Decor fabrics that stand up to young children, pets -

THURSDAY, AUGUST 8, 2013
THE RECORD

Do you dream of redecorating, but hesitate because you have young children or pets? It’s true that some of our favorite creatures - both the two- and the four-legged kind - can be hard on soft furnishings. You don’t have to sacrifice style or comfort, though, if you know what fibers to choose for your upholstery, rugs and drapes. -

SPILLS AND SNAGS

"There are definitely dos and don’ts," said Vilma Mirkov, Design Center manager at W. L. Landau Ethan Allen, River Edge. "Look for great performance fabrics and avoid anything that is more than 50 percent rayon, which tends to pill and pull."

For pets, she recommended the new easy-care, Crypton-treated fabrics, such as those manufactured by Sunbrella. "They are 100-percent acrylic, durable and comfortable," she said. "Plus, they Cozette Brownare mold-, mildew- and stain-resistant."

Mirkov also gave a thumbs-up to lower-grade leathers. "As opposed to high-grade, which scratches, lower grades are more durable and forgiving, cost less and wipe clean easily."

It’s thumbs-down, on the other hand, for delicate fabrics like silk and those with large loops, such as chenille, tapestries, tweeds and damasks.

"It’s easy for pets to catch their nails on them," said Mirkov. "Plus, they’re very desirable to cats for their exercise!" To make sure a particular fabric won’t pull, she recommended a "scratch ‘n’ claw" test: "Open a paper clip and glide the end of it against a piece of fabric. If it catches, don’t buy it."

As for velvet, pet hairs cling to it and stains settle in to stay. Ringwood interior designer Cozette Brown, ASID, suggested ultra-suede or microfiber. "Microfiber has a very tight weave that repels stains," she explained.

"Choose anything that is easy to vacuum or throw in the wash," added Mariko Perry, vice president of sales for Timothy Oulton Furniture, Paramus. "If you have anyone in your home with pet allergies from dander or hair, this will also help to alleviate symptoms. Fleece is a pain, because the hair sinks into it and not even a roller can get it out."

GRAND ILLUSIONS

Although fully upholstered side and dining chairs are popular, Mirkov felt wood was a more practical option with kids. Brown also suggested going faux - "I recently used an ostrich-skin lookalike in vinyl for a bench that three kids sit on at a dining table. If anything spills on it, [just] grab a damp cloth."

Do Fluffy and Wolf routinely park themselves on the sofa? Go for a fabric color that hides the hair they shed. In other words, color-coordinate the upholstery with your pet!

"If you have a white, long-haired cat, use light-color fabrics such as creams or taupes," said Mirkov. "With a caramel-colored cocker spaniel, use copper or earth tones, and for a black pet use coals and grays."

Patterned and printed fabrics can hide stains, but Mirkov recommended avoiding a field (background) that’s white or off-white - "Instead, go for something mid-tone."

DRAPES, RUGS AND PILLOWS

Long drapery panels deserve the same forethought as upholstery, which means no delicate silks or moirés. "Pet stains and saliva will show more on these fabrics," said Mirkov. She also advised against sheers and lace panels, which can snag and pull, and against "puddling" draperies, because kids and pets like to hide behind them. "Leave the panels just short of the floor," she said.

With accident-prone children and animals, you might prefer bare floors. If you do opt for carpeting, Brown recommended a pattern that forgives shedding and hides stains. You also can treat your carpeting for stain resistance.

"One type of carpet I do not recommend for pets is berber, which is loopy - you’ll have pulls in no time," Brown added. "Instead, choose a cut-pile carpet."

Finally, on pillows, cushions, curtains or rugs, avoid fringe, tassels, frogs, beads, bullion and buttons. They will automatically attract the attention of pets and curious youngsters. Also, anything that hangs, dangles, loops or can be bitten or pulled off by Buster or baby could pose a choking hazard. Opt for a simple contrast piping instead.

GIVE STAINS THE SLIP

"When you’ve got pets or young children, slipcovers are a great solution," said Vilma Mirkov. "Most are rated for heavy use, and you can remove them seasonally or to have them cleaned." Some new sofas can be ordered with slipcovers for a small up-charge; otherwise, consider having some made in a cotton or another twill to protect existing upholstered seating.

"If that’s not an option, purchase an inexpensive, decorative throw to put over your pet’s favorite spot on the couch," suggested Mirkov. "Works for kids, too."

- KATHIE ROBITZ

Picture 1
Sturdy, simple furniture, washable cotton slipcovers, throw pillows with minimal trim and a low-pile, synthetic rug will help this room stand up to hard use by all family members, including young children and pets.

 

Picture 2
Designer Cozette Brown covered this bench in a kid-friendly vinyl that resembles ostrich skin. -