Texture – Adding Spice to Color Palettes
Texture is an important element in design and an effective ingredient in the design and decor of interiors. Texture is a great way to add spice and interest to a color palette.
Interior schemes in white or in neutral tones can especially benefit from the use of textured materials and surfaces to add that bit of spice and interest that’s lacking from the absence of ‘color’ in these palettes. (Neutrals are colors, but some don’t have an identifiable hue, such as red, blue, etc.). Monotonal schemes, as well as color schemes using a limited palette, also benefit from the addition texture for visual variety.
Texture is achieved by variation in the surface of an object. The surface texture can be small and tactile to the touch, as is typically the case with fabric texture. Or textural effects can derive from larger variations in surface modulation, such as tufting on upholstered pieces. A textural pattern can be uniform and balanced as in the carpet and tufted sofa shown below. Or, as in the modern pendant light fixtures shown, visual texture can be large swaths of irregular surface modulation, or overlapping surfaces.
Basket weaves, as on the stool above, provide texture. Folds and pleats in upholstery, as on the ottoman, also add texture to a room scheme.
1. Jeremy Cole, Aloe Bud Pendant. 2. Hive, le klint lk172 suspension lamp designed by Poul Christiansen, 1969. 3. Glant, fabric: Rafo, Flax. 4. Thibaut, wallpaper pattern: Natural Ostrich, color: Metallic Pewter. 5. Crate&Barrel, Petrie Apartment Sofa in Camden Snow. 6. Calvin Klein Rugs, Pasture rug in Fawn, 100% wool. 7. Gumps, Seagrass Stool. 8. William Sonoma Home, Fairfax Square Ottoman.
Texture can be both tactile (physically felt to the touch) or visual.
As mentioned, texture is created by surface variation: it’s 3-dimensional, can be felt by touch, and has relative smoothness or roughness. Any tactile texture, of course, is also visual.
Visual, non-tactile texture occurs when a smooth surface is painted or printed to give an illusion of texture. We see this in some faux finishes on walls and in printed textiles and wallpapers. The surface looks textured, but there is no surface variation. Sometimes this is the result of a repeated pattern, as we’ll see below.
Texture can create pattern.
Evenly spaced tufting on a chair or sofa (as in the example above) results in a textural pattern. Some fabric weaves result in a pattern of texture — sometimes combined with color accentuating the texture — such as these examples from Duralee.
1. Philip Gorrivan collection, 180859H, in Almond. 2. Manchester, Wheat in Dune. 3. Wainwright 15315, color: Iron. 4. Darby 31453 in Oatmeal.
A pleasing interplay of texture and pattern is seen in this bedroom image. Tactile texture is found in the natural fiber rug. Visual, non-tactile texture is apparent in the pattern of the sheets.
Image from Elle Decor, Bloomingdale’s, Ralph Lauren; Furniture: Arles Bedroom Collection; Bedding: Northern Cape Collection.
Patterns can create visual texture.
As mentioned, printed fabrics or wallpaper with repeated patterns can create a visual effect of texture. There is no surface variation, but the pattern creates an illusion of a tactile surface. This is often the case when the pattern is small, or viewed from a distance. Some design motifs are visually textural.
Kravet Fabric Collections shown: 1. Arato. 2. Dotkat. 3. Hepcat. 4. Mathewson.
Upholstery pieces offer ample opportunity for adding texture to a room.
1. Leather has its own recognizable, though often smooth, texture. Nail heads provide accent texture. Lee Industries Leather Chair L1935 in Cigar color.
2. This club chair from Anthropologie has it all: button tufting, pleats and folds. Corrigan Chair in Linen, Ochre color.
3. A slipper-style chair in a shiny satiny fabric offers a bit of glam texture. Bernhardt Naomi Armless Chair.
Get daring with this super-textured Bloom chair by Kenneth Cobonpue:
The BLOOM Easy Armchair is handmade. Microfiber is stitched over a resin top. Shown in Red, Moss Green, and Light Green. (Yellow not shown.)
How about some tall texture: Room screens with geometric patterns provide texture. Floor lamps with textured “stems” provide additional possibilities.
1. Grand Folio Floor Lamp in cast bronze from Objet Insolite. 2. Log & Timber Floor Lamp FL7015 from Hammerton. 3. Tramezzo Screen from Niermann Weeks. 4. Anna Screen in bleached oak from Julian Chichester. 5. Natural Wood Floor Lamp from Neiman Marcus.
This room, designed in a neutral palette by John Saladino, incorporates a number of textural and textured elements:
The textured items: The sofa in a velvety fabric; the tufting on the ottomans; the carpet provides texture; the weave and the folds of the roman shades; the wall art has textural images.
Texture for bed and bath:
Some unusual textured pieces for the bedroom:
1. Rough-hewn grain along with the natural shape of the wood create a stand out textural look. Queen Canopy Bed from Trace.
2. Fluted Tall Chest in Dark Walnut by Barbara Barry.
3. Leafy branches of hand-forged iron top off this enchanting bed creating texture aloft. Forest Canopy Bed from Anthropologie.
Tile and basket weave items provide textured possibilities for the bathroom:
1. Vintage Glass tile from Walker Zanger. 2. Woven Wolof Prayer Mat Laudry Hamper from Swahili African Modern. 3. Clodagh Quill Design Ceramic Tile from Ann Sacks.
Being aware of the possibilities and the impact of texture in a room design is — a good thing.
I had to end with this seriously playful sofa bursting with texture.
Wind Attack Sofa from Koji Collection at Home Portfolio.