As a loving owner of a cat or dog, you know that it is not just your prized sofa—but also most of your home decor—that bears the brunt of your beloved pet. Because even when Fluffy isnt trying to destroy your upholstery, the simple act of climbing, sitting, or walking on it can warrant a heavy cleaning bill. This is how and why selecting the best upholstery for your couch gets complicated.
Luckily, there are some heavy-duty fabrics that can withstand a few claw marks, prevent clinging pet hair, and resist dirt marks and stains due to the occasional accident from a cat or dog on the couch.
While training your pet to behave (and not to jump up on or scratch the couch), the best defense against furniture wear is pet-friendly upholstery fabrics. Select a fabric with a tight weave and one that is free of complicated textures.
Steer clear of light colors—even if you have a well-behaved and well-trained pet—and instead choose charcoal grey, brown, or camel-colored couches that hide fur and fit into the color schemes of most rooms. Select a fabric built for heavy usage areas and consider stain-resistant fabric or those meant for indoor and outdoor use, like Sunbrella.
Hands down, leather is one of the best couch coverings for pet owners. In fact, this long-lasting natural material actually improves with age and heavy use. Leather is easy to maintain, comes in many colors, and is available at different price points. But most of all, leather can stand up to pets.
Dirt and water can be easily removed and pet hair wipes right off and does not cling to the smooth leather surface. It is possible for your cat to poke holes in your leather sofa if he uses it as a scratching post, but general scratches tend to enhance the weathered look and feel of your living rooms centerpiece. Most leather couches can be easily cleaned with sudsy water, but for serious stains, you should call a professional.
Microfiber, a synthetic fabric, provides another great choice for pet owners. It looks a bit like suede, is simple to clean and maintain, and wears well. Microfiber is more affordable than leather and can be found in many colors to suit most decor tastes. With no loops in the fabric, microfiber is virtually resistant to claw marks, as claws do not catch on the weave. Animal hair goes practically unnoticed, which is great if your pet is a long-haired breed.
Stains are easy to clean off microfiber couches—just blot the accident with a clean towel and then finish it off with a little soap and water. But check the manufacturers instructions first.
The best thing about microfiber is the texture it displays with a simple brush of the hand. Brush it one way for a lighter hue and then, should a stain happen, a darker tone can be achieved by running your hand over the fabric in the opposite direction.
For pet owners, a patterned fabric may be better than a solid color, as pet hair and stains will become less visible. And puppy owners should buy a suitable cotton throw that covers the entire couch (no matter what fabric you choose). Then, pull it off to display the couch underneath, once your pup has matured.
As for what to avoid: Steer clear of any fabric that is nubby, this fabric is fun for cats to scratch. Also, fragile fabrics—such as silk, wool, or linen—should be avoided altogether or used only where your pet is not allowed.
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One way to know if your sofa will hold up to heavy use? Drop heavy weights on it. That’s what the people at Floyd did when they were making The Sofa. They wanted to simulate what 10 years of heavy use would look like, so they repeatedly dropped weights on it, pulled on the backrest, and tried as hard as they could to bend the legs. Nothing budged. The birch wood frame, powder-coated steel legs, stain-resistant fabric, and dense two-layer cushions stayed in place then, and they’ll stay in place for you and your family for many years, too.
West Elm is known for its wide range of upholstery choices, including performance fabrics that are made to withstand plenty of traffic. The Eddy sectional is a versatile choice thanks to the reversible construction, and it can be purchased in performance basketweave, twill, and even performance velvet if you cant quite give up your dream of a velvet sofa.
Interior Define is one of the best places to score a sofa perfectly suited to your needs, since every piece is fully customizable. The Maxwell sofa, which was designed by our very own founder & CEO Maxwell Ryan, comes in dozens of fabrics, and theres even a “kid & pet-friendly” filter you can use to find the most durable of the bunch. Unlike other retailers with a limited number of colors and types of durable fabrics, Interior Defines choices include velvet, linen, and textured cotton. If youre undecided, you can order up to 10 swatches before you decide.
This highly reviewed sofa is much less expensive than your typical leather options, and it comes from one of our favorite boho retailers. The recycled leather and glossy finish make it a durable option, although its still soft and comes with the color variations youd expect with leather. Its available in four colors, including cranberry and black.
Burrow is one of the best newer furniture brands around, with thoughtfully designed pieces that are built to last and grow with you. Their popular Nomad sofa also comes in this sectional style thats made from naturally scratch- and stain-resistant tight olefin fiber. There are five colors, six leg finishes, and three arm styles to choose from — plus it has a built-in USB charger and a 72-inch power cord.
Padding and Cushions
The coziness factor is obviously important when selecting a couch. Whether a firm support or cloud-like softness is preferred, be sure to select a couch with the amount of padding or cushioning that suits the sitters.
There also are cushions that are too soft, and dogs might be tempted to use their claws for stability. For better support, look for sinuous wire suspension. Also, steer clear of decorative throw pillows, which may turn into improvised chew toys.
Over time, the padding in a couch may absorb fluids and retain odors. For drooly or incontinent pups, consider couches with less padding or waterproof upholstery. Removable cushion covers are also recommended.
For most dog owners it’s tough to go wrong with a leather couch that’s not going to trap pet hair, which is one reason we prefer the Pottery Barn Turner Sofa. If the goal is to find a sofa with a performance fabric, it seems hard to beat the water-repellent and stylish AllModern Polaris sofa. For those sticking to a stricter budget, the Mercury Row Garren sofa looks and feels rich and comes in colors that can hide many stains very well.
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What kind of furniture is best with pets?