help! i need fabric to reupholster this couch

We received this question and photo from reader Katya. Any suggestions for her?

I am not afraid to dumpster dive if I see a discarded gem that I have a vision for. I picked up a couch almost the exact same shape as this one at Anthropologie. I plan to sand down the current wood finish, paint the wood ebony or a fun color, and re-upholster it with something bold, fun, and modern.

I checked IKEA fabrics and was not pleased with the selection. I do want to stay away from floral and that brocade-shaped image that is so prevalent now. I also want to stay away from red and navy blue. Whatever the fabric is, it needs to coordinate with white and dark chocolate brown.

Any suggestions for cool designers with shops online? Or online shops with a great modern upholstery fabric selection? Much appreciated. Cheers! — Katya

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Do you have some examples of fabrics you like? It sounds like prints aren’t a favorite, but lots of fabrics don’t come in prints.

It’s very unmodern, but I tend to like upholstery done in cotton velveteen or velvet. It is soft, snuggly and comfortable even in hot weather. If you choose a bright color, it could look very modern. If you chose a softer or “traditional” color, it might look rather ordinary or retro. A true velvet is relatively difficult to weave, so it is expensive. Velveteen is much easier, so it is cheaper. They wear very similarly, and you can’t tell the difference without a *lot* of weaving experience.

If you are set on a patterned design, woven stripes might suit. Red and white or blue and white are classic, so if you want a modern twist, just pick two colors you love. Tone on tone stripes, where one stripe is a matte weave, and the other has a bit of sheen can look very spiff too.

Since your two must colors are neutrals, almost anything will coordinate. It *might* be easier if you can find some colored pieces that will anchor your color scheme… otherwise you’ve got a world of possibilities.

How about this: ?
A bold stripe pattern across the back and seat, and the pop of one of the brighter colors (aqua blue on the wood work?) would be great…

Several of the Free Spirit designers released home dec lines this year: Denyse Schmidt’s County Fair, Anna Maria’s Drawing Room, and Joel Dewberry’s Ginseng come to mind. You could click around the Free Spirit’s Gallery pages, and if you find prints you like check etsy!

Lots of interesting Marimekko upholstery fabrics here:

Katya Roberts

Oh I am loving all these great suggestions! I am really thinking about that colorful stripes pattern. And all the Marimeko fabrics are beautiful, but man…$75 per yard. I wish I could. I would like to spend under two hundred. And depending on the fabric width, I am estimating that I will need about ten yards. So that means $20 per yard and even preferably under. If I absolutly cant live without it and it is realy wide, I could go for $30 per yard. Thanks guys! Keep your awesome suggestions coming : )

Choosing Curtains, Part 2

[…] help! i need fabric to reupholster this couch […]


You might need to dig a little to find something non-traditional, but their seplace feature narrows it down and they do have some cool fabric for a reasonable price.

great discounts and great site!

54 inch wide upholstery weight amy butler fabrics, some at less than $10/yard, and source for solid velvets.
just above, aboriginal prints(for inspiration), and found some amy butler here, too.

you could do a rich robin egg’s blue velvet (i agree with the velvet suggestion above), with outline cording in a pop of mustard or lime or orange. or, heavy artist’s canvas, plus markers, as in corine’s take or the original:

Believe it or not, Calico Corners has some terrific textiles for not much money at all. They also have a huge website that allows you to seplace by fabric type, pattern, color, etc. Most are in the $20 a yard range, and very few go over $30/yard.

Yes, you have to sort through some cheesy stuff, but there are some winners there! Plus they send swatches in the mail…

thelma Adams

try just simple blue denim — it makes a great durable contrast to an old piece with good bones

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african fabric?

You might try malian Bogolan fabric, which is a heavy handwoven cotton dyed with mineral-rich mud. It comes in rich browns (chocolate, coffee, tan), usually with a geometric/abstract repeating motif. Good quality Bogolan is usually very supple and durable. It sounds really “ethnic” but it is actually super modern looking on furniture. I think it would look awesome on your couch. The organic quality of the colors would maybe keep the whole hting mellow. Here’s a picture of Bogolan from flickr[email protected]/1405013276/
(the linked page has links to an ebay store, but i don’t know and therefore don’t endorse them).
all the best from french west africa.


I’d try Most fabric ranges from 6.95 – 9.95 per yard.

The best place (and I have done a lot of looking) to buy fabrics is an online fabric store called

they have incredibly beautiful fabrics on their site all the time, and there always seems to be some sort of sale going on.

Have a look by clicking:

Hope you enjoy!!


Im seplaceing for fabric too

One posibility for the expenive fabrics is an accent or throw pillow – if you can’t afford to do the whole couch in marimeko but you love it, you could reupholster the couch in a less expensive, complimentary fabric and order a small amount of the fabric you love for an accent pillow or two.


My suggestion is similar to Virginia’s, I have had one couch done in a nice sand beige velvet with raspberry pink outline cording.
I would suggest you take a look at, they seem to have a great velvet selection.

Sarah Tsubata

My mother-in-law and I are selling donated upholstery fabric. We have a range of solid color of velvet fabric. The fabric is $5 for each panel, which is 5 yds x 24 in and also panels of 5 yds x 14 in.
You can e-mail me for more questions.