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49 samples of orange upholstery for my new midcentury modern sectional — 7 finalists — which to choose?

I’m having a new wedge-shaped sectional built for my Mahalo Lounge. I need to choose the upholstery fabric. It needs to play nice with my 60 yards of barkcloth pinch pleats — and I’m planning a leopard print rug underneath. What color to choose? I started my hunt by looking for a burnt orange — or coral orange — or a red orange — or even a rust — that would pick up on the blossoms in the drapery pattern. I online-shopped and ordered ’til my eyes about bugged out. Above: All 49 oranges, laid out by manufacturer. Let’s take a look at the seven finalists >>

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Midcentury modern upholstery fabrics in orange from Knoll:

Above: Knoll Rivington designd by Dorothy Cosonas in Paprika. 

Before I started my upholstery hunt, I had no idea it was so easy to order upholstery samples from major manufacturers. Knoll is a big name — they have gorgeous fabrics — at a surprising number of price points, both high and low — and they make it super easy to order samples.

The Knoll Rivington in Paprika is a strong contender. The color really seems to change in the light.

Above: See how the fabric looks on these vintage Thonet chairs reupholstered by Modern Chair Restoration— oh my! Thanks for the permission to show your photo, MCR!

knoll rivington in paprikaThe weave is really nice — and bespeaks tropical. 

As I said, Knoll was fantastic about sending samples — nice big pieces, and they came within a day or two. Following are photo of all the orange(ish) Knoll fabrics I ordered to give a try. I was super impressed:

Midcentury modern upholstery fabrics from Maharam:

Above: I was also super impressed with the easy access to upholstery samples from Maharam — and the fabrics were gorgous, too! Contenders:

Above: Maharam Teatro in Heat — it’s a yummy velvet..,

And above: Maharam’s Outback by Kvadrat 466061 in Color 641. But: It’s not really a contender, because it’s way too lipstick red in real life. But oh my goodness, I adore this fabric, so I had to show it! It’s sort of more loosely woven than a boucle, with a wee bit of gray threads in it that give it just that little extra something in dimension. Comes in a bunch of rich colors. I so wish I had a place to put this — hmmm, maybe I need to make a coat out of it!

Above: All my Maraharm orange upholstery samples.

Midcentury modern upholstery fabrics from Designtex:

Above: Designtex is a company that I learned about from ModernFabrics.com, which often has remnants, including in substantial yardage. For this project, I found three samples on the Designtex website that are finalists. Designtex was also very easy to order from.

Above: Designtex Adler — my sample is Tomato – a great looking- and feeling fabric — a wonderful boucle-type weave and lots of great mid mod color colors.

Above: Designtex Hint in Carrot — a soft chenille with 100,000 Wyzenbeeks, so seems like it would last forever. Lots more color-colors in this line, too. 

Above: Designtex Bark Cloth — in Red Orange — designed by West Elm. 100,000 Wyzenbeeks, some more great colors.

Above: All the orange upholstery fabrics that I ordered from Designtex.

Midcentury modern upholstery fabrics from Kovi:

I also learned about Kovi from ModernFabrics.com, which carries remnants.  

Above: Kovi K5605, a nice woven with coral, orange and persimmon-colored threads made my list of finalists. 

Above: Other Kovi orange upholstery samples that I ordered.

Thanks also to Modern Fabrics, Camira, and HBF Textiles — I also ordered orange upholstery samples from them, and many were super nice, but they did not make my finals.

But: Maybe I should go green?!

Ack. After thinking I MUST go orange… and ordering all these samples, I then got the idea that a large orange sectional might present too much of a contrast — rather than act as a secondary complement — to the many many linear feet of green-dominant pinch pleats in the two rooms. So then, I began ordering greens. Story to come.  


Meanwhile:
What do you think of these oranges, for a 101″ x 101″ sectional?
If I choose orange upholstery — which one?
Initial thoughts on orange v. green? 

  • Follow all my stories on the design of my Mahalo Lounge here.

  1. Kristy says:

    I think you definitely should go orange to provide the contrast. And orange is so Mid Century! I like the DesignTex Adler best for complementary color to the orange in the leaves in the pillows, however, I like Maharam Teatro best in general both for color and for the fact that it is a YUMMY VELVET and what’s more vintage than velvet???? Thanks for letting me share my opinion!

  2. Chris says:

    That is a great idea – to bring the samples home and let the animals roll around on them, no matter what colour the samples are. I don’t know if Pam has cats. I thought she had a schnauzer, which “supposedly” sheds minimally.

  3. Marie Gamalski says:

    Good heavens Pam….. are u sorry u opened this thread?!?! LOTS of opinions!! I found your site years ago, and although you wouldn’t know, I found my perfect mid-century sofa through your site so I have every confidence you’ll make the perfect choice….. if you don’t go crazy first!! Hahahaha good luck love!????????

  4. Sandra L Sells says:

    I agree with Joe and also no one used black for this type of furniture. Actually they would have used a fringe around the edges and my mother’s set the fringe was actually a tan and green with a green nubby soft fabric. Also had sides in bamboo. Wish I had that set now. Gosh in hindisght!! Careful of black always!!

  5. Mary Fryar says:

    No green. I really like the color of the Maharam Teatro but no velvet here. The texture and color of the Designtex Bark Cloth seem most appropriate considering the time period, orange in the drapery, and plans for a leopard print rug. Really nice combo.

  6. Kylllikki says:

    I like the Knoll Rivington the best, it’s a cheerful color to have in your “lounge” and the fabric has the coolest weave & variation of color for interest. ( I got an A+ in “Color Theory” class in College 38 years ago 😉 )

  7. Doris Waddell says:

    I personally like the bright pop of color from the Kovi choice. It just sings tropics! And I think it would really make your sofa a statement piece. Even on a dark, cloudy day, that color would brighten up the room.

  8. LOL..I used to have to make these decisions with some regularity and still have hundreds of 4×4 samples….just cant toss them…
    I too love the Rivington, the texture and vibrant color are fab. When you mentioned the velvet it did give me pause after a moment of consideration. I got to thinking that the elegance of a vibrant velvet against the barkcloth might be a really nice contrast but in the end, the texture of the Knoll Rivington seems more true to MC and the vibrancy is great.
    Good luck….Its fun to have all the samples but we humans do better with less rather than more choices!

  9. Jan says:

    I think orange! My favorite is Designtex Bark Cloth, but each of them would make a good choice. How did you ever get it down to seven?

  10. Sherri says:

    Go for the Rivington! The colour is delicious, and the nubbly bits are just what you need with the rest of your choices. That’s what I’d go with, anyway! Don’t go green! You’ll feel overdosed!

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