Julia L F Goldstein

How Are You Changing the World?

Changing the Fabric

Feb 14, 2016 by Julia L F Goldstein

When I was expecting my first child, I bought a high-end Dutalier glider and ottoman. It was one of my favorite pieces of furniture - just as comfortable for sitting and reading a book as for rocking a baby.  But that baby is now in college (and his younger brother is in high school) and the original cushions have seen better days. We moved in 2014 and thought of selling or donating the glider, but we didn't want to part with it. So we installed it in the living room of the new house. A few months ago I finally decided to reupholster the cushions. They were really worn out - torn, faded, and just not fit for public viewing (see "before" photo). And the living room is one of the first places people see when the come into my home.

It turns out that our glider is so old that Dutalier no longer carries replacement cushions. So I went to a local upholstery shop, where I was confronted with literally thousands of fabric choices.  Our cat helped narrow it down.

Some years ago, before adopting Buddy, we had bought a new comforter for our bed, having no idea that the textured design screamed, "scratch me!" Then last fall, Buddy vomited all over the comforter. It was labeled dry clean only, so I gathered it up and drove it to a dry cleaning shop. The shop owner examined it and said, "We can't clean this." Now what? In my frustration, I figured that the best option was to stuff the whole thing into the nearest trash can, which was fortunately large enough to handle it.  Our new comforter is machine washable.

After the comforter ordeal, I wanted a fabric that was smooth, durable, and washable, especially since Buddy loves to sit on the glider. My husband and I agreed that neutral, blue, or green colors were good, but nothing too bright, and we wanted a pattern.

The upholstery shop carries fabrics coated with Nanotex, a water-repellent coating. The coating works by attaching hydrophobic (water repelling) polymer molecules permanently to the fabric surface. Water and water-soluble spills bead right off, and even more solid stains can be wiped off easily. Unlike Scotchguard, which wears off and has to be reapplied, this coating should last the life of the fabric. It is also relatively eco-friendly, as it does not contain fluorocarbons or PFOA. (For more about PFOA, see my post about DuPont.)

We brought home samples of various fabrics and finally chose the one in the "after" photo. I like the leafy pattern, which is interesting but not too bold and goes nicely with the greenery outside the window. The shop made completely new cushions, so the foam is wonderfully supportive. I hadn't realized how much the old cushions sagged.

There's only one problem. When we were looking for a cat-friendly fabric we forgot to consider the fact that Buddy is a black cat. Perhaps a slightly darker fabric would have been a better choice, but I guess we will just have to vacuum more frequently.