Decorate Like a Pro: How to Use Texture in Interior Design

28 Jul 2021

Photographee.eu / stock.adobe.com

When decorating a room or a whole home, there are certain interior design elements that take precedence. What colour scheme should I try to achieve? What key furniture pieces am I going to buy? What is the focal point? Finally, there is the question of what I need this room to do. These are all big things we ask ourselves before embarking on a new design project.

But if we just focus too much on the overarching design decisions, we run the risk of our home decor looking flat and lacking a sense of warmth. Interior designers are trained to always look at the room as a whole and one area they give as much attention to as possible is texture. Using texture in interior design will bring the décor of a room together, and it’s a powerful finishing tool when redecorating.

Although often forgotten about by non-designers, texture can be a simple way to turn your interior from ‘missing something’ to ‘must-see’. That quest for visual weight through texture should therefore be on your mind when shopping for furniture and accessories. But where do you begin with adding texture to your interior design if you haven’t thought about it before?

What is Texture in Interior Design?

colourful throws on suitcase
Global Explorer / Designed by AMARA

Technically, everything in the home has a ‘texture’ but when interior designers say they add texture to a room, they are referring to those pieces with surfaces that stand out from their surroundings and have a tactile surface quality. In this sense, texture can come from a variety of sources from soft fabric, to coarse textures like those of harder materials such as wood and stone, or any touchable surface.

Rugs are the simplest texture creators, as placing just one in a key spot can quickly bring a room’s decor together. You shouldn’t assume that you have to just go for a thick, fluffy rug to add visual texture. Woven or knitted rugs can be just as tactile, the subtle raised texture softening the edges of any living room.

Playing with different textures will also create a chic look. For example, combine plain silk cushions and throws with sequin or heavily embroidered versions for an intriguing contrast.

Perfect Your Layering Skills

velvet bed
Retreat / Designed by AMARA

Adding texture is all about layering, yes adding a few key pieces like the aforementioned statement rug will go a long way, but to really get the interior designer style you should look to combine multiple textural elements to bring the space to life.

One of the best ways to layer textures is to start with larger textural pieces, for example a velvet chair or an exposed wooden table (or both) then add smaller accessories and soft furnishings until the room feels complete to you. A great way to achieve this is to trial multiple textures together before deciding what works best for you and the room you are decorating.

Look for Texture in Unusual Places

wooden serving board

Unique textures can really make an interior stand out. Finishes like macramé and rattan or raw materials such as natural agate ornaments and burled wood add interest to any room and create a striking contrast to fabric textures. Also remember that texture does not simply have to come from what we place in a room – it can come from the room itself.

Textured wall coverings and floor finishes are having a moment, with homeowners getting more creative with the fundamentals of room design before even thinking about furnishings and accessories.

Marble tiles or concrete flooring and wall finishes, whilst usually smooth, reflect more light and offer tactility in their own ways. They can be fabulous to layer with rough/raw furniture materials like wood or more textured concrete. It really pays to think about texture from the very start of a room’s design. Plants, real or not, are also a fantastic and unexpected way to add texture to a space.

Don’t Overload a Space With Too Many Similar Textures

neutral living room

The age-old adage ‘less is more’ still rings true with texture in interior design. Every room needs a certain amount of textural elements to look finished, but be careful to not overload the space with too many conflicting sensations.

Textures reflect the subtle taste of the designer, so try and aim for a variation of hard, soft, rough and smooth textures to start off with and only add the same textures in certain accessories that you would normally have multiples of, such as cushions, bedside tables or lighting. However, even these elements can also benefit from contrasting textures too.