Purchasing a sofa is a big investment, and deciding on your big ticket piece should not be taken lightly. Of the many considerations you need to take into account (size, shape, and color, to name a few), material is one of the most important decisions to make.
Having too much information and too many materials to choose from – performance velvet, cotton, leather, doesn’t help either. They all claim to be the most durable option. But what is the best sofa material for longevity? Whatever you do, test the waters first. “Order a bunch of samples and live with the look and feel of it before committing to it,” advises designer Jonathan Adler. “Consider your lifestyle versus the cleanability of your dream fabric—think kids, pets, and your messy other half!” We spoke to designers and discussed these five best materials for your living room.
And the winner is… Performance Velvet
You may not think so, but performance velvet is the best fabric you can get for the family. The best velvet sofas have a luxurious look, but they are actually one of the most durable fabrics you can get for your sofa. Spills and scratches are no match for high-performance velvet, which cleans easily thanks to its matte finish and short pile of evenly cut fibers. Since velvet is not flat woven, it will not tumble but may bruise over time.
“Many of the fabrics on the market today are made for both indoor and outdoor environments, and are composed of high-performance yarns that allow the fabric to be more flexible for carefree everyday use,” says Greta Mack, architect and designer at Beauty Bloody Bonza. “These textiles can generally be cleaned with bleach solutions making them a great choice for families with children and pets,” explains Greta.
Velvet is an example of this type of performance fabric. There is more durability, although it looks aesthetically pleasing in all colors. “Velvet also reflects light in a really interesting way, so it looks different depending on where you’re viewing it from,” says Anthony Martin, architect and designer at Melbourne-based MRTN Architects.
3 other low maintenance sofa materials
If the performance of velvet doesn’t match your aesthetic, designers suggest these options instead.
A synthetic material, polyester is famous for its durability and longevity. It is unlikely to fade over time and is easy to clean, making it a great choice for families. Since it is made from synthetic fibres, this material does not degrade over time. Polyester is also highly stain resistant. Unlike natural fabrics, which can be easily stained, polyester repels liquids. Finally, it’s a very affordable option for your family room.
When choosing fabric for a family home, leather sofas are a great choice. Not only does it add a sophisticated, traditional feel to your room, but the leather will soften over time and those scuffs will only add character and charm. Its durability makes it a great choice for family life.
It also can’t hold on to dirt like other fabrics, which means it’s a great hypoallergenic fabric. It is also easy to clean, only requiring occasional light dusting, rather than a complete cleaning. Make sure to smooth it out to avoid cracking the leather, and if you want something softer, opt for suede, which adds a modern touch to the look of leather.
Luxurious and royal, chenille is a durable fabric that is ideal for families with children and pets and is an elegant choice for the living room. “Similar to velvet, this fabric has a close texture that gives it a soft, expensive feel,” says Juliana Velasco of popular furniture brand Soho House. “Due to the nature of the fabric, it has great stain resistance and can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth, without any hassle.”
Chenille is absorbent, so be sure to keep it away from water, but its durability and strength make up for that. It is very thick and retains its shape for years to come.
Cleaning a chenille sofa may take more work than other fabric choices, but it’s just a matter of giving it a good brush, carefully getting to know the pile and the fabric. Use a vacuum cleaner to clean off any excess dirt. Just keep in mind that when exposed to direct sunlight, chenille may fade, so if you choose a chenille look, make sure you place it carefully in a dark corner.
4. Cotton blends
Cotton is a natural material that adds softness and breathability to your home. But cotton blend fabric has the softness you would get from cotton, combined with the qualities of other fabrics, like linen or polyester.
Cotton doesn’t pill, is easy to clean and easy to dye, but for a better option, choose a blend of cotton with synthetic fibers like acrylic, which provides extra durability. “A cotton-polyester blend, with a fine, thick weave, is also a good choice,” says Mark Bherer, an architect and designer at Montreal-based Desjardins Bherer.
“Woven textures in mixed material combinations look good and hide those potential spills and mishaps in family life,” agrees Darren Jenner, architect and designer at Studio Minosa.
3 family sofas to buy now
Cecilia Willoughby sofa with two cushions
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