How to Pick a Fabric Pattern for Upholstery

by Hether Freman

Shopping for fabric can be an overwhelming task. Even if you already know the color scheme you want, deciding on a pattern can be the trickiest part.
If you’ve decided to reupholster a piece or furniture, the last thing you want is to waste time and money choosing a pattern that doesn’t work.
Today I’m going to walk you through my thought process of how to pick the best fabric pattern for upholstery. Notice I didn’t say “fabric”, just the pattern.


The star of this post is my latest DIY upholstery project…a bench plucked from flea market obscurity that landed in my living room.

How to pick the best fabric for an upholstery projectYou might have seen my post on Instagram the day I discovered this diamond in the rough…There she was just sitting there forlorn and disheveled. Her previous owner had painted her maroon and then dressed her in a cheap oatmeal colored canvas.
She was NOT living up to her full potential.
I spotted her down the aisle of that musty smelling flea market, and our eyes met. She seemed to call out, “Rescue me. Please. I’m better than this.”
And I knew she was.
I had big plans for her. I dusted her off and swung her over my shoulder. (Well, actually Stu did that part.)
I took her home and let her hang out in the living room for a bit until I finalized my plans.

1. Paint Job:
I knew she would get a coat of gold spray paint. Those curves just deserved to get a metallic finish.

2. Fabric:
I had my heart set on a black and white fabric. I tend to change up accent colors often, but black and white is forever and ever my favorite color (or lack of color) combo.

3. Pattern??
The question I had to answer was what pattern. Walking into the fabric store I knew that I was only looking for black and white fabric, so this helped me narrow it down…to only 2,038 choices. No joke.
I decided to pull any fabric that jumped out at me, which totaled 11. I narrowed it down to the top 5 fabrics and bought samples to live with for a couple days. Here’s the final five…


1. Bold & Modern:
I love this fabric. It’s bold and unique and has almost a 19060’s vibe about it. The problem is that it too closely imitated the lines of the metal arms of the bench. I felt instead of complementing the shape of the bench, it would instead compete with it. No beuno.
2. Global Herringbone:
I sent out a little poll this weekend on Instagram, and most everyone picked this one. (Sorry guys.) While I love this print, I actually think it makes a better throw pillow than bench fabric. Ultimately I felt like the pattern didn’t work with the fabrics already in the room. It seemed to be the a bit too casual for the formal living room.

3. Geometric Cheetah:
I’ve never really been an animal print fan, but something about this pattern was so intriguing. I could tell that a more organic pattern like this would look nice on the bench. I was getting closer, but it wasn’t quite right…

4. Classic Stripe:
Honestly I originally thought this stripe would win in the end. It’s my pattern of choice. To wear, to decorate with, anything. Love a good stripe, and black and white is the best kind. But the longer I sat with that fabric sample, I felt like it was just a little too predictable for me…I was in the mood to experiment. The stripe was a safe bet, but not a pattern that excited me.


Quite frankly by itself, this fabric was not my favorite. On the bench however I could see it’s beauty. Here’s why…

1. The delicate pattern matched the feminine feeling of the metal work and the gold color I would be using.
2. The tiny cheetah print adds a bit of texture that the runner up fabrics just didn’t have.
3. The small scale print is nice as it doesn’t compete with other patterns I already have in the room like my rug and black and white throw pillows.
4. This just felt fun. I’ve never used animal print in my house, so this was a risk that paid off in the end.

This little bench has a new lease on life. Not only is she pretty, but a certain two year old has taken quite the liking to her. This window happens to be the best spot for spotting squirrels, a daily activity in our house accompanied by lots of squeals and giggles.



1. Consider the other patterns already in the room. You want a nice variety of sizes and shapes.
2. Take into account the shape of the furniture itself. The pattern should complement, but not compete with it.
3. Ask yourself what you hope this pattern will achieve in the space:
-Add texture? (Opt for a small scale pattern.)
–Add a bold shot of color? (Maybe a bright solid is a good choice.)
-Add drama? (Go for a large scale pattern.)
-Add whimsy? (Choose something with a circular, organic pattern.)
-Add formality? (Pick a classic pattern like a stripe, herringbone, houndstooth, or plaid.)

4. The size and price of the piece should dictate your risk on picking a pattern.
Small piece? You can take risks outside your comfort zone and even choose a bold color or pattern you might not have considered before. Try out a trendy pattern you’ve had your eye on. If you don’t love it in a couple years, you won’t have wasted to much.
Large piece? This is the time to make sure you will be ok to live with this fabric for a while. The investment of fabric and the reupholstery deserves a more conservative approach.
I’m speaking from experience here when I dropped a wad of cash to have some antique wing back chairs recovered in green chevron several years ago. Super cool in 2007, not so cool a couple years later.

rattan furniture - dining 3

What do you think of rattan furniture? Would you add it to your house? If so, what room would you choose? We’d love to hear in the comments!

If you are in Singapore, do drop by to visit us as we are having a promotional sales in our series of Rattan collection.

Whatapps (+65 90305057 , Vince ) you can speak directly to us or email: info(at) to discuss your order. We don’t have call centres or customer service departments, you speak directly to the people making your sofa.

Looking for rattan furnitre or reupholstery to change the look of your home? We will be able to assist you.

Shop @: Centrepiece Lazada 

Find sales/clear stock @ : Carousell

Stay Connected

Contact or email: info(at)

Note: If you are a new customer, and you need the upholster to do home visit, a SGD $40 will apply. This is to prevent people who are not serious in getting upholstery services from driving the business cost up. This helps to cut wasted time and expenses in order to benefit our existing customers. However, this SGD $40 can be reimbursed if the job is confirmed upon deposit. For existing customers, fees may be waived. Cheers 🙂

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