Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Reader mail: sofa fabric


Hey Decorno,

I need some feedback to make sure I don't make a big decorating mistake.

Redoing my living room (a very, very, very belated farewell to RA Shabby Chic!) and the first purchase will be a sectional. Not the prettiest piece of furniture, but it is the most functional choice for our lifestyle. I have a black dog and a fawn dog - pugs - which you probably know means they live on the couch, shed like mad and leave curious little stains behind. I also have a husband who has been known to spill a thing or two. Me? Thanks, I am perfect.

I am stumbling on the best choice for fabric. I am looking for something that will look nice for the next 10 years?! After living with slipcovers, which offer about as much stain protection as a Q-tip to grape juice and, hence require constant washing, I need to move to upholstery. What is the best choice? Color-wise I want to go with solid off-white or a light stone/taupe. I know: bad choice but I get bored easily and want to have a light, neutral room so I can simply switch out bold/colorful pillows and accessories and deal with my fickleness inexpensively. For fabric, I am being told leather (I can see the scratches already and that cold fabric would almost make me cave and buy a Snuggie) or ultra-suede (which I like but it seems like it would tear easily and act as Velcro to pet hair). The sales people and decorator giving me this advice do not have pets of their own. I would love to hear firsthand what stands up the best.

I am on a budget and looking at Mitchell Gold and Room & Board and both seem to carry the basics.

Please help me off the ledge I have been standing on for 3 months.

Thanks,

Jill

59 comments:

maya said...

How about a good wool black and tan tweed to conceal the pet hair? Neutral enough to change it up with pillows, but not solid. Probably not the most stain-resistant fabric out there, though.

DoxaHome.com said...

I have found that a higher end white solution dyed acrylic works beautifully, with pets, husbands and wine;) If you really want to stay away from white or ivory, perhaps a natural linen or hemp. The color and weave will be a bit more forgiving and they are offered in both sides of the spectrum, warm and cool, just make sure it is either backed or tightly woven. Let us know what you pick!

Best,
Jaime

The Urban Market Houston Antique Show said...

I just recovered my sofa and 2 chairs with a beautiful off white Sunbrella fabric. Sunbrella (outdoor fabric) has come a LONG way and it feels like linen and looks like it, too. I also have 2 dogs and 2 kids = messy!! every spill or mess just wipes away - no sign of it left behind.
I can send you a photo.
I bought the Sunbrella at a discount designer fabric store and it was only $9/yard.
Maybe you can find a good deal on a sectional that is not very attractive and have it recovered.

Sharon said...

I swear by leather. It really does clean up sooo well. I've never had my dog on the couches though, so I don't know about their nail scratches, but whatever their nails would do to leather they would do to any other material. Seriously, leather.

Anonymous said...

If you sofa is the largest piece in the room, then build your fabrics around it. Don't be afraid to use cotton, silk, linen, wool, wool velvet, etc. Once your fabric is on the sofa, have it sealed to resist stains. Believe it or not, natural fabrics truly clean up well under normal wear and tear. I suggest you avoid slips because they scream ultra casual and "I can't make up my mine what fabric I like, so I will select this". If you don't believe me, look at photos of slipcovered chairs and sofas and ask yourself if this ill-fitting look is the message about your design sense that you want to send friends and family. If so, go for it just don't complain when they wrinkle, stretch, shrink, pucker, etc. You asked for it. The fact that you asked the question, makes me believe you are looking for another solution. If you have pets, create a space for them within your living space that is so special they will not want to jump up on your lovely new furniture. There are some remarkable fabrics out there if you connect to the right people to direct you. Slips should be your last resort unless you want to do Shabby Chic Redux.

kelleyp said...

hi
have dogs and kids. i hate ultra suede. easy to clean but never looks good--don't like how the nap goes back and forth and picks up the light. slightly anal for sure but still a bother to me. i have large leather sofa and yes it gets scratches but only adds to the look of it (thinking vintage ralph lauren here). however, in a sectional it may be a little much. i would try a great chenille in a camel color--soft to the touch, easy to clean and great wearability. or i love velvet but never in a slipcover. thinking a bone color, camel or even gray.

Adrianne said...

We have a frenchie who also leaves weird spots (I don't want to know) and sheds like crazy. We have two sofas with completely different results.

Sofa #1: Martha Stewart Bernhardt bought at Macy's on super clearance for like $700. It's a blueish gray tweedy sort of fabric, no pattern. Spots show up like crazy but the dogs b&w hair doesn't. The dog sleeps on top of one of the back cushions and they fluff back pretty good.

Sofa #2: hand-me-down from the in-laws. Probably a cotton twill but it is tan/blue/gray big floral pattern. Doesn't show a thing. It's not as ugly as sin as it sounds (for a floral, prob my favorite) but I think the solution might be to go with a pattern. Good luck with that...

Friends with pugs & the like say their leather furniture = destroyed.

Anonymous said...

We bought the Room & Board Orson sectional last year. Upholstered with their Troy Advantage fabric in "Shale"--a linen-look light stone color. Any darker and this mamoth piece of furniture would be a black hole in the room. I have a 3 & 5 year old, dog, and husband & successfully removed blueberries, pencil, chocolate, and mud. Also ruined one side of a cushion with too much oxyclean (which usually works great on here diluted a bit). So I'm happy with this choice, but its light, so everything shows. I live with the smudges most days and do a spot-clean once in a while. Hope this helps! Good luck.

Cara said...

Do not get ultra suede! A great fabric for spills because you can pretty much wipe anything off of it with no remains but it IS velcro for pet hair. I have a brown couch in ultra suede with a white lab. The result? We sit on a huge furball couch. Brutal. I have been wrestling with the best fabric to get for a new couch as well and am very interested in seeing the other suggestions. Before this brown number we had the best couch ever-a sectional-with cream colored tone on tone toile damasky type silky kind of fabric. No stains, no visible pet hair, the perfect fabric. I want to punch myself in the face everyday about getting rid of that couch.

atlanticart said...

I can't understand why your slipcovers need constant washing but you expect your upholstered sofa won't. I would recommend getting pets that match (preferrably dark-haired) so you can get dark upholstery that won't show their hair or their poop.

Hello. said...

Limousine cloth.

Sharon said...

outdoor fabric = excellent idea

maison21 said...

if you are buying from c&b or r&b, will you be using your own fabric even? c&b offers that option through stores, but i didn't think r& b did. but if yes, a sunbrella linen looking acrylic is good option but the reality is, if you want white or off white, ANYTHING will stain and look grubby over time.

i've done lots of white vinyl sofas for clients, and while the cushions grey a bit over time, they still look pretty good after a cleaning. most people pooh-pooh vinyl, and don't want it on a sofa because they think they'll stick. my point is how often are you on your sofa naked, if you have kids and dogs and need to worry about their stains? i'd rather have wipe clean vinyl then a truly sticky cotton twill after a pb & j spill, thank you.

contract upholstery would be another option, but again, not available through mass marketers.

Anonymous said...

What's with all the slipcover haters? Has anyone ever heard of tight fit slip covers? They look tailored not sloppy. My den sofa is slipcovered in an oatmeal shade of a linen blend. (Darker colors actually show pet hair more than lighter colors.) If you allow a husband and pets and kids (as I do) on the sofa there are going to be spills. And you can't stick an upholstered couch in the wash! Just don't forget to have the fabric pre-washed before the slips are made and go to a good slip maker!

Anonymous said...

Hey DoxaHome.com, you gave some perfect advice. If one must have pets, it seems you have found a viable solution.

OLIVINE said...

Well, I have 7 dogs , 5 children, and tend to spill my coffee on things, and I can not imagine living with upholstery. Upholstery gets dirty and just has to sit there-covered with slime,grime,and whathaveyou,until you can get it steam-cleaned. Slipcovers can be made out of anything, and there are zillions of pre-washed fabrics from velvets to linens to chenilles that can be tailored to look exactly like upholstery, but without the gross factor of being well,dirty. I suggest getting 2 small quilted throws that look pretty and are WASHABLE to put on the sofa for the pugs.

Carol Ann said...

Our design office does this same room more than 5 times a week, there are 4 designers in my office.
Check out the sectionals at your local Lazboy Store, and have it done in Micro Fiber...it can take any thing you can think of and is soap and water washable...
With Micro you can get any color you want without having to worry, and never put a stain spray etc on it...it will flake off in a few months and make a mess...
www.la-z-boy.com
Look at the Daphne Sectional or the Sheffield Sectional.
Now make sure with a sectional that you do a floor plan to scale to see what pieces will fit in the room before purchasing...
After that look at the Cory Ottoman in Leather (storage ottoman on wheels) Works great to add an other texture.
Pick a few great fabrics for pillows and make sure you add cord trim to them for a more designer look...any other questions just email me.
Have fun, Carol Ann

Kate said...

Over at ifthelampshadefits.blogspot.com, she just posted a sofa, i believe from crate and barrel that is grey with a definite tweed vibe. that seems like it could have some sophistication as well as bullet-proof qualities if you can find the right size?
http://www.citylifeinthesuburbs.blogspot.com

Feisty said...

After researching fabric to cover my new couch with, I went with:

http://www.cryptonfabric.com/trade/

I have two black lab mixes that are huge and dirty. I think I got this fabric http://www.cryptonfabric.com/crypton/trade_fabrics.do?category_id=174&category_name=Crypton+Textures

It's been so long I don't remember, might have gotten twill. Anyway, they had samples at a huge JoAnn's store near me, and I ordered it through them. This particular texture doesn't work great for dog hair, but other than that, it's great.

JoAnn's usually has a big fabric sale in Jan or Feb, I ordered it then and got it half price.

Jules said...

I have dogs, kids, and a sharpie marker that offer proof that with a little elbow grease almost anything can be removed from even the cheapest fabrics. Don't be scared, just buy what you like.

(Although I have to say I have heard great things about the Sunbrella fabric The Urban Market mentioned.)

And, yes, I did remove a hell of a lot of red sharpie from a stone-colored chair, so don't feel bad about your color preference, either.

amymezzell said...

I am not sure Sharon understands that dogs have claws. It is definitely not true that "whatever their nails would do to leather they would do to any other material." I also don't think it's reasonable at this point to try and teach your dogs the couch is no area for them if they're already accustomed to it. Some people kind of want their dogs to sit with them on the couch, and that is fine. You can find lots of fabrics that will work.

I am not recommending this as the best choice, but I have experience with ultrasuede, and it honestly cleans up really well if there's a stain resistant treatment - mine is bone colored so we don't really see the color change effect that drives people (including me) crazy. You would have to vaccum or lint roll for fur, though. Thankfully, my dog hardly sheds.

Susan said...

We have a bone leather sofa (a hand-me-down) and small loveseat in a dark wine-ish ultrasuede. They are surviving two big dogs and three cats very well although the ultrasuede has one or two tiny tears that don't show in public but bug me nonetheless. Just back from a four day holiday in a rental home on the Russian River - a pet friendly rental - with two sectionals covered in ultrasuede. One was khaki and the other a gorgeous butter yellow, both dogs broke rules and lolled around for all four days. All was well til it rained and their muddy paws played havoc - oh, and one of our dogs has a habit of licking upholstery. Ugh. Amazingly enough, it all came up with the use of a pet/stain foam spray (courtesy of the house) - I was stunned. One 110-lb super hairy malamute-shepherd cross and a 90-lb catahoula hound (red/white)in a full on 4 day romp didn't best the upholstery! I still can't believe we escaped but it's a testament to wear-like-iron ultrasuede. No idea if it's super high end. So, direct experience - leather wipes up and shows nothing (but is cold) and the good ultrasuede is the bomb. Best of luck. I'm a fence sitter too - sure you don't know someone who wants to donate?! That might be the lucky charm.... .

Anonymous said...

Vinyl is awful. You don't have to be naked to experience how wretched it is. It feels bad against your hands, arms, neck, and legs (if you're wearing shorts or a skirt), it "gives" differently from natural fibers or good synthetics, and even the sound it makes when you move on it is depressing.

It's fine for a bench you'd sit on while waiting to have a tire installed, I guess.

Eileen said...

I have two big (each 60+ lbs) long-toe-nailed psycho-dogs, a husband who spills black coffee and red wine, and a black leather sofa from Macy's (the dog hair matches the oak floors, not the sofa, but the feather duster removes the hair quite nicely from the sofa). The leather is still in great shape, and the dogs spend a LOT of time on it, wrestling, sleeping, and "tidying themselves up". EVERYTHING wipes off AND scratches don't show--it's been a great choice for us.

Anonymous said...

ask for outdoor or "performance" fabric. Crypton is a major one...it's so indestructible that it would just be the roaches and this fabric left. Some is rough like old sunbrella, but some is definitely nice, more than do-able. if you don't go the performance route (read: stain-, germ-, fade-resistant) as far as durability goes, a little viscose always helps.

Anonymous said...

just did a sofa with a "laser velvet" that looks and feels super PLUSH but is actually very durable and 90 acrylic. i think it looks great when a contemporary shape, like what i imagine your sectional is like, is done in a more traditional or elegant fabric. good luck!

Anonymous said...

For the love of god, leather is NOT COLD!

Anonymous said...

I was recently in the same boat...mostly with the dog shedding. My dog is a mutt (love, love, love him) but he sheds like nothing I have ever seen before! I ended up with a leather sectional and I have to say, it's great. Maybe my dogs nails are not as sharp as the pugs, but there is no evidence of scratches at all. And no hair on it (probably all underneath)! I don't think it's cold at all. I really wanted upholstery too but I am sooo gald I went with the leather. I think the sunbrella idea is good too and agree with posters that ultra suede is like velcro for pet hair. Leather!

Francine Gardner said...

Outdoor fabrics work wonders. When designing for clients with pets of children, i always suggest this type of protected fabrics. Donghia has beautiful outdoor velvets, Great Plains also has a great selections of outdoor woven, chenille or velvet fabrics,If you prefer to go with untreated fabrics, you should have your sofa fibersealed. It works wonders....BTW I love Sectional sofas and they can be really beautiful.Of all sofas in our showroom, we sell most our sectional..great for napping too.

the t and j show said...

we're a two-fawn-pug family here. i bought couch with a colour called 'bamboo' hoping the pug shedding wouldn't show. fail. you can't see pug fur. you can see foot prints and 'pug butter*' and whatever else they leave behind.

*pug butter - the gunk found in the face of our deeply wrinkled pug. he butters the couch when he wipes his face.

Decorno said...

CRAP. I just deleted about 5 comments (not intentional). I am so sorry to those I just killed! Re-post if you can...

thanks,
Decorno

Anonymous said...

watch out for tweed or any weave that's not super tight--you'll never get the dog hair out of the weave!

laurencorbyn said...

http://fiberseal.com/locations
FIBERSEAL whatever you choose. My parents had a white couch with a thick, tweedy weave and a black lab on top. They tried to toss a blanket on the couch whenever the dog was up there, but that didn't always work out. It faired fairly well. Now they have a velvet sort of texture with a mix of natural and acrylic (maybe?). It's wearing really well with the dog, and spills clean up pretty easily.

Monica said...

Janus et Cie has an awesome line of outdoor fabrics. Dump anything on it and it wipes right off. You can have your white and spill on it too. I have the catalog if you want to borrow it.

Anonymous said...

An important thing is to train the dogs to keep off the furniture. I have always done this. Aside from being firm with them, it is critically important to have dog beds for them so they have their own place to be from which they can see you. I have dog bed in the bedroom and one in the living room--a really cute one from Wallybed (on line) which I saw recommended by Bunny Williams.

Yes, dogs can be trained to stay off the furniture. Of course, I have always had doberman pinchers and they are as smart as dogs can be. Some dogs do have the IQ of a pet rock.

ginafly said...

I would recommend a commercial fabric if you can get your hands on some. Something with Crypton would hold up well, or also a tough polyester with texture (Maharam has one that I love called Milestone, I think..reminds me of what they used in the 60s..recycled poly!). Microsuede/microfiber is awful. I have it on my dining room chairs. Liquids DO stain it, it holds lint and crumbs and is so unattractive I can't remember why I bought it. I'm redoing the chairs as soon as I can get a Crypton fabric that I like.

Anonymous said...

I have a sectional in recycled charcoal grey wool with a hint of polyester to stop it from pilling. You can't see any cat hair and her claws don't bring up any little pulls in the upholstery at all. I also spilled a full glass of wine on it (trying to pick up the cat) and it still looks fab. It's a nice neutral colour, goes with everything, and I've decorated the rest of the room in white and paler grey colours to keep the room light. I highly recommend it!

Grant K. Gibson said...

http://www.delanyandlong.com
I love using their fabrics for people with dogs (me!) and kids and messy husbands. The people that started Rogers & Goffigon (SWOON) started this new company as well. You can use this fabric if you go with Mitchell Gold/BW and do COM.

Cyn said...

I have a client who has 2 kids, plus a dog and cat and has a ton of sunlight in her room as well so we needed an outdoor fabric, we also wanted to do it in cream...Check out Lee Industries. They are well-priced and good quality (especially if you go through a designer or store who passes on a discount). They have an Ivory sunbrella fabric that looks like linen and has a nice hand (feel). If you don;t want outdoor fabric, they a ton of custom options so check it out....

No, I don't work for Lee Industries :)

Jennifer said...

We have a suede-velvet combo on our sofa. It's not a ultra-suede looking, but has the durability (and we have a Border Collie, ie, LOTS of hair). A few people I know have recently purchased Rowe upholstery and have been very pleased.

One more thought: we gave the dog a giant, cushy bed for Christmas (as opposed to the most discreet one we had before) and I don't think she's been on the sofa since. It takes up a ton of space but at least there's less hair on the sofa.

Anonymous said...

Grant Gibson: Thanks for the link! I also recommend looking into outdoor fabrics. They really have come a long way.

boops said...

i think you deleted my comment but it was a repeat of someone else's suggestion of the crypton fabric website. let me know what works out. i'm getting a puppy soon and i have a white slipcovered ektorp couch from ikea (good times!)

Jill said...

Thank you Decorno and Decorno readers. As always, you have provided a wealth of information.
I am researching all of your great suggestions (except banning the dogs from the couch)!

Kristin@Boulevard Interior Design said...

Crypton. I put it on all my client's stuff and have it on all my off white furniture. I have two young kids and I have been able to get melted chocolate, blood, and dried mustard out of it. BTW the kids aren't the problem it is the party goers. I like Crypton Cozy, Persuasion, and Suede.

Anonymous said...

Do Not Buy Leather or UltraSuede (mircofiber, whatever else it's called)! BIG MISTAKE. Off white in ANY material will not be easy to clean. I own two R&B white ultrasuede pieces and huge regrets. The sales people told me it is so easy to clean. The stains and spills come off, but the dirt, you know the dark dinge, really does not. Maybe with monthly cleaning it would be ok. My parents owned off white leather sofa and chairs. Also got dirty in time. Ten years! Lord, anything in white or off white will never make it that long and look good.

CT said...

Sunbrella is making so many amazing indoor/outdoor fabrics these days. There are many to choose from that are well priced, durable and water(spill) resistant.
I always have throws on my seat cushions for the pets to snuggle up on!!

Anonymous said...

We have a fawn pug too (!) and bought an ecru microfiber couch from Crate and Barrel a few years back. The microfiber is really easy to clean, and the pug hairs don't stick to it. It has a similar look to ultrasuede, but isn't as thick. We perk it up with colorful pillows, etc.

loreen epp said...

You might find a few helpful tips in an article at http://www.WhatsNewAtHome.wordpress.com (search under pet hair) or try this link...

http://whatsnewathome.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/dont-let-your-furniture-go-to-the-dogs/

Best wishes!

Annie said...

I have a fawn pug and totally sympathize about the "curious little stains" they leave behind, ha! I could have written your post, in fact... back in November we were looking for a sectional and specifically for one that would be pug-friendly. We bought the Holden sectional from Room and Board in the color Drumond Pumice (a stock color) and I have been thrilled with it. I shopped around forever, and after considering many different options the Holden was the winner.
The funny thing about the couch is that I can tell you my pug Chopper definitely preferred our old couch, which is a velvet Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams - she found it to be much more comfortable and easy to snuggle up on and thus leave dog hair everywhere! The new sectional has a much sleeker surface which she finds a bit slippery, almost, and she prefers to only curl up on the Holden if there's a blanket of some kind involved - or a lap. Which works just fine for me.
At any rate, can't say enough good things about the Holden.
Best of luck!
Annie

Harbormom said...

I don't know from design, Jill, but regarding fibers, I can tell you that ultra suede (particulary facile - a very lightweight version) resists a needle puncture as if it were chain mail. Good luck! P.S. DD and SIL have a 130 lb. Golden Retriever and a rescue dog, both of whom love jumping up on their leather sofas and no damage so far - just that nice "worn/used/weathered" look.

Anonymous said...

anon 8:53

Why would you even do that? (Train a dog to stay OFF the couch?) are you some kind of nazi???

Anonymous said...

I have a hound w long claws and a boston terrier. Only the hound sheds so we prefer he not sit on the sofa. He gets the secondhand armchair but we'll be upholstering it soon too and I will go with a pattern in a tight weave polyester. Poly and Natural fibres respond well to steamcleaning twice a year. Poly responds well to spot cleaning but cotton fibres do not. Our couch is from Rowe and we chose a leaf green poly. Hair sticks to it, sure, but our Dyson vac gets it all off. Sometimes I flip over the cushions when we are gone for long periods of time to discourage the hound from sitting on it because he often leaves brown crap stains on his dog bed too.

Anonymous said...

Here's the best advice I can give you.

Have the dogs put down, then get whatever fabric you've been craving all these years.

Trust me, you won't regret is.

hello gorgeous said...

Whichever anon said don't worry about using linen and silk on your sofa with dogs is a crack addict.

With no dogs.

Or children.

Please ignore.

Anonymous said...

DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT choose leather. Animal claws and leather equals scratches that are worse than stains!! Trust from my experience, it is a truly terrible choice if you have pets.

carlen said...

there is a fabric co. called "Chella" indoor/outdoor fabrics, beautiful chenille, etc. you can spill bleach on it, no problem, use it indoors for everything.....problem solved

Karen said...

I'm also looking for fabrics which are easily cleaned of cat and dog hair....Years ago we bought a leather sofa, within minutes one of the cats went to the bathroom on it! Since then, every chance he gets he tries to do it again, often he's successful. The once beautiful sofa smells awful regardless of what we've tried...

So, as much as I would love to have leather because it is easy to take care of, I'm not willing to go throught that again!

Berkline Sofa said...

If you're buying a sofa for a rental property, then you need to make sure that the sofa fillings and covers are fire retardant. You need to follow the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations.

Anonymous said...

People that are not animal people just don't get it. Our dog is a part of our family. Believe it or not, we actualy encourage him to cuddle with us ... on the sofa ... on the bed ... I have lived with pets my whole life and they have never not been allowed on the furniture. I don't think I'd like to live in a world where I couldn't cuddle up with my pup. That said, I am looking for something that will withstand that. By the way, I have a five year old and a husband who probably do the worst damage. Can't really train them not to get on the sofa. Or put them down, as someone mentioned. So, what is the solution? I'm looking at Sunbrella and slipcovered. I have accepted my "fate" ... I love my family, which includes my dog, and I need to adjust accordingly.