Velvet underground: how to use velvet in your home for a luxurious and cosy feel

When it comes to adding depth and texture to your soft furnishings, velvet is a versatile choice. We take a look at all things velvet-y, including some of our favourite accessories.

Image: Calvin armchair by Atkins and Thyme

What is velvet?

True velvet is a thick and heavy woven fabric, traditionally made from cotton or silk. All the cut threads are pulled through to one side of the fabric, creating a short dense pile which has a distinctively soft, smooth feel. These days, velvet is often made with a mixture of polyester and silk or cotton, to make the fabric more robust and easier to care for.

Velveteen has a shorter, looser nap and feels less smooth. Image: Pixabay

What about velveteen?

Velveteen is essentially ‘fake velvet’. It has a much shorter pile and feels less smooth, and is made from either cotton or synthetic fibres or a mixture. It’s easier to care for, and generally much cheaper.

Which to choose

If you’re aiming for a luxurious feel or want to add texture, then nothing beats the real thing. Although it’s expensive to buy, if you’re handy with a needle you can sometimes find vintage velvet in charity shops in the form of old curtains or even evening cloaks which is perfect for upcycling. Check the whole of the fabric, though, as silk velvet in particular can be damaged and faded by sunlight. There may also be moth damage, or areas where the pile has worn smooth. Vintage velvet isn’t machine washable, so you’ll probably also have to budget for dry cleaning.

If you need a more practical alternative, then although velveteen will never look as good as velvet it is easier to maintain! Most velveteen is machine washable and the pile means that the odd mark or nick shouldn’t be that noticeable.

How to care for velvet

Over time, the velvet pile can be crushed down making the fabric start to look a bit battered. With cotton velvet, you can try some DIY treatment, while silk velvet will need to be dry cleaned. To restore the appearance of cotton velvet, you can try brushing up the nap with a very soft brush. If this isn’t sufficient, you can steam the item (fine for a cushion, harder for a sofa!) by holding an iron on a steam setting about 10cm away, then rubbing up the nap with your hand. You could also try hanging cushion covers or small soft furnishings in a steamy bathroom for half an hour or so. Never try to iron any type of real velvet, as you’ll never be able to restore the pile to its former glory again!

We love:

Calvin armchair in coral velvet and linen, Atkin and Thyme

Calvin armchair in coral velvet and linen, Atkins and Thyme

This mid-century style design is the ultimate occasional chair, perfect for a cosy reading corner in the living area or bedroom. Upholstered in a mixture of linen and velvet, the Calvin armchair costs £399 from Atkin and Thyme and is available in a range of colours.

Medium velvet navy cushion, Domu

Medium velvet navy cushion, Domu

For a plump, textured cushion that won’t break the budget, this navy blue synthetic velvet cushion, £11.99 from Domu, is hard to beat.

Kensington wingback dining chair, Cult Furniture

Kensington wingback dining chair, Cult Furniture

Available in a wide range of colours, this high back dining chair, upholstered in synthetic velvet, is ideal for adding a little glamour to the dining room. £79, available from Cult Furniture. 

Milano velvet armchair beanbag, ICON

Milano velvet armchair beanbag, ICON

We can’t wait for the weather to turn really cold so we’ve got the excuse of spending most of the day in one of these! Could anything be cosier? Come the spring, you’ll probably have to pry us out with a crowbar. From £99.99, available from Bean Bag Bazaar.

Belinda silver grey velvet throw with bobble trim, Ragged Rose

Belinda silver grey velvet throw with bobble trim, Ragged Rose

This throw is made from a 100% cotton velvet and has a pretty pom pom trim. It’s perfect for snuggling under on those chilly evenings when you’re watching TV with a mug of hot chocolate, and is available in a wide range of colours. £75, available from Ragged Rose.

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