As its name suggests, the living room wins the prize for Most Inhabited Area of the Home. Here we eat, sleep, play, and even work. Few aspects of life can’t happen from the ease of our own sofa which is why, of all home furnishings, it ought to be immensely comfortable. If you care more about your sofa's comfort than that of your own bed: we see you and we get you.
But being a prized sofa in today's society is a tall order. Not only does it need to have comfort in spades, it should also be virtually indestructible: child-proof, pet-proof, wine-proof. And it must look good while doing it. From cushion to cover, this comfy, indestructible centerpiece should stun from all angles. Fortunately, we have met our new, magical best friend: performance fabric. Today’s textile industry has tackled this big ask, even making the coveted white sofa a reality for homes teeming with toddlers, puppies, and bottles of red.
Ahead, read the essentials of choosing, caring for, and using performance fabric. Then, shop our curated collection of performance pieces. It's one of life's most practical indulgences, and we applaud you for having responsible, great taste.
What Is Performance Fabric?
Technically speaking, performance fabric refers to materials that are inherently durable and/or have been treated with a high-performance solution that creates a barrier against the elements. They are known for being stain-resistant, water-resistant, odor-resistant, and easy to clean. Remember when your grandmother’s “sensible shoes” were sturdy and plain at best? She probably had furniture of a similar nature, and we’re happy to report that the unfortunate combination no longer need exist. Performance fabric has become such a household staple that there’s no sacrifice to style when choosing the responsible option.
Types Of Performance Fabric
When shopping for performance upholstery, it's helpful to have a basic idea of what you're looking for and what to expect. Many performance fabrics are made from synthetic materials such as polyester, acrylic, nylon, and olefin.
Olefin, or polypropylene fiber for long, is known and loved for its naturally durable, stain and moisture-resistant properties. It’s lightweight, strong, easy to clean, and nearly impervious to fading. Worst case scenario: Oil-based stains don't always come out and too much friction-generated heat (words of the PF industry gods, not ours) can cause melting or staining.
Acrylic fibers resemble wool’s look and feel. It’s a stain, wrinkle, and fade-resistant option that also happens to be affordable. If not performance coated for durability, it has the potential to pill.
Nylon is non-absorbent and resistant to abrasion, heat, and mildew. It retains its original shape and can be easily cleaned at home. Nylon can fade and pill over time and should be treated with a performance solution to prevent stains.
Polyester is a popular performance fabric because of its strength, wrinkle resistance, and easy-to-clean properties. It can also be woven to resemble natural materials like linen and cotton. Keep in mind that, when blended with wool, there’s a potential for pilling, and it doesn’t take kindly to oil-based stains.
If you’ve read this and are now wondering OK, but which one is the best because now I’m concerned about heat generated friction stains? don’t overthink it. These are solid options made to last well beyond the normal life of regular upholstery. The best thing you can do is purchase from a proven, reputable brand.
How To Care For Performance Fabric
Please be advised. Cleaning performance fabric may instill feelings of actual awe. Take a towel to it, dab it up, and like that the potential stain vanishes. Relief washes over you and you think how glad you are that you sprung for PF like the mature human you are.
For minor accidents, that’s all you need to do: Soak it up or brush it off as soon as possible. Vaccum food and pet hair regularly. In more serious situations, add mild soap and water to the equation. Avoid rubbing the mess further into the fabric or using harsh cleaning agents. Let the performance coating do its job.
Where To Use Performance Fabric
The short answer is everywhere. If you had the option to live in the presence of exceptionally beautiful, durable, comfortable furniture, wouldn’t you choose to always? The longer, more conservative answer is to invest in performance furniture for areas that get the most use, like your living room, dining room, and family room. All that to say, consider this your cue to start shopping for performance sofas, dining chairs, ottomans, etc. We even linked our favorites below.
THE PERFORMANCE COLLECTION