In previous years, decades, even centuries, velvet was seen as a fabric used only by the bold, to make a statement of opulence and status. It was an expensive, luxurious item that required confidence and care, a fabric bought to last the test of time.
Big statement pieces such as sumptuous curtains or upholstered furnishings are a fabulous way of bringing colour and opulence into a room. But for a lighter touch, velvet accessories are great for providing little punches of colour and small areas of luxury. Whether it is cushions, throws, lampshades, mirrors or even alarm clocks, velvet is here for a reason.
The fabric comes in a wide spectrum of colours today ranging from rich ruby reds, to glamorous gold; beautiful blues and gorgeous green. But regardless of the hue, velvet, particularly if made from quality silk, has that one ingredient that sets it apart from other fabrics – a wonderful sheen within that depth of colour.
So, it’s the perfect choice, even if it’s just square cushions, to help enliven a swathe of plain colour on a sofa, armchair or bed. Taking this look on step further, simple cushions with detailing such as piping, or a pompom trim in a complementary hue elevates them from a square patch of colour to a something altogether more stylish – the piping tying in perhaps with a pops of colour in the same shade dotted around the room; the pompoms evoking a sense of fun or foreign travel.
For more adventurous room designs, patterned velvet cushions will help tie in a scheme, evoking either a sense of drama or highlighting a certain style. Geometric patterns for example are the ideal choice for enhancing an Art Deco look, and would complement additional metallic accessories to add to the elegant and rich feel of a room.
To complement cushions, throws are another way to enhance the luxurious feel of a room. René Dekker and his team use these accessories to perfection – a velvet throw lined with faux fur draped over the arm of a sofa is the ultimate in warmth and luxury.
Even small elements in this textured fabric can make a difference to a room scheme. A velvety lampshade will instantly lift any space whatever your decor or style, particularly if its interior has a metallic sheen to it, as this will reflect the light out as well as add lovely element of warmth.
One of the major concerns with the velvet in days gone by was its care. One drip of water and its pile would be destroyed, visible for all to see and irreplaceable. Today, it all depends on what the velvet is made from, and the treatment the fabric has received, but things have definitely moved on.
The general rule of thumb for velvet made from silk is to get a professional to deal with them. For other style, gentle cleaning with a vacuum or a soft bristled hairbrush will help clear away any dust that will inevitably be drawn to the nap of the fabric like iron filings to a magnet. Just ensure you brush in the direction of the nap of the fabric to prevent marking. Mixing small amounts of warm water and dishwashing detergent to form suds, then using a soft cloth to dab lightly (too hard and the weave could be damaged) at a stain should lift it.
So, investing in velvet is no longer as scary as one might think and with a little maintenance your velvet accessories will age gracefully. For top interior designers, there’s nothing quite like velvet in creating a sumptuous and comforting feel, something to feel you are being protected from the rigours and strains of the outside world.
As the writer L. M Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables among other books) once said: “I like to hear a storm at night. It is so cosy to snuggle down among the blankets and feel that it can't get at you.”