Upholstery buying guide

Buying a new sofa or armchair is a big decision and a significant investment, so it's important to get it right. Whether you're wondering about fabric or leather, or extra features such as recliners, this guide will help you find beatiful new upholstery you'll love.

Leather or fabric?

Choosing between fabric or leather can be difficult. Leather ages beatifully and has plenty of character but you have an even wider choice of colours and styles with fabric. It's important to consider your family's needs too as some finishes may or may not work better with young families, pets or busy spill and stain-prone households.

Think first about your chosen furniture, then use your price point and lifestyle as a guide. Leather and pets might not mix well, for example. With this in mind, most of our sofas and chairs at Furniture Village are available in a wide variety of fabrics or leathers, and sometimes both.


Leather is incredibly durable and will withstand wear and tear better than most fabric sofas. Tough, strong and easy to care for, leather is a good option for homes with children. Leather tends to soften beautifully with use, and has the benefit of improving with age, adding character to any room.

Leather care

It's important to note that as a leather is a natural product, each hide is unique and so you'll notice texture and colour variations, even within one piece of furniture, as well as characterful makings. It also tends to stretch and soften with use. If you opt for leather, simply wipe weekly and remember to use only recommended cleaning products. You'll find more information in our upholstery care guide.

Choose from four types of leather

When choosing a leather sofa or armchair it's important to consider your home and lyfestyle to find the type of leather that will be most suited for you.

At Furniture Village we offer four different types of georgeous leather, so whether you've just moved into your first home, are furnishing a rental property, or are looking to invest in a statement centerpiece for your living room, we have all the options covered.

Family leather

The leather has a more uniform with a protective coating making it family friendly, really practical and great value.


Club leather

This leather is thick, durable and strong with a heavier grain definition making it tough enough to withstand the rigours of a busier lifestyle.


Romance leather

This leather is full of unique character and can have a distressed or antiqued finish for that georgeous lived-in look. Like a fine wine, it improves with age.


Connoisseur leather

With luxorious natural grain markings, our beautifully soft connoisseur is crafted from only the fines premium hides.



With a fabric sofa or chair there are so many options - including everything from a formal velvets to soft chenilles to textured weaves. Often the most successsful fabric upholstery is a mix of fabrics, combining strength and durability with a soft to the touch feel. The quality of a fabric comes down to the mix of materials.

Fabric is generally warmer to the touch than leather, and offers more choices in terms of colour and pattern. Patterned fabric tends to be more expensive than plain as more waste is involved during the upholstering process - such as pattern matching, for example.

Fabric care

If you choose fabric for your furniture upholstery, you should vacuum it lightly or use a soft brush on a regular basis to avoid the build-up of dirt which can make sofas, chairs and footstools wear faster. Be sure to take care of spills promptly - following the instructions in the manufacturer's care guide - although oil- and grease-based strains are best dealt with by a professional cleaning company. Fabric tends to fade if exposed to prolonged sunlight, and will show wear on areas of more use.

Find the fabric that's right for you

As there are so many fabrics to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. It's worth thinking about your home and lifestyle before making your decision.

At Furniture Village you'll find practically every type of fabric upholstery imaginable, so whether you're looking for your very first sofa, coordinating with existing furniture or entirely revamping your living room, you'll have plenty of stylish choices.


Chenille has a fuzzy, feathery pile and can be made of a composition of acrylic, polyester, nylon or cotton

Pros: Resilent yet luxurious, soft feel, available in many colours

Cons: Pile can show wear, not ideal for homes with pets or young children


Velvet is a pile fabric and can be made of acrylic, polyester, cotton or viscous.

Pros: Soft shimmering texture, soft feel, available in many colours

Cons: Pile can show wear, not very durable, not ideal for homes with pets or young children

Washable cotton

Pros: Versatile, strong, pre-shrunk, colourfast, ideal choice for loose cover sofas

Cons: Can only be washed at 30 degrees, not very resistant to wrinkling and stretching


Pros: Luxurious, does not fade or pill

Cons: Does not stand up to heavy wear so less suitable for homes with children, can crease, needs looking after carefully


Pros: Luxurious and natural, has a soft feel with great breathability, wrinkle-and soil-resistant, can stand up to abrasion, mildew and sunlight

Cons: Relatively expensive, often blended with other syntetic fibers

Woven fabrics

Pros: Come in a wide range of colours, patterns and textures from fine weave to hessian-like feel

Cons: Less durable as there's no protective pile


Pros: A hard-wearing fabric that's soft to the touch, typically pre-treated with a protective finish

Cons: Tough and durable

Synthetic fabrics

Synthetic fabrics include man-made fibres such as a blend of acrylic, polyester and nylon

Pros: Strong and very durable, stain resistant, versatile, can have the appearance of natural fibre like wool

Leather-look fabrics

Same leather sofas and chairs have leather-look fabrics on less visible areas, which makes them more affordable.

Pros: Eco-friendly alternative to leather, closely replicates the look and feel of real leather, easy to care for, fantastic value for money

Cons: Less authentic, not for anyone who wants that 100% real leather feel

Online upholstery care guide

We want to help you keep your sofa, armchair or footstool looking as good as new. Our comprehensive upholstery care guide provides plenty of information on how best to care for all of your upholstery.

View upholstery care guide >>

10 year guarantee

We don't just guarantee the best prices, we also guarantee the best quality. Every single item is build to last, so you can buy our furniture with complete confidence.

More about our free 10 year guarantee >>

Accidental damage protection

Accidents do happen, so we offer 10 year Guardsman Furniture Protection Plans to cover you against accidental damage to fabric and leather upholstered furniture.

More about our accidental damage cover >>