Unsung to Undeniable: Texture in Interior Design

Austin Interior Designer Amity Worrel Shares Why Texture Should Play a Bigger Role in Interior Design

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When I flip through fabric samples with clients at my Austin interior design studio, folks typically call out colors and patterns they like. Rarely does anyone take note of different textures at first glance or request a specific fabric weave. Those people who do, get it! Texture is an unsung design element that people often don’t notice until it’s clearly absent from a room. Incorporating different textures into a space creates contrast, balance, and, ultimately, a cozy and inviting feel. I’m explaining why using texture in interior design is so important, ways to add texture to your home, and my favorite textural elements to incorporate into a design scheme. 

The Unsung Design Elements We Should Be Paying Attention To 

In the Unsung to Undeniable series, Interior Designer Amity Worrel examines underrated design elements with the power to make or break your interior. Pay attention because these underdogs have an undeniable force soon-to-be recognized! 

Why Don’t We Emphasize Texture in Interior Design?

Take note of where you’re reading this right now. Are you cuddled up in a warm boucle sofa or upright in a sleek leather desk chair? We’re used to seeing interior design as a visual medium, but it is tactile! The way furnishings feel significantly impacts our enjoyment of the room. Folks concentrate on color, spacing, and form. However, sometimes they neglect texture, and texture is a huge part of the joy we get from living in our homes. What would a shabby chic bedroom be without textures, like a rustic reclaimed dresser, wicker accent chair, or overstuffed down duvet?

It’s time to give texture the attention it deserves. 

The Roles Texture Plays in Interior Design 

Velvet, wool, metal, wood, plaster — textures create warmth and comfort. Have you ever seen a well-put-together room that didn’t feel quite right? The color palette is impeccable, the furniture placement flows, but it just doesn’t invite you in to sit and enjoy. More likely than not, it is missing texture! There are two types of textures to consider when designing a space. 

Tactile Texture 

Tactile texture is what you can feel. It’s the physical surface of the objects in the room, including everything from the soft velvet sofa to the rough-stacked stone fireplace. Tactile texture appeals to our sense of touch. 

Visual Texture

Visual texture is what you can see, and it may be playing tricks on you. It is two-dimensional and imitates a tactile texture on a different surface. For example, a faux plaster finish on a smooth sheetrock wall creates the illusion of texture in the space. While it lacks physical depth, it establishes visual depth. 

The benefits of texture don’t stop there. 

The Benefits of Incorporating Texture in Interior Design 

Establishes Visual Weight 

Visual weight is how much you think an object might weigh based on its appearance. For example, a stone coffee table has a greater visual weight than an acrylic end table. Texture plays a large role in our perception. Rough textures typically feel grounded whereas sleek textures feel light and airy. By establishing visual weight in the space, you draw the eye to different focal points. 

Creates Balance and Visual Hierarchy  

A room without contrast feels unbalanced. By layering contrasting textures, you create balance and visual hierarchy. Some surfaces will catch your eye first, while others blend into the background. Contrasting textures accentuate the different elements in the room. 

Feels Cozy 

You don’t just look at a room. You live in it. You feel it. Adding different textures to a space makes it more inviting and comfortable to live in. Think about how fabrics feel when selecting textiles for your sofas, chairs, pillows, and throws. 

Ways to Use Texture in Your Home

Select a Range of Fabric Textures 

One of the best ways to layer texture into your home is through textiles. When selecting fabrics, think about durability, appearance, and feel. For example, using the same fabric weave in different colors will make your space feel flat. Instead, consider using different weaves, even in the same color, to create visual depth. 

Layer and Mix Different Finishes

If everything in your home is one texture, then you end up with an amorphous blob of a space. Mixing different finishes creates contrast so you can appreciate each one more. For example, a lacquered credenza looks much shinier when it sits in front of grasscloth wallpaper. Layering textures helps each piece stand out, enhancing the overall look of your space. 

Remember Lighting 

Tactile textures get a dimensional appearance from the play of light and shadow. Properly lighting your space can highlight your chosen textures. Carefully consider accent lighting, like wall sconces, which will greatly impact how surfaces are perceived. 

Some of My Favorite Textural Design Elements 

Upholstered Walls

Wall upholstery adds a cozy quality to any space. At the most practical level, it improves acoustics, making wall upholstery perfect for home offices and quiet reading rooms. On the luxurious side, upholstered walls feel soft to the touch, making any lounge or dining room more inviting.

Faux Finishes

Faux finishes are paint techniques that mimic the appearance of other materials. Faux comes from the French word for “fake.” However, faux finishes should not be underestimated. Techniques like faux bois and plaster can turn a boring sheetrock wall into a textural delight. 

Velvet, Boucle, and Taffeta Fabrics  

Velvet, boucle, and taffeta — these old-school fabrics are back in style. Velvet has a luxuriously soft and dense warp-pile texture that you can’t help but touch. Boucle is made from looped fibers, mixing large circlets and tiny curls to achieve a soft feel and heavily textured appearance — think Chanel jackets. Taffeta is a crisp and smooth textile with a bit of shimmer. All of these fabrics bring depth and interest to a space. 

Cane Furniture

Cane is often associated with the interiors of the 1970s, but its mainstream production and use date back to the early 1850s with the furniture designs of Thonet and Breuer. Now, cane is back in a big way. This textural element has a lighter side, creating visual depth without overwhelming a room or making things too heavy. 

Texture Creates a Sensory Experience in the Home 

Textures pull us into a room. They invite us to touch, sit, and enjoy. I told you these unsung design elements have an undeniable force that can’t be ignored! I’m seeing people utilize texture more in the design world, creating monochromatic spaces that feel dynamic or layering in diverse elements for an eclectically welcoming feel.  

Remember, look and touch.


Amity Worrel

Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.