Why Texture Matters
A monochromatic room can be stunning, but it takes a well-placed splash of color to make a design really pop. The same is true for texture: without variety, your design can fall flat.
Texture plays an important, yet often overlooked role in design—it adds contrast and dimension. It creates cohesion. And it can be the very thing that makes your guests feel entertained and at home. So why do we treat texture as an afterthought?
Bring texture to the forefront of your design without creating clutter or discord.
Here are favorite ways to do it:
Use texture to add contrast.
Too much of a good thing is just…boring. By incorporating contrasting textures into your design, you call attention to subtle differences in shape and color, instantly adding interest.
Textural contrast can be easily achieved with a large piece of statement furniture that compliments the rest of your décor. For instance, a big velvet chaise juxtaposed with natural fibers (think jute rugs and ottomans), or even a Lucite coffee table creates a stunning scene. Your fireplace surround is another great place to add texture. Quartzite has become popular for this use, as it not only has a gorgeous, natural texture, but reflects light beautifully, creating a dramatic sparkling effect.
Florida Design Works supplied materials for this design on the right that incorporates a variety of contrasting and visually striking textures. The sandy texture of the stone accent wall beautifully complements the matte glass shower doors and glossy white tub. The open shelf stacked with towels and the soft bath mat are the finishing elements that make the room feel soft and inviting, even as the rough texture of the stone dominates the space.
Use texture to create balance.
Remember that when you’re adding texture, it shouldn’t be random—texture should relate to the theme of your design. After all, you don’t want to incorporate elements that don’t make sense. For instance, in a rustic design, a bear skin rug can add contrast to lots of hard, wooden surfaces; it stands out, but also fits within the overall theme. Consider what a rug made of synthetic fibers in a geometric pattern would look like in that same room—out of place.
What unifies this gorgeous kitchen to the left? An old-world flare is captured in every textural element. From the antiqued finish on the cabinets to the iron chandeliers with their many flourishes, to the smooth mosaic backsplash behind the oven—all the various textures work in harmony to create a cohesive look that tells a story.
Use texture to play with scale.
Texture isn’t all tactile—it has a strong visual component as well. Make an impact in your design by playing with the scale of textures. For instance, you can break up long stretches of monotonous tiling with a mosaic rug in another material or border tile in a smaller size.
An accent wall with large 3D tiles is a great way to define the scale of your design when you have the space. But in a smaller room, the same tile might feel disproportionate. The key to playing with scale is to consider both the size of your room and the number of furnishings within it.
The project to the right is from Jennifer Brouer Design in Canada. This fireplace surround runs up to the ceiling, emphasizing the height of the room. The smooth panels on each side of the fireplace accent the natural texture of the quartz, helping to keep the room from feeling drafty and sparse.
Use texture to reflect light.
The way light bounces off a surface is a big part of the visual component of texture. It’s what gives high gloss surfaces their extra shine and sparkle.
Mirrored, iridescent and high gloss surfaces can all be used to add sophistication or a burst of energy to a room. They also look great next to contrasting textures like natural wood and unpolished metals.
FDW provided many of the materials used in this space to the left for Green Coast Model Homes, which uses a variety of reflective surfaces to brighten the room and give it a touch of chic. A semi-matte finish on the cabinets, upholstered stools and the natural wood floor add nice contrast to help keep this space balanced.
Use texture to invite touch.
While the visual element of texture can have a big effect, when it comes down to it, it’s all about how it feels to the touch. You can bring life to stagnant areas of any room with attractive textures that make you want to reach out and feel for yourself. Plush materials are an obvious choice, but plants can be an unexpected way to achieve this as well.
The scene to the right, created by FDW tile supplier AKDO, creates an instantaneous sense of interactivity.
Immediately you want to run your fingers through the fur on the chair, inspect the tulips, and place your hands against the geometric accent wall.