Just as textile workers create fabric by spinning fibers and then weaving or knitting them into cloth, interior designers weave textural elements into home design to add dimension and warmth to a space. Most people understand that embracing texture is important for fostering a comfortable and visually interesting home, but knowing how to implement textures can be a challenge. From adding tactile pieces that invite touch to layering different materials for depth, using texture intentionally and strategically can breathe new life into your home.

What Is Texture in Interior Design?

Texture is considered one of the seven foundational components of interior design, along with form, line, light, color, pattern, and space. It refers to the feel, appearance, or consistency of a surface or material and encompasses both texture perceived directly by touch (tactile) and texture perceived indirectly by the eye (visual).

Tactile texture is produced by the physical surface texture of the three-dimensional characteristics you can feel. This is what makes the material feel smooth, rough, soft, hard, grainy, ridged, or bumpy to the touch. Visual texture refers to the aesthetic and the appearance of the surface or material, whether from simulated or real applications. Tactile textures create an impression in a room, while visual textures influence its mood and ambiance.

Interior designers use both forms of texture to define the look and feel of a space. If you notice that a space feels flat or boring even in the presence of various colors or forms, you are likely neglecting texture. Regardless of your specific style or the feeling you are hoping to evoke in a certain space, incorporating texture helps to connect and reinforce the other elements in a design concept, including light and color. Rough, matte textures such as reclaimed wood, natural stone, and terracotta have more “visual weight,” imparting a grounded, intimate feel for rustic or casual spaces. They also absorb light unevenly, making colors appear darker than they truly are. Smooth or shiny textures such as glass, chrome, and polished tile reflect a greater amount of light, making colors appear brighter and creating a sleek, contemporary finish.

How to Add Texture to Your Home

Follow the tips below to transform your home with texture:

  1. Layer Contrasting Textures

While one interesting texture can capture attention, combining multiple different textures provides balance, harmony, and greater visual interest. This is important for any design style but especially crucial for neutral interiors. For example, if your color scheme is predominated by white and ivory, you can interrupt the consistency of your space by changing up the textures of fabrics, including upholstered furniture, curtains, blinds, rugs, and lampshades. Textures should feel compatible if you want to create a clear style, but contrast and variation are both keys to creating a space that is rich, immersive, and full of depth.

In the living room, you can top a linen sofa with Mongolian fur pillows and a cashmere throw, add a pair of leather armchairs for extra seating, and ground the room with a thick wool rug. Your kitchen can combine honed Calcutta marble countertops with white oak cabinets, an encaustic tile backsplash, and rattan bar stools. Bring a cocooning sense of comfort to the bedroom by installing an upholstered headboard, hanging a textured wallcovering like grasscloth paper, using soft velvet curtains, and mixing bed linens in various fabrics. For the bathroom, contrast an antique wooden vanity with a fluted glass shower enclosure or experiment with Moroccan tadelakt plaster for an old-world feel.

  1. Add Personality with Textured Decor

While your walls, flooring, and furniture are the building blocks of your space, it is the details that truly make your space sing. Artworks, vases, sculptures, and mirrors can all express your personality and make a strong artistic statement in your home. Vintage oil paintings look great in traditional spaces, black and white fashion photography adds drama to glamorous rooms, and mirrors enhance the airiness and light of open concept spaces. Organic elements like woven baskets, artisan ceramics, macrame wall hangings, and raw crystals can evoke bohemian vibes. Plantlife can also create texture with differences in form, height, and color. For example, if you prefer lacquered furniture with strong lines, then an oversized palm tree’s glossy leaves are a perfect complement.

  1. Use Lighting Strategically

Because texture influences how light reflects from a surface, lighting can also be used to manipulate texture and emphasize or minimize certain qualities of a surface. For example, directing strong light from an angle will draw more attention to a surface’s highlights and shadows, while diffuse light minimizes the appearance of roughness or bumpy surfaces. Warm, white light generates a soft glow for any room, while cool white light casts a brighter beam that can feel harsh in the wrong space. Mix different types of lighting, such as floor lamps, wall sconces, and pendants, and spread them throughout your room at different levels to illuminate the texture of your furniture and décor.

  1. Show Restraint

Each room in your home should feature a textural moment, such as ivory silk curtains in a dining room or textured tile patterns in a bathroom. However, know when to pick your moment and make sure you keep the scale of your space in mind. Enhancing texture in your home does not mean adding dozens of different materials throughout each room, but thoughtfully cultivating an assortment of textures that work together without overwhelming the senses. Texture visually fills spaces, so it can make large rooms feel smaller and more intimate, but it should be used more sparingly in smaller rooms. Avoid any unnecessary clutter and consider using textures in similar colors so they do not compete or cause visual chaos.

Questions? CRT Studio Can Help

Whether your style is modern, contemporary, or somewhere in between, incorporating texture into your home is essential for creating a space you love to look at and enjoy spending time in. Texture tends to be overlooked, but masterfully layering different textures brings unprecedented intrigue, depth, and ambiance to your home. If you have questions about texture in interior design, contact Rob Turner of CRT Studio at (407) 440-4446 or rob@crtstudio.com.