After 6 months designing the perfect Danish modern-ish, L-shaped sectional for my mid-century ranch, I’d decided on the right fabric—a black-brown velvet from Kravet. Oh, my friends, you can betcha it was sure to be the most tantalizing textile in all of my 1,560 square feet. My upholsterer’s team walked it through the back door, I took a dive onto the 11-foot long masterpiece and basked in its brilliance—until I brought a shed-happy white rescue Terrier home days later.
My point, and I do have one, is that velvet is a very complex fabric to deal with. Take it from me, I’ve had to work like crazy to keep my beloved sofa from entering the gates of furniture heaven. From durability and stitching to colors and placement, there’s so much to take into consideration. And, believe it or not, much like that ridiculous “no white after Labor Day rule,” there’s some times of the year to put the velvet away. Let’s discuss—after I cover my own velvet sofa with bedsheets, of course.
Velvet Sofa as Seen on Wallpaper Collective
First up, what is velvet and why does it feel so darn luxurious? Well, it’s usually made from silk, which means a very high cost per yard, or cotton, which is closer to a medium price point. Those two evoke the true, sensuous feeling we often associate with such a romantic textile. Synthetic velvets (silk mixed with viscose, polyester or nylon) are often the most affordable and the most durable. The latter is the best route to go if you’re a dog-allowed-on-furniture type like I am. Its range in color pretty much spans the entire rainbow; Knoll has some of the punchiest hues. Azure (blue-grey) and Lipstick (fire engine red) are unlike anything else out there.
Velvet Throw Pillows, Poshtots
When it comes to velvet accessories, seasonal appropriateness comes into play. Although I say it’s hogwash, it truly is something many decorators still live by. In fashion, Valentine’s Day is when velvet should officially be put away until the following holiday season. The same goes for accessories in regards to decorating. So, after February 14th, it’s suggested to stick pillows and throw blankets on mandatory hibernation until December. Do I live by this rule? MOST CERTAINLY NOT! But, of course, to each his own.
Velvet Throw, Lavender Fields Online
Velvet is often difficult to clean due to its pile, but modern fabrication methods make cleaning more feasible. Many throw blankets, like this synthetic style from Lavender Fields, can simply be tossed in the washer. Synthetic blends are often more machine friendly; this particular one is 82% rayon and 18% silk.
Flocked Velvet Wallpaper From Wallpaper Collective
And then there’s flocked velvet wallpaper. First up, what’s the deal with calling it “flocked”? It kinda sounds as though it’s approaching bad language territory, right? It gets its name from the flocking process. This involves the application of short fibers, usually made of polyester, nylon or rayon, to an adhesive-coated surface. As the fibers are extremely short, the rich, graphic, tactile effect resembles that of velvet. Typically, flocked wallpaper has ornate decorative patterns; however, modern wallpaper manufacturers now sport almost any shape from animal silhouettes to letters to skull-and-crossbones. In many cases, the flocked effect is more of a tone-on-tone style in which the velvet-like texture breaks up the otherwise, flat paper-like look. Recently, higher contrasting flocked effects have been in demand, often black fibers against a lighter or more bold backdrop.
Design by Brian Patrick Flynn, Photos by Sarah Dorio
A common upholstery style used with velvet is diamond-tufting. The rich texture of velvet often casts a sexy shadow among the recessed tufts, resulting in a romantic, sensuous feeling. I designed this velvet reading lounge for a film production company in downtown Atlanta. Taking into consideration they are all 30-something, beer-and-cocktail-loving dudes, I opted for indoor/outdoor velvet that won’t succumb to wrap-party shenanigans. Smart move, huh? For more information on super-durable, indoor/outdoor velveteen, check out Sunbrella.