The History of Velvet Furniture
The strong current appeal of velvet in the world of contemporary interiors is really nothing new. This historically alluring material has been a mainstay of interior decor for centuries. As velvet became an attainable fabric throughout the 20th century, it began to evolve culturally. Today, velvet runs the gamut from tasteful opulence to tacky.
Whatever the latest cues, velvet furniture is in right now. The soft touch, rich hues, and adaptability of the fabric feed our desire for beauty and comfort. Upholster a modern sofa in velvet and it can soften an entire room. Velvet is the perfect fabric for rich texturing. Contrast it with chunky patterns, leather, and natural finishes like marble and wood to create a lush contemporary environment that is both clean and inviting.
Learn more about the history, production techniques, and care of this illustrious material below, or check out our velvet furniture like this piece from B&B
Interior by Chimera Interiors | @chimerainteriors | Photo by Ed Addeo
A brief history of Velvet
Velvet is strongly linked to European nobility, having been a significant symbol of status in European culture. Its origin can, however, be traced to Eastern culture, and some of its silk forms have been traced back to 403 B.C. Other forms have been found in Egypt and Iraq dating back to as far as 2,000 B.C. making these countries among the first producers of this treasure.
Velvet was introduced as a trade commodity by Europeans along the Silk Road, and Italians are known to have established the first velvet industry. This country went on to become the largest producer and supplier across Europe. Velvet is mainly featured in luxurious items such as:
Production of velvet boomed across Europe during the Renaissance period, which saw significant breakthroughs in technology. This allowed faster and cheaper textile and clothing manufacturing. Over this period, more velvet was produced and used on clothing and furniture to enhance them aesthetically.
Interior by Lilly Bunn Design | @lillybunninc
The luxurious aspect of velvet made it popular among the cream of society. It was significantly used in the 1970's glamorous vibe and became typical attire for the pop icons in the '80s. Today, velvet is still a much-coveted material and furniture companies use it on textile linings and furniture to make them more appealing.
How Velvet is Made
The word velvet isn't a reference for the material or the fiber used but the structure of the fabric. It is recognizable by the tufts of yarn protruding from the cover of the material.
Velvet isn't knitted like other types of fabrics but requires the use of more yarn. Here are the steps to make velvet:
- The initial step entails knitting two different kinds of materials together in between two layers of backing.
- The product of the two is then divided into two identical pieces that have soft upraised piles.
Velvet can be made from different materials. Traditionally the primary material was silk, but there are cheaper options today such as:
- Synthetic fibers
Polyester is also used in the fashion industry to replace natural materials.
Interior by Chimera Interiors | Photo by Andrea Russo | Architecture by Tag Front | Art provided by Creative Artist Agency
Interesting Facts About Velvet
Velvet creates a classy look that aesthetically enhances not only the furniture it's used on but also the rooms where this furniture is placed. It sends a picture of extravagance, and it's worth the hype and is an excellent way to enhance the look of one's furniture.
To appreciate the use of velvet on furniture and other items, there are outstanding things about this material that one should know. This includes:
- Surprisingly versatile
- Historical and royal roots
- Symbol of opulence
- Built to last
- Easy to clean
- Can be lightened up
- Not all about glamour
Interior by Carlos Antonio | @c_antonio_
While velvet is deemed more luxurious and classy than most other materials of its kind, it is impressively versatile and can be used on multiple items. It comes in different forms, making it a fit for large upholstered beds to small items such as pillows. It can be used as an option for a variety of home items, from furniture to curtains.
Velvet extends beyond the limits of fashion and trends and is relevant beyond seasons. It can further furnish bright rooms as well as relatively dark spaces.
Historical and Royal Roots
Velvet flaunts a rich history and is identified with ancient nobilities in Europe and Asia. Initially, before the advent of technology, the means of production were quite expensive; hence it was an item of the wealthy. It found its way on the Silk Road trade, and soon after the Italian Renaissance more of it was produced.
This textile still retains its glamour and even today nobilities such as Queen Elizabeth adorn it during formal ceremonies.
Photo by Modern Resale | Minotti Seymour sectional | Minotti Jacob coffee tables
Symbol of Opulence
Time may have seen the discovery of new and cheaper forms of velvet, but the material still retains its opulent nature. Even in modern society it's thought only the wealthy can afford velvet items. Expensive furniture such as modern velvet sofas and modern velvet armchairs for instance, are considered items of the rich.
Built to Last
It's false to say that velvet demands high maintenance. Much like other textiles, it just requires proper maintenance. If cared for correctly, it guarantees a long service life even on frequently used furniture. It might be bruised due to frequent use, but the piles always return to their original state.
Should piles not return to their natural state, you can always gently steam it out. Other bruises might turn permanent, but that's no different from other forms of textiles. Velvet wears out, but unlike other materials, it's more durable. It's like leather but ages more gracefully.
Interior by JSN Studio | @jsn.studio
Easy to Clean
To give velvet furniture some more lifespan, adopting a regular cleaning routine is highly recommended. You can use a vacuum to blow out dirt pieces that might be trapped in the piles of velvet.
In the case of spills, velvet can be cleaned with an appropriate stain repellent. You can dab a stain with a soaked towel, but if the stain has dried up, it's imperative to consult a reputable furniture cleaner. A modern velvet sofa for example could be made of multiple yarns of velvet whose materials may require different repellents to remove stains.
Velvet is easy to clean so long as the owner doesn't allow dirt to accumulate over long periods of time.
Can be Lightened Up
While velvet furnishing is associated with more vibrant colors and furniture made of the same materials placed in darker spaces, it can also be a perfect match in softer shades. Even in brightly lit spaces, darker shades of velvet furnishing can be used.
Not All About Glamour
Velvet furnishing is greatly attributed to glamour, but it can also be used to balance room textures and colors. In dark spaces, it can be used to bring some warmth while in brightly lit rooms it creates an appealing shade.
Interior by Carlos Antonio | @c_antonio_ | Photo by Chad Smith
Velvet has been used to furnish different items throughout history. Although technology has made it possible to make cheaper forms of velvet, it is still considered a commodity of the wealthy and not many can afford it. It appears often on expensive clothing and furniture.
When did velvet become popular?
Velvet fabric gained popularity as a fabric clothing since the 1970s, but no one knows who invented this fabric or where it came from. Rumor has it that it originated somewhere in Arabia.
Does velvet furniture wear well?
It's a common misconception that velvet is high-maintenance. In truth, the fabric isn't all that delicate and can last for decades if properly cared for. Even in a family room that gets a lot of action, a velvet sectional is a functional option that'll hold up beautifully to years of wear.
What is velvet usually made of?
Velvet today is usually made from synthetic and natural fibers, but it was initially made from silk. Pure silk velvet is rare today, as it's extremely expensive. Most velvet that's marketed as a silk velvet combines both silk and rayon. Synthetic velvet can be made from polyester, nylon, viscose, or rayon.
How can I protect a velvet sofa?
For velvet, use the small brush attachment of a vacuum and run it in the direction of the nap. If you fears the attachment isn't very clean, they can wrap it in cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band to protect the velvet upholstery. You can also dry brush with a soft-bristle hairbrush to dust and remove hair or fuzz.
Is velvet furniture durable?
Velvet itself is quite durable, even though it's luxurious and high-style look would make one think otherwise. This is because it has no raised weaves or loose threads and has a flat pile similar to a rug weave, which makes it impossible to snag and helpful if one has a pet as pet hair falls off.