Originally published in STIR®
Texture is key to creating a welcoming space and adding dimension and depth.

A smooth stainless-steel bar stool, a wide-plank wood floor, a richly patterned tapestry, a tumbled-stone fireplace, a shiny silk pillow, a nubby wool rug – there are innumerable ways to add textural interest to a room. And texture is key to creating a welcoming space. No matter how extraordinary the color scheme or precise the composition, without texture, a room will look dull and one-dimensional. Texture adds depth, character and interest, and draws you in – figuratively and literally.

“I think people are looking to bring warmth and a real sense of livability into their homes, and texture is one of the best ways to accomplish that,” says Ruth Gottesman of Alpha Workshops. “Once you put texture on your walls or floors or furniture, you're inviting people to touch and sit a while. A room with texture is the opposite of standoffish.”

With so many choices available, the task of selecting textures can be overwhelming. However, if you keep some of the following rules of thumb in mind, you'll be able to make knowledgeable and sensational selections for your designs.

Balancing texture

Texture is both visual and tactile. For example, we see the grain in a wooden table and we feel its smooth, sanded surface. For optimum visual and sensory impact, a mix of textures – soft and hard, silky and rough, nubby and smooth – should be included in a room's design.

A simple tip to remember when combining textures is the old saying that opposites attract. High-gloss woodwork is great paired with rough-hewn furniture. Thick, luxurious rugs look fantastic on polished wood floors. A noise-absorbing cork floor in the kitchen provides a nice counterpoint to sleek stainless-steel appliances and cool stone countertops.

Color and texture

Color and texture are interdependent; each has a strong influence on the other. The higher the contrast in a room's colors, the greater the need for similar textures. The closer in tone the colors, the stronger the need for contrasting textures. This is especially true in a room with a monochromatic color scheme. A juxtaposition of different textures and materials – silk and damask, suede and vinyl, brick and chrome, wicker and glass – will give the room depth and drama, and actually create color changes due to the play of light and shadow on the different surfaces. Rough textures absorb light while smooth textures reflect it.

Remembering the obvious

Incorporating texture in parts of a room that people would not normally touch, such as the ceiling and walls, is just as important as it is for items people are in constant contact with, such as the floor, furniture and accessories. Great ways to showcase walls and ceilings include stucco and plaster treatments; wood panels, beams and moldings; grass cloth, faux suede and brocade wallpapers; and faux, decorative and metallic painting techniques.

For the latter, be sure to check out the new Sherwin-Williams Faux Impressions® line, which enables you to deliver stunning effects for your clients, including anything from the classic elegance of Tuscan plastering to the contemporary cool of textured metallic glazing. The Faux Impressions® line is organized into four finish categories: Old World Impressions, which includes plastering; Metallic Impressions; Quartz Stone Impressions; and Artisan Impressions, which includes leaf and other natural impressions. Each finish comes with all the tools and samples you'll need.

Never forget to consider your options for texture within a space. A room lacking texture, even if otherwise nicely designed, will look flat and boring. Textural relationships are critical to overall success in any interior environment and even more meaningful in today's contemporary interiors.