Turns Out, Velvet Is a Family-&-Pet Friendly Design Secret Weapon (+ 60 Shoppable Picks)

Arlyn Hernandez Makeover Takeover Living Room Ehd2
photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: arlyn’s light and bright living room reveal

Hey look, it’s my living room! Any story angle I can cook up to push this space onto your eyeballs, I will gladly take because I gave up so many weekends to put this thing together (only sort of kidding here). In a recent brainstorm, we were talking about very exciting topics such as “function,” and I dropped some knowledge on my EHD ladies about velvet and why it’s actually a VERY durable fabric. It might look fancy and shiny, but guys, this stuff can take a beating and more people need to know about it. 9/10 of my EHD audience was pretty shocked and anytime something like that happens, we do what any good blogger does: turn it into a post so everyone can benefit.

I’ve had my velvet sofa (the Maxwell sectional from Interior Define) for just over a year at this point, and it still looks brand new. Granted, I live in a household of just two adults with no children and no pets so…what could possibly go wrong? But hear me out before you dismiss me for not having put this thing through the wringer…I know several people with kids AND pets and a velvet sofa and they’re out here singing its praises. They all agree that the lack of “loops” in the weave prevents snagging from paws and nails and that, because velvet has a dense top layer, spills don’t instantly sink down into it like, say…linen. Instead, it kind of hovers on top of it (for a few seconds), giving you time to run and grab something before it permanently moves into your sofa (without rudely paying any rent). OH and because of the natural varying visual pile, stains are pretty easily to hide…just a swipe of the hand in the opposite direction and all of a sudden, you can’t really tell if it’s just velvet being velvet or last night’s fettuccine alfredo. Yes, there is the matter of dust and fur, but a regular vacuum or lint roller goes a long way (I’ve also heard from pet owners that an old-school squeegee works wonders, especially on a fabric like velvet, so…just sayin’ in case that’s helpful to someone).

Brady Tolbert Design Emily Henderson Living Room Eclectic Pavillion Grey Farrow And Ball Brass Coffee Table English Roll Arm Albini Masculine Traditional West Elm Souk Flokati Leather 5
photos by zeke ruelas | from: brady’s living room reveal

As I started writing this article, I realized I didn’t have all the answers to those original questions the team bombarded me with, so I reached out to our friends at Article for their actual expert take who put me in touch with Zoe Garred, Director of Product Development. (And no, this isn’t sponsored in any way…I reached out to a few furniture companies we work with regularly and they happened to get back to me on time!) Here are some highlights I found interesting:

  • Consider the type of velvet before deciding if it’s good for your kids and pets. “In this case, whether it’s cotton or synthetic velvet. While both are equally beautiful, we tend to recommend synthetic velvet for customers with kids or pets since it’s much easier to care for. We’ve found that stains don’t soak in as deep and the color doesn’t fade as much in direct sunlight, compared to cotton velvet.”
  • Velvet is sensitive to color fade due to direct sunlight, but particularly cotton velvet (another win for synthetic in this case). “To avoid it, I suggest protecting your furniture by selecting a space that isn’t in direct sunlight. If that’s not possible, drape a throw blanket over the sun-exposed areas to protect it from the sun.” 
  • If you are able to find the rub count of a sofa’s velvet, look for something higher rather than lower (for instance, Article’s velvet has a rub count of 40,000, which Zoe says is ideal for a family home with high traffic areas).
  • “Remember to soak up spills immediately with a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel, but be careful not to dab or rub as this will push the liquid deeper into the fibers. Leave the cloth on the spill until all the liquid has been absorbed and let it air dry.”
  • Companies can sometimes interchange “velvet” and “microfiber” but there are differences, mostly in the materials used to make the fabric and how it’s actually manufactured.  “Microfiber is a synthetic fabric typically made of micro strands of polyester that are woven and split into smaller stands to have the appearance and feel of velvet. Natural velvets, like cotton velvet, is a bit heavier and thicker and has a matte look. It’s created on a special loom that weaves two thicknesses of the material at the same time, which are then cut apart to create the pile effect giving velvet its soft feel.”

Fascinating stuff…no? Just me? I mostly think it’s interesting because so many people assume velvet, because of its sheen and “glam” leanings, is super high maintenance or not suitable for a “real” home but guys, THIS IS NOT CORRECT. Are there people reading this who might be scrolling immediately to the comments to tell me how wrong I am…maybe, but the point is this: velvet is no more high maintenance than a standard cloth; if anything, it’s less so for all the reasons mentioned above.

Emily Henderson Waverly Living Room 2018 Fall Update 1 1670x2088
photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: experimenting in my living room, trying to find “the” rug

Besides, aesthetically, it just packs such a visual punch and goes a long way to making a room feel really special. I’m sure this next little fact won’t be shocking to you, but the colored velvet sofa has long been an EHD favorite and that’s for the texture and character it adds to a space. Even when more on the neutral side, it’s hard to overlook the style power of velvet. It’s a great tool to use in say, a smaller room that needs more design bang for its buck or to really shake things up in a main living space. Don’t save this for the “sitting” room that no one ever sits in. Velvet can take the heat, let’s stop leaving it just warming the bench, hm?

Now, in terms of shopping, luckily, thanks to the rampant spread of these babies on social media, the price point has been brought down and you can find really great velvet options at budget-minded retailers and mainstream stores in ALL kinds of colors. Below, I rounded up all my favorites under $1,300 (some as low as $300!) and then under $2,000. And while no, I haven’t tested out all of these, I will note the ones I HAVE tested out IRL during my own sofa search, but also during a big “sofa squad” test series I did back when I was at Apartment Therapy (check that out here).

Emily Henderson Roundup Velvet Sofa Under 1300

1. US Pride Furniture 70″ Sofa | 2. Farlov 86″ Sofa | 3. Chamberlin Velvet 85.5″ Sofa | 4. Ceni 83″ Sofa | 5. Sven 88″ Sofa | 6. Rivet Emerly Mid-Century Modern 83.5″ Sofa | 7. Fairfax Denim Velvet 89.4″ Sofa | 8. Shelia Velvet 80″ Sofa | 9. Albany Park Mid-Century Modern 87″ Sofa | 10. Todd 78.7″ Sofa | 11. Calais Channel Tufted 71″ Sofa | 12. Rivet Aiden Tufted Mid-Century Modern 86.6″ Sofa | 13. Cirrus 82″ Sofa | 14. Rivet Frederick Mid-Century Modern Tufted 77.5″ Sofa | 15. Marta 70″ Sofa | 16. Milly Velvet 87″ Sofa | 17. Eddy 84″ Sofa | 18. Milly Velvet 87″ Sofa | 19. Mirage 75″ Sofa | 20. Chamberlin Velvet 60″ Love Seat | 21. Matrix 78″ Sofa | 22. Drew Barrymore Flower Home Velvet 86″ Sofa | 23. Olsen 90.5″ Sofa | 24. Cloud 90″ Fabric

#2: I didn’t test the velvet version of this because the Farlov had JUST been released and was only available in a linen-like fabric, but it was just deep enough to feel cozy but not so deep that you need 5 pillows behind you for lumbar support.

#4: This sofa sits pretty low, so if you’re looking for something low-profile for good sightlines in an open room, it’s a good consideration. A bit firm, but I know some people like that for support.

#5: Sara has this sofa (in leather) and loved it so much she sourced it for her parents’ living room makeover and is considering reordering it for her TV room in velvet.

#19: The arms slope down pretty low on this baby which might feel weird if you’re used to leaning up against an arm (but a good height for resting your head on during a short nap). Also, it’s just so dang pretty (especially in that golden yellow velvet).

Emily Henderson Roundup Velvet Sofa 1300 To 2000

1. Forte Channeled Charcoal Velvet 80″ Sofa | 2. Brooklyn Down-Filled 81″ Sofa | 3. Lounge II 93″ Sofa | 4. Romano 93″ Sofa | 5. Jason Wu Two-Seat 77″ Sofa | 6. Calhoun 76″ Sofa | 7. Vail Curved Arm 87″ Sofa | 8. Andes 76.5″ Sofa | 9. Carlo Mid-Century 77.5″ Sofa | 10. Maxwell 82″ Sofa | 11. Kaye 95.75″ Sofa | 12. Sutton 78.5″ Sofa | 13. Harmony Down-Filled 82″ Sofa | 14. Anderson 88″ Sofa | 15. Todd Extended 108″ Sofa | 16. Goodwin 90″ Sofa | 17. Shelter 84″ Sofa | 18. Briar 90″ Sofa | 19. Bannister 87″ Sofa | 20. Loren 79″ Sofa | 21. Denver 80″ Sofa | 22. Channel Tufted Two-Cushion 76″ Sofa | 23. Delia 83.3″ Sofa | 24. Dylan 89.75″ Sofa | 25. Ainsley 77″ Sofa | 26. Graham Velvet 90″ Sofa | 27. Jasper 60″ Sofa | 28. Modern 87″ Sofa | 29. Monroe Drive 80″ Sofa | 30. Lewis 83″ Sofa | 31. Alto 83.5″ Sofa | 32. Puff Puff 87″ Velvet Sofa | 33. Willhoughby Two-Cushion 79″ Sofa | 34. Cassidy Bolster Back Orchid Velvet 98″ Sofa | 35. Savile Storm Velvet 92.5″ Sofa | 36. Olivia 85″ Sofa

#2: Besides the unique leg on this one, it’s a good “sitting” sofa in that it’s a bit upright, a little on the firmer side (though not firm) and not super deep. A good “conversation” sofa, but not so much a “binge-watching Superstore” sofa.

#3: I owned this sofa for four years and I still mourn the loss of it in terms of comfort. It’s my favorite sofa of all time for sheer coziness. This is a serious curl-up-and-watch-movies-for-centuries sofa. I’ve also had several house guests sleep incredibly comfortably on this because it’s SO deep, it’s basically like a twin mattress, but it definitely forces you to lay back and, well, lounge.

#8: This is much deeper than I gave it credit for when I first saw it in-store. The back on it is a bit upright but overall it was a nice level of smooshy firmness.

#10: I own this bad boy (see it in the lead image of this post, or in full action here in my living room makeover) and I love it. It needs fluffing about once or twice a week to keep it from looking a bit sloppy, but I don’t mind…it’s a good work out. The blue I got doesn’t seem to be available anymore, but the new blue seems a little moodier and darker, which is actually what I initially envisioned. It’s a great refresh on the classic English roll arm sofa with lots of fun leg options.

#17: I wish West Elm had reviews on their website, so I’m always a bit dubious of anyone who DOESN’T, but I did sit on this in-store and found it to be relatively deep (which I LOVE, but I know that’s not for everyone) with a nice combo of soft yet firm. The one cushion looks sleek and modern.

#18: VERY comfortable. I would have bought this sofa if I hadn’t bought the Lounge II (I tested it about a year after I bought the Lounge and was like…WAIT I love this sofa). It’s kind of the perfect depth if you’re looking for something to curl up in but without sacrificing support.

#25: This is definitely a “living room” sofa in that it’s very livable and not the flashiest in terms of style. It’s a pretty basic shape and profile, but the velvet really jazzes it up which is a nice “best of both worlds” thing.

#27: The Jasper is a nice tailored sofa for the modern/minimal enthusiast. It’s nice that you can create the shape you need since it’s a bit modular. It’s a very relaxed sofa in terms of how it sits but still firm and supportive.

#35: I tested out the leather version of this sofa a few years back. It’s only 35 inches deep but it sits deeper than you’d think since it’s a tight back without additional or pillows. A bit firm and tight, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Alright, so…did I win you over? Are you #teamvelvet, yet? Tell me everything, and if there are any sofas up there that you own or have tested, I’d love to hear your own feedback (good or bad), too! We can’t test EVERYTHING, but with your own experiences and input, we can get closer to knowing more about which sofas are worth our time, and which are an easy “pass.”

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