A crucial but often overlooked component of interior design is texture: you can have the most beautiful décor in the world, but if it strikes the same visual tone throughout, it can feel flat.
"When people think of adding texture, they automatically just assume fabrics," says Rosemarie diSalvo, an interior designer and partner at diSalvo Interiors
of New York. "And fabrics are part of it. But texture is created in many other ways, like with lighting and color."
Here are 10 tips to enhance a room's texture and add depth, without having to completely redecorate or spend a lot of money.
Decorating a room in all the same tone is a wasted opportunity. "Tonal color variations add instant visual interest,” says diSalvo. Using only one shade of a color looks flat; choose two or preferably three and mix them between accessories, furniture and paint. Try a subtle two-tone effect on a wall, with the lighter shade on top and subtly darker shade below, perhaps even separated by a molding.
Glaze over paint.
"Adding a glaze to paint on the wall adds automatic texture," says diSalvo. "It gives off a subtle glow when light hits it." A glaze also reflects the natural lighting in the room, creating a warmer effect. (See sidebar.)
Accent one wall.
There's no need to spend money wallpapering an entire room when one textured wall is all it takes to peak visual interest. DiSalvo has splurged on suede for some clients' walls but suggests textured wallpaper as a more accessible counterpoint to painted walls.
Emphasize the ceiling.
"The ceiling is an important fifth wall in a room that a lot of people forget," diSalvo says. "Paint it an interesting color, to give the room a textured feel." Try using complementary colors or shades, like a lighter gray ceiling with medium gray walls (a lighter shade on the ceiling can often make it feel higher), or go bold with a color that contrasts with the walls.
Scent is an important part of a room's texture, but not if it's overpowering. A subtle option is Glade® Scented Oil Candles
, which melt into a pool of scented oil wax to gently yet quickly fill the room with fragrance. One particularly relaxing scent is Lavender & Vanilla. Keep a separate Glade® Room Spray
on hand, in a complementary fragrance (like French Vanilla) for a multi-tiered effect.
Don't repeat a texture.
When it comes to fabrics, those four words are one of diSalvo's biggest mantras. For example, "If you have pillows on the sofa in the same color family," she says, "make sure they're not all the same fabric." Instead, look for a variety of textures—chenille, silk, linen, leather—to automatically add interest to the entire space.
Focus on what's underfoot.
"A throw rug instantly defines a space," says diSalvo, noting that natural wood flooring is always beautiful, but looks far better with the layered, textured effect a throw rug lends. She suggests choosing a rug in a material that's as natural as the wood itself, like wool, which could provide insulation and
cut utility costs.
Rethink your tabletop.
Choose faceted crystal or nubby wood napkin rings instead of plain smooth ones. And try an organic or raw cotton tablecloth with inherent color variations, rather than the typical bleached-out white.
One of the simplest ways to add texture to a bland room is to swap existing door and furniture knobs. Standard ones are usually dull, and most local home furnishings stores carry a variety of inexpensive knobs, from textured wood to colorful ceramic and brushed stainless steel. If you can splurge a bit, go for faceted glass or crystal.
"Come up with a lighting plan
that takes into account how a room will look throughout the day." DiSalvo suggests having overhead lighting, task lighting (for reading and working) and soft tabletop lighting for evening—and adjusting your scheme accordingly to how and when natural light comes into the room. Dimmer switches are another solution: they're inexpensive and a great way to have unlimited lighting options.