Podcast, Ep. 44: Performance Fabrics 101

Ballard Designs Performance fabrics by Sunbrella are stainproof, fadeproof, and soft enough for any piece of furniture in your home

We’ve gotten lots of questions from listeners about performance fabrics. What are they? Why are they so durable? Are they safe to use in our homes? We thought we’d answer all of your questions, so we went straight to the source. Kimberly Peoples and Emily Cosgrove of Sunbrella® stopped by the podcast to give us a 101 lesson in performance fabrics. Plus we talk about our newest collection of over 120+ performance fabrics we’re adding to our line.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Why our performance fabrics by Sunbrella are stainproof, fadeproof, and super durable
  • We talk about the ‘face test’ and why we’re so excited to use our new performance fabrics on our furniture
  • Emily talks about how she became a textile designer
  • Kimberly and Emily tell us about all the cool green and eco-friendly aspects about the Sunbrella company
  • We talk through common stains and the handy chart that’ll make cleanup a breeze
  • Which furniture pieces you should consider using performance fabrics on
  • We talk about some of our favorite fabrics in the new collection
  • We help Kimberly sort through her own decorating dilemma

Decorating Dilemmas

Hi Ladies!

My husband and I live in an early 80s, traditional, choppy home in Tampa with our VERY active chocolate lab, a cat and our newest addition, a 7 month old baby girl. My husband bought the house 7 years ago when we first started dating and I’ve been slowly editing out all of the brown leather ever since…

One of my last decor projects is the “living room” which has large windows, access to the patio through a back door and opens into 2 hallways and the (VERY UGLY) kitchen. We don’t use this room very much except for some occasional TV watching as it is very bland and depressing. I’ve attached a few photos of the room currently. I love our sisal rug, styled fireplace shelving with some of my favorite blue and white pieces, Ballard garden stool and old trunk/coffee table from my mother. Otherwise, everything else must go, in my opinion (my husband wants to keep the TV…)

Also, I don’t love the current furniture layout but I’m having trouble figuring out any other possible configuration as we need space to walk through the room to access the hallway beside the fireplace (laundry, a bath and three bedrooms are back there). 

I’ve attached a Pinterest board with some furniture, art and lighting options that I’m considering. I love the Eton sofa (covered in a grayish Sunbrella fabric) but open to other suggestions. I’d describe my style as young traditional – I love neutrals, blue and white anything, abstract art and natural fiber and oushak rugs. 

What are your thoughts on my furniture wish list and possible room layout? I’m open to this being a more “formal” entertaining room but it still needs to be pet/kid friendly. 

Thanks, ladies! Looking forward to hearing your suggestions!!



We have a couple different suggestions for you in terms of layout. Depending on the length of your sofa, either keep your sofa (if it’s long like your current one) along the wall where it currently is, but pull the chairs up closer to the coffee table. They feel disjointed from the rest of the seating space. If you’d rather, consider replacing your sofa with something shorter so you can turn it parallel to the television. Then, it’d be great to float a console table behind the sofa with a pair of lamps, and put your chairs on either side the fireplace. We love the idea of the Eton Sofa in a performance fabric! Maybe try out our Room Planner tool to test out different layouts before you land on just the right one.

Another suggestion is to hang your drapery panels high above your window, and extend the edges out further. That way the drapery will really be covering the wall (since you don’t really need the privacy) and your windows will look way bigger!

Ok, a couple more things. You definitely need more lighting around the room — specifically ambient light. Try to bring at least three more light sources in through lamps or sconces. Since you don’t have a ton of space for side tables, it’d be great to install a plug in the back of your bookshelves so you can put a tiny lamp. Also, maybe consider replacing your ceiling fan with something plainer and without a light kit. Since you’re in Florida, we definitely don’t recommend getting rid of it altogether, but something with a more subtle shape and presence in the space would be a big improvement.

Happy decorating!

Show Notes:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you never miss an episode. You can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

Happy Decorating!

Subscribe in iTunes | Stitcher | Google Play

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.