When it comes to upholstery, there is a lot more than meets the eye. There are many decisions you will need to make when customizing a sofa or chair for your home. Many people think that it is as simple as picking out a fabric and frame that suites their style, when in reality, there are many more elements that factor into designing a custom piece of upholstery. In order to assist you in preparing for your upholstery shopping adventure, I'm going to review the options that are available for upholstery in today's market!





Arm Caps

Arm Caps are small fabric covers which are meant to preserve the upholstery on the upper half of the arm of an upholstered sofa or chair. Many vendors will include arm caps as a feature that is included in the purchase price. If you have chosen a delicate fabric or are planning to use the piece in a high-traffic area, Arm Caps are recommended to preserve the fabric of the arms of your sofa or chair. 

Arm Covers

Arm Covers are similar to Arm Caps but they extend over and preserve the entire arm of a sofa or chair. The fabric is typically tucked between the seat cushion and the inside of the arm to protect the inner area of the arm as well. They are often made in the same fabric as the rest of the arm and are meant to protect your upholstery from the wear that may occur over time. The Eva Sofa by Vanguard Furniture (Upper Left) displays matching Arm Caps. 


Contrasting Welt

A Contrasting Welt will allow you to select different fabrics for the upholstered piece and the welting, or piping, to create a highlighted effect. The intensity of the Contrasting Welt depends on the fabrics that you choose. For example, you can have a subtle contrast welt with slightly different shades of the same color, or a bold contrast by selecting different colors entirely. The Dallas Sofa by Vanguard Furniture (Below) features a bold contrast welt.  


Inside-Out Combination

The Inside-Out Combination allows two different fabrics to be used on the same piece of furniture. This application is typically used on pieces such as wing chairs, where you may want to have a print fabric on the inside of the chair and solid fabric on the outside. As with contrast welting, it is best to use two fabrics of similar texture and color to achieve the best results. This look creates a gorgeous, custom style that will be one-of-a-kind and unique to your home. The Lincoln Hill Sofa by Vanguard Furniture (Below) features a beautiful Inside-Out Combination. 

Nailhead Trim

Nailhead Trim is commonly seen on leather furniture but is being used more and more on fabric pieces as well. This technique adds a beautiful texture and pattern to an upholstered piece. The Whitaker Sectional by Vanguard Furniture (Below) has a stunning Nailhead Trim along the base as well as an eye catching pattern on the outside of its arms. 


Knife Edge Cushion

The Knife Edge Cushion is distinguished by a single welt or seam that runs through the middle of each cushion. This cushion style is classic and casual. The Tony Swivel Chair by Kuka (Below) features a lovely Knife Edge Cushion. 

Waterfall Cushion

Waterfall Cushions have no welting on the edges. This cushion's material drapes over the front edge in one seamless piece. Waterfall Cushions have a smooth appearance. The Hug Sofa by Couture International (Below) has gorgeous Waterfall Cushions.

Boxed Cushion

The Boxed Cushion features a squared off and boxy appearance. There is typically a welt cord on both the top and bottom of the cushion. This style has a sturdy, tailored appearance. The Vivian Chair and a Half by Vanguard Furniture (Below) has a beautiful Boxed Cushion. 

A Few More Things to Consider...

Now that we've reviewed the basic options for creating a beautiful custom piece of upholstery, there are just a few more things to consider when ordering a new sofa or chair. 

Quilting allows you to create a variety of looks with a solid fabric. As layers of cloth and padding are sewn together, a pattern is created in the fabric. This technique completely changes the look of a solid fabric and gives it a more firm texture. 

Decking is the term used to describe the fabric on the platform of a sofa or chair that supports a loose cushion. When the decking fabric matches the rest of the fabric on the piece, it is referred to as Self-Decking. This technique solves the problem of light colored decking fabric being seen under dark colored cushions. 

Trapunto is a technique of padding quilting where single stitching creates a design in high-relief. This technique creates a 3-D effect with fabric.

You may wish to match your upholstery to your drapes, throw pillows, slip covers or even re-upholster an existing piece in your home. Many vendors sell their fabrics by the yard to allow you to create a seamless, custom design and match different elements of your design to your upholstered items.