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Design Inspo

Understanding Textures in Interior Design and How To Use Textures Properly

Curious about what it means when they say “create texture” in a room? Let’s look at what texture means and how to introduce it to your home.

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“Create texture” or “adds visual texture” are phrases we hear a lot in the design world. The question is, do we really know what that means for our own interiors? What if getting a better grip on this concept could take your decor up a notch? When it comes to home design, how the room feels isn’t just literal. 

Have you ever worked on decorating a room, only to feel like something is missing from the space? That thing is usually always texture. Although texture is brought into design plans through material, furniture, textiles, and physical decorative accessories, it can also come through in lighting since that impacts how we view a space. Let's define it all further.

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What Is Texture?

Texture is defined as the feeling, appearance, or consistency of something. But it is more than the variance in the surface quality of an object and even more than the appearance of those changes. Texture is measured by the way we perceive that object.

Actual Physical Texture

Ask anyone what texture is, and most likely, they will say it is the way a surface feels: whether it has a smooth or rough texture. They are totally right as far as tactile texture is concerned.

It creates an immediate tactile sensation. Our sense of touch deserves as much consideration as the other four when designing our homes. Ask anyone who has slept on heathered cashmere sheets — they will tell you.

Interior designers take advantage of the changes in the tactile impact of physical materials by layering different textured surfaces to create a more interesting space. In fact, the study of haptics is being applied to interior design in exciting new ways to create even more appealing spaces.

Visual Texture

You’ll know you are catching on to this texture thing when you begin to see your rooms as a spectrum of textures: shiny vs. dull, glossy vs. matte, light vs. dark, flat vs. layered, etc. 

Gradients of visual texture infer depth in your space. When you hear a designer say that something adds visual depth, they mean layers of texture or contrast seem multi-dimensional. When you add a textural piece to your room that draws the eye and acts as a focal point, you’ve added visual weight, another phrase we hear a lot these days.

Before you know it, you'll be spitting out all this design lingo too!

Emotional Response to Texture

You won’t always feel it when you have the right amount of texture, but like we mentioned earlier, you will sense it when you don’t. A lack of contrast in textures produces a flat space that seems to want something more. Though little research has been done to study our emotional responses to texture, we all intuitively know it's a thing. 

Your friend’s very minimal room with a muted color scheme and sleek modern materials will be perceived as serene by some and cold by others, just as your other friend’s cottagecore living room of mixed prints and colorful paintings is inviting to some but cluttered to others. Our personal taste is shaped by our perception of texture at work. 

How much texture you introduce to a space is up to you, which is the intuitive, emotional design element. Listening to and empowering this part of yourself leads to supremely satisfying and swoon-worthy spaces.

Where To Apply Texture in Your Home

A living room design featuring a whole lot of texture; Designed in Spoak by Daniela Araya


Textiles are one of the most affordable and straightforward ways to apply your knowledge of textural elements. Textured decor items delight your senses while keeping things cozy and interesting. 

Liven up your sofa with woven throw pillows or a soft, fluffy mohair throw over the back to balance out the smooth linen upholstery. Pair that rich leather reading chair with a brocade loveseat to take the tactile harmony to the next level. 

Jute or coir rugs both add serious texture to highly edited living rooms. A Moroccan rug can bring in both soft fibers and playful strands of fringe. Tone down an eclectic bedroom with a simple tufted rug.

Floors and furniture fabric are obvious opportunities for texture but don’t forget your walls. No, we’re not talking about textured walls like the stucco of mass-produced homes; we’re talking about intentional wall coverings. 

Wall hangings like curtains can be sheer and silky or soft, lush velvet. Even the curve of a drapey tie-back curtain can offset the straight lines of a room, adding depth.

High-gloss paint offers a smooth texture to your room design. On the other hand, matte walls make a wonderful canvas for an elaborate gallery wall.

Textile and Fabric Guidelines

When looking for the best textiles and fabrics for your home, these guidelines can be helpful:

  • Some of the best rug fabrics to consider are jute and wool, both of which can give your space a more organic feel. Thick wool and jute rugs can also help suppress excess noise.
  • Pet-friendly fabrics can handle the wear and tear that pets often create over the years. Consider decorating with faux leather, polyester, denim, twill, and Sunbrella fabric. 
  • When choosing a sofa that fits your space, the material is just as important as the color or style. Cotton, linen, and wool are all highly durable sofa materials that come in essentially any color one could wish for. 

Color Variance

Just like that ultra-minimalist friend, your vibe may be more neutral, and that’s okay. Still, even within a neutral palette, you can introduce color texture by choosing four complementary shades rather than just two.

Love the monochromatic look but want to maintain color texture? Paint walls a lighter tone than your furnishings and select window treatments in the shade in between. Don’t forget a throw pillow or large-scale painting for the perfect accent color to add visual weight.

If dark wall paint or wallpaper isn’t for you, maybe a neutral shade in an old-world lime wash will give your space the depth you crave.

Natural Texture

Mother Nature has been doing texture for a long time, making her the best example to follow. Imagine the smooth surface of a pond and the leafy fronds of a wood fern reaching over it. Now picture that same fern in your main living space atop your polished wood floors. Maybe you’d like to skip the rug and let those high-shine floors reflect more sunlight for visual contrast. 

Try natural textures like dark, round monstera leaves in a white, sunlit corner or feathery pampas grass in a vase beside the marble mantle. Small natural finds like twisted driftwood or a colorful conch add depth to the sheen of a glossy tabletop. Add a rattan or rush-seated chair to a brick patio for a lovely disparity. 

The Quality of Lighting

Light is crucial when incorporating texture because it determines how much physical texture is visible and how stark or gentle the gradations appear. On top of that, the quality and location of the lighting are a source of different textures as well. 

Mix up the heights where you hang your light fixtures, with chandeliers above, sconces at eye level, and lamps at a seated sight line. There are so many opportunities to spread out lighting, such as a pendant over a corner chair and the soft glow of picture lights over your prized paintings. 

The quality of light you use makes a big difference, too, with cool-toned bulbs of around 500 Kelvin making a space feel more modern and energized, while warmer light of about 300 kelvin gives a soft glow we associate with lamplight or a hearth. (There’s that emotion again.)

Even your lampshade can add layers of texture with cut glass, frosted orbs, or maybe metal filigree that shapes the light as it filters through. 

Shape Shifting

Don’t stop with color! Take a look at the space’s architectural elements. Are most of your furnishings linear? Balance out that utilitarian walnut dining table with velvet-covered dining chairs. Replace factory door and drawer pulls with unique knobs. Better yet, mix and match for a funky take on texture. Let your inner designer run wild!

Besides the shape of individual objects, you can also create textural depth by arranging things in three-dimensional patterns around a room. Think of the difference it can make to simply turn chairs at an angle toward the couch — this is where creating a room layout with Spoak comes in handy. 

Personal Balance

Hopefully, you’re starting to see how much your perception of texture has affected your overall enjoyment of your space. Think like a photographer and begin viewing everything around you through the lens of texture.

Imagine what you want to feel beneath your fingers and see around you. Where is this visual interest lacking in your home? 

Photo Credit: (Left) MyDomaine


Designing for the sense of touch: A new frontier for design | ScienceDaily

Visual Texture | American Psychology Association

Using Texture As A Subject | NYFA

Aesthetic perception of visual textures: a holistic exploration | Frontiers

Awash with Colour: The Decorative and Protective Roles of Limewash | Building Conservation

Effect of warm/cool white lights on visual perception and mood in warm/cool color environments | PMC

If you have a space in your home that’s lacking visual interest, reimagine it with Spoak’s interior design suite and create a brand new look for your home.

Date Posted
March 8, 2023



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