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Outdoor fabrics have come a long way—all the way from the deck to the living room.

June 2013

The kids drink grape juice on the white sofa. The dog leaves his prints on your favorite wingback chair. Life happens. But now there’s good news for those of us living with charming but messy housemates: Fabric manufacturers are churning out high-performance outdoor textiles worthy of your prettiest indoor spaces.

Collections include big graphic patterns, handsome stripes, and delicate florals, plus tons of color choices—all in textures that vary from soft and nubby to sheer and sleek. “The range is amazing. It seems that everyone is hopping on the wagon to use these fabrics indoors,” says Ben Menke, manager of the John Brooks showroom at the Denver Design District. “Even high-end designers are creating collections.”

And interior designers love them. “Design is about functionality,” says Jennifer DesJardin, owner of Motif Design Solutions. “My clients want fabrics that maintain the integrity of great design without the headache of keeping kids and pets off the furniture.” Wine spills bead up, pet hair brushes off, soil is easily spot-cleaned. This is not your grandmother’s velvet.

The best part? “Nobody can tell it’s outdoor fabric,” says DesJardin. “It’s so much softer now.” The only trick for homeowners is that much of the most fabulous outdoor fabric is sold only “to the trade” (through a designer)—so find yourself a designer and pore over collections from big-name manufacturers including Schumacher, Nomi, Dedar, and Donghia.

Be warned: You’ll be tempted to re-cover every upholstered inch of your home. The new options are great for chairs, pillows, headboards—even draperies and upholstered walls. “If it’s got the right pattern, there is no downside. You have beauty and peace of mind,” says Beth Armijo of Armijo Design Group. Now you can have your cake—and eat it on the sofa.

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OUR PICKS

Brand: Schumacher
Print: Sunglass
Color: Pool
fschumacher.com

Brand: Link Outdoor
Print: Zinnia
Color: Dandelion
linkdesignsolutions.com

Brand: Schumacher
Print: Soleil L.A.
Color: Aqua
fschumacher.com

Brand: Nomi Fabrics Incorporated
Print: Fleur
Color: Pool
nomiinc.com

Brand: Perennials
Print: Odyssey
Color: Topaz
perennialsfabrics.com

Brand: Perennials
Print: Swish
Color: Grotto
perennialsfabrics.com