Bouclé vs Velvet — Designers Agree Which On-Trend Fabric is Best for Real Life

Bouclé and velvet are both seriously popular and enduringly stylish, but which material is the most comfortable? We ask the experts

A living room with boucle and velvet sofas and chairs
(Image credit: Malissa Maybe. Design: Susannah Holmberg)

Upholstery is an important element to consider when selecting any big ticket item of furniture. You want to select something that feels stylish, a fabric that fits with the wider aesthetic of your room, and is, of course, functional and durable too. As far as we're concerned, bouclé and velvet are two top-tier materials that tick all the above.

Aesthetically, they both bring a touch of glamour and sophistication to any item of furniture and have proved to be enduring interior design trends that are as popular now as they were years ago. ‘Bouclé and velvet offer a wide range of benefits for upholstery, pairing together in the same room enhances warmth and elegance,’ says Tancred Vilucchi, founder of Maison Vilucchi. So when picking between the two, deciding which is the most comfortable might help you make the decision a little easier. To get to the bottom of the debate, we've asked the experts.

What are the pros of bouclé?

A living room with boucle accent chair

(Image credit: Kensington Leverne. Design: Atelier Ochre)

There is no getting away from the fact that bouclé has had a recent popularity boom, with designers and homeowners drawn to the tightly looped wool fiber curls that help drive that minimaluxe aesthetic. The fabric resurfaced around the time of the pandemic, as an interest in mid-century interiors grew and design trends shifted to reflect the need for comfort and coziness.

It's the perfect material to garner popularity on social media, as even through photos you can really see and feel the texture compared to the flatter textures out there, including velvet.

‘We love the tactility and coziness of a beautifully woven bouclé,’ says Chrstine Carney director of design at Blackberry Farm Design. ‘All of the loops on the bouclé’s face give it such a warm, luxurious feeling to the touch. And it has the added benefit of being quite resistant to wear and tear.’

Despite its high-end appearance, it's pretty hard-wearing, unlike its fluffier alternative, sheepskin. Bouclé won’t become matted with its long, high pile fibers, and when made from cotton, it's easy to clean too.

What are the cons of bouclé?

A living room with boucle accent chair

(Image credit: Tom Ferguson. Design: SJS Interior Design)

On the flipside, bouclé is often, although not exclusively, reserved for pale, neutral, cream or off-white upholstery. This means it's not necessarily the best fabric for a busy family home. It's also worth considering that bouclé isn't the best option if you have pets in the home, as the fiber can latch onto pet hairs which can be tricky to get out.

Another negative with bouclé is that it's a material that is slowly dwindling in terms of popularity. So what's replacing bouclé? We're noticing shaggier, fluffier fabrics come to the fore that might just take bouclé's crown.

What are the pros of velvet?

A living room with velvet sofa

(Image credit: Kendall McCaugherty. Design: Searl Lamaster Howe Architects)

Velvet is seriously plush and has a high-end allure. 'It is a fabric I use in almost all my projects, as it offers ultimate comfort and elegance,' says Tancred Vilucchi, founder of Maison Vilucchi.

Interior designer Gray Walker agrees: 'You can't go wrong with velvet fabric,' she says. 'Whether it's solid velvet to cover a sofa or patterned cut velvet on an accent chair, it's comfortable, durable, and timeless.'

However, homeowners are often a little intimidated by velvet upholstery and its luxurious sheen, but what they probably don't know is that the velvet is a weave, not a material, and the velvet widely used on sofas and accent chairs can be made from a variety of materials. Performance velvet is made from polyester, but can also be made from silk (on the high end of the spectrum), as well as cotton.

Performance velvet and velvet woven from cotton still offers that high-end look without the price tag, and it is surprisingly easy to look after, requiring just a hoover with a soft brush attachment. If cared for, it's a fabric that can last for decades, looking soft, sumptuous, and high-end. It's also available in a range of colorways, and the way the pile plays with light creates an appealing look.

What are the cons of velvet?

A living room with velvet blue sofa

(Image credit: Egor Piaskovsky. Design: JL Studio)

So what are the cons? Unfortunately, even the best velvet sofas are at risk of color fading if exposed to light. This can be combatted by keeping your couch out of the way of a skylight or even protecting it with a throw blanket in the sun-exposed spots.

It can also lose its shape quite quickly, although a slouchy couch is only a good sign that it's actually being used. Give it a good clean with a soapy water mix if it's exposed to stains and regularly lightly dust the furniture with a soft brush or a lint roller to keep on top of the gathering dust.

Which is the more comfortable?

A living room with velvet and boucle accessories

(Image credit: Malissa Mabey. Design: Susannah Holmberg)

Both materials have their pros and cons, so what's the most comfortable? For Tancred, both are seriously cozy, and judging between the two should be a question of the vibe they offer.

'I would say that the difference between them is the feeling that they provide within an atmosphere,' he says. 'On rounded lines designed furniture, the softness of bouclé fluffy texture provides comfort and creates an inviting and cozy feeling.'

But when it comes down to softness, for me, velvet just about clinches it. Where bouclé's tight curls can often feel coarse and scratchy, velvet is enduringly soft and unlikely to develop an itchy, coarse feel.

Unfortunately, with bouclé, the cheaper you go with the material, the more likely the material will scratch and itch, so for lasting softness, you'll need to invest in top quality bouclé (that will likely be more expensive than most velvets).

'On the other end, produced in a dense pile and various thicknesses, velvet provides luxurious intensity and depth,' summarises Tancred. 'Offering a plush and chic feeling, it is the perfect material that balances warmth and comfort while creating a sophisticated atmosphere.'

3 velvet accessories to furnish your home

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.