too warm.
  • Price: While there are many cheaper velvet options on the market, high-quality velvet can be expensive. The higher the quality, the more luxurious the look and feel will be.

Microfibre upholstery

Microfibre upholstery is known for its durability and ease of maintenance. It is a popular choice among all types of homeowners.


Brown microfibre three seater recliner sofa.

Here are the pros and cons of choosing a microfibre upholstered sofa for your home:

Pros of microfibre sofa upholstery:

  • Durability: Microfibre is very resistant to wear and tear, and is known for its durability. It is ideal if you are looking for longevity in a sofa and it will withstand many years of use.
  • Stain-resistant: Microfibre is a great choice if you have little ones in the home, as it is resistant to stains and is hydrophobic, which means any spills will bead up on the surface of the fabric rather than soak in.
  • Easy to clean: As microfibre is so easy to clean, it is an ideal choice for busier homes. Most stains can be easily removed with a damp cloth.
  • Softness: Known for its comfort, microfibre is soft to the touch, making it a wonderful option no matter what your style preferences are.
  • Cost-effective: Everybody loves a bargain! Microfibre is a much more budget-friendly option than its counterparts, such as leather or silk.

Cons of microfibre sofa upholstery:

  • Not resistant to oil-based stains: Oil-based stains tend to leave a mark on microfibre materials.
  • Static: As microfibre can create static electricity, it can sometimes tend to attract and retain dust and hair.
  • Can look cheap: Microfibre doesn’t possess the natural look of materials such as wool or leather, and it sometimes looks cheaper than more luxurious options.
  • Limited breathability: Microfibre upholstery can feel hot in the summer and cold in the winter as the fabric doesn’t breathe.
  • Damage from excessive water: Most water spills will not damage microfibre, however, excessive water spills will tend to damage the fabric.
  • Not eco-friendly: As microfibre is synthetic and derived from petroleum products, it is not as environmentally friendly as other options.


Chenille sofas

One of the nicest things about fabric sofas is the soft feel of its fabric, and that’s one of the reasons that chenille is an especially in-demand pick. A soft, fuzzy fabric that can be made of natural or synthetic fibres, chenille sofas are appealing due to their cosiness and gorgeous texture.

Chenille is named after the French word for caterpillar, so called due to the fuzzy pile that forms when strands of yarn are twisted together to create the fabric. Chenille fabric creates sofas that are comfortable as they are classic.


chenille sofa in beige

Pros of chenille fabric:

  • Versatility: Often referred to as the poor man’s velvet, chenille fabric is extremely versatile. It is both soft and durable and comes in a wide variety of colours and patterns. Chenille is used across a range of interior design themes, as well as an array of home furnishings.
  • Comfort: Chenille fabric is an ideal option for your sofa as it provides the ultimate experience of comfort and relaxation. It is extremely soft to the touch, and it is also visually inviting.
  • Durability: Known for its durability, chenille fabric is made by weaving yarn, or short materials, onto fabric strand. It therefore withstands a lot of wear and tear, and it will serve you well over time.
  • Warmth: Due to its dense weave, chenille fabric provides lots of warmth.

Cons of chenille fabric:

  • Maintenance: Due to its texture, chenille fabric may require more maintenance than other fabrics. It can be prone to pilling and may require additional dusting and vacuuming.
  • Sensitivity to sunlight: Chenille is sensitive to sunlight and may fade over time and lose its pile and colour, it is therefore recommended that you avoid placing a chenille couch close to windows, particularly if you live in a hot climate.
  • Snagging: Unfortunately, a gorgeous comfy chenille sofa can be prone to snagging, it is therefore not suitable for pets or young children.
  • Cleaning: Chenille fabric is difficult to clean and fades easily. Most chenille fabrics are not machine washable, as it may stretch out irreparably, and it require professional cleaning.
  • Weight: Chenille is a heavy fabric, this may not be a suitable option for warmer climates or for those who have a tendency to get too hot.

With so many diverse choices to select from, navigating the world of sofa upholstery can sometimes be a daunting task. However, once you consider your lifestyle and the functionality, maintenance, and comfort requirements of your sofa, you will be sure to pick the perfect one to suit your space. Consider the pros and cons of every upholstery style as well as the overall design aesthetic you are aiming for, and you will be well on your way to selecting a perfectly plush sofa that you will enjoy for many years to come.

Now that you’re equipped with these insights, why not take the next step? We invite you to explore our extensive collection of sofas. With a wide range of styles, designs, and fabrics, you’re sure to find a piece that perfectly fits your needs and aesthetic. Start your journey towards finding your perfect sofa now.

Nicola O'Sullivan

Nicola O’Sullivan

Nicola O’Sullivan holds the position of PR Manager and Interior Design Writer at Corcoran’s Furniture, where she applies her sharp eye for interior design. She is in the process of earning a diploma from the globally recognised Interior Design Institute, further enhancing her expertise in the field.

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