The Role of Texture in Interior Design

Texture is an element which is generally overlooked when designing a home. However it has the ability to add a powerful, and subtle dimension to any room. Texture refers to how the surface of an object feels; therefore, you are no longer confined to visual elements such as line and color, now you can actually determine the way the space will feel too by using texture.

One of the basic principles of using texture has to do with weight. Rough, coarse textures tend to make an object feel heavier, while smoother textures will make it feel lighter. In this way a polished white marble floor will feel lighter than hardwood paneling, even though it is actually much heavier. When determining how much weight a certain texture adds to an item, the rule of thumb is that generally, those objects which reflect more light will tend to feel less heavy. Using this understanding, it is possible to create balance between large and small items, using heavier or lighter textures.

One common use of texture is to add interest to a space which has a monochromatic color scheme. This is one of the principles of a shabby chic concept, where everything is painted the same, and texture is used to create contrast. In such a design, off white walls are often accessorized with elegant moldings, textured finishes, and are complimented by wicker and rattan, also painted white.

To add textural depth, employ the room’s surface as well as its accessories. Weathered or distressed finishes steep a room is history, while moldings and walls can contribute to tactile richness, giving the room character. One way to invite texture into a room is to find the room’s focus and use it as a starting point. Sometimes a fireplace, a interestingly shaped archway, or a window seat is the room’s natural focal point. You can play off existing materials inherited in your home’s architecture to create a canvas of textural possibilities, whether your room is clad in plaster or wood, metal or marble.

Put to imaginative use, everyday materials can become provocative additions. Even the simple choice of pillows and the way they are placed against furnishings can highlight the beauties of texture.

Sometimes texture can suggest temperature: smooth and shiny textures give a cool impression; soft, raised textures convey a sense of warmth. Displays combining fabrics or finishes of very different temperatures can be visually very engaging; using textures of similar temperatures brings a sense of quiet harmony to a room.

You can bring any season inside with items gathered from the local landscape. Look at the textures and colors of the outdoors when you choose fabrics, artworks, and accessories. In winter, a palette of blues, whites and browns may feel more natural, while in summer you may gravitate more towards sunny yellows, greens and tans.

In general, historic decorating styles tend to be conservative with texture, using mostly the same or similar tactile elements throughout a space. When they do create contrasting sensations, it is usually along a gradient, with the two textures slowly melting into one another. Contemporary styles are bolder with their use of texture. This is evidenced by modern design trends which place rough unfinished brick next to stainless steal, and which couple silk screens with concrete blocks.

Whether you are partial to luxurious fabrics like cashmere or velvet or to practical flat-wave textiles like linens and cottons, introduce a variety of textures and patterns throughout your room with pillows, throws and draperies to create the most comforting environment possible. Consider durability and washability as you select the materials to fill your your space, and strike a balance between aesthetic and functional concerns. Fortunately some luxury fabrics like faux suede can be washable , giving you the best of both worlds.

Pillows, throws and other soft accessories, encourage you to settle in and stay a while. Chose colors and textures that complement your room’s existing furniture, upholstery and slipcovers. Try pairing leather, and faux fur, chenille and brushed twill, or cashmere and velvet. You can easily change soft accessories to add accents of color and texture to a room.

Whether glass, ceramic or metal, hard accessories bring a strong sense of form to a space in contrast to room’s soft accessories. Decorative or functional, displayed single or in collections, sculptural accessories add texture, color and finishing touch to a room’s decor. They are often the most personal accessories in a room.

One of the largest surfaces in any room is the floor. The floor offers possibilities for instantly softening the look of a space. Layering carpets with rugs, helps define certain zones, lets you add a range of colors and patterns, and most of all creates a sense of warmth and intimacy in a room.


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