The Trick of Texture

Have you noticed how some rooms feel flat while others appear multi-dimensional? A main determining factor is whether the room has a variety of textures. Pair a smooth leather couch with a woolly rug and see the dimensions open up. Consider a kitchen with a textured backsplash over the cool, flat surface of granite, hardwood on the floor and stainless steel appliances. The combinations of smooth and textured add interest and dimension to a kitchen which could otherwise be too stark. Textured elements often add warmth to a room, balancing the sophistication of the smoother finishes and the reflection of light. The living room pictured here is interesting in spite of having little colour or pattern; it has a pleasing combination of soft and hard surfaces.

Just as we vary heights and colours in a room to make it pleasing as well as functional, so should we vary textures. Even small changes can have a large impact. A wallpapered accent wall is an effective way to add texture. Consider books with slipcovers, shiny and smooth compared with exposed bindings which tend to be rough. Consider artwork which is covered with glass and framed in smooth painted wood compared to the stretched art canvas which is popular today, or an oil painting framed in barnboard. Consider glass ornaments compared to unglazed ceramic. A successful room will have a mix of textures.

With the use of a variety of textures, there may be less need for a variety of colours. Sometimes patterns provide the illusion of texture with a dimensional aspect to the design, even though by touch it is smooth. A monochromatic room, like the one pictured here, is one which is dressed in one colour. Textures are critical in a monochromatic room to keep it from being flat and boring.

When I’m working with decorating clients, practicalities of the owners’ lifestyle are considered first. A hardwood floor may not be prudent if there’s a dog in the mix. Maybe a woolly rug is a health concern for a family with asthma, so choosing textured art is a better choice to provide contrast with leather furniture. Perhaps the budget dictates smaller changes so that gaining texture through inexpensive items, like cushions and a throw, achieves the desired result. There is always a way to add texture and give the room the desired dimensional quality.

In my staging practice, I use textures constantly to provide interest while maintaining a fairly neutral overall presentation. Since staging is about showcasing the home, the ideal décor is a backdrop to the home’s best features, rather than a loud statement of its own. Textures added in with finishes and contents invariably provide the final touches to the wow value.

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