How to Decorate with Velvet

Rich velvet fabric brings instant glam to your interiors, but a heavy-handed approach can turn fab to drab. We've gathered some great tips to help you integrate this terrific textile into your room design, so you can coordinate your look without overwhelming your furniture or decor.

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Velvet Variations

Unlike most upholstery material, velvet has a short tufted pile that extends slightly from the main cloth, giving it a lustrous sheen and soft surface. When you run your hands back and forth across the nap of a velvet chair, the fabric also shifts from light to dark. There are several types of velvet used in home decor, such as:

  • Crushed Velvet: Gets a texture boost and extra shimmer thanks to its irregular patterns. Typically used to create accent pillows or throws.
  • Natural Fiber Velvet: Cotton, linen, wool and mohair are often components of high quality velvet fabrics.
  • Silk Velvet: Luminous, supple and strong, silk has it all but at an expensive price point.
  • Synthetic Velvet: Nylon and polyester, especially when blended with natural fibers, make a durable, dense material that's perfect for velvet sofas and headboards.

Velvet Upkeep

Many people avoid velvet because they assume it's tough to keep clean, but it's remarkably resilient. Regular vacuuming with an upholstery attachment keeps your furnishings dust- and pet fur-free. If you have removable couch or chair cushions, give them a good shake and flip them over once a month.

When blotted immediately, small spills are a snap to clean up. A brief session with a hairdryer helps with any remaining liquid, and a few swipes with a bristle brush fluffs the fibers back to their original luster. Serious stains, however, may require professional cleaning.

Over time, lounging on velvet sofas and benches disrupts the nap, giving the material a lovely patina. However, leaving heavy objects on velvet furnishings can result in unsightly pressure marks. Fortunately, you can usually remove these indentations with a handheld steamer.

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Decorating with Velvet

Start with Accents

If you're not quite ready to commit to velvet furniture, try a couple of toss pillows or a throw. Choose a color from your current palette and add a long lumbar cushion to a couch or an accent pillow to an armchair. In the bedroom, a velvet comforter or duvet gives you the opportunity to see this texture over a larger surface, too.

Create Harmony

Velvet is a dense textile, so it's important to lighten the load. When used with velvet, thinner, lighter materials such as linen, silk or satin offset its heavier composition. The contrast delivers visually appealing balance to your layout.

Less is More

Decorating with velvet is a lot like adding spices to your favorite dish. You need just enough for flavor, but too much can spoil the meal. Arranging a pair of accent chairs with a woven fabric sofa lends a touch of rich texture and color, but a full velvet living room suite is apt to overwhelm and may look a bit dated.

Turn down the Volume

While many adore the deep, saturated hues available in velvet, you can also opt for neutral shades that have a little less impact. Position a tufted gray ottoman in front of a slate leather armchair to get a subtle, plush surface and skip the drama.

Putting it all Together

Bedroom

Sumptuous velvet upholstered headboards establish a soft, cozy atmosphere right from the start. Choose cotton bedding rather than silky fabrics to avoid competing with the frame's luxurious sheen. Placing a velvet bench at the end of the bed is another way to work this lush material into your space.

Living Room

A velvet couch makes a captivating focal point as well as an ultra-comfy lounging spot. Complete the layout with a linen loveseat and a coordinating table set. A backdrop of sheer flowing curtains is the perfect final touch. For a more dramatic effect in a boho-chic or eclectic room, opt for delightfully designed velvet chairs to complement a turquoise leather sofa.

Dining Room

Create something extraordinary by surrounding your pale oak dining table with velvet side chairs. Plush, padded upholstery ensures your guests have comfortable seats while the velvet sheen contrasts against the matte wood surface. Metallic accents, like a silver hanging lamp or a pair of chrome sconces, bring another layer of texture to the scene.

Home Office

Take your freelancing gig to a new level by replacing a desk chair with a velvet model that includes lumbar support and a headrest. If clients often visit, opt for luxe velvet seats arranged in front of an impressive office desk.

Is Velvet Right for You?

Often misunderstood as a high-maintenance fabric, velvet brings a touch of glamor to everyday life. This material allows you to play with texture, incorporate rich hues and design cozy, welcoming spaces. With a little strategic planning, balance and attention to color, velvet accents and furniture can be part of any room or decor style.

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