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The Importance of Texture in Interior Design

Modern living and dining room with a variety of textures in decor
@romazveref / Twenty20

You know how sometimes you can just look at a room and know that something is missing? All the components of a complete design are there – color scheme, furniture, décor items – but the entire room just feels a little flat. If this scenario feels familiar, you are not alone and we might just have the answer you need: texture.

For some reason, texture seems to always to be an afterthought when it comes to interiors and we’re here to change that. Our reasoning: Texture is the thing that makes a room pop. It’s what brings a perfectly fine design up to enviable levels.

Don’t worry if this all seems new. We’re here to offer you a brief primer on the importance of texture, as well as how to effectively apply its design tenants in your own home. You’ll be crafting complexly textured rooms in no time flat.

What do we mean by “texture”?

Small living room with creative furniture to make the room bigger

Gaf_Lila / Shutterstock

Good question. In design parlance, it is often defined as, “the sensations caused by the external surface of objects received through the sense of touch.” Basically, how thing feel. Think about squishing soft carpet between your toes, running your hand along a rough wooden tabletop, or sinking down into leather couch cushions.

Honestly, we think that the “sense of touch” part of the definition should be revised to say “perceived” sense of touch. Anyone who’s ever watched an interior design TV program or flipped through the pages of a magazine can tell you that you don’t need to have physical contact with a room to feel the power of texture.

While texture may play a supporting role to the function of the space, it is no less vital to a design’s success. Instead of examples of texture above, picture trying to get comfortable on a seating set made of granite. Always consider how texture will elevate the overall experience of your design.

Texture adds visual weight

Luxury modern farmhouse kitchen with wine fridge built into island

SpeedKingz / Shutterstock

Odds are, if you’ve been hanging around design websites like Freshome for a while, you’ve heard the term “visual weight” getting thrown around a lot. All that means is that an object – or space as a whole – has the ability to draw attention to itself. A healthy dose of texture will makes sure that is not a problem.

Remember how when we talked about color theory, we discussed how using a warm or cool color can effect how a space feels? Texture works in a similar way. Rough textures are more likely to make a space feel intimate and grounded while smooth textures bring a sleeker more aloof tone to the room.

You should also consider the placement of textures as you go about designing your room. Putting a smooth texture directly next to a rough one while make the rough object stand out more and seem weightier than if you space them apart. Use distance to determine how subtle of a visual weight you would like to achieve.

Texture provides balance

Living room with beige textured couch and shaggy rug

@lelia_milaya / Twenty20

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, contrast is essential when essential when it comes to design because it keeps things balanced and also provides visual interest. Think about it: If everything is too similar, our eyes have trouble focusing and tend to glaze over. Use texture to make sure your most important elements pop.

Restraint, of course, is also key, so try not to go too texture crazy. Stick to two or three distinct textures in any single space. Choose three when you want people to take in the space as a whole and stick to two when you want to emphasize a prominent focal point.

Texture is particularly important if you’re working within a particular color palette where the shades are very similar. When a monochromatic or analogous color scheme, make sure you choose items that heavily contrast. When they come together, they will bring a sense of harmony to the space.

Using texture at home

Foyer with wood console table, mirror, and wall tapestry

@lauramartinezphoto / Twenty20

All that reasoning as to why you should use texture is well and good, but it only goes so far if you don’t know how to effectively bring it into your home. Here are a few ways that we suggest adding texture to a room:

  • Architectural Elements: If you’re lucky enough to have crown molding, chair rails, or tray ceilings in your home, make them a focal point.
  • Furniture: Wooden benches, satin reading chairs, and marble tabletops all bring a distinct feel to the space.
  • Décor Items: Shadow boxes, knick-knacks or even flowers could be used.
  • Floor and Wall Coverings: A carefully placed throw rug or even some patterned wall design will bring tons of depth to the room.
  • Textiles: Use cloths like slip covers, throw pillows, and even blankets to make the room pop.

But, if you’d rather experiment digitally before buying, the Home Design 3D app lets you see how different colors and textures will look in your interiors – all via your smartphone.

A note on choosing texture vs. pattern: These two things are usually talked about together, but they are two distinct – and necessary components of design. Pattern refers to a visual print while texture is about how something feels. Make sure you incorporate both into your interiors instead of choosing one over the other.

The bottom line

Whether you choose a throw rug to warm up your bedroom room or a wooden coffee table to bring life to your living space, the importance of texture is clear. It completes the room. Texture is the component that helps elevate your interiors to the next level. Don’t be afraid of it in your own interiors. Instead, use it to create interiors that feel fit for a magazine.

Do you consider texture when redesigning your interior? What are your favorite ways to lend visual weight to space? Tell us in the comments.

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