Expanding the boundaries of “texture”
I was listening to music by the rock band The Eagles while driving this weekend, and I was impressed by the complex “texture” of the sound. The musicians combined various instruments and voices in a way that created great balance. Some of the sounds were smooth, while some were rough and raspy, and others had a sharp or a soft finish. But they all worked together.
I considered how that concept of texture applies to a lot of things we enjoy. “Texture” can actually be a broad term. It doesn’t just describe the physical feeling of objects – like when comparing sandpaper to wax paper.
The concept of texture can also describe a variety of other qualities such as the illusion of visual textures found in shapes, patterns, lines, colors, layers, and lighting effects. Contrasting and complementing textures help set the mood in a room, create spaces within spaces, and draw your eye toward desired features.
Talented professionals – musicians, chefs, interior designers – take into account all of our senses to make the experience better.
The misuse of texture
Sometimes, home design fads overuse a certain type of texture. The overused feature dominates the look and conflicts with other textures in the space. Or the texture loses its value because it’s everywhere and on everything.
Other times there is a lack of texture – when everything is too clean and smooth and straight. This “flat” look is very popular, due to web design and print media trends that have influenced home design trends.
You see a lot of stark white in design today. But there needs to be a balance. Even a subtle texture adds richness. It engages the eye. It’s like the Velcro that hooks you.
The combination of colors, textures, and surfaces – well planned – interrupts a stale pattern, but it doesn’t disrupt the pattern. Interruption is good because it makes the space more interesting. A good designer controls that interruption so the person experiencing the space not only feels good in it but understands, at some level, how things are connected.
Explore a myriad of textures in interior design
Visual texture can be introduced in a variety of ways:
- Window treatments add texture to a smooth wall.
- Furnishings combine with a smooth floor.
- Directional lines from paint selections, wood grain, and tile patterns move the eye around a space.
- Details within cabinetry or a backsplash compliment the smoothness of the countertops.
- A smooth countertop may be made out of an exotic stone with a lot of visual texture from color variations.
- Instead of square and rectangle tiles, find hexagons or custom-cut tiles.
- Consider the color of tile grout and the direction of tile placement.
- A very smooth cabinet door is balanced by the finish or shape of the hardware.
- The fabric on barstools and chairs can have a visual coarseness that grabs your attention.
- Wallcovering (wallpaper) can be used in a subtle way, often on a single wall within a room.
- Reclaimed wood is an alternative to smooth, polished surfaces.
- Use light and shadow to create depth and color variation.
- Use an area rug to break up a space.
- If using carpet, research various yarns and patterns.
- When incorporating wood, consider the color, grain, and direction.
New varieties of countertop textures
Besides the visual texture found in the “veins” of natural stone, granite countertops can now be ordered with new finishes that add a physical texture. “Leather finished” or “honed finished” granite is not perfectly smooth. It has a little subtle texture to it.
It’s still very useable and clean, like any other countertop. But it’s a wonderful extra feature you can feel.
This new quality is accomplished during the finishing process of the natural stone. Instead of polishing it completely to a super smooth surface, they leave a slight texture to the surface. And they’ve come up with different directional types of cutters, so they create a variety of identifiable textures.
Technology delivers exciting choices
Innovative designers are using the latest technology to do some pretty unique things.
CNC machines, laser engravers. and other machines can cut custom shapes and patterns to make some phenomenal work. You see it often in modern styling, where most things are clean-lined, smooth, and more solid in color (or lack of color). They introduce a textured wall to give it an organic feel to the space or balance the more static elements.
I recently used this strategy on a kitchen remodeling project. The homeowner wanted a particular set of light fixtures from the very beginning. I used the curves found in those fixtures as inspiration for other parts of the kitchen design.
The glass kitchen cabinet doors feature custom-designed applied moldings and mullions. The color, shape, and material of the kitchen hardware also coordinate with the rustic, gunmetal light fixtures.
The tile for the kitchen backsplash was custom cut to continue the theme onto the wall. First I ordered specialty Sonoma Tile stone from Unique Tile. I drew a custom oval pattern on the computer. Then I sent the tiles and the computer files to a company that used a waterjet cutter to create the custom inlay in the delicate soapstone and sandstone.
The result was a unique, one-of-a-kind look. Each of the elements work together to attract the eye and create the desired feel.
Do you see the value of visual texture? Then you might be ready for your own unique, one-of-a-kind home design from Keystone Creative.
Keystone Creative is an award-winning residential design firm, specializing in whole-house transformations and new-home designs. The team reimagines kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, and even laundry rooms to fulfill homeowners’ dreams and increase the value of homes. Keystone Creative can handle the entire process, from the initial concept and detailed blueprints, to interior design and material selection, to construction and quality control management.