Textile Spotlight: Velvet

By Kate Riley November 4, 2014

Ah velvet. That woven fabric easily recognizable by its short dense even pile that is so soft to the touch. Still chic after hundreds of years, the textile originated in the Far East in the 14th century and grew significantly in production by the 16th century in Italy.

Historically, velvet was created by skilled weavers with silk for nobility and for the church, its presence was a symbol of power and wealth. To make it, warps are drawn over rods to create loops then the rods are removed. The resulting loops are cut into a dense pile that is soft to the touch and changes in various light as it is draped or folded. Variations of the weave include crushed velvet, burnout, voided, embossed, and pile on pile, among others.

In modern times, velvet textiles are made from a variety of materials. Silk is shinier and softer but also the most expensive. Cotton and wool are used for more affordable versions and most inexpensive velvets are made from synthetics such as polyester. Velvet is one of those fabrics that begs to be touched and brings to mind a famous George Castanza quote, “I would drape myself in velvet if it were socially acceptable.”

Velvet makes its appearance this time of year because it’s so soft and warm against the skin although it’s a fabric desirable in interiors all year long. These twin gray sofas are perfection in a space decorated for the holidays featured in House & Home.

gray velvet sofas


A velvet headboard is one way to bring elegance to a bedroom, tufted or with nailhead trim, it’s a classic touch year round!

gray velvet headboard

song of style

blue tufted headboard

how to decorate

gray velvet headboard

victoria hagan

Velvet is always appropriate in the dining room where it adds a dose of formality and so comfortable it encourages family and guests to linger longer.

velvet dining chairs

 house & home

teal velvet dining chairs

landino photo 


The velvet sofa is a piece equally at home in traditional or modern spaces. Velvet is a sophisticated and timeless fabric that adds soft texture and anyone who’s ever sat or napped on a velvet sofa knows just how cozy they can be!

velvet sofas house beautiful

betsy burnham

blue velvet sofa

turner peacock

brown velvet sofa

murphy & co

green velvet sofa

ann street studio

velvet blue sofa

song of style

green velvet sofa chevron rug

the glitter guide

If the statement velvet sofa is not for you, introduce this elegant fabric in smaller ways, think pillows, slipcovered chairs, benches or ottomans.  

velvet pillows

style me pretty

blue velvet bench

style by emily henderson

blue velvet ottoman

jeffers design group


Add a touch of velvet to your home with these stylish accents!

velvet for the home

quilt / settee / pillows / wingback chair / tufted sofa / upholstered bed / ottoman


Related Articles:




Textile Spotlight: Kilim

Textile Spotlight: Tartan

Textile Spotlight: Paisley


  1. Velvet is definitely a love it or hate it fabric. There is some mighty tacky velvet out there…including those roadside Elvis paintings on velvet :)… and then there are some very lovely uses. Is there any other fabric that has been put to use in so many different ways? Color really makes a difference with this fabric. An interesting pictorial study… ~Julie

  2. I bought a set of 8 dining chairs from West Elm in their performance velvet and I have to say it is surprisingly durable and just as lux-looking as the real deal. I’ve been eyeing some velvet drapes for one of our guest rooms but I’ve always associated them with winter or colder-weather….

  3. It’s so kid friendly too! I purchased a velvet settee to push up to my dining room table, and a couple of slip covered chairs from World Market – I have two young kids and velvet is so easy to spot clean its amazing! I believe a velvet couch is in my future. Thanks for the beautiful eye candy!

  4. I have a friend that has a large house. She uses velvet drapes in her 2 story great room all year long. The weight of the velvet really helps bring the eye down and makes the space feel cozy. Target has a great line of velvet drapes for a good price! :-) Great post, Kate!

  5. There are no pets in these pictures, so I must assume any pet is kept in water or a cage. Beautiful colors however and inspiration to perhaps find something that might wear better, and vacuum easily.

  6. @ Helen ^, I have 2 dogs, and I have a velvet down couch in my living room! As Adrienne said, velvet is surprisingly durable and forgiving! My shepherd found her home there, and was an incessant licker! For some reason, it never showed! I would just brush my hand over the pile when her drool dried and it would disappear! I. LOVE. VELVET!

    Kate, PLEASE add more virtual tours to your posts as you did here with the House and Home link! So inspiring, and just plain I candy! You rock!

  7. I had just told my daughter last week that my dream sofa would be velvet! We have leather now, and love it, but velvet makes me swoon!

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