What is Upholstery?

Upholstery refers to the material, which can include fabric, padding, webbing, and springs, used to cover furniture.


Upholstery is an essential aspect of interior design that involves covering furniture pieces like sofas, chairs, and ottomans with various materials to provide both comfort and aesthetic appeal. The process of upholstering furniture typically involves several layers, including a support layer of springs or webbing, a padding layer that provides cushioning, and a final outer layer of fabric or leather. This outer layer is what is most visible and can be made from a wide variety of materials, including cotton, linen, velvet, and synthetic fabrics. The choice of upholstery material affects not only the look and feel of the furniture but also its durability and ease of maintenance. Different materials can also influence the overall mood and style of a room, making upholstery choices key considerations in interior design projects. While upholstery primarily refers to the process and materials used to cover furniture, it can also extend to other items in a home, such as window seats, headboards, and even walls covered with fabric panels.


Upholstery is commonly seen in residential and commercial spaces, on furniture pieces that range from traditional to contemporary. It serves both a functional and decorative purpose, enhancing comfort and adding to the visual appeal of the environment. For instance, a velvet upholstered armchair can add a touch of luxury and sophistication to a living room, while a brightly colored fabric sofa might inject fun and vibrancy into a space.


  • What types of materials are commonly used in upholstery?

    Common materials include fabric (such as cotton, linen, velvet), leather, vinyl, and various synthetics. Each material has its own set of properties that can affect the look, feel, and durability of the upholstered piece.

  • Is it possible to reupholster furniture?

    Yes, reupholstering furniture is a popular way to update the look or restore vintage pieces. It involves removing the old fabric and replacing it with new upholstery, often also updating the padding and support systems.

  • How do I choose the right upholstery material for my furniture?

    Consider factors like the intended use of the furniture, the style of the room, maintenance requirements, and personal preferences. Durability and ease of cleaning are important for high-traffic areas, while aesthetics might be the priority in more formal settings.

Practical Application

When selecting upholstery for a piece of furniture, consider the piece's intended use and location. For items that will see heavy use, such as a family room sofa, opt for durable, easy-to-clean materials like leather or synthetic fibers. For less heavily used pieces, or for creating a specific style statement, the aesthetic appeal of the material can take precedence. It's also a wise idea to obtain samples of upholstery fabrics to see how they look in the intended space under different lighting conditions, as colors and textures can appear quite differently than expected.