Certainly, there is a difference between textiles for interior design and those used for clothing. We take a look at the best options for home interiors, from curtains and soft furnishings like throw pillows and tablecloths to bedding, kitchenware and everything in between.

The reason we choose different textiles and their applications in interior design for home use is that they need to be durable. They have to withstand the test of time – you don’t change your upholstery as often as you change your clothing, after all. 

And fabrics for home furnishing have different uses, too. If they are for the kitchen or a kid’s room, it’s important that they are stain-resistant and flame retardant. If you’re upholstering outdoor furniture, you’ll prioritise materials that are waterproof and resistant to the wind, rain and the sun’s harsh rays.

More important points to consider about textiles for interior design

That’s not all you have to think about when you choose textiles for interior design. You also have to consider texture, color, or whether the textile is suitable for a particular room. You need to take the atmosphere into account, too. A bedroom should have a soothing, cozy feeling, whilst a kitchen is a vibrant, exciting, creative space that will be used by the whole family.

You also need to think about what the materials will be used for when you choose textiles for interior design. For instance, if you’re sewing aprons, you need waterproof, stain resistant materials that are durable but still drape well. Bedding needs to be crease-resistant, warm or cool, depending on the season, and soft. Kitchen curtains need to have a completely different look and feel than living room drapes… And that’s just a taste.

To give you some inspiration, take a look at the informative blog on How to choose the right fabric for your project.

How to choose fabrics for interior design

The textile you choose can transform a room from dreary to exciting, calm to thrilling, warm and cosy to a great space to work in. Let’s check out choosing fabrics for interior design and how to choose the best one for a particular product. As we know, fabrics are divided into those made from natural fibers, and ones created from synthetic fibers, or a blend of both. 

Fabrics with natural fibers

This type of textile is made from a fiber that is either plant- or animal-based. These include cotton, leather, silk, hemp and wool. This type of textile is easy to print on, and colours come out vibrant and strong. The textile itself is biodegradable, usually hard wearing, and environmentally friendly, too.

·      Cotton

This textile for interior design is also popular for fashion garments. The reason we choose it for so many different products is that it’s a natural fabric, strong, light, readily available and ideal for so many different home  uses, from throws and cushion covers to curtains, table cloths and serviettes. It’s available in different weights, so you can use it for everything from lampshades and curtains to furniture coverings.

Cotton is often blended with other fibres to make interior textiles so that it withstands harsh sunlight, doesn’t crease, shrink or stain.

·      Hemp

Made from the cannabis plant, hemp is often used as a substitute for canvas, as it’s very similar to this textile in texture and is very hard wearing, too. Although these materials are strong, they tend to weaken in time.

They are best used for bedding rather than for cloth to cover couches and chairs.

·      Leather

Tanned leather hides from various animals are used to make leather textiles for interior design.

People often use these materials for interior decoration to upholster chairs, couches, headboards and decorative cushions, as they are comfortable, luxurious, soft, hypoallergenic and easy to clean (just wipe dry, vacuum or use specialised products), which makes them great for families.  

You can add other sumptuous elements to the room (velvet cushions, for instance) to create a stunning effect. But be aware: leather is expensive. Keep it away from sunlight so that it lasts longer. A cheaper alternative often used in a commercial setting is faux leather, but it’s not sustainably manufactured when made from vinyl, or PVC.

·      Linen

Known for being absorbent, breathable, durable and soft, these materials are ideal for various home furnishings, including curtains, lampshades and cushions. They are often chosen as textiles for interior design because of their gorgeous texture, and are commonly blended with other fibres to stop them from creasing. As they are more expensive than cotton, for instance, these textiles are usually a luxurious choice.

·      Silk

Sophisticated, opulent, delicate and beautiful, silk is a luxurious choice for interior spaces, especially formal areas. These materials are often used for curtains, wallpaper, cushions and bed linen (apparently sleeping on a silk pillowcase makes your hairstyle last longer!).  Despite being soft and lustrous, silk does crease and stain, and it takes looking after as it snags and tears easily.

·      Wool

Gorgeous to look at and with a warm, cosy texture, this is another animal fibre, usually from alpacas, lamb or sheep. It’s incredibly hard-wearing and also water-resistant, flame retardant and hypoallergenic. However, it’s also delicate and needs to be cleaned carefully.

You need to keep this type of interior fabric out of the sun or they will bleach and turn yellow. As it’s expensive, use this textile in formal areas or other spots with little traffic. Woollen textiles are usually used for upholstery fabric (especially for cushions) and bedding.

Textiles made from synthetic fibers

This type of textile is created out of man-made fibres, often to resemble a natural fibre. Synthetics are less expensive than genuine materials. They’re often water-resistant, too and don’t stain easily. They are made from scientifically engineered substances and can be printed on and dyed very easily.

·      Acrylic

Often used as an alternative to wool, acrylic is manufactured into fibres that look like woollen ones. These are then blended with real yarns and the end result is a textile that is soft, lightweight and strong.

Acrylic textiles don’t fade in the sun, are hypoallergenic and colour prints beautifully on them. They are often used for covering furniture or other outdoor furniture pieces (umbrellas, etc). 

Acrylic is, however, not flame-resistant, so you need to have a special coating added for certain items. You can use modacrylic as an alternative. These are similar materials that are resistant to fire. However, they’re not as durable as acrylic.

·      Polyester

When used for interiors, this textile is often blended with other fibres to make them durable, stain-, water- and crease-resistant and able to withstand sunlight. As a result, polyester is a popular choice for outdoor furnishings and kids’ rooms. Be aware: it isn’t a sustainable textile, and it’s also not biodegradable. 

A popular polyester blend is micro fiber, a great alternative to velveteen. It’s soft and has a similar texture to velvet, but is far more affordable and easy to look after.

·      Nylon

Another hard wearing, strong cloth, nylon is mostly used for curtains and upholstery or as fibres for floor coverings like a carpet and rugs. These synthetic materials are soft, lightweight, resistant to flames and abrasion and are stretchy. However, they’re not heat-resistant and could melt if subjected to a high temperature, and they fade if regularly subjected to sunlight.

·      Rayon

Often used as an alternative to silk as it has a similar texture, rayon is more affordable and easier to look after. It’s also a lot more hard-wearing than silk and is often chosen for curtains and upholstery. Created from the pulp of wood cellulose, rayon is, however, flammable. It also tends to crease.

Choosing the right textile and fabric for your design

The most important questions here involve what you will be using the textile for, whether it’s upholstery, bed linen, tableware or kitchen wear, because each type of interior furnishing has different requirements.

If you have children or pets, or both, for instance, you need hard-wearing textiles that are resistant to stains in living and bedroom areas. It’s no use choosing expensive, delicate fabrics that can’t withstand wear and tear. So, it’s best to consider the following before you buy an interior textile:

1.   Durability 

The more permanent the fabric-covered furniture is, the more hard-wearing it needs to be, as it would be too expensive to change it often.

So, if you’re looking for materials to cover a couch, living- or dining- room chairs, or curtains, for instance, that you hope to use for a year or more, then you need to choose strong, hard-wearing textiles that will withstand wear and tear. 

If you’re making cushions, tablecloths, napkins and other easily inter-changeable items, you can use less durable fabric, which, of course, will also be less expensive. But when you’re purchasing investment pieces that you intend using for some length of time, you need to make sure that the materials will last.

The best fabrics for those items include more expensive textiles, or, if you have kids and pets, we suggest nylon and polyester.

British certifications for durability

In the UK there are several British fabric certification durability tests. These include the well-known Martindale Test and the Wyzenbeek Test. Both of these rub tests examine the abrasion resistance of different upholstery materials.

The tests measure whether a textile is abrasion resistant by rubbing it a number of times. These tests are created to stress the materials differently. As a result, textile and cloth manufacturers like to use both tests for accurate results.

These days, the 2 tests aren’t enough to determine how durable a textile is, so other tests are also carried out. They include the Pill Test, a term textile industry standard for rating how much materials pill. (Pilling is when a fabric’s fibres break apart and form little balls, or pills, on the surface.)There’s also a test for absorbency.

2.   Elasticity

How much ‘give’ materials have, and how much they stretch, are other important considerations. You need to know whether, when materials stretch, they goes back to their original shape, or not. This is particularly important for upholstery.

3.   Colour

Usually, interior designers create a colour palette for each room before choosing the fabrics and furniture. 

It’s important to know what particular materials will look when they have been dyed or printed on. At maake, we recommend ordering a cloth sample from our site before you print your fabric. Alternatively, you can order one of our sample books, which gives a designer examples of all the base fabrics we have in stock, and what the colours look like when we print on these fabrics.

In interior design, we use all sorts of tricks to play with colour, to make a space look larger, or smaller. Lighter shades and more lightweight fabrics are better for small spaces, for instance.

maake offers an innovative Colour Atlas to help you choose the right colour for your fabric. Order your Colour Atlas here – and read all about how to use this handy Colour Atlas, too!

4.   Appearance

Think about what the textile will look like when it’s been made into the item you’re creating, whether it’s a couch, curtains, carpet, or tablecloth. Consider the following carefully:

·      Lustre: Whether the textile has a sheen or not is usually determined by the type of textilefibre, how the light reflects onto materials and any finish that has been applied to the fabrics. 

·      Touch and feel: How materials feel when you touch them is an important factor when you’re choosing upholstery: you want them to feel smooth, not rough. It’s also a consideration when choosing curtains, as you may want them to drape in a certain way, or have a specific look. Wallpapers can also be textured, as can bedding, which is why this is such an important consideration.

·      Texture: Softness or interesting rough materials create their own personalities, and this is often something used by textile designers in textile design to create textiles for a space. Texture adds a new layer of interest to materials used on every couch, as well as cushions or rugs. When you choose materials that have texture, think about how easy the materials are to keep clean.

Often, texture is used to hide imperfections. For instance, if a wall isn’t smooth, a textured wallpaper will hide this. And texture can also keep a surface looking better for longer, as it hides stains and scratches. However, the rougher the texture, the more likely it is to snag or run, so keep this in mind, too.

Another handy tool we offer is our Sample Book, which features all the fabrics we offer and shows what each will look like when you print on them.

5.   Quality

Use the best quality textile you can in every interiors project, as this will make the furniture last longer. And remember to consider whether the particular textile you’ve chosen will be sitting in the sun.

If this is the case, make sure to use materials that don’t fade easily. Remember: genuine fibres fade faster than man-made fabrics. The same applies if the cloth is for outdoor furnishings.

6.   Finishes

A fabric’s finishing is basically the coating or treatment given to materials to achieve a particular effect, for example, making them flame- or fire-retardant or water-resistant, anti-static, stain- or moisture-resistant. 

·      Stain-resistant: This is the most common type of finishing, a chemical treatment added to stop the materials from absorbing stains and dirt, so that they are easier to clean. However, not all materials can have a finishing that makes the fabric stain resistant.

·      Resistant to moisture: There is a barrier that protects materials from moisture seeping into them. The barrier coating is applied to the materials.

·      Chemical-resistant: There is another common coating for materials to ensure that the materials will not fade or disintegrate when they’re cleaned with harsh chemicals like alcohol and bleach.

·      Fire or flame resistant and flame retardants (FR): These are protective coatings applied to textiles to stop them catching alight. Many of these coatings are not sustainable, so they are being done away with.

·      Antimicrobial treatment: This coating is used to stop mould, mildew and other micro-organisms. Antimicrobials stop smells, bacteria and fungi. This treatment is usually sprayed onto the fabric or saturated into the material.

Each material listed on maake’s website has all the information you need under its main image, including fabric certifications.

7.   Price

Price is always an important consideration for textiles for interior designs. Depending on your budget you can decorate a space extravagantly or with care, and choose the textiles accordingly. Of course, if money is no object, natural materials are always a superb, luxurious choice.

Luckily, synthetic textiles have been created that look and feel just like the more expensive real ones, giving those on a budget the opportunity to create cost-effective sumptuous interiors.

Choosing a specific textile for interior design

Textiles for upholstery and curtains available from maake come in bolts that measure 140cm in width. Some materials suppliers insist that you take a certain amount of fabric before they will print on it. 

Choose your home  décor fabrics from maake

Remember: we work differently. At maake, one of our services is custom orders, ie printing exactly the amount of materials you require to make each particular item. This way, we make sure there is no fabric waste, something we are very focused on, as a sustainability measure. maake collects data on sustainability, which you can find in a series of blogs about being sustainable on our multiple websites. User data shows just how many customers access these interesting blogs.

Why it’s important to think long-term about fabric

Make sure you take wear and tear into consideration, and choose the most durable textiles you can for your home. This way, you’ll save on repairs, restoration and replacements.

Choose the best quality textiles you can, ones that are easy to care for and maintain, and will withstand the test of time.

Let's get creative with fabric

Ready to get those creative juices flowing? Check out the following information…

Start by reading our comprehensive blog on Warm Winter Home Décor Ideas from maake.

Browse our exclusive Design Library

Design your own fabric

To help you, take a look at the blog written by COO Alex Wills on How to make a colour digital print. User visits, email comments and visitor data show just how valuable this information has been to our customers.

November 05, 2023 — Artemis Doupa