Fabric is so important when it comes to interior design. Whether it’s dramatic silk curtains or a sophisticated leather sofa, a carefully chosen textile sets the mood for a room.

It’s not just outer appearance that’s important, though. When it comes to materials, not all fabrics are cut from the same cloth. Some are able to hold up to stains and everyday wear and tear better than others.

The Lowdown on Fabrics

There are two main kinds of fabrics: filament and staple. Filament fibers are continuous and long; staple fibers have a short, finite length. Staple fibers include almost all-natural fibers except for silk. Filament fibers are usually synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon.

Here are the pros and cons to consider when choosing between popular types of staple and filament fiber fabrics.

Staple Fibers

  • Cotton: A popular fabric choice and for good reason—it’s light, absorbs dye exceptionally well, and feels great. It has a more casual look, but high-quality cotton can be more formal. Its major downside is that is has almost zero resiliency to stains.
  • Linen: Linen also has a light, casual look. It’s stronger and slightly more resistant to stains than cotton, but it’s also prone to wrinkling.
  • Wool: A very versatile fabric, it’s the most durable and long-lasting of the staple fibers. It’s often used in carpeting because of its wicking ability, making it easy to brush dirt off without causing deep-set stains. However, some people are allergic to it and it tends to be itchy and uncomfortable.

Filament Fibers

  • Silk: Provides a rich and luxurious feeling but is also more expensive. Silk is sensitive to moisture and sunlight, so it shouldn’t be exposed to damp conditions or used in areas that receive a lot of sun.
  • Nylon: An extremely strong material that is highly stain resistant, but not exactly the softest or most attractive looking. It is typically blended with natural fibers to give it more integrity and visual appeal.
  • Polyester: Just like with nylon, it may look less luxurious, but it’s strong, easy to clean, and doesn’t take on odors.

When in Doubt, Go for a Blend

When it comes to the fabrics we love, a blend of staple and filament fibers is best in terms of both aesthetics and durability. Our personal favorite is polyester blends; whether it’s mixed with cotton, linen, or wool, polyester provides additional stability and stain resistance to natural materials, making it ideal for homes with children and pets.

Keep Fabrics Looking Fabulous with a Finishing Treatment

Whichever fabrics you choose, a finishing treatment can help them stay fresh and presentable for years to come. You can opt for a finishing spray like Scotchgard, but for maximum protection we prefer a professional service like Fiber-Seal because they can treat essentially any type of textile—carpet, rugs, draperies, wall coverings, or upholstered furniture. They also work with all kinds of fabrics including cotton, silk, wool, and more.

Be Smart About Fabric Selection

In addition to finishing treatments, we recommend being intentional about which fabrics you use and where you use them. If you want your home to look perfect, then you probably don’t want to use a lot of delicate fabrics like silk or chiffon in high traffic areas that your kids or pets frequent.

Being smart doesn’t mean being afraid to use beautiful fabrics, though. You can still get the visual appeal of a more expensive, delicate fabric by using it in smaller doses, like in a wall covering or a throw pillow.

Ultimately, fabric is an important consideration to make when decorating a room. Always remember to do your homework on fiber content to ensure the fabrics you choose match your lifestyle. And if you feel daunted making a decision on your own, ask the professionals. A knowledgeable interior designer can guide you!

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