How to choose the perfect fabric for your sofa - Parker Knoll
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How to choose the perfect fabric for your sofa

At Parker Knoll, we have always understood the importance of elegant and luxurious fabric ranges, to help you create your suite of distinction. Whether your preference is for classic damasks, deep and rich velvets, or the softest of chenilles, there is a world of choice.

With this in mind, how do you choose the perfect fabric for your home? Below we’ve listed a number of factors to consider to help you make the right choice.

Fabric or Leather?

The age-old question. The best choice for you comes down to a number of factors: how often you will use your furniture, whether you have children or pets, are you after a low-maintenance option? These factors, along with many others, will determine whether leather of fabric is right for you.


When choosing the correct fabric and leather, it is important to know where the sofa will be located and how durable it needs to be – consider elements such as ensuring that the sofa will not be exposed to sunlight as this can cause the fabric and leather to fade over time.

All our fabrics pass testing for general domestic use. If it doesn’t meet British standards, it won’t be included in the range. General domestic written on the labels.


It’s important to consider the composition of the fabrics; the fibres from which the fabric is constructed. For example, Velvet and Chenille fabric has a high pile. Natural characteristics of this fabric include shading, pressure marks and will flatten over time. 

Here is a general guide to help you choose the ideal fabric composition:

  • If you have children – Polyester – hard wearing
  • Something glamourous – Viscose – shine and sheen
  • Leather – easy to clean & enhance the aesthetics of the room
  • Finer woven fabrics for our scatter only

You may also be allergic to certain fibres and wish to avoid these options. You’ll find this information on the labels in our swatch books in store and under each fabric on our website. 

Fabric Grade

It is a common misconception that fabric grade is an indication of quality and durability, but this is most certainly not the case.

Across the industry fabric grades range from A (less expensive) to F (more expensive). The grade of the fabric will be determined by features such as fibre content, and the construction of both the fabric and the type of weave.

The more natural the fibres and complex the weave, the more expensive it becomes (generally), however woven fabric is considered harder wearing.

Pattern Matching

Parker Knoll’s extensive fabric collection offers a magnitude of choice to ensure that your brand new Sofa or Chair perfectly complements your home.

We therefore offer a pattern matching service with a selection of fabrics, highlighting our dedication to perfection. A highly skilled team of designers work hard on fabrics with multiple complicated match points to bring you the ultimate in style and design.

You can design your own Parker Knoll on our website which will allow you to see how the patterns are repeated on each sofa & chair.

Please refer to swatch books in store for more information on the selection of pattern-matched fabrics available.


You’ll need to see how your choices look in natural and artificial lighting. The colour of the fabric is likely to seem different depending on the composition of your fabric and the light available within your home.

You want to make sure that the fabric is the exact tone that you’re after, which may be difficult to determine if replying on how the fabric looks on display at your local retailer. Take a sample home with you, or order your free samples through our website which you’ll receive within 2-3 working days.

Colour Choice

The obvious benefit of choosing fabric over leather is that you have more colour and pattern choices. However, leather is more rustic and generally in it’s appearance and more hard wearing. 


The majority of our models come with scatter cushions, allowing you to choose 2 or 3 fabrics to adorn your favourite sofa or chair. We recommend that you use the swatch books available in store to find fabrics that work well together for scatters, pillows and accent chairs. Each layer of the swatch is paginated to reflect this but feel free to mix and match your own depending on your own personal taste.

You can also order additional scatter cushions through your nearest Parker Knoll retailer, which come in various sizes of pillows, scatters & bolsters.

Fabric by the metre

Are you looking to upholster a family heirloom, or do you have a vintage Parker Knoll which is need of a little TLC? Fabrics can be purchased by the metre from your nearest retailer to upholster your favourite armchair to match your new furniture , or even to retain the look of your vintage Parker Knoll. Ask in store for more details.


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