In the interior design world, texture refers to sensations caused by touching objects on a wall, floor or anywhere in a room. It’s certainly possible to feel texture, or more accurately, perceive what it would be like to feel a rug or throw pillow, by looking at a photo of it online or in a magazine.
Texture can also be defined as the surface of a material. The material used to make a slipcover may be silky, rough, embroidered or fuzzy. The texture of a material, along with its color and design, gives a room its overall feel. The color scheme of a room can make a space seem warm and cozy, like a farmhouse, or cool and modern, like an industrial loft. Texture may make a room seem light and breezy or ornate and heavy.
The texture of an item is as vital as the depth of a rug or the material used to cover a sofa. Wood or steel furniture contrasts with leather or velvet upholstery. Every combination of materials gives the piece a different texture and lends a different overall look to the space it inhabits.
Why a Room Needs Texture
Texture helps you achieve the overall style for your space. It influences the way light and scale are perceived in a room and communicates your design personality through another medium. If all the furniture, rugs, and lighting in a room are chosen without a regard to texture, the space may seem mismatched.
Concentrate a well thought-out combination of textures in one area of a room. Use pillows with feathers or fake fur trim, a chair with tufted upholstery, or a deep-pile area rug to make guests feel comfortable. Use a tall black leather chair, banker’s lamp, and a dark wood desk and cabinets to make a home office more conducive to work and study.
Avoid adding too many clashing textures into a space. Clashing textures, along with mismatched colors, can give a room a loud, unwelcoming disposition. Texture is like a spice or topping, it’s not the main ingredient. Using a faux fur or shag rug underneath a chrome frame chair creates a nice contrast between the two textures.
For example, if a room is outfitted with mostly neutral colors, a pastel throw rug or area rug will pleasantly balance out the remaining decor.
How to Add More Texture to a Room
There are many tricks you can use to improve the texture in your home’s design scheme. Place a smooth texture (like a fluffy throw pillow) a good distance away from a heavy bronze sculpture to make the weightier object stand out more. A glass-topped coffee table or velvet-flocked vintage wallpaper can add life and texture to any room.
Contrast between pieces of furniture, art and other objects will help balance out your room. If your room design features elements of the same size, color or texture, it will have little visual or sensory appeal. Using different textures will make some parts of your room more visually appealing and make them pop.
Don’t use more than three textures in any given room. If you want visitors to look at the room as a whole and not key in on a single object, choose three textures. If you have a painting, sofa or another piece you want to showcase, choose two different textures. Add texture by choosing contrasting objects with variations of the same color. The objects add more cohesion to the space.
Items You Can Use to Add Texture
A vase of flowers, storage box or wicker baskets add different textures to a room without investing too much time or money. A fur or faux fur pouf adds comfort and softness with overwhelming the senses. Patterned wallpaper or fabric wall art bring depth and drama to a room. You can add textured artwork to a bedroom or dining room; it needn’t be relegated to the living room. Mirrors create the illusion of more space and add class and a lightweight visual element to the room.
Any textile, from cozy area rugs, to slipcovers and blankets, will give your living room a warm or vintage appearance. Lace will add textures to curtains, window treatments, area rugs, and chair or sofa coverings. Choose an assortment of material using vary textures on chairs, sofas or tables. Chrome adds a sleek, “space-age” feel to the room, while rustic wood may be manufactured to have a distressed or charred farmhouse texture.
Any built-in architectural elements in your home, including railings, wood or metal staircases and crown molding create confident textures. A marble countertop has a luxurious feel, while wood has a clean, earthy quality.
How Texture Fits into the Overall Room Design
When working on the complete picture for your space, remember that smooth marble tabletops and desks with polyurethane or lacquer finishes are best paired with orange, red or bright blue. Hang artwork containing these colors or similarly intense ones on the wall close by, or place bold figurines or sculptures on the surfaces. Items with rough, bumpy or multi-layered textures look better with cream, beige, black or other neutral hues. Place a white or beige rug under a wicker chair, for example.
When designing a new room, figure out the appropriate textures and colors by working from the floor upwards instead of using a slapdash method to match items with one another. For a traditional style room, use silk and embroidered fabrics, gilded picture and mirror frames, hand-tufted rugs and cut-crystal. Leather upholstery, metal, and iron framed furniture and exposed brick walls are textures that will give your home a modern or industrial loft style. For a cozy farmhouse or country-style room, layer rugs and use chenille chairs in light or rustic colors. Throw quilts on beds or as fabric throws over-upholstered, neutral colored sofas.