Velvet: A Surprisingly Pet Friendly Upholstery Choice

When choosing pet-friendly upholstery, velvet is a gorgeous and luscious fabric that is often overlooked, probably because it seems more delicate than it is. If you’re in the market for new upholstered furniture you’re in luck, because velvet is definitely having a trendy moment in the spotlight.

(Pink chair image credit: The Pink House.)

Unlike some trends (ahem, chevron?), however, velvet is also timeless and classic, and won’t feel dated by the time the next season rolls around.

Blue Velvet Sofa High Ceilings by HGTV


Five years ago, my husband and I decided to reupholster our Crate & Barrel sofa. Their standard fabric upholstery was not durable - for people, pets, or life in general.  The fabric attracted stains, pilled easily, and its rough weave held onto pet hair for dear life. And the fabric was that basket weave texture that cats love to dig their nails into.  

Rich Purple Velvet Sofa


I wanted to revitalize the sofa with a rich purple velvet.  My husband said that would make our living room “look like a brothel.”  We agreed to disagree . . . 

I wasn’t seeing a lot of velvet in the design blogging world four years ago.  I was excited by the idea of doing my own thing, but more importantly, I knew that velvet was a great choice for pet-friendly upholstery. 

Are you surprised?  

Velvet is a woven fabric, but the threads are cut to give the fabric a short pile, kind of like a rug.  This is why the fibers release pet hair so easily, rather than trapping it like traditional woven fabrics.  Also, most cats don’t like to claw it because it lacks that woven texture.

Pro tip:  Applying a protective coating such as Scotchguard helps it weather stains and spills even better. We had our upholsterer do this professionally when they recovered a vintage chair in navy velvet for our baby's nursery. And it works for most fabrics, not just velvet!

Velvet can be made with many fibers, from the more affordable and washable polyester and cottons, to the higher end wools and silks.  

Mod Green Velvet Sofa Plants Source Unknown 750px

(Source unknown)

There’s a vibrancy to velvet that adds a touch of glamour to any room.  The fabric works in a almost every design style, too, from Art Deco to English Country to streamlined Modernism.

Parisian Chic Apartment of Sandra Benhamou Velvet Tufted Sofa


And don't get my started on how amazing it looks in the dining room.

Jonathan Adler Goldfinger Velvet Dining Chairs


I’ve always loved upholstered headboards, but many are covered in woven fabric. That’s a definite NO in our pet-friendly house! My cat would like nothing more than to stretttttch her legs up to the top of that headboard and rake the claws down through a rough woven fabric.

Krista Watterworth Silver Velvet Bedroom


When I eventually do our master bedroom update, my first DIY will be to upholster the headboard in a deep peacock blue velvet.  I have a thing for all shades of blue-green, and headboards look amazing in velvet.

Velvet Bed from Anthropologie


Fast-forward to the present day where velvet is now totally on-trend.  I never did get my luscious purple velvet sofa.  We compromised and went with a mid-century inspired, distressed leather upholstery in a buttery pecan.  While far from my vision of luscious purple opulence, it’s stood the test of time with pets, toddlers, and the occasional wine-spilling adult.  But that’s a story for another time.

Pet Friendly Upholstery Emily Henderson for The Fig House Colorful Velvet Upholstery


If I’ve now sparked an velvety idea for your next room makeover, here are a few great resources from three of my favorite designers: