Designer Secrets: Transform Your Space with Texture

updated Jun 6, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

What are the elements of a really beautiful room? Of course, you need great furniture and accessories, and the right lighting and colors. But there’s a secret that all good designers know that can really take a space to the next level. It’s the one element without which no room is complete: texture.

Of course anything, even if it’s made of shiny metal or plastic, has its own texture. ‘Smooth’ is a texture. But in this case, the kind of textures we’re talking about incorporating are things like wood and textiles — things that have pattern and movement and look like they would be interesting to touch. These are the things that make a room feel cozy, that make it feel complete. I think it’s because complicated textures remind us of nature. They provide the eye with something interesting to look at, but they’re also incredibly soothing. It doesn’t hurt that at this particular moment in interior design, the textured look is especially big.

Of course, as with anything else when it comes to interior design, the key is to create a balance. Without enough textured elements, a space can feel cold and sterile. On the other hand, one person might love a room that’s bursting with textured elements, while to someone else the same room might read as busy, or even dirty. It’s all about finding the balance that you like — finding your own spot on the texture spectrum, so to speak.

We’ve got a ton of ideas and inspiration photos for adding texture to a room — just a little, or a whole whole lot. Find what you like, and then go forth and decorate!

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Add texture with textiles.
An easy and quick way to add instant coziness to any room. Try: kilim pillows, tapestries, linen bedding and tablecloths, IKEA sheepskins, a throw on the sofa.

1. So cozy. Beatrice & Ramsey’s Cultured Echo Park Casa, photographed by Marcia Prentice for Apartment Therapy.
2. Thuss+Farrell via Desire to Inspire.
3. Pretty textiles add texture and color to an all-white room from Skona Hem, via Design Milk.
4. A restful bedroom from House & Home.
5. Stil Inspiration via Emmas Designblogg.

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Add texture with a rug.
“That rug really tied the room together.” Take a look at these rooms, and try to imagine how much less cozy and complete they would feel sans rug. Ethnic rugs are great for this, but they are definitely not the only option — anything with a lot of texture will work.

1. From Katie’s Hillside Bungalow.
2. A Beni Ourain rug provides just the right amount of texture in Dean’s Stylish & Social Greystone, photographed by Carolyn Purnell for Apartment Therapy.
3. Bri Emery’s dining room, by Emily Henderson.
4. Emmas Designblogg via Apartment Therapy.
5. I love how the sisal rug really grounds this modern room, and adds just the right amount of warmth. From Skona Hem.

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Add texture with plants.
Plants are a texture — in fact, they are the original texture. Plus, having plants around has been shown to improve your mood, and they purify the air. A win all around.

1. In this all-white office space, hanging plants add just the right amount of texture AND color. Bodie and Fou via Apartment Therapy.
2. From Emma Jane Nation.
3. Branches function like a giant flower arrangement in Susan’s San Francisco home, photographed by Lindsay Tella for Apartment Thearpy.
4. Plants are perfect in the bathroom in Mason and Serena’s Sunset Beach Bungalow, photographed by Phillip Maisel for Apartment Therapy.
5. Living room from Lonny.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Add texture with carefully chosen furniture.
A single antique wood piece with a nice patina can really ground a room. Also great for adding texture to space? Anything with velvet.

1. Mixed chairs from stylist Anna Gillar.
2. Isn’t your eye just drawn to that bombe chest? I love the richness of wood in a stark interior. From Elle Interior.
3. An antique table and velvet chairs soften the stark modernity of this dining room by Nate Berkus.
4. Diana Lovring for Brandts Indoor, via Design Chaser.
5. Home of Joanna Laajisto, via Emmas Designblogg.

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(Image credit: Heather’s Pocket Skyline View)

Add texture with books!
This might be my favorite one. We don’t always think of them this way, and certainly books are there for much more than just looks, but a whole wall of books definitely adds a lot of warmth and texture to any room.

1. Stacked books in Heather’s tiny New York apartment.
2. House Beautiful, via Arkpad.
3. Marie Claire Maison
4. A Brooklyn home spotted in Vogue.
5. Delson or Sherman Architects via Desire to Inspire.

Add texture with architectural elements.
Part of this is just getting lucky, of course. If you live in a beautiful old Parisian flat with tall ceilings and gorgeous moldings and lovely old herringbone floors — well, I am jealous of you. You may not need to add a lot of texture, because your home speaks for itself. For the rest of us, this is something to keep in mind when remodeling — or you can add molding to your walls as a weekend project.

1. That ceiling! Those walls! Those floors! Actually, everything about this place. By Laplace & Co.
2. A collector’s stylish Paris pad, as seen in Dwell.
3. A pleasantly rustic kitchen from Dwell.
4. From Depto 51.
5. That beamed ceiling makes the room. From Lonny.

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Texture all over the place!
Some of the rooms that make the best use of texture combine more than one of the above elements. From all across the web, here are some of our favorite examples of spaces where homeowners have layered different textures to create some really stylish, beautiful, and comfortable rooms.

1. Flowly drapes and a herringbone floor are the perfect counterpoint to super-modern furniture. Jeremy Wilson for Elle Decoration UK, via Arkpad.
2. A worn leather couch, rustic wood coffee table, and rug bring wamth to a white space. Sköna Hem via French by Design.
3. From one of my favorite Apartment Therapy house tours, photographed by Lindsay Tella. Doesn’t this room just look so cozy? The tree in the bay window and branches-as-floral-arrangement add another layer.
4. Velvet and an oriental rug keep a modern space approachable. From Case da Abitare.
5. Adam’s Afternoon Light, from our 2012 Small Cool Contest. Adam is clearly a texture fiend — he’s used rugs, textiles and hanging plants to make this lofty apartment into a welcoming, comfortable space.
6. It’s all in the details here — the brick, the worn paint on the mantel, the rug under the coffee table, the velvet slipper chair. Notice that this room doesn’t have a lot of color — it’s the different textures that make it interesting. Domino, via Angie Helm Interiors.
7. This rug truly makes the room — it grounds it and gives it warmth. Plants, pillows and a throw help out. From Lovely Life.
8. Those old wood cabinets may not get much love, but here, along with a beautiful Turkish rug, they add just the right amount of warmth to a space with super-modern furnishings. From Hither and Thither
9. Oh my gosh, that couch. Together with the rug and the oversized kilim-upholstered ottoman, it is just perfect. From Lonny.
10. Texture all over the place — knotty walls! that quilt! rugs and rugs and rugs! — makes for a rumpled, Bohemian (and incredibly comfortable) look. From Lantliv via A Rustic Retreat.

(Images: as linked above)