More than a Feeling

More than a Feeling


While you're sitting in your living room, look around. You've chosen colors for walls, floors and fabrics. You've decided on lighting and added art. But notice something you might not have: texture.

It's the warmth of a fuzzy rug, the silk throw over the leather couch, the dull surface of a painted wall against the gloss of wood trim.

"Comfort is what sumptuous textural fabrics add to our busy daily lives," says Hal Swanson, of Swanson-Ollis Interiors, Los Angeles. "Layering these woven dreams into rugs, upholstery, wall coverings and drapery call out, 'Come, relax, and don't be afraid to put your feet up!' I love hearing stories from clients whose friends have visited their homes over the years and are convinced they have added something new each time they visit, only to find out it's been there for years."

That's what texture does - it makes a room look new and fresh. Texture adds another layer to the room. It's not just about touching and feeling and making something soft or coarse. It's also about visual variety.

It does more than just change how a room looks: It also changes the feel - how cozy is it? Is it nice to spend time in? Rooms with only hard, smooth textures like bare wood floors, glass tables and shiny metal lamps feel unfriendly.

The key to using texture, say designers, is unexpected contrast.

Rugs are one way to achieve this look.

One person might use a soft, fuzzy rug to downplay the formality and warm up marble in a master bedroom, for example.

Natural materials are popular in just about anything. People see tons of stone or wood in restaurants and hotels and want that look at home. It brings in the natural quality of the exterior world and takes us back to the earth and adds warmth. It makes something people can relate to and you're able to pick up volume in the room the way color would otherwise do.

"Great fur pillows done in moderation are very chic and cool," Swanson says.

Consider using fresh moss - rather than flowers - to add texture. "I take fresh moss from the florist, put water on it, and lay it across the dining room table," he says. "It stays green constantly."

Play contrasting materials against each other: Instead of a rough object against another rough surface, put a beautiful glass bowl on a rough wooden table.

Kelly Edwards, former co-host of HGTV's "Design on a Dime," says textures are often overlooked on walls, one of her favorite spots to decorate.

"Right now what's really big is textured wallpaper," Edwards says. "You can buy wallpaper that looks like linen, leather or crocodile skin. If you can't afford it, you can create the look of wallpaper by painting walls a base color and using a fine toothed comb over it to make it look like linen."

Some designers use stucco, or paint walls with a suede finish with sand mixed in for a stucco effect.

If you have children and want to use silk on the walls but are afraid of it getting dirty, don't forget there are ones that look like silk.

Upholstering headboards is another idea.

"It makes the bed look more substantial, and the bed instantly looks 10 times more cushy," Edwards says. "You can take cotton or silk, upholster the headboard, and always change it out and use a different color later."

Chairs are another place to add texture. If a chair has a wooden frame, use a textile like a tightly woven silk and paint the frame with a crackle finish.

No matter how you add texture, you're sure to spice things up.

"The artful mixing of multiple textures and colors in the fabrics, furnishings, finishes, art and accessories," Swanson says, "provides a much more interesting environment for any room in your home."

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