We asked Gina Wicker, design and creative director for Sunbrella, for her expert advice on picking the right fabrics for your outdoor and indoor spaces.

Gina Wicker, Sunbrella

I have outdoor fabric on all my furniture outside. Every summer, at least one gets a large “gift” from a bird flying overhead. What’s the best way to clean this cushion? Will washing one and not the others, in a sofa for example, make the fit look inconsistent? –Sarah Keller, Grand Junction, CO

For a new “gift,” simply rinse thoroughly with a garden hose to remove as much as possible. In most cases, it may all be removed if cleaned quickly enough. If it isn’t completely removed use mild soap and water over a larger area than was originally soiled, then rinse thoroughly and allow the cushion to air dry. Repeat the washing process if necessary.

For “gifts” that have dried, use a soft brush and brush off as much as possible before wetting the area. Use a plastic spoon to lightly scrape off any other debris that may be somewhat embedded in the fabric. Wet the soiled area with water then wash with the mild soap and water using a soft-bristled brush. Rinse thoroughly and allow the cushion to air dry. Repeat the washing process if necessary.

Washing one cushion and air drying will not make the washed one look significantly different from the others unless the others are dirty themselves.

This trend of not matching every piece is wonderful for outdoors! BUT I’m scared to try it in my own home without guidance. Where do you recommend starting? Right now I just have a cedar gazebo in the yard. –Emily George, Salem, OR

Variety is the spice of life! The key to making this look work in your own home is to coordinate fabrics, not match them. At we have an online fabric showroom that allows you to find all the information on your favorite fabrics as well as coordinating fabrics for upholstery/drapery and awning. Using the online fabric showroom you can find pairings of different patterns that you might not have discovered work well together on your own. And because our fabrics are made from a common color palette of yarns, it is easy to coordinate the fabrics with each other – stripes with florals, solids with graphic patterns, and so on.

Using the rich cedar color and texture of your gazebo is a great place to start. Try wrought iron furniture for a classic look or continue the natural look with a wood or teak frame that will weather over time the same way your gazebo will. You may also want to consider outdoor furniture frames that are brightly colored to offset the brown tones of the gazebo. Large Adirondack chairs in bright shades of red and purple will add a pop of color and can be used to highlight your landscape. The possibilities are endless – have fun with furniture and fabrics!

I want to incorporate a pattern or bright color to my dining room chairs (they’re painted a creamy white), but I don’t want it to look like my grandmother’s house. It also needs to be able to handle my toddler. What are some modern, tough designs? –Siobhan Rankin, Issaquah, WA

Assuming the chair has padded seats, an easy fix would be to reupholster the cushions. This is something you can DIY or take it to a local upholsterer. The creamy white paint sounds like the perfect neutral base so we say go wild with a bright, bold color! Choose a fabric color that will coordinate well with the other items in your dining room. Is there a china pattern in your cabinet with a color you’d like to highlight? Or maybe a rug with the perfect shade of blue you can play off of with dining chair fabrics? Because our fabrics are made to stand the test of time and toddlers with a 10-year limited warranty, you never have to worry about performance. Seek out our fabrics that have textures similar to Dupioni silk, soft chenilles, and rich jacquard patterns for more complex surface interest. The great thing about this project is that reupholstering padded seats is so easy that a few months or years down the road you can do it again if you happen to find a new favorite Sunbrella fabric!

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