Can you touch it? Or perhaps the better question is do you want to? Texture is the relationship between the way things look and feel and can be discussed in great length both objectively and subjectively. However, in the interest of successful design, texture should invoke a positive feeling.

Briefly, there are two kinds of texture: Actual Texture, which feels as it appears to be and Implied Texture, which does not feel the same as one would suspect. Examples of Actual Texture are bark, feathers, or a mirror, typically natural items. An Implied Texture example would be an oil painting that looks 3D but instead it is just a copy of that painting therefore you would feel the glossy printed canvas rather than the bumpy scope of dried oil paints.

An example of actual texture: Real wood with grooves and knots.

An example of implied texture: A drawing of woven fabric.

 

If you look around the room you’re in, how many Actual textures do you have versus Implied. Touch them and find out, this could surprise you.

Whether it be completely smooth or rough, everything has texture, and they all work together to create a feeling. Therefore, it is a crucial element to address when designing a room.

When a visual artist is composing something, they are working with 7 Key Elements whether they know it or not: Texture, Shape, Form, Colour, Lines, Space, and Value. All these are worth considering but not all of them have the same scale of importance. When trying to create a feeling, set a mood, or deliver an intention, texture is where you want to place your attention.

Adding texture with decor: Cindy used sand in the bottom of these candle votives to add a different texture in between the smooth table top and smooth glass.

So how does texture function in design?

  • It carries the visual interest in the room. Texture has the ability to call attention to itself, but it’s impact will be amplified when there are opposing textures placed close by. Think of the contrast of a mirror framed in by rough, unfinished wood.
  • Texture creates a focal point for the eye to rest. Having 1-2 contrasting textures placed in a room will create a visual path for your eye to follow. Contrary to that, if there are too many textures in a single space, they will compete for your attention making it hard for you to focus on anything in particular. If you have ever been in a room that feels overwhelming, you might understand what we mean.
  • Due to the previous point, texture also provides balance. If you are working with a monochromatic colour scheme, a fresh new texture will break up the monotony.
  • Creating contrast with texture, like mentioned before, is very impactful but takes practice and finesse to execute it. If you add a single contrasting texture, this will create the focal point within the composition. For example, accessorizing your glass top coffee table with books or a wooden bowl helps to ground the airy, light feeling that the glass brings forth to the room.
  • Adding depth to a space is only accomplishable by adding texture. This is something that is often overlooked and as a result the room feels flat, almost 2D. Similarly, to when there are too many textures, none will make your eyes glaze over as you observe the room.

 

Texture in architecture. Crown molding done by our own Gilbert Lutes.

Texture and light work hand in hand to deliver results. Abrasive, irregular, or soft textures like wood, wool, and leaves will absorb light or skew the reflection of it therefore, this creates a warmer, darker feeling. An abundance of smooth, shiny, or uniform surfaces, will reflect light more evenly creating a cool, bright space.

By keeping the majority of furniture and decor smooth and sleek, the rough texture of the fireplace becomes more pronounced and creates a focal point.

 

The ways to incorporate texture in the home is by use of:

  • Textiles like rugs, toss cushions, blankets, and drapery.
  • Décor like plants, books, and accessories.
  • Furniture like wooden tables, marble counters, and velvet chairs.
  • Architecture like crown molding, fireplace details, and wainscotting.

These are just some examples of the opportunities there are to incorporate texture in your home but there is an endless supply of possibilities.

The live edge wooden bar off the kitchen creates much more visual interest for this space and brings balance to that side of the room.

 

So, what feeling do you want to convey with your home? Does your current design reflect that? Try removing and adding different textures around and pay attention to the change that it brings into the atmosphere of the room. Perhaps bringing a couple of those fuzzy pillows from your sofa into the bedroom will cozy the space up more or try buying a glass coffee table for your darker living room instead of the wooden one you were looking at. Design is a creative process; it is an art. Be patient and enjoy your time on the way to your perfect home. The more you experiment, the more you will know what you truly love.

Most importantly, we want you to remember that there are no hard rules in design but understanding how this element affects your home will greatly improve your ability to obtain the esthetic you want and deserve so that you can love your home again.