When re-watching your favorite shows from the ’90s and 2000s, you’ll likely see velvet sofas everywhere, from the cozy Central Perk cafe on Friends to London Tipton’s impressive penthouse digs on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. With endless exposure to these striking velvet pieces at a young age, it’s very possible this couch style imprinted on millennials so much that by the time they were old enough to furnish their own places, they were drawn to the iconic style.
Then came the peak of the velvet couch craze in 2022 — at that time, you couldn’t scroll through Pinterest or TikTok without stumbling upon living rooms decorated with funky checkered rugs, repurposed disco balls, and DIY foam mirrors without also seeing a vibrant velvet couch sitting comfortably in the center of it all.
Although people haven’t come down on velvet couches as hard as they did on skinny jeans and side parts (yet), the writing is definitely on the wall, and it’s time to call it: Velvet couches are officially cheugy now, too.
Between the rising popularity of new styles and the rapid rate at which TikTok creates and destroys trends, it looks like folks are finally moving away from the luxe-looking furniture staple. Instead, younger shoppers are gravitating toward the over-the-top kitschiness of Barbiecore, minimalist design that screams quiet luxury, or a ’70s-inspired look.
I’ve witnessed the design fatigue firsthand, as fellow New Yorkers have repeatedly made their velvet couch burnout my problem over the last four years. In 2020, I moved into an apartment that came with an abandoned purple velvet couch, which my roommates and I later reupholstered with white linen to resemble the viral Restoration Hardware Cloud Couch. When I moved into my current apartment last summer, the previous tenants graciously left behind their green velvet futon, but we put it out on the curb a month later to comfortably fit our polyester/acrylic blend sofa instead.
As it turns out, green may be the cheugiest couch color of them all. As you may recall, green velvet sofas of all different shades had a moment on TikTok in 2022 after Emily Ratajkowski and Shay Mitchell went viral for their emerald couches. According to interior designer and art director Tyka Pryde Edwards, it wasn’t the smooth fabric TikTokers were latching on to but rather the sofa’s eye-catching hue. The once-trendy color locks the couch into a very specific moment in time, solidifying its cheugy status.
“If you see someone with [a green velvet couch], you can guess what time period they bought it in, probably down to the year,” Edwards says. “[The color] kind of dates your furniture.”
In its place, Edwards says, couches with durable performance fabrics, like acrylic, nylon, and polyester, are popular with her clients right now. These materials can withstand consistent use better than velvet, which loses its sheen over time as people sit on it — a less-than-ideal quality for a couch.
Of course, TikTok doesn’t always dictate what home decor looks catch on IRL (remember neon blow-up furniture or the Tuscan kitchen aesthetic of the early 2000s?), but by having an algorithm that favors new content and suppresses the old, trends tend to have a quicker turnaround time than they used to.
At least, that’s what Reeves Connelly, a content creator with a master’s in architecture and design, seems to think. “[Going viral on TikTok] can catapult the popularity of a certain design trend but also contribute to its rapid decline,” he says.
The trend’s decline stretches far beyond TikTok, though. One of the anonymous co-founders of the Instagram account @stoopingnyc, which shares photos of free furniture that has been left on the streets of New York City for anyone to claim, has also noticed this shift. He says that photos of blue, teal, and purple velvet couches used to get “engagements through the roof,” but not so much anymore. On top of that, he says they’ve received a lot more leads on velvet couches in recent months. People are getting rid of them in droves.
Plus, over the past year, Pinterest searches for the term “velvet couch” were down 30%, while “velvet sofa” searches dropped by 50%. Gen Z makes up more than 40% of Pinterest’s monthly active users, so it’s possible the sofa style has been relegated to the cheugy land of crying-laughing emojis and chevron patterns long ago, and millennials just didn’t notice. The platform also predicts that living rooms will be transformed into moody Americana sanctuaries in 2024 thanks to the Western Gothic aesthetic — a look that velvet couches have no business being a part of.
If you’re looking to upgrade your velvet couch, there are plenty of other sofa trends to look out for. Design site Houzz forecasts that furniture pieces made with highly textured fabrics, like tweed and hair-on-hide leather, will be huge in the interior design world this year. A trend you may already be seeing on your FYP is bouclé, which Connelly and Edwards both agree is on the rise.
Whether it was the TikTok-ification of the velvet couch or its near-inescapable presence in millennial homes that led to its downfall, there’s no denying that what once was an aspirational furniture piece has now become a cliche. That said, with trend cycles getting shorter and shorter and TikTok calling the shots, what’s cheugy today could be trendy again tomorrow.
Tyka Pryde Edwards, interior designer and art director
Reeves Connelly, content creator and design expert
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