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Velvet: A decor favourite now that never went away

Once the luxurious material of nobility, velvet is now a fashion favourite at both the private-label and mass-market level

This image provided by Zeke Ruelas shows the living room of a residence with a blue velvet sofa.
This image provided by Zeke Ruelas shows the living room of a residence with a blue velvet sofa. (AP)

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It was all over the fashion runways. Women’s Wear Daily raved about Armani dresses in this material. Harper’s Bazaar called it one of 2022’s biggest trends. At Britain’s film awards, celebrities partied in Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren and Gucci versions. It’s even found its way down to casual wear, in jeans, T-shirts and slouchy overshirts.

Once the luxurious material of nobility, velvet’s now a fashion favourite at both the private-label and mass-market level.

And as often happens, what rides high in fashion ends up doing the same in home décor.

Also read: What every home needs, according to Gauri Khan

“As an interior designer, I love infusing fashion trends in my designs,” says Cincinnati-based Amy Youngblood. “Many of my clients have come to recognize that both interior design and fashion give you the freedom to creatively explore and develop a better understanding of yourself and others around you. Fashion is the driving force which interior design follows, and finds its inspiration from.”

But should we say velvet is “trending”?

Here’s Jessica Dodell-Feder, executive editor at HGTV Magazine:

“I was talking to our home and style directors about this, and honestly, we all feel like velvet never really went away. It’s one of those classic fabrics that add texture and depth to a space without introducing pattern. And that’s cool,” she says.

For John McClain, an interior designer in Orlando, Florida, and author of the new “The Designer Within” (Gibbs Smith), the plush fabric is on speed dial in his little black book of upholstery.

“Velvet is a mainstay in my designs,” he says.

He's done a home theater wall in velvet for a client, and says it has excellent sound abatement properties. He called the fabric “our seating cover of choice.”

Velvet, he says, can offer deep color and a rich feel that “shines at a dinner party.” At the same time, it can be much more resilient than people assume — particularly if you get a commercial-grade synthetic velvet.

“Nobody knows the difference, because the ‘hand,’ or feel, is so soft. It feels as sophisticated — and as nice — as its natural cotton counterpart,” he says.

Dodell-Feder agrees. “For most families, performance velvet will probably do the trick. It’s not as luxe as real velvet, but it’s easier to care for and has a similar plushness. Because I have a dog, when I bought a sofa for my living room, I went with performance velvet,” she says.

And Jillian Hayward Schaible, a designer in Milton, Massachuetts, also cautions clients to select the right kind of plush velvet for their furniture.

“It can add lovely depth in both texture and sheen on any piece, from furniture to accents. If you’re looking for a pet-friendly, family-friendly fabric, we’d recommend opting for a performance velvet,” she says.

Velvet is made of natural fibers like silk, cotton, linen, wool; less expensive versions may have a synthetic blend. Performance velvet is made of polyester.

Domino magazine’s editors recently coined the name “Plazacore” for a style that nods to the Manhattan hotel that was home to the children’s-book character Eloise. It’s evoked by accessories like crystal, polished metallics and cushy velvet throws.

As for colour, McClain says he typically goes for light neutrals—“yes, even in a family with kids”—but that sometimes "we also love the punch of a colorful velvet. It’s a statement maker.”

New York City designer Gideon Mendelson says he puts velvet on sofas, chairs, headboards and, when the budget allows, walls. He liks soft grays and camels as well as “deeper tones of teal, chocolate brown, and burgundy.”

HGTV’s deputy home director Lora Yoon Huh sees a trend toward warm shades. “Lately, I’ve been seeing velvet in sunset colors like ochre and orange."

But the magazine did a recent shoot of a bed with a pale pink velvet pillow. Says Huh: “There’s something about the way velvet catches the light that gives any color beautiful dimension.”

And designer Nicole Fisher placed a champagne-hued, crushed-velvet bed in a home in New York City’s West Village, for a sophisticated yet comforting spot. Then, in the TV room, she placed a pair of ottomans in a soft but vibrantly patterned velvet to riff off the space’s sapphire-blue walls.

“There are so many ways to incorporate that cozy vibe with velvet,” she says.

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