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What Does “COM” or “COL” Mean?

What Does “COM” or “COL” Mean?

If you have shopped for upholstered furniture recently, you may have come across the acronyms “COM” or “COL.”  It’s helpful to know the meaning of these terms, since they can open up a world of options to you when you design your next room!

Most upholstered furniture manufacturers carry a designated line of fabrics that can be applied to their furniture pieces.  The cost of the fabric you select is added to the base price of the furniture piece, giving you the final cost.

Fabrics are often grouped according to their costs; when you shop for furniture, you will find that using “Group A” fabrics will result in a less expensive chair or sofa than using “Group D” fabrics (for example).  The group a fabric is placed in often depends on the fabric pattern and the fiber from which the fabric has been made.  Solid cotton fabrics are less expensive than floral silk fabrics, for example.

Greenhouse Fabrics

Fabrics from Greenhouse Design can be used as COM options on many furniture lines.

What if you don’t find a fabric within the furniture manufacturer’s line that works for you?  Or, what if you want to use your window treatment fabric on your chair, for a completely custom look in your room?  Finding a furniture manufacturer that allows the use of “COM” or “COL” fabrics will be your best bet.

The acronym “COM” stands for “Customer’s Own Material,” while “COL” stands for “Customer’s Own Leather.”  Manufacturers use these terms to let designers and customers know that they will accept nearly any fabric you send to them, and they will apply it to any of their furniture pieces for you.  So, you purchase your own fabric from a local shop or online source, send it to the manufacturer, and they will upholster your furniture in that fabric or leather.

Furniture makers generally have guidelines outlining what fabrics they will accept and which they will not.  For example, most manufacturers will not accept fabric that has been cut into small pieces (as opposed to leaving it in one long piece), as it is hard to use for upholstery.  Additionally, sending a fabric that is folded (instead of on a large roll) is often a no-no (it creates creases in the fabric which can be difficult to remove).  The furniture dealer or retails store can help you navigate the COM and COL options and help you place the order.

There are several other things to keep in mind when you select a COM fabric or COL leather for your new furniture.  First, be sure to find out the pattern repeat of your fabric; this information will help the manufacturer figure out how much fabric you will need to send for the furniture pieces you plan to order.  Using a fabric with a large repeat will require more fabric in order to match the pattern at the seams on your sofa or chair.

Sam Moore chair

Most items from Sam Moore offer COM options.

In addition, please note that using your own fabric on an upholstered piece of furniture will not usually save you any money.  In fact, COM or COL options typically cost more than using a fabric from the furniture company’s line!  This is because the furniture company will charge you the base price for the furniture piece (often using a Group A fabric as a starting point), and you will also need to buy 4-20 yards of fabric (depending on the size of your furniture piece and the fabric pattern repeat).  Most quality upholstery fabrics vary in price from $40-$80 + per yard, which significantly raises the cost of your piece.  So, while furniture manufacturers don’t charge extra to apply a COM fabric, it can still be a more expensive option.

Also, keep in mind that furniture manufacturers often offer a warranty on any of the fabrics they supply for their furniture pieces.  Using your own fabric will void the fabric warranty on your furniture.

COM and COL options open up the world of fabrics and leathers to you and your space.  Now that you know what they can do for you, consider them when you are shopping for furniture next time!

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