If you've ever dreamed of having a light-colored room where spills and stains are not a problem, then take a look at this soft yet durable space.
Check Out These Great Fabrics
Credit: Charles Walton IV

You probably cringe when you think about grape juice and chocolate ice cream near your family room sofa. Want less to worry about? Shop smart and make your home life more low-maintenance. Once upon a time, outdoor fabric was rough to the touch, unattractive, and reserved for sailboats. Not anymore. New technology has made stain-resistant fabrics incredibly soft, and they now come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Great Style, Less Stress
In this room, which opens to the backyard and pool, Purcellville, Virginia, interior designer Kate Dieterich combined her talent for choosing fashionable fabrics with the homeowners' desire for easy-care materials. A cafe au lait-colored synthetic suede feels as supple as the real deal on the sofa and chairs. The material repels scuff marks and spills, even juice and red wine. For an accent, Kate chose high-performance outdoor fabrics for the swirl-patterned ottoman and the pillows. Add to that fade-resistant linen panels and a weather-resistant chenille throw, and this space is living proof that fabric has come a long way.

Spill-Proof Fabrics–Gotta Try Them
Have you ever spilled on your sofa and then flipped the cushion over to hide the stain only to find another stain on that side? If so, it's time for a better solution: indoor/outdoor materials that you can keep clean with ease. Your selections may be more expensive up front, but they'll last longer and save you money in the long run.

  • Safe-bet solids: Single-color synthetic suede and faux velvet are made of polyester or blends of polyester and nylon. They are popular because they look and feel real, repel moisture, and spot clean easily with soap and water.
  • Playful patterns: New weaving and finishing techniques of solution-dyed acrylic (where dye goes all the way through the yarn) opens the door to multiple pattern possibilities. They resist stains and fading, plus these fabrics can be cleaned with bleach; many can even be put in the washing machine.

"Check Out These Great Fabrics" is from the May 2007 issue of Southern Living.