At the forefront of high-end interior design, linen is a premium fabric that offers an elegant look.
An ancient textile, linen has not only stood the test of time, but its use also continues to thrive in furniture design. There’s no evidence that using linen upholstery fabric is slowing down, either.
Market research shows that from 2017 to 2021, the flax fiber market grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3%. Major drivers of the linen fabric industry include the rising demand for high-quality fabrics, which experts say is expected to help propel the continued growth of the industry.
Expert Market Research, a market research and business intelligence company, says a key industry trend to watch is the growth of the home decor industry in developing regions. The home furniture market itself is thriving and is expected to grow from just under $500 billion in 2021 to $720.2 billion by 2028.
Yet with a number of fabric types available to interior designers, what makes linen upholstery fabric so desired in today’s market and future markets? The answers lie in how the fabric is sourced and the benefits this textile offers.
Consumers Want Sustainable Products
Consumers across all generations, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z, are willing to spend more for sustainable products, a First Insight consumer report shares. Compared to two years ago, one of the biggest jumps in those willing to pay more were among Gen X consumers, or those born between 1965 and 1980.
The survey, given by First Insight and the Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, found that two years ago, only 34% of Gen X consumers would be willing to spend an extra 10% or more for sustainable products. Today, nearly 90% of Gen X consumers would be willing to make that financial leap for products that are more environmentally friendly.
Linen is one of the most sustainable textiles available. This is in large part due to how linen is sourced.
During the flax growing process, very little water is required. Farmers do not need to irrigate or fertilize during the process. Flax typically requires little to no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides as well.
Very little is wasted during the process that turns flax into linen. Parts of the flax plant that are not used for constructing linen can be used for other purposes, such as producing oil or flax seeds for consumption.
Even when a piece of linen is discarded, the fabric is biodegradable, ensuring no lasting effect is made on the environment when no longer in use.
Linen Exudes Comfort
When choosing a home furnishing, comfort is often a top priority among clients. The type of fabric you choose as a designer should reflect this desire for comfort. While cotton and wool offer a great texture and feel to the touch, linen offers additional benefits that enhance its comfort level: moisture resistance, hypo-allergenic qualities and breathability.
Linen can absorb dampness up to 20% without even feeling wet. Hidden dampness can lead to bacterial growth, so this moisture-resistant feature keeps upholstery healthier over time.
Flax is also naturally hypoallergenic and is considered to be a natural fiber that is friendly to a person’s skin. Because linen is hypoallergenic, it is perfect for allergy sufferers.
Creating a product that can be used in any space is important, and for those who live in hot climates, linen is a great choice to keep you cool in the summer. Yet in the winter, linen will keep you warm, making this a great year-round textile for a sofa or other piece of furniture.
The Lifespan of Linen Upholstery Is Longer
While consumers may be willing to pay more for sustainable goods, they also want to know that their investments will pay off in the long-run. Particularly with furniture, these pieces typically carry a higher price tag than other items made with fabric like clothing or home decor accessories.
While other fabrics show wear and tear after multiple uses, linen does not. In fact, linen ages well and gets softer with use. This fabric’s durability is due to the strong natural flax fibers used to construct it.
There is one important caveat to keep in mind, however. When choosing your upholstery fabric, you should consider fabric weight. Fabric used for other types of home and office decor may require a different weight of fabric in order to ensure durability.
With upholstery fabric, look for a fabric weight count of 10 ounces and up per square yard (more for high-traffic areas).
Other Benefits Of Linen Upholstery Fabric
In addition to its sustainable, comfort and durable properties, linen upholstery fabric offers even more benefits, making it a go-to textile among designers when planning the decor of a room.
Overall, linen upholstery is extremely easy to maintain. First and foremost, follow any cleaning instructions attached /provided by the fabric manufacturer. But in general, customers can clean furniture slipcovers in their homes simply using a washing machine and dryer. Simply avoid high heat and place the slipcover back on the piece of furniture when it is damp in order to avoid shrinkage. Linen fabric can also be washed by hand or taken to the dry cleaners, depending on the buyer’s preferences.
Keep in mind that when choosing a linen fabric for your project, do not rely on the manufacturer’s website for color when looking at solid color fabrics or prints. It is better to request a color swatch so that you are more likely to receive the color you desire.
Dye lot variations are common in the textile industry, and color shifts can happen with “stock” colors. Having your own custom dye lot created can help ensure your fabric features the color you want since much more stringent controls are added so that the mill can meet the specifications. The result is repeatable and reliable with a maximum variation of 3% to 5%.
Finally, linen has a gorgeous natural luster. Many designers love using linen upholstery because of its natural yet elegant look. Whether it’s upholstering sofas or adding touches of fabric to lounge chairs, benches, an ottoman, couch throw pillows or dining chairs, linen upholstery will continue to be a trend in the design industry that adds tremendous value.