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Choosing a Fabric Colour for Fixed Seating in an Entertainment Venue

Evertaut News

21 May, 2020

In theatres, independent cinemas and arts centres across the UK, red is often the go-to fabric colour of choice for auditorium fixed seating.

According to historians, the trend for red theatre seats came from Italy which for centuries was the renowned destination for opera performance and where opera houses were traditionally decorated in red and gold. This style was replicated in opera houses and theatres across Europe and when film started to replace theatre as a main form of entertainment, the fashion for red seating continued.

A more technical explanation for the popularity of red auditorium seats is that red is the least visible colour to the human eye in dark light so when the house lights are dimmed, an auditorium with red seats becomes darker than one with blue or green seats, for example.

Traditional fixed seating in a theatre auditorium following reupholstery in red velvet fabric


Red isn’t the only choice for fixed seating

This doesn’t mean however that red is the only colour recommended for fixed seating in a theatre or cinema. Whilst the majority of independent cinemas in the UK still feature traditional red seats, many of the multiplexes now have black seats in their standard screens with the likes of Odeon also using blue and even cream in their Luxe screens.

Fixed seating is a long-term investment in any entertainment venue as it can last for many decades, so it’s important the fabric colour you choose is one which will stand the test of time. Red remains popular as it is a classic colour that has never gone out of fashion in the arts.

As fixed auditorium seating is so durable, many venue managers choose to have it reupholstered rather than replaced once it does start to show signs of wear and tear. This is a perfect opportunity to change the look by opting for a different fabric colour.

Over the years Evertaut has manufactured and installed fixed seating in many arts venues across the UK. We have also reupholstered a wide range of vintage seating in old theatre and cinema buildings. Alongside those venues that have stayed loyal to classic red, here we show you some of those that have chosen alternative fabric colours.



The seats in Bolton Library Theatre were originally upholstered in a muted blue velvet but when the theatre was being refurbished, they opted for a strikingly different, vibrant purple.

Before and after images of traditional fixed seating in a theatre auditorium following reupholstery in purple velvet fabric

When Solihull Arts Centre was relaunched as The Core Theatre, the auditorium underwent a complete refurbishment. The original red seats were replaced with Evertaut’s Orion seating, upholstered in a rich purple velvet.

Before and after images of a theatre auditorium showing old red seats and then installation of new purple fabric colour for fixed seating


Opera Holland Park (pictured below left) is a temporary covered venue that pops up in the beautiful surroundings of London’s Holland Park in the Summer of every year. The stylish blue auditorium seats offer the perfect position from which to enjoy critically acclaimed opera.

Blue upholstery has also been used on the seats in the theatre pictured below right where it has been combined with black under-seat boards, allowing unoccupied seats to be less visible once the house lights are dimmed.

Blue works well on both traditional and modern seats in a variety of different fabrics from plain weaves to velvets. The latter can be seen on the fixed seat with gold end panels pictured below.

Blue fabric colour for fixed seating shown on individual theatre seats and in theatre auditoria


Whilst this is certainly not a common colour for fixed seating in a theatre auditorium, more muted tones are becoming more popular. We are seeing more of these shades being used at the luxury end of the market, particularly in cinemas. Light colours such as these can be combined with black or dark stained under-seat boards to ensure the overall look is not too dazzling if some seats were to be left unoccupied during a performance.

stone fabric colour for fixed seating shown on theatre seats in an auditorium and on a pair of seats


We only have one example of a theatre we have worked in which has yellow upholstery on its fixed seating and that’s the world-famous Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. Evertaut has previously refurbished the seating in this venue which is a Grade II listed building, meaning the new fabric had to be colour matched to the original.

Yellow fabric colour for fixed seating shown on theatre seats in an auditorium


Again, green is not a colour we are asked for very often when it comes to fixed seating installations in arts venues, but this youth centre opted for a bright green fabric for their cinema/theatre room. This type of shade may not be suitable for most theatres but a darker green could be a smart and stylish option, as was used on the love seat pictured below right which we manufactured as a bespoke commission for a client in Germany.

Green fabric colour for fixed seating shown in a small cinema auditorium and on an individual love seat


Finally, in our look at upholstery colours for fixed seating in entertainment venues, we come to classic red. It’s still just as popular for new seating installations as it is for refurbishments and it never fails to look good.

From the intimate venue of Formby Little Theatre (below left), to the large auditorium in the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool (centre) and the traditional theatre auditorium which is now home to the Church of Pentecost in Dagenham (below right), different shades of red are still making an impression on audiences across the UK.

Red fabric colour for fixed seating shown in 3 different theatre auditoria settings

Evertaut refurbished the auditorium seating at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry using Sunbury Zurich Martini fabric. As the theatre is a listed building it was a strict requirement that all the materials used matched the originals.

Red fabric colour for fixed seating shown in a large theatre auditorium

If you’re still unsure what colour to choose for your theatre seating, you can view swatches of our most popular fabrics here. For a classic velvet, look at Sunbury Zurich or Madison, or if you prefer a plain weave, Camira Mainline Plus is a versatile fabric which gives a smart appearance. There are of course thousands of fabrics on the market and these are just some examples of what is popular for theatre seating. If you have something different in mind then we can source fabrics from other suppliers, as required.


**This article was written before the impact of COVID-19 hit the entertainment industry and as a result of this situation we appreciate that many venues are understandably having to cancel plans for new seating or refurbishment. Some establishments we have been working with are fortunate to be able to continue with their seating projects and are using the imposed dark time to get this work done.

As we look at new ways of working during these unprecedented times, we are still able to quote and produce seating plans without physically seeing a venue, providing we have the dimensions of the space.**


For more information on Evertaut’s range of fixed seating for entertainment venues, or to request a no-obligation quotation, please complete and submit the short form below.