Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Behind the Velvet Walls

I still can't get Alberto Pinto: Table Settings out of my head. I've already told you how gorgeous the photos are and how enviable Pinto's collection of china, linens, and flatware is. But there is one image in particular that really caught my eye: that of Pinto's dining room. Is it because of the table? The Rose topiary? Yes, and yes. But what really makes this room so memorable to me are those green velvet covered walls. Pinto even covered the shell niches with the fabric! The way the light hits it, it almost looks radioactive.

One might argue that Pinto really gilded the lily with his use of velvet on walls and niches, and perhaps he did. There is a very fine line between fabulous and frightful when that much velvet is involved. And to some of us, copious amounts of green velvet bring to mind images of Scarlett O'Hara in her curtain dress...or Carol Burnett in her Bob Mackie curtain-rod version. But in this case, I think it's pretty terrific. Both the setting and the furnishings are right for this kind of luxury. Would it work in a late 1960s high rise in Buckhead? Probably not. But in an elegant Paris dwelling? Yes. In fact, here are some other examples of velvet clad rooms, all of which happen to be in France.

Both the walls and the crown molding were dressed in moss green velvet.

Dove gray velvet walls were made even more elegant with that embroidered valance.

The Paris living room of Raymond Guest as decorated by Emilio Terry. That bold rug gave an edge to an otherwise proper room.

Love the velvet walls, green velvet chair, and leopard print velvet sofa. Too much? Not in my book.

If velvet is too fancy for you, how about corduroy? Corduroy sofa, corduroy walls, and corduroy curtains. I suppose it's no surprise that this Paris apartment was owned by an American. Corduroy is, in a way, like the American version of velvet.

(Top image from Alberto Pinto: Table Settings by Alberto Pinto, Giorgio Baroni photographer; other images from The Finest Rooms in France)


  1. I love the velvet treatment and would consider a crimson color in a dining room. How would one properly attach velvet? Wallpaper paste or upholstery tacks?

  2. Anonymous11:19 AM

    Wonderful post! I love fabric on walls.

  3. Anonymous11:23 AM

    Echoing Kerry: any information on the technical aspects of applying fabric to walls would be appreciated.

  4. oh.
    those velvet walls.
    I am picturing deep deep almost-black purple velvet wallcoverings.

  5. Velvet is my muse! I did my very first blog post on velvet because I love it so much. Having it on walls would have to be the peak of indulgence!

  6. Love the velvet on the wall. Tessa Kennedy's red crushed velvet walls in her living room is another knock out. Glad for the shot of the corduroy. Have been thinking about doing my husband's study in that. Re technical info: I prefer using the batten method (at ceiling baseboards, around doors, windows, etc and on the studs. I staple batting at top and bottom. Use a brad nailer to staple batting in studs (don't want dimples, just to tack into place. Then staple seamed widths of fabric to the walls, cut out space for doors, windows, outlets, etc and staple those in. Cover staples with gimp or covered cording.

  7. I love a velvet wall, especially when it starts to loose its nap and even more texture appears.

  8. Amazing. Such beautiful textiles! Great post! Thanks for sharing these photos. I like the collection of corduroy pillows in the last shot as well. I just posted several collections of photos on! Stop by and let me know what you think!

  9. Lovely, I have seen a similar treatment done and my how it looks so good!

    I believe it was a dep thicket green velvet too.


  10. I'm still salivating over this post. I don't think that there is anything better looking than a room rendered in silk velvet- with the moldings and baseboard similarly upholstered. Mind you, you need a really good upholsterer to do it properly and you practically have to take out a mortgage to pay for it. But the effect is sublime.

  11. John J Tackett4:44 PM

    Although I do not favor fabric covered walls for dining rooms, the Pinto room in (silk?) velvet covering everything is indeed quite chic. I would not recommend the stapling the fabric to battens unless padding is used; I do not like the projection at existing trim unless that thickness has been taken into account, and a thicker fabric like velvet would just make that relationship worse.

  12. Love the velvet rooms, especially the Pinto and the room with the fabulous leopard sofa. I think I'd love it in a small library/den best. Really beautiful

  13. The dove gray room is to die for!!!

  14. Corduroy used as wall covering and curtains has a
    glamorous precedent in the big yellow room that
    Fowler did for Lady Haddington at Tyningham.
    I've always liked the surprise of corduroy where one
    would have anticipated velvet. But can you imagine
    the skill it would take to cover architectural mouldings!

  15. That leopard velvet sofa? It's calling my name, I can hear it from here!

  16. LOVE this book -especially the crystal. He has an AMAZING collection!
    I think you could totally do velvet walls in an international style apartment -just keep it more on the 'neat and trim' side without all of the trims, etc. Could be very lovely!

  17. Fabulous book. Thanks for the post.

  18. I did a small library at a farm I owned in western Pennsylvania in Mossy green corduroy in the 70's I still remember it fondly. It hid a multitude of things wrong with the walls. I also used it for the window treatments. Stripped pine mantle, Lots and lots of books, tartan and tweed upholstery, seems like time to bring back that cozy, secure feeling. Thanks for the post it jogged my memory. Kay Graham