Everyone can have the best seat in, or outside, the house thanks to an extensive line of outdoor fabrics and upholstery from Summer Classics®.
Step into any furniture or fabric store and the temptation to dress your home in luxurious silks, delicate linens, or that crisp all-white color palette is undeniable. But how can you achieve the style you want when you have a house full of kids and pets? Most people think they have to use dark fabrics with lots of pattern to mask spills and stains. Thanks to Summer Classics and their wide selection of outdoor fabrics, you no longer have to create adults-only zones to get a look you love.
“The new wave of outdoor fabrics has completely revolutionized what we can create indoors and out,” says Jonathan Williams, senior design consultant for Summer Classics in Richmond, Virginia. “The vinyl coverings and metal springs from the 70s are gone. Now we can produce weather-resistant cushions and pillows that are actually comfortable and look and feel like quality indoor fabrics.” Because of their durability and wide variety of styles, it’s no surprise that clients are choosing outdoor fabrics for both indoor and outdoor living.
So what makes outdoor fabrics a great choice for both indoor and outdoor living? Here are a few things you should know:
Outdoor Fabrics are Fade Proof:
Outdoor fabrics are made from solution-dyed acrylics, which means they are UV resistant. It works like this: Before the fabric is ever made, a liquid acrylic solution is mixed with color, formed into fibers, and spun into yarn. Unlike most interior fabrics that are dyed after they are woven, the color is part of the material itself—ensuring that the hue can’t be washed out. This means that fabrics are extremely resistant to sun damage—up to three times more than typical indoor fabrics.
Fabrics are Easy to Care For:
Outdoor fabrics are made from 100% acrylic fibers which makes them water, moth, mold and mildew resistant. This doesn’t mean they are no maintenance—just very low maintenance. Although the material itself doesn’t promote mildew growth, mold or mildew may grow on soils or spills that are not removed from the fabric. Prevention is easy. Summer Classics offers an easy-to-follow treatment guide for quick clean up. Just be sure to wipe spills and messes right away and give your cushions a once over to make sure they are clean before storing during the off-season. No off-season in your climate? Lucky you! Enjoy the comforts and low-maintenance properties of outdoor fabrics and furnishings all year long.
Outdoor Fabrics Rank High on the Double Rub Test:
An industry standard in North America, the double rub test was created to help indicate durability for all fabric choices. Also called the Wyzenbeek Test, double rubs are an important way to determine a fabric’s strength. Using cotton duck as a baseline, a machine runs across a piece of fabric in sets of 5,000 double rubs. The rub ranking is determined by the fabric’s ability to stand up to the continued abrasion. When the fabric shows wear, or two yarns break, the fabric receives a rating. Outdoor fabrics from Summer Classics have proven to withstand 15,000 double rubs or above—a rank considered heavy duty for residential applications. Comparatively, delicate silks and cottons rank lower on the double rub test and are suggested for lighter duty applications. Other things to consider for durability include how tightly yarns are woven, whether or not a consistent size thread is used throughout the weave, thread count, and the type of yarns used.
When it comes to comfort, most people are skeptical about the hand of outdoor fabrics. One touch will convince even the most doubtful clients that outdoor fabrics are as pliable and soft as most indoor fabrics. That’s because they are made from acrylic. Surprisingly lightweight with a wool-like feel, acrylic is a chameleon of sorts and can be used to easily mimic more delicate fibers—without compromising strength. “Using fabrics that look and feel like indoor fabrics really help smooth the transition between indoor and outdoor room,” says Summer Classics creative director Chris Hutchens.
Even Greater Advances:
While most outdoor fabrics require minimal care and maintenance, Sunbrella® has raised the bar for durability with Sunbrella® Rain Fabrics. Unlike other outdoor fabrics, Sunbrella® Rain Fabrics are completely waterproof—not just water resistant.
Supremely Comfortable Cushions:
Summer Classics’ Dream™ Cushion offers 1.8 density foam for maximum comfort and resiliency. “It’s really more comfortable than a lot of indoor cushions,” says Allison Carothers, owner of a Summer Classics retail store in Louisville, Kentucky. Made in the USA, the high-density cushion with fluted pillow top construction is designed for the most luxurious patio outdoor furniture experience offering maximum comfort and resilience. A woven, water-resistant jacket protects the cushion from the elements. After all, who wants to have to run outside in the rain to bring the cushions in?
With more than 100 fabrics comprising 22 complementary fabric families, choosing a signature style is easy. “Imagine opening the door and seeing graphic patterns, bold colors, and thick inviting cushions. It’s fun and unexpected! While we seek to integrate some of the design principles of our home, outdoor living can be an area to break loose and be creative,” says Deborah Jessup, senior manager and floor designer in Roswell, Georgia. Fabrics can be mixed and matched on any of the 39 furniture collections to create a one-of-a-kind look. “We highly encourage guests to mix up their fabric choices,” says Jonathan Williams. “It is interesting to put together coordinating fabric stories. It definitely adds a designer element.
“Upholstery is where your individual style comes in,” says Allison Carothers. “After you choose your fabrics and color palette, you can take your upholstery a step further with embellishments such as fringe, cording, or monograms.” Summer Classics also offers clients the opportunity to customize accent pillows by mixing and matching patterns into stripes or checkerboards on a single pillow. Even better: Pillows are offered in varying sizes. Summer Classics makes all of their pillows and cushion coverings at their Pelham, Alabama headquarters. Here, a staff of talented seamstresses creates every pillow, cushion covering, and customer request to perfection.
“Almost ninety percent of Summer Classics fabrics are exclusive to our brand,” says creative director Chris Hutchens. “We work with some of the best outdoor fabric companies in the industry to create signature looks for our customers.” Top designers from Sunbrella, Bella-Dura, and Outdura regularly meet with the Summer Classics creative team to develop one-of-a-kind prints and patterns that can’t be found anywhere else. Whether it’s a current trend or tried-and-true classic, the designers make sure to have a wide variety of selections in a wide offering of colorways. “It’s just one more way we can offer customers to get a look that is completely personal,” Chris Hutchens says.
No matter what your style, Summer Classics offers solids, prints, and patterns in traditional, modern, and transitional styles suitable for beach homes, lake houses, and everyday living. Whether you prefer the formality of subdued solids, the playfulness of palms, the tradition of blue and white stripes, or daring hues in geometric patterns, Summer Classics offers choices designed to suit every personality. “Our designers strive to offer different looks to fit our client’s needs. We also work hard to offer a wide variety of styles that easily transition to all of our furniture lines,” Chris Hutchens says.
Take the Outdoors In:
Summer Classics has answered the call for taking indoor comforts outside. But many clients like them so much they are using them indoors as well. With the durability of outdoor fabrics and furnishings, interior design options are greater than ever. You can have that all-white living room. It’s fine to put your feet on the sofa. Don’t worry about spills when you entertain in the living room. “We have seen people put Summer Classics furniture in living rooms, family rooms, basements, kitchens, and sunrooms,” says Jonathan Williams. “If you use Summer Classics outdoor fabrics, you can truly live in every room of your house.”
Creative director Chris Hutchens travels the country creating fresh, inspiring room vignettes for Summer Classics catalog shoots, furniture markets, and retail spaces. Here are a few tips and tricks for creating outdoor (or indoor) living spaces worthy of showroom style:
- If you love color, go for it! But most people get tired of it after awhile. I like to choose a base palette of solids or neutrals for upholstery and accent them with throw pillows in pops of color.
- Have a large space? Use a neutral for base upholstery and look to one of Summer Classics 23 color families to coordinate your outdoor spaces by mixing and matching colorful prints, solids, and patterns. Color families range from bright orange to green to gray. “My favorite palettes right now are in the blue and gray colorways,” says Chris Hutchens. “These are classic colors that never seem to go out of style.”
- Summer Classics furniture is highly customizable. You can choose your frame, your finish, and your fabric. When mixing lines and fabrics, be sure to consider contrast. Lighter fabrics look best on dark frames. Similarly, use solids on highly detailed furnishings so the designs don’t compete. “If you put a busy fabric on a busy design, neither feature will stand out. You have to choose which one you want to be the star,” Chris Hutchens says.
- “Most people like to mix furniture collections to create interest in their outdoor rooms. Working with complementary designs instead of pulling every piece from a single collection really achieves a designer look,” Chris Hutchens says.
- Use color to lead the eye from one room to another. Want to go bold? Use a splash of color on the upholstery for one seating group, choose neutrals for the others, and repeat the bold color choice in accent pillows, trims and cording, and accessories. “If you use all neutrals, a room can get boring,” Chris Hutchens says.
- Don’t underestimate the power of texture. Even a neutral palette can be more interesting when layered with visual textures. Choose contrasting size prints such as bold graphics or animal prints against a woven linen look to create welcome tension. Similarly, mix metal dining pieces in the same space as a resin wicker seating group.