See velvet, or even hear the word ushered, and your mind’s likely to be awash with all things rich, plush and just the right level of glamourous. With its luxurious sheen and unmistakable texture, velvet has long been considered one of the most swoon-worthy fabrics to feature in the home (and indeed in your wardrobe). But are there rules about where to velvet and where not to? Are there pitfalls to watch out for? And is there a single spot where velvet thrives most of all?
Velvet on upholstery
The epitomised velvet sofa is the most classic example of where to use the fabric in question en masse. A much-adopted sitting room approach since Edwardian times (upper echelons only, of course, due to velvet’s hefty price tag), the trend for velvet sofas boomed once more in the 1970s, and then again in the past decade. Coveted as it is, the velvet sofa isn’t for everybody. It may be unequivocally chic, but bear in mind that it isn’t the most practical of choices. If yours is a home where little people and pets run amok, then your velvet sofa will struggle to hide its war wounds. That is, unless you opt for a predominately polyester-based velvet of course (and lose out on all of the richness of character you get from the cotton or silk variety). The golden rule? Welcome a velvet sofa into your home with open arms if it’s going to be treated with the respect it deserves.
But sofas are not, by far, the only upholstery option. Armchairs cry out for the velvet touch, especially those that are occasional use pieces, because they won’t get as much life thrown their way and become more of an object of admiration. Consider a pair either side of a window on a landing area – such a daily beauty to behold as you wander through your home – or one in a bedroom as your much-cherished perch to which you escape for a bit of peace and quiet. You could tie it in with a velvet headboard to achieve a seamless link and look forward to resting your head against its plush pile night after night, morning after morning. A velvet armchair is also a good idea if you feel a sofa doesn't quite suit the rhythm of your home, but you’re set on having velvet as a sitting room feature. Call it a compromise, and a very happy one at that.
A velvet footstool is also a worthy option – especially if you go for a button-tufted design like Rupert or Arthur where the pocketed effect makes the velvet appear even more luxurious. And so too are velvet dining chairs should you want a gloriously comfortable sit and to elevate your dining room, moving it further up the sophistication scale.
Velvet as an accent
Remembering that it’s the little things in life that make a big difference, featuring velvet in your home’s smaller touches is always a wise move. Velvet cushions strewn onto a linen sofa can completely alter the atmosphere of a room, contrasting coloured velvet pillows on the bedspread is a way to bring a new colour to your bedroom’s palette, and a velvet trim on a hallway rug tells all who walk over it that this a home that’s far from being all about the functional and the practical.
Treating velvet as an accent piece, though, doesn’t fall purely in the camp of cushion covers, trims and throws. Back to the bigger pieces, a velvet chair can act as an accent in a scheme otherwise devoid of richness. Take the home office as an example. In the scheme pictured, it’s very much a story of timber flooring, the oak and steel Carter desk, and a cool colour palette, but the teal velvet Shoreditch carver chair brings a whole new dimension to the room – in terms of colour and texture.
Velvet as curtains
Where is one of the greatest expanses of fabric in a room if it’s not on a sofa? Curtains.
To make a serious statement with velvet, cast thoughts of cotton or linen to one side, and set your sights solely on velvety drapes.
Cotton and silk velvets naturally have fluidity to them, which means they lend themselves well to cascading curtains. Always opt for fully-lined ones though to give them added weight which will not only help to control any movement, but produce a comforting, blanket-like texture that imbues any room with a level of visual warmth that’s hard to compete with.
For added drama, speak to your curtain maker about having them made longer than necessary so that they pool on the floor. Otherwise, floor-skimming velvet curtains will do the trick beautifully.
Velvet en solo or on repeat
There is such a thing as too much velvet, and less is generally more in its case. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can’t use a generous amount of it in a room though. You need to think about its presence in relation to the whole space. Providing everything isn’t velvet-lined, there are umpteen facets to a scheme and so having a large velvet sofa, dotted with a few velvet cushions (amongst others) and perhaps a smaller velvet accent chair in the corner (such as the Madeleine design) is more than OK. Similarly, a room with velvet curtains and a velvet armchair is far from being a velvet overdose.
So, use it on its own so that it acts as a subtle, charming nod, or gather a few velvet tributes and let them behave as a beacon. Either way, as soon as velvet is noticed, it announces, confidently and eloquently, this is a home of the bold and the beautiful.