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Upholstery Fashion Trends 2012

Textiles, Fabric and Leather Fashions for the Home


Kensington Sofa from Clayton Marcus

Grays continue to be popular in upholstery

Photo (c) Clayton Marcus

Trends in upholstery fashions continue to change and shift every year. The changes are often very subtle, and may not be very dramatic, but add up to create a different look and feel year after year.

Neutrals continue to play a very important role, but color is used in patterns and on accent pillows and chairs.


Maybe the most popular color to emerge recently has been gray. It continues to be popular in indoor as well as outdoor furniture. It has dominated the market in upholstery and the shades range from light smoky grays to deep slates. dark charcoal to light cement. Gray's popularity can be attributed to the fact that it serves as an anchor to play up brighter colors such as 2011's Honeysuckle or 2012's Tangerine Tango orange.


Browns and beiges have always been popular, and most people see them as safe. However, recently there has been a shift towards gray-browns and mink-browns. It is almost as if we are gently being made to shift away from the go-to neutral that has reigned supreme towards another one that seems to be getting stronger all the time. In browns, a midtone brown and chocolate are popular, but added to the browns are pops of color such as pinks and greens.


Metallic colors are less brassy and becoming more subtle and soft. Golds and bronzes are being replaced with copper and cognac colors. There are softer metallic and pearlized tones.


Texture seems more toned down also with flat woven plain fabric that has more sheen and luster. Maybe that look will go better with the transitional style that consumers seem to like.

It seems chenille is no longer as much a favorite as it used to be. There is constant experimentation with new yarns to create a more pleasing feel for fabric.

ITMA Showtime

ITMA, or the International Textile Market Association holds its Showtime or Fabric Market in High Point twice a year, in December and June. This is where industry specialists, designers and retailers come to see the latest in fabric, leather and trimmings, and upholstery manufacturers shop here for fabrics for their upcoming collections.

When textile and leather suppliers exhibit their newest looks, you get an inkling of what is to come at the next furniture and home furnishings markets. New upholstery collections will be wearing these looks and the fabric will transform these frames, much as new fashions transform models on runways.

Here are the looks and color trends that were seen at Showtime:

  • Colors such as teal and burnt orange made strong appearances, as did apple green and bright lemon.
  • The neutral grays are very much there.
  • The love for botanicals continues, as seen in prints of tree silhouettes, ferns, and gingko leaves. The treatment is more figurative than abstract and plenty of figurative florals were also seen.
  • For patterns, there were a lot of paisleys, suzanis, Florentine tiles, toiles, along with lace, and cabana stripes.
  • Another look that seems to be gaining popularity is menswear inspired. Menswear designs inspired leather fashions, including a hounds-tooth pattern on a hair-on-hide.
  • Similar to what you saw in the world of fashion this fall, crocodile figured strongly in leather.
  • There were novelty patterns in the form of folk-art birds, postcards, china plates, round chickens, hamsa, which is a palm shaped design, and even scientific equations.
  • In trims, there seems to be a trend towards tassels, but while you may see a lot of them, the look will be different as these are Deco-inspired tassels that are very different from the traditional shapes.
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