Durban - Trends come and go, it’s the discerning customer who understands quality that lasts.

These knowledgeable consumers create living rooms to be “lived’’ in, they don’t just look at a couch for its design and colour but ask about the rub counts and blends of fabric they know must withstand their dogs and children, as well as parties and visitors’ studded jeans.

You should too.

Farouk Danka, at U&G fabrics in Overport, which stocks more than 5 000 local and imported fabrics, says there is a movement towards more natural-looking fabrics and natural prints.

He says there are many customers who want linen and cotton without being aware of how it needs to be cared for.

In terms of upholstery – whether you’re looking at a couch, armchair or ottoman – it’s advised that you look for a blend in fabric if you are not sure you can care for 100 percent linen.

A polyester linen blend, for example, would be more durable. The technology available today has made for sophisticated polyesters that can really look like linen. A mere 20 percent of polyester can give much needed stability.

With regard to viscose, for example, a polyester blend will ensure less creasing.

Another factor is to ask if the natural-look fabric you are buying is pre-shrunk. You don’t want to put slipcovers in the wash only to discover afterwards that they don’t fit back on the sofa.

It is also important to consider the rub count of a fabric. This is an indicator of how much abrasion a fabric can withstand. Fabric for domestic use has a rub count of about 15 000, while a couch in a hotel lobby may stand at about 20 000.

Danka adds that it’s worth noting that while naturals and neutrals are “in”, they are still new.

Colours such as beige and grey will always be popular, but contemporary shades have hints of other colour in them. You may find a beige with a green tinge or see the emergence of colours such as aluminium. Think taupe, mushroom and hessian with greater depth.

Design is popularly monotone, but there is interest in colour variation. There is also plenty of texture. Colour is used bright and bold, but minimally. Metallics too have been used as accents.

People are experimenting most with wallpaper – three-dimensional, foil, embroidery, grass cloth, and vinyl.

Danka, who has recently partnered with Grafton and Everest in Umhlanga, has covered lounge suites in trendy fabrics and prints for those who really want to splash out.

In terms of trends in fabric prints, get used to seeing more birds, rabbits, fish, fruit and horses in 2013. A simple explanation for this trend is that all things natural remain popular.

The trend towards text advances next year. Simple sayings in beautiful fonts overlap with the traveller theme, opening the way for more world maps.

These elements also lend themselves to the revival of cowboy culture – think Texan ranch-style living.

Aztec, tribal and geometric prints feature here as well. Florals are still fabulous, particularly French provincial style or English florals. When it comes to prints, retro as well as vintage have a strong presence.

Consider scatters, roman blinds, cushions and tablecloths – unless you’re happy to break the bank to replace couch upholstery or curtains when trends change.

Danka says the colour palette is warm, the atmosphere is friendly and the fabrics are luxurious but practical. - The Mercury