Lush, plush and oozing glamour, it's little wonder that we're all cramming velvet into our wardrobes and our homes.

Nowhere is the current crush on velvet more evident that in home interiors – its tactile, cosy feel and luxurious look have made it an increasingly popular choice for upholstery, curtains – and even wallpaper.

Having recently taken delivery of our plush new velvet ottoman and dining chairs – the first pieces of furniture we’ve had made in this gorgeous fabric – we’re completely sold, and hope our customers will be too. The dark grey colour has luminous depth in this material, as well as a lovely sophisticated sheen, and is so soft to touch, it just invites you to stroke it!

Our Burford and Kingsley dining chairs in supersoft grey velvet around the Belmont dining table.

To make sure our furniture is more durable and suitable for family living, the velvet we’ve chosen for our upholstery is high-quality polyester, which is less likely to mark, crush or fade. It still looks and feels sumptuous but has the benefit of being stain-resistant, so food or mud brush off with ease.

Polyester velvet doesn’t have a tendency to snag either, as there are no loose threads or raised weaves.

Synthetic versions of velvet are very much in vogue for interior décor schemes as they’re more practical and affordable than the traditional material but still have its luxe qualities.

Royal associations

Difficult to produce, woven of lustrous silk with a rich depth of colour and texture from the cut or uncut woven pile, traditional velvet was available only to the very wealthy right up until the mid 18th century, when mechanised production made it more widely available.

Worn by royalty and heads of church and state, velvet has historically been used in coronation robes, for sumptuous wall hangings, evening gowns and fine cloaks as well as for shoes and purses – and to create prestige items of furniture.

One example is the Sovereign’s Throne in the Palace of Westminster, which dates from 1847 and features elaborately carved gilded woodwork, inset with rock crystals, and sumptuous red velvet upholstery with intricate embroidery.

Another notable seat which called for the softness of velvet was Henry VIII’s lavatory, or “close stool”, which was effectively a box – tucked away in private room off the state room at Hampton Court Palace.

This specially designed commode was lavishly covered in black velvet and its lid opened to reveal a padded interior in the same material. It had a hole in the centre with a pewter bowl placed underneath. 

Ancient threads

The earliest form of velvet, woven from silk and linen, is thought to have originated in Egypt in 2000BCE. Velvet weaving then developed in China, between 400 BCE and 23 CE, and later in the Middle East and eastern Europe. But it wasn’t until the late medieval and Renaissance period that velvet design and innovation really took off in Italy and Spain.

Italy dominated supply of the material to Europe between the 12th to 18th centuries. Intricately patterned velvets, woven from silk and threads of precious metal such as gold and silver, were highly sought-after and costly to produce and buy.

During the 20th century, velvet regularly re-emerged on the fashion catwalks in all sorts of guises, from glamorous opera coats to evening gowns to mini-dresses and flares.

Velvet’s still on trend in 2019 and never more so than in the home, with sales of velvet furniture and home accessories showing a notable increase, according to some of the big high street retailers. 

So if you’re considering adding velvet to your own scheme, take a look at our Burford, Kingsley and Hamilton dining chairs, which are now available in dark grey velvet (in addition to our popular Belgian linen) and our dark grey velvet Ottoman Petit Royale.

Our Petit Royale Ottoman in dark grey velvet adds a touch of luxe.

“We’ve introduced dark grey as our first velvet colour for the cooler months, but we’ll be adding more velvet colours early next year,” said LRI co-founder Sarah Cook.

“It’s such a fabulous fabric for adding texture and it mixes perfectly with our Belgian linen ranges too. Now that we have our first velvet pieces in the showroom, we just want more!”

November 13, 2019

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