You know the feeling of walking into a room and immediately feeling drawn to a certain area — whether it’s a cozy seating nook or an interesting collection on the mantel? If you can’t quite put your finger on what it is about the space or group of objects that seems alluring, there’s a good chance that it’s texture.
More subtle than color, form or pattern, texture is perceived both by sight and touch. Plus, elements with texture often inspire one to imagine what something feels like without touching it. For example, a chunky, woven throw blanket draped over a sofa has a distinctive texture, and one can perceive the softness and warmth just by looking at the blanket.
Let’s take a look at 10 ways to use texture and how this understated quality can bring more warmth, depth and interest to the home.
1. Bring on the layers. Add interest to neutral bedrooms with piles of quilted coverlets, pillows and knit throws. The more variety of textures, the better. The layered-texture effect not only makes it easy to pull up blankets for extra warmth, but it also makes the bed feel all the more cozy and inviting. For even more softness, add gauzy curtains and a plush bedside rug or carpeting.
2. Leave a wall exposed. If you’re lucky enough to have inherited brick as a building material, by all means, leave it exposed. Even in unexpected places — like a bathroom or a hallway — the texture of the brick will lend depth and interest to the room, instantly giving it a sense of character. Industrial building materials like concrete or exposed metal pipes can also add texture to a space.
Don’t have layers of textural building materials hidden behind your drywall? Another option is to apply it on top. Turn a blank wall into a textured statement by attaching reclaimed wood boards, brick veneer or a faux concrete finish to get a similar effect. Here, a wall of knotty wood gives a feeling of warmth and coziness to a den.
3. Double down on rugs. Don’t hesitate to layer rugs to bump up the texture in a space. For a winning combination, pair a neutral-colored rug that has lots of texture with a patterned one.
Alternatively, lay a high-texture accent rug (like a fuzzy sheepskin or a cowhide) on top of a patterned area rug.
4. Display textural objects as art. Elevate everyday objects made of interesting textural materials — like old farm tools, interesting seedpods, woven baskets or antique metal buckets — by presenting them in unexpected ways. Display larger items, like this pair of woven metal Portuguese eel traps, against blank backdrops to show off their textural quality through contrast.
For smaller items, like glass bottles or baskets, group them as collections for bigger impact. In this home in San Anselmo, California, five baskets hung together as wall art pick up the woven textures of the pendant light and stools. The resulting neutral palette with lots of texture makes the room feel warm, informal and inviting.
5. Splurge for textured wallpaper. Adding textured wallpaper can be a great way to make a space luxurious without looking too over-the-top. When choosing textured wallpaper, keep in mind the effect you’d like to create in the room. Satin finishes have a smooth texture that reflects some light, giving a baroque-like feeling of opulence. Matte-textured and embossed wallpapers can help create a rich library-like feel.
6. Go plush with velvet. Really make a textural statement with a sofa or a cushy seat upholstered in sumptuous, butter-soft velvet. Balance the indulgent look and feel of velvet by keeping other furnishings and elements in the room more sparse, hard-edged and contemporary.
7. Look for texture in nature. Using natural elements as accent pieces in the home sets a laid-back mood and can help modern spaces feel more lived-in. Here, a metal firewood rack is designed to show off the delicate peeling bark and rough texture of the logs as a wall-mounted sculpture.
Other ways to use natural elements to bump up texture: Fill a low bowl with knobby pine cones or line up smooth river stones along the mantel.
8. Throw down a sheepskin. Yes, they’ve been trendy in recent years, but adding a sheepskin, or a synthetic alternative, is still one of the easiest ways to instantly bump up the coziness of a room. With their pillow-soft texture and over-the-top fluffiness, sheepskins are particularly effective in making hardwood floors and stiff furniture look warm and inviting.
9. Add a textured backsplash. Modern kitchens are often filled with smooth surfaces — a texture that can feel a bit cold and sterile. Break up an expanse of smooth textures while still keeping a contemporary look with three-dimensional tile used as a backsplash.
For a more homey, farmhouse feel in your kitchen, look for ways to add texture to the space, such as laying down a braided rug, displaying glass jars filled with dry goods on the countertop or using a woven basket as a fruit bowl.
10. Don’t forget about macramé. Knotted wall hangings may seem like a ’70s throwback, but macramé can bring texture to a bare wall and more warmth to a contemporary room. Modern macramé designs often mix the traditional natural fibers and driftwood with materials like metallic yarns or those made of recycled plastic. Mount a macramé hanging behind the sofa or above the bed to boost textural interest.