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How To Use Texture In Interior Design

Discover what texture means in interior design & how to add to your home

Joanne Quinn - Senior Interior Designer at LuxDeco Studio
By Joanne Quinn, Senior Interior Designer
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Texture is a buzzword in interior design. It’s an essential part of any designer’s vocabulary, because a scheme without texture is a scheme that falls seriously short of the mark.

Adding texture to a room encompasses a great deal more than a few fringe-edged luxury cushions here and a rough-sawn wood texture there. It is the precise art of blending the rough with the smooth and knowing how to create visual texture—the sort that isn’t tactile at all. The answer to "what is texture" and how to apply it to your interior awaits.

What is texture in interior design?

Texture is, quite simply, an object's physical feeling or visual appearance. Everything from a nubby bouclé throw to a cane screen and a suede wall to a stone backsplash count as texture in a space.

A room's overall textural feel translates in a similar way to physical and visual texture, but it also touches on how we perceive things. Lighting, for example, is neither physically or visually textured itself, but it's one of the biggest contributors of texture in the home. Its ambient glow can transform an entire space into one of incredible softness or, conversely, one that’s hard and harsh.

Without an interior designer at your side, the intricacies of texture is one of those areas that is easy to overlook.

Texture is also a way to create accents. Interior designers will use texture to add what’s referred to as ‘visual weight’. In other words, how an object or section of the room is able to draw attention to itself. Contrasting textures is one way to make certain aspects stand out more than others. 

Without an interior designer at your side, the intricacies of texture is one of those areas that is easy to overlook. In decorating your own home, you will find that texture weaves its way in quite naturally. After all, every material is a texture of some description.

These somewhat accidental textures have their positive points. Principally, these are the textures that you instinctively gravitated towards, ergo, your scheme will naturally be filled with the things you love. 

That said, there should also be a level of consciousness in your textural decisions. You wouldn’t throw a combination of paint colours on a wall without considering their relationship with one another and their effect on the whole room, and the same is true of texture. It needs to be thought through, repeated to create a theme and balanced with others so it doesn’t feel predictable and over-staged.

6 ways to add texture to any room in your home

Mixing texture in interior design is not just a case of combining different materials and finishes. You should look to integrate different ways to add texture too. Here are six possibilities for bringing texture into your room’s design to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Layer different textures

Layering in interior design is key to producing a scheme that’s rich and full of depth. Try blending multiple different sources of texture so that you’re not relying on just fabric or furniture finishes.

Texture can come through in a whole host of ways, so don’t forget the impact that the following can have: matte versus glazed ornaments on a bookcase, book spines stacked on a side table aside a sculpted glass lamp base, a polished granite fireplace hearth with a tasselled rug in front of it, or even wall treatments and artwork that have the ability to make the walls feel multi-dimensional.

Every ounce of your room can bring spark a textural discussion, and as they form layers, the result is immersive and arresting.

2. Use contrasting fabrics

Interesting textures aren’t only pleasing to look at, but when you contrast them, they’re great providers of balance too.

Is your colour palette comprised of very similar shades? If so, you can interrupt the consistency by changing up the textures of any fabric in the room. Even if your decor has multiple shades, using contrasting fabrics proves that colour and pattern aren’t the only routes to achieving difference.

Remember to look beyond the obvious areas of fabric such as sofas and armchairs and to not leave curtains, blinds and lampshades out of the equation. You can also evolve these textural contrasts as the seasons change. For example, a linen sofa might go from having cotton and silk cushions in summer to velvet and faux fur in winter.

3. Add textured furniture

Furniture texture is worthy of exploring, especially as you’re most likely to come into physical contact with it. Imagine running your hand over a cool, smooth marble table, eating off a rustic oak dining table, opening the drawers of a shagreen-lined chest and kicking back in an opulent velvet sofa.

Texture doesn’t always have to be obvious. It’s these subtle differences as your eye moves around the room that are most alluring.

4. Play with textured home accessories

Vases, ornaments, sculptures and mirrors are accessories ripe for playing with texture. You could purposefully create an arrangement of objets with alternating textures to really make a statement.

Careful to not add too many competing finishes into the room though or the lack of link could produce a lack of direction. The objective isn’t to fill your room with every different texture under the sun, but to welcome an assortment of characters that are sympathetic to one another and unite to inject variation and intrigue in your room.

5. Decorate with plants & flowers

While you can reach out and touch plantlife, this is more of an example of visual textile.

The difference in form, petal and leaf shape, height, colour and vessel all produce a textural effect on a room’s decoration.

Try to choose plants and flowers that link to other textures in the space, such as the glossy verdant leaves of an oversized palm linking to lacquered, strong-lined furniture.

Similarly, ensure any vases match an existing texture in the room too, be it an ornament or lamp base.

6. Don’t forget lighting

Lighting is another feature in the room with a dual texture aspect. The look and feel of the lamp itself plays a role in providing texture.

A high-shine chrome floor lamp adds very different texture to a hammered bronze wall sconce, for example. But it is the rays of light themselves where texture takes on a more visual character.

Warm white light (approximately 300 kelvins) produces a far softer, more ambient glow than cool white light (around 500 kelvins) which has a brighter, more contemporary beam that can cause a room’s atmosphere to feel harsher.

Where you position these light sources also varies the texture—an unlit corner can blossom into a beckoning reading nook with the help of lighting texture (and furniture of course).

Lighting is the most multi-layered subject of all when it comes to texture. It is a matter of mixing different styles of source, choosing the right temperature of bulb, and spreading the light sources at different levels throughout the room so you have wave upon wave of illuminated texture.