School Your Upholstery: The Best Fabrics For Academic Institutions

There are so many factors outside the control of even the most dedicated team of educators and administrators that can impact your ability to do what you’re there to do: teach. Every bit of help matters. Happily, your school’s upholstery and the design of your school itself can lend a quiet but deep assist throughout the day.

Just like how even a little bit of studying can go a long way, a little bit of forethought about what kind of upholstery you use in your interior design can pay off in unexpected ways—and help you avoid potential pitfalls.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best fabrics for academic institutions. We’ll start with exploring performance fabrics up to the wildly rigorous demands of any school, and then move on to style ideas that can serve the unique needs of both students and faculty alike. Ok, class, let’s begin.

Quick-Guide To Performance Fabrics That Make The Grade For Schools

Students sitting in the university atrium, three in the foreground

Schools can be decorated pretty much like a delicate, elegant tearoom, right? Um, no. Schools need to simultaneously offer warmth and calming, energy and uplift, and durability and durability and durability. Did we mention durability? 

So from a design and upholstery performance perspective, you’re aiming for something part peaceful meditation space, and part monster truck rally. Your upholstery will be — not might be — exposed to all manner of things, so it simply must be:

  • Stain-resistant
  • Germ-resistant
  • Fade-resistant
  • Tear and puncture-resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to maintain
  • And comfortable use after use

And, yes, all those things are possible with today’s technologically advanced options. Let’s start with a quick walkthrough of fabric types that make the grade.


Made from synthetic materials with a fabric backing for extra structure, vinyl is the top-of-the-class, gold standard for high-traffic areas. It’s essentially a solid leading a double life as a fabric. But it does so with grace, offering virtually stain, puncture, and tear-proof performance. And it can handle harsh cleaners and be easily maintained with wiping and vacuuming.


Once upon a time, if you needed upholstery for demanding spaces, you were limited to vinyl, repeatedly spraying ordinary fabric with chemical sealants, or getting one of those plastic furniture covers your grandmother had.

Then Crypton fabrics looked at those options and pitfalls and decided to cut out the middle man. Creating fabrics infused with treatments as the fibers of the fabrics themselves are constructed results in performance nearly as impervious to stains, germs, and the like as vinyl. But with the textures of fabrics you love, making them perfect for spaces where comfort and style are as important as performance.

Canvas, Sunbrella, and Olefin, oh my

And Crypton isn’t alone. There is a whole range of shining stars in this class of performance fabric options. Fabrics like canvas, Sunbrella, and Olefin all share similar processes and weaves, giving them terrific stain and germ resistance. They also offer fade resistance great for outdoor environments or indoor environments getting a lot of sun exposure.

So here’s a brief look at what upholstery options you have. Next, to help you start envisioning them in your unique space, we’ll look at some ideas for how to actually use them.

How To Use Fabrics That Work Hard And Let Your School’s Style Shine

Student meeting in a library – Teamwork

For academic institutions, style IS function. Schools are for learning, growing, and becoming. Everyone and everything–including the upholstery—must serve those priorities

Knowing what fabrics offer the performance you need, let’s turn to how to serve the unique needs of your space(s) through the color and texture choices you make. What does that look like in practice? 

For Students

Upholstery can actively support learning by aiding in creating calm, focus, and energy. But this isn’t like, say, math, with hard and fast rules. Much of it is about what feels right to you. 

A good rule of thumb, however, is to use soft, warm, or paler tones predominantly. Then bring in bold bits where you need to achieve a specific desired effect. 

Imagine classrooms or spaces that have chairs with upholstered seats in an eco-friendly, performance-grade Cryton tweed-like Meadow—setting a calming scene with pale shades of blue, green, and yellow. Or, against an earthy color scheme, spice up the library’s armchairs with fabric in paprika red tones for creativity and focus. 

Dress up those study hall or student lounge sofas over by the windows in an indigo blue jacquard Sunbrella fabric with a gorgeous pattern to give a bit of a handcrafted vibe.

For high-traffic spaces—like anywhere food is served—try upholstering seats in a welcoming denim blue vinyl, super easy to clean use after use. Take it next level with some booths in two-tone vibes adding natural off-white vinyl to the denim blue for a bit of a 21st-century twist on old-school soda fountain style.

For Staff

Old studying room with two leather armchairs and a chess game

Your staff will get the benefits of all those same qualities in the spaces they share with students. But what about spaces with limited student interaction? 

Teachers and administrators with offices need upholstery that exudes confidence, personality, and approachability.

Give your office chair that air of authority in a saddle brown recycled faux leather. Or invite any students, parents, or colleagues stopping by to have a seat in chairs sporting a textured cove-colored tweed. And if you have windows to dress, add some lift to your office with a contemporary patterned off-white chenille fabric.

Then there’s the teacher’s lounge. It’s right there in the name: lounge. Teachers give their students everything—and then a bit more. When they get a precious few moments to take a beat, their lounge needs to be an oasis. 

Steer clear of sterilized style. Instead, offer up sofas in a sigh-inducing luxurious (but still decidedly durable) eclipse blue performance-grade velvet. Take a few armchairs and deck them out in elegant mist-colored linen—eco-friendly and stain-resistant, of course. And give upholstered table chairs a pop of pattern with a floral print in ivory and ebony tones.

Education is an all-hands-on-deck team sport, your upholstery can be a key player in reinforcing what each space is intended to accomplish with style.

Your School’s Upholstery Is Ready To Graduate To The Next Level

When it comes to choosing the best fabrics for academic institutions, performance and style are both important. Because each can be a partner or a pain in helping you do what you do. 

Focus your search on fabrics built with the performance you need in mind, like vinyl, Crypton, canvas, Olefin, and Sunbrella. And — liberated by all those options — take the time to choose textures and colors that assist you in creating the vibes and feels you need to achieve the unique and diverse outcomes you’re after.

And while we’re not in your league when it comes to teaching, we’re available before, after, and during “class” to help you get into whatever upholstery dream you have for your academic institution. Give us a call or drop us a line today. Until then, class dismissed.

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