Fabric swatches: How to choose the right fabric for your upholstered furniture

If you are looking for a new sofa, footstool or accent chair, it is important to do your research before buying. Fabric swatches are a great way to test whether a colour, texture or finish works well in your space. Naturally, you might be tempted to pick your favourite colour, but it’s worth considering the lighting in the room it’s going in, as well as the quality of the fabric. We have put together our top tips to make sure you are happy with your new purchase.

What is a fabric swatch?

A fabric swatch is a small piece of fabric cut from the same sample used to upholster your seating or ottoman. Our swatches measure 15cm by 12cm, so they are big enough to get a feel for the colour and texture you would like to try. Want to try a few options? That’s absolutely fine - our swatches are delivered free of charge so you can try before you buy.

Choosing the right fabric swatch

1. Consider the colour

Colour is undeniably one of the most important factors when choosing a fabric. Start by assessing your room’s palette and identifying any recurring tones. Pick a secondary shade from existing furniture or home accessories in the room to ensure your new piece will make an impactful visual statement without looking out of place. The more contrasting the colour, the bolder the look, so if you don’t want your chair or sofa to stand out, look for something more neutral with an interesting or unusual shape instead.

2. Try the texture

Trying to imagine the texture of a fabric through a screen is near impossible, so testing fabric swatches at home is essential when deciding what you would prefer. A corduroy, for example, has a ribbed surface in a plush velvet, making it a highly tactile fabric. If you fancy a smoother texture, the Loretta velvet on our Flora Velvet Scalloped Armchairs has a super-soft finish. Once you receive your swatches, you can check whether they have the right feel and quality for your chosen seat.

3. Match with materials

If your sofa or chair is a mixture of upholstery and another material, such as wood or metal, it’s useful to consider how these colours and textures will pair with the existing materials in your room. Our Loha Velvet Armchair, for example, is available in four colours designed to complement the light-coloured wood and cane texture of the frame. If you are pairing two fabrics together, it’s also useful to see them side–by-side before you decide.

Testing your swatches at home

1. Move them around

Fabric can look very different depending on where it’s positioned in a room, so place your sample in a variety of places. If your furniture will be positioned next to a window, have a look at the colour and texture in the morning and evening light, as this can have a significant impact on the tone.

2. Compare with each other

If you have ordered a handful of swatches, lay them over each other to compare. Although you may only be picking one, placing near contrasting colours can bring out subtle undertones and help you decide which shade will complement your space. Make sure you consider other textiles in the room - rugs, curtains and floors will all have an impact on the overall feel.

3. Take your time

Ordering a piece of furniture is a big decision, but the great thing about ordering fabric swatches is that they are yours to keep. Take your time to decide what you think will work best in your space.