Ok this is a bit funny, but I was named after a fabric – velvet. Yap! I’m quite certain that my parents never gave my name a second thought. I guess it just made perfect sense to them since it was my grandmother’s name. After all, there’s a heck lot worse things than that. Of course over the years, my name has sparked a WHOLE LOT of questions; firstly, how is it that I was named after a fabric and secondly, if I had any tips about the actual fabric itself… So here I’m today ready to share some advice based on the things I came to know about decorating with velvet as an interior designer.
Velvet is just one of those exciting materials that has swathed the fashion runways time after time, best known for its regal looks. Its tactility that begs for touching is probably one of its best and most loved attributes. However, this textile happens to be one of the best interiors materials, too. It’s like eye candy, ranking amongst my favorite materials.
Velvet in interior design
Velvet’s ability to dress up a space with a quiet elegance, makes it one of the best rendering tools of a designer. Its calm poise will elevate any characterless setup lending its rich and cozy glamour. Even the smallest velvet home decor i.e. velvet throw pillows, add weight, texture and dimension. That is a most desirable quality, especially in monochromatic color schemes.
Distill velvet’s essence
Decorating with velvet is about decorating with intention to add a lush, well polished, sophisticated look that will make everything look far more expensive. However, it is also a very expensive material (especially the silk kind). Therefore, if upholstering your sofa in silk velvet will have you overstretching yourself, then consider adding it in smaller decor pieces you can afford i.e. a stool. Think of it like ‘less is more.’ Its essence lies not in quantity, but in its quality and knowing how to manipulate that best!
Keep it balanced
In order to keep this precious material looking up-to-date without going over-the-top, you really need to keep a sense of balance in the room. The easiest way to do that is by mixing in other textiles too. Fortunately, velvet is a versatile textile that goes with almost everything (except perhaps burlap). Mohair, wool, silk, taffeta, satin and linen are only some of your options; my favorite being wool and mohair. Also, the characteristic sheen of velvet varies depending on what’s it made of. (That’s something to bear in mind when trying to mix in other fabrics).
Hence, when it comes to velvet furniture if you have a velvet sofa, then it makes sense to add on another sofa in linen and/or some leather armchairs. On the other hand, if you have a bed with a tufted velvet headboard, then throw on the bed a knitted woolen bedspread. It will be the perfect ‘high’ and ‘low’ kind of combination that gives that effortless, well lived casual vibe. Having said that, if your headboard is made of wool then you could add on some velvet drapes.
In every case, be sure you get the nap of the velvet in the right direction. When it comes to upholstering furniture with velvet, the nap (its smoother side) has to run from top to bottom. With drapes it’s the exact opposite.
The first time I ever saw velvet curtains, I was at the tender age of five. They had this deep garnet red color that matched the velvet sofas. And boy, did they make a lasting impression on me. I still remember that elegant living-dining space.
By all means though, not everyone should or can go for that look. Velvet curtains are quite thick by nature and look heavy. They are perfect to keep the draft out while at the same time they reduce noise levels. With regards to interior decorating though, they look best in a room with a high ceiling. Consequently, they probably will look like a misfit in a typical apartment – especially one with a low ceiling.
Best velvet color
According to Miles Redd, former creative director of Oscar de la Renta Home, “all colors are beautiful in velvet.” I say all except mimoza yellow. But then again, why would anyone want a mimoza yellow sofa…? Oh well, that’s besides the point that if you have a favorite color then go for that. By all means, charcoal grey, fir green, celadon, french lilac, chocolate brown and astor rose (a muted blush pink) are all colors that sing on pitch aside any color trends. Personally, I’m into blue, so my dream velvet sofa is indigo blue.
Moreover, velvet is a high performance fabric. If cleaned and looked after according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it will prove to be worthy of your investment. (Never wipe it clean with water or its pile will flatten). It wears well, it is thick and durable, yet susceptible to crushing or matting over time; but that is considered as an attribute that comes with its aging – its patina.
Is velvet still trending in interior design?
Most definitely. As outlined in my interior trends 2020 report, velvet is and will continue its trending streak for many years to come. As a matter of fact, the Series 7 dining chair by Fritz Hansen with its discernible statement curves has released it in velvet as part of Fritz Hansen’s SS20 collection. I think that’s a pretty good indication that velvet is still very much in high demand.
Ways to use velvet in decorating
Gaufrage velvet in a vintage chair, or burnout velvet for drapes, figured velvet for throw pillows are some of the less conventional ways to use velvet in your home decor. Some may argue that these looks may give out a dated aesthetic. I see their point, but it would not be fair to make it a rule. One thing is for sure – they are definitely much harder to pull off, but are worth looking into.
On the other hand, printed velvet is another option to consider that works well for a vast spectrum of styles, including urban eclectic, with a lot less effort. It is mostly encountered in accent chairs. (See image above). And finally, there is crushed velvet. This is the one type I like the least, mostly because its sheen is a bit disturbing. Too much of it can look cheesy before you blink twice. So beware of how and where you use it.
Afterthoughts on velvet
The best thing about velvet, except its soft touch, is the fact that it is a super versatile material that comes in tons of shades that will make your jaw drop. It’s the kind of material that dresses up a classic styled or a minimal contemporary space with the same ease. So it’s no real wonder that people have discovered yet again the power of decorating in velvet, that lies in its looks that shout out quality.