A touch of luxury
There's no other material that will transform a piece of furniture or a space quite like velvet. Its shiny sheen and soft-to-the-touch qualities instantly enrich any colour, so it's perfect for giving your interior an opulent and inviting edge.
Yet decorating with it has the potential to go one of two ways. Too much can be kitsch (and not in that fun, ironic way) and too little is simply pointless. So, how do you get the balance just right? The balance that exudes effortless richness and luxury rather than a tacky homage to Elvis?
When it comes to practicality, the fabric is quite thick and dense, so it makes for good insulation, especially for window treatments. It's certainly a material that has autumn/winter written all over it.
"With memories of heavy curtains and formal brown velvet furniture, velvet is one of the most under-rated fabrics around but it's actually a very sensuous fabric and it's incredibly tactile and warm," says interior designer, Eily Roe (eilyroeinteriors.ie).
"It has grown in popularity, significantly, due to its availability in great colour palettes, versatile patterns and, more recently, new florals," adds Tracy Elliot, creative director at Kevin Kelly Interiors.
If velvet is a material you don't have much experience with, introduce it in stages, teaming with other textures and surfaces, so you don't overwhelm the room by dressing it top-to-toe.
Setting a collection of velvet-covered cushions against a backdrop of open brickwork, or distressed wooden furniture, will add modesty as well as interest, if you want to avoid a look that's too stuffy or formal.
If you plan on going all out, however, then look to reupholster larger pieces like sofas and armchairs to create an instant statement. You can even run a velvet theme throughout the house; by switching up the curtains in every room, you'll create cohesion and fluidity from one to the next.
So, where will we see velvet creep into the home? "This season, we are using fluid velvets to create luxury drapes, and we're upholstering with velvet as well as using more patterned options for cushions," says Tracy.
"I'm currently using a very pale baby pink velvet on a large corner sofa, partnered with enormous squishy armchairs and footstools in duck egg blue. This combination may have a summery vibe but it's just so warm for our Irish winter," Eily adds.
"If you buy quality fabric from the start, velvet is incredibly hardwearing and it's available in so many beautiful colours," she continues.
But when it comes to cleaning, be aware that light hues will show marks in no time. It's important to look to companies that specialise in the cleaning and protection of materials to make life that bit simpler: "I'll be having a light pink sofa treated by Fiberseal (fiberseal.ie), so that stains can be wiped away easily." Avoid water-based detergent as it can damage the material's soft nature.
Velvet is also famed for being a hair and fur magnet, so arming yourself with a lint roller and vacuum cleaner will ensure your surfaces are kept looking fresh.
Anna Shelswell-White is editor of House and Home magazine
Velvet ombre throw, from €59
Stay warm as we head into winter and keep a blanket draped by the sofa; next.ie
Jean Cocteau ottoman, €490
Statement, designer pieces in bright colours will always liven up a room; roche-bobois.com
Abigail Ahern black velvet crow bookends, €42
Introduce fun accessories that can be switched up easily and regularly; debenhams.ie
Velvet ombre cushion, €30
Cushions are a good place to start when introducing velvet surfaces to the home for the first time; oliverbonas.com
Moresque chair, €504
With the range of colours and finishes out there, velvet no longer has to mean formal, stuffy interiors; anthropologie.eu