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Velvet Sofa Buying Guide

The idea of a velvet sofa might not occur to everyone buying a new piece of furniture or, if it does, it's often put out of mind on the basis that it's too fragile, too expensive, or just not cool. Fortunately, none of those things is actually true anymore (if they ever were), so we’d urge you to reconsider this sadly overlooked fabric.

Velvet is a style of fabric and can be made from silk, wool, or artificial fabrics like polyester. The principle is the same regardless though; two lengths of cloth are woven face to face, with lengths of fibre stitched through from one to another. Then they are cut apart, leaving the soft nap that is made up of hundreds of tufts of the cut fibre, which makes velvet uniquely soft, warm, and cosy.

One beneficial side effect of this method of manufacture, however, is that each tuft of fibre is a single cut strand, rather than a loop or woven pattern, so there is nothing to be snagged by pet claws or stray bits of clothing or to retain bits of dirt and dust. This makes velvet surprisingly hard-wearing and resilient to damage, and very easy to clean with just a vacuum cleaner.

Style-wise, velvet has both a softness and a shine that are a great way to add texture to a space that is either very plain and neutral or is dominated by more rugged textures like leather, wood or exposed brick. It's this sort of contrast in texture and tone that makes space really come to life, particularly given the modern preference for varied, surprising and occasionally even ironic design touches. It also means that velvet is easy to fit into almost any space, and a whole range of different design aesthetics, without clashing or looking out of place.

Maintaining your velvet sofa

As mentioned above, velvet generally just requires a quick vacuum to remove loose dirt and dust and then brushing in the direction the fibres naturally lie, to restore the nap. If you do spill something, remove as much as you can by carefully blotting it with a clean, absorbent cloth. Avoid washing with water as this can damage the texture of the velvet. Instead, it's always best to use a commercial cleaning product designed specifically for use on velvet and carefully follow the instructions. Alternatively, if the covers on your velvet sofa are removable, you may be able to take them to a specialist upholstery cleaner.

water pouring on velvet sofa

Where possible, it is worth getting velvet upholstery cleaned properly by a specialist on a regular basis even if there are no particular spills or damage, as this will prevent dirt, grease or stains from building up, and will keep the sofa looking new and fresh for as long as possible.

Blue velvet sofas

A blue sofa is one of the easiest colours to work into any room, and it happens to be one that works particularly beautifully in velvet.

fixed back sofa in teal blue velvet Malvern Sofa in Varese Teal Velvet

Dark navy blues are lifted by the textural variation and sheen offered by velvet, making them look deeper and more interesting than a plain, dark colour otherwise might. They work particularly well in neutral spaces dominated by white or cream, where they bring an attractive seaside feel to a room, but can fit equally well with yellow or light brown, or softer shades of blue.

Large sofa in Varese Velvet Denim Holland Large sofa in Varese Velvet Denim R10

Perhaps the essential sofa colour of the last few years is teal. A gentle green-blue, teal is vibrant and unusual, but without being overly jarring or prone to dominating a room. Although a teal sofa can look wonderful in a whole range of fabrics, it works especially well with the shine of velvet, enhancing its sea-like appearance, and giving it a range of tones from navy to almost white, as light falls on the soft nap of the cushions at different angles.

blue velvet button back sofa Charnwood Loveseat in Varese Turquoise R10

Green velvet sofa

For a lot of people, when they think of a velvet sofa, the image that will pop into their mind will be of something in bottle green. A design classic, especially in a style like the Chesterfield, dark green velvet sofas give a sense of warmth and welcome, especially ones that are otherwise very light or neutral. They pair well with warm yellows, such as sunflower tones or small amounts of other dark, rich colours, such as purple or aubergine.

large sofa in crushed green velvet Albany Large sofa in Heritage Velvet Forest R7

Green velvet sofas aren’t limited to these classic darker hues though; perhaps the perfect green shade for velvet, in our opinion, is a lighter and brighter emerald colour. The natural shine of velvet gives it a richness and a, frankly, jewel-like look that looks fantastic in almost any space. Depending on the exact style of sofa you choose, emerald velvet can have a classy, art deco feel, a warm Victorian look, or a sleek and modern vibe.

sofa in bottle green velvet Brighton Large sofa

Grey Velvet Sofa

Lacking the rich colours of some of our other picks, grey may not seem like a natural choice for velvet. On the contrary, however, the shine and softness of velvet are perfectly suited to a colour like grey, that can contain hints of colours from pink to green to purple, yet still maintain calm neutrality that allows it to fit into any space it's placed in.

Arundel Midi sofa in Venetian Sable Arundel Midi sofa in Venetian Sable

The variation in tone provided by the nap will keep a grey velvet sofa looking interesting no matter how the light falls on it, and it can then be lifted with splashes of all sorts of different colours; try pink velvet cushions, for example, or place it on a dark green backdrop.

Denver Sofa Bed in Titanium Velvet Denver Sofa Bed in Titanium Velvet

Alternatively, having a sofa in grey velvet can be a perfect way to maintain a monochromatic colour scheme without it becoming dull. The velvet offers difference and interest through texture, rather than through different colours.

Pink velvet sofa

Given the softness and richness of velvet, pink seems like an obvious colour for it, although the exact tone is worth selecting with care to avoid a look that is too ‘nursery’ in appearance. With pale or pastel pinks, a velvet sofa in a very neutral, white or pink background runs the risk of disappearing a bit. Instead, we love pale pink velvet put into very ‘natural’ colour schemes dominated by wood, blues and greens, and by plants. In these sorts of environments, pink sheds its associations with femininity or the nursery and instead looks soft and natural, particularly given the variation in shade and hue from the velvet.

Piccadilly Sofabed in Longbridge Rosewood Piccadilly Sofabed in Longbridge Rosewood

Alternatively, velvet looks amazing in darker pinks such as salmon or, of course, even hot pink for those bold enough to choose such a statement piece. Those shades often do work better in more neutral rooms, so they have room to stand out but the more vibrant colours don’t take over entirely.

 Uppingham Large in Varese Velvet Cassis R3 Uppingham Large in Varese Velvet Cassis R3

Black velvet sofa

As mentioned with many of the colours above, the joy of velvet is that it’s never really one colour. The sheen of the nap means patches of light will make it look almost white, while other areas will be dark, maybe even almost black. That makes it particularly exciting and attractive in any colour but comes particularly to the fore with black.

Heartwood Sofa in Stain Resistant Velvet Pitch 53 Heartwood Sofa in Stain Resistant Velvet Pitch 53

A black sofa in almost any other fabric tends to look just, well, black. A black sofa in velvet will look white, grey, black and even silver, with gradations of tone and depth as the light falls on corners, edges and cushions at different angles. That makes a black velvet sofa work especially well in those styles that naturally have a lot of curves and shapes, such as deep-buttoned sofas like the Chesterfield.

Barnes Corner sofa in Plush Vevlet Asphalt Barnes Corner sofa in Plush Vevlet Asphalt

The lighting effect can be made even more pronounced with a crushed velvet sofa in black. The crushed velvet makes the effects of light on the fabric a little more random and varied, giving it a rich and glamorous appearance.v