By Lisa M Smith
Texture is an interior design element everyone enjoys. We all like how things feel. However, we often forget to consider texture as its own interior design component. All interior design elements have some type of texture. When creating a room design it is vital to coordinate all the textures in a room to achieve visual and tactile interest. A well designed room incorporates a careful selection of different textures.
Texture can be visual or tactile or both. It may have dimension or it may have none. It goes way beyond smooth or rough. Texture is not always obvious sometimes it is only implied. This occurs when an object looks one way but feels completely different. Tactile impression is the way an item makes us think it will feel. Texture is as important on items in a room we would never touch (ceiling, walls or architectural details) as it is on items people would be in consistent contact with (floor, carpet or upholstery).
People tend to get caught up in the way a few items feel and forget the rest. This works in reverse too, like when one is overly concerned the scratchy feeling on a wool drapery fabric. You aren’t going to snuggle up with it! The scratchy aspect happens to be part of the filament fiber which gives wool its’ superb ability to hang beautifully. It is important to pay attention to the texture of every item in a room. The aspect of this people are often most familiar with, other than in furniture is paint. Do you want flat, matte, semi-gloss, or gloss? If you haven’t considered the texture of everything else in the room, you aren’t ready to answer that question yet.
For the same reason one doesn’t fill a living room with all and only chairs, you need to be mindful of mixing textures. Variation is essential. Texture and the mix of such is a secret to creating a comfortable interior and a vital component in a monochromatic color scheme.
The materials as well as the actual composition of an item contribute to the texture. Wood is considered hard but in certain furniture, cabinet or floor applications it provides a soft and warm quality. Shiny is a common description for metal though one would not ordinarily attribute soft as a tactile element of metal, but when woven with silk into a fabric it can feel soft and have a shiny luster. Mohair resembles fresh cut grass the way each wool fiber stands up tall and straight. It has a crisp edge yet it is really wonderful to use in upholstery because it is very comfortable, feels luxurious to the touch, shapes well and is incredibly durable. In a monochromatic scheme using such opposing textures and materials can allow for what appears to be color changes when in fact they are all the same color.
Mixing textures creates interest and is a requirement of any well designed interior regardless of the color scheme. It is equally important to place the right texture in the appropriate location. Items people are going to sit on or feel should be of materials that are comfortable and pleasant to touch. Shiny pink patent vinyl may be the look your daughter has to have in her bedroom but rather than use it on a chair seat which would feel sticky on bare legs, it would be better as an upholstered headboard where one leans against pillows and doesn’t actually come in consistent contact with the vinyl.
Items that aren’t necessary great to touch can be fabulous to look at. Reclaimed, unfinished barn siding can look great on an interior wall in the right room but it would loose much if its characteristics if it was planed for flooring or cut-up for furniture. Glass beads are cool on wallcovering as created by Maya Romanoff (www.mayaromanoff.com) but would not work well on upholstery or as floorcovering. Tiny glass beads are invisibly attached to wallcovering in various colors or patterns which achieve a very glamorous effect on a wall or ceiling as light passes through the clear glass. This look belongs in an often seen location because it will have all your friends salivating.
A simple tip to remember when combining textures is that old saying that opposites attract. High gloss can be great paired with rough hewn timbers. Thick and luxurious rugs look fantastic on wood or stone floors. A cork kitchen floor provides visual texture as opposed to the flatter/sleek aspect of kitchen cabinets and countertops and against the hardness of those surfaces cork has a soft sound absorbing quality. The opposing combinations are endless.
The next time you are planning an interior design project or just adding something to an existing room make sure you carefully study all the textures involved. Be especially careful to mix different and opposing textures so you can pull off a well designed, comfortable and happy living space. Mixing is where the real fun comes in. So go out and mix things up!
About the Author
Lisa M. Smith is an interior designer and owner of Interior Design Factory, Ltd. She specializes in creating beautiful and inviting residential interiors that are timeless and look collected, not like a showroom. Real design for real people. She produces individualized results using creative solutions that are liveable and tell a story. Good design is for everyone and available in every budget.
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