Living with and Caring for Velvet Upholstery

{A Living Room I Designed Using a Solid Velvet on a Custom, Double-Sided Sofa and Chairs as well as a Cut Velvet on a Pair of Wingback Chairs and Skirted Ottomans}

I use velvet in a lot of my projects. It is truly one of my favorite fabrics to use whether it’s a cotton velvet, silk velvet, mohair velvet, cut velvet, solid velvet, or even some of the wonderful performance velvets that have been developed by companies like Schumacher and Kravet recently. I find that velvet upholstery is a great way to infuse a bit of texture and color into a space. Because of its sumptuous “hand” or texture, it instantly adds a bit of glamour to any room in which it appears. It works in nearly all environments, though I’d certainly skip it in a beach house or coastal environment. Remember, the architecture and location of the house will often tell you exactly what it needs.

{A Sumptous Silk Velvet on a Chair in my Room at the 2019 Kips Bay Showhouse}

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I had my white sofas reupholstered in a beautiful moss green velvet a little over a year ago and I wish I had done it sooner! We really use our sofas. We hang out in our living room anytime we are at home and I have been thrilled with the way the velvet has held up. It has been a million times easier to live with than the white performance fabric we previously had. That being said, there is some upkeep, so I thought it might be helpful to give you some pointers on how to live with and care for velvet upholstery.

{My Living Room featuring A Pair of Moss Green Velvet Sofas– Tate approves!}

Don’t let the bit of maintenance of velvet deter you from using it. You’ll be hard pressed to achieve the same level of glamour, coziness, and innate elegance with any other fabric. After all, anything worth having requires a little work, doesn’t it? Much like living with linen which wrinkles easily, painted floors which aren’t very forgiving, or even marble countertops which can stain and etch, I usually advise clients to “know thyself”. You know better than anyone else if you can put up with a little extra maintenance to live with your desired look or if the faintest sign of patina will put you over the proverbial edge, so it’s up to you to know which materials you’re comfortable living with, that being said, here’s how to make living with velvet a bit easier.

{A Cut Velvet Pillow Atop a Velvet Chair in one of my Design Projects}

Velvet can be prone to “crushing” or marking, so make sure that your movers are extra careful and only loosely cover any velvet furniture when transporting it. If the fibers crush, there isn’t always a lot that can be done, but using an upholstery brush can sometimes help. Marks can sometimes be removed by gently steaming the fabric.

{Rich Prussian Blue Velvet on this Sofa for a Client}

A good rule of thumb is to vacuum any velvet upholstery (make sure the roller brush is OFF!) and to use an upholstery brush at least once a week to ensure that the fabric continues to look its best. Over time, frequent use and natural oils from one’s skin can dull the natural sheen of the fabric and can also lead to crushing. Again, know thyself! I’m pretty type A and am very particular about how I like everything, yet, I don’t mind the patina. After all, you should live with the things you love and I love velvet!

{I designed this custom banquette and had it upholstered in a fabulous cut velvet for this client’s dining room.}

When it comes to spills, velvet is not very forgiving. If you spill liquid on it, be sure to blot the surface as quickly as possible. In my own home and for clients, we usually have everything Fiber Sealed to protect against stains and spills. In the end, the cost is nominal in contrast to the “peace of mind” factor it ensures. If you have young children, pets, or plan to use a velvet piece in a high traffic area, you should opt for a performance velvet. Performance fabrics have come a very long way in recent years and can look really beautiful. The velvet I selected for my own sofas is a cotton velvet blend from Kravet that is both stain resistant and liquid repellant.

{Pale Blue Velvet in a Client’s Foyer}

Lastly, if you love the look of velvet, but know that the care and maintenance is more than you want to worry about, consider using it on pieces no one will actually sit on such as on headboards, on throw pillows, or on accent pieces in areas of the house where you want to make a statement, but know that people are not likely to linger.

{For this client’s library, I opted for a silk velvet on the sofa and a velvet blend on a pair of swivel chairs.}


{Photography by Brittany Ambridge, Max Burkhalter and Kerry Kirk for Paloma Contreras Design}

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  1. can you please share the manufacturer of the cut striped velvet on the dining room Banquet shown above? It is beautiful! thank you, joyce

  2. I love your green velvet sofas! I just love Velvet, too. We have had Good luck with velvet sofas, even with kids and dogs. My last sofa was beautiful for 10 years, but wasnt the right size for our new house, gave it to my mom and its still gorgeous in her house. We replaced it with a velvet sectional, and its great. I love the texture and depth that it gives, and it Feels great, too.