Expensive or Cheap: Which Fabric Should I Choose?

I often get this question from my clients: How much can I expect to spend on fabric? And, my reply often begins with: It depends on which fabric you choose.


There are so many great fabrics out there to choose from—and believe me, I always am attracted to the most expensive ones. However, I rarely use these pricey fabrics in my own projects. Since I am a practical person (a.k.a. cheap person), I tend to talk myself out of it for several reasons. Of course in many situations the more expensive fabric will look best, but does the cheaper fabric look good enough? In some cases the answer is yes. When deciding on the right fabric for your place, here’s a few things to consider.

1. What is your budget? First of all, if you don’t have the budget to look at the high end Schumacher or Kravet fabrics, then don’t even go there. Contrary to popular belief, there are beautiful fabrics that don’t cost an arm and a leg. I do a lot of fabric hunting for my clients, and I’m always trying to find the best value. There are many fabrics in the $10-$35 per yard range; you just have to know where to look.

Aino Photography

2. Do you have pets? If so, do you really want to invest in pricey fabrics when their cute little paws will most likely track all over it. I don’t allow my sweet Bostons on the furniture, but they still jump up placing their dirty little paws all over the edges of my furniture.

Aino Photography

3. Do you have young children in your home? Maybe these are your children, grandchildren, or friend’s children, but if they come to your house, they will be all over your furniture, and you pray they won’t be eating fudge brownies. But if they do, you don’t want to worry about the pricey fabrics. By the way, some of the most durable fabrics to think about are cowhide…their past life was outside, after all.

Aino Photography

I personally want this fabric below for a sofa I’m doing for my bedroom, but it’s expensive. So, I’m waiting a while, but I’ll splurge on it at some point. I’ve figured out a way to use the fabric strategically mixed with a solid velvet so that I don’t have to cover the entire sofa. This will significantly bring down the investment. Another idea is to use the fabric for pillows. That way you only need to invest in a yard or two.


So, before you decide on that pricey fabric, consider the price, pets, and children. Weigh the pros and cons, and then if you really want it, get it! Otherwise, look for other fabrics that are just as nice but significantly more affordable. This way, instead of stressing about a friend spilling wine on the fabric or an occasional paw landing on it, you will be able to truly enjoy it.

2 thoughts on “Expensive or Cheap: Which Fabric Should I Choose?

  1. Hi Wendy, I saw pic of your darling French vanity chair on Etsy and would LOVE to find that fabric (black/multicolor with roosters). Can you tell me who makes it and where I might find it? Thanks, Kim Uhlich (kimuhlich@yahoo.com)

    1. Hi Kim! I got that “fabric” at World Market. It was a dish cloth and apron set. It was a few years ago, so I’m not sure they still have it.

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