Fall is approaching, and texture is all around us. Looped jute pillows, natural-fiber rugs and chunky throws for the home. Pebble leather handbags, faux-fur vests and cable-knit sweaters for the wardrobe.
In fashion and home decorating, textures can range from the smoothest leathers to the chunkiest knits. Texture also is found in furniture finishes, countertop surfaces, jewelry, ceramics and paints, including the collection of specialty finishes from Ralph Lauren Paint. Suede and River Rock are two options, the latter promising to capture “the naturally weathered appearance of water-worn rocks.”
Prefer wallpaper to paint?
“A textured wallpaper like a real or faux grass cloth or a paintable textured wallpaper adds a great textured element to the room. Or be daring; put it on the ceiling. It’s the surprise element of looking up and seeing it,” said interior designer Pamela Witte, of White Orchard Home Furnishings in Orchard Park.
So what’s the big deal about texture?
As the editors at Better Homes and Gardens once wrote: “Texture is one of the more subtle, but most important, design tools. Though not as dramatic as bold color or lively pattern, its presence makes the difference between a merely well-designed room and one that resonates with richness. The key lies in diversity.”
It’s all about mixing it up and layering the different textures to create a unique, interesting look. Nubby and smooth. Rough and shiny.
“I would suggest a leather sofa with cable-knit sweater pillows,” Witte said. You can buy them ready-made or sew one yourself.
“Have an old sweater you don’t wear anymore? Cut off the arms and neckline. Stitch the front and back together, insert a pillow form and stitch up the one end that’s open. It’s an easy way to make a pillow and recycle an old item,” she said.
The same approach goes for incorporating other accents and finishing touches.
“Accessorize by adding different elements of textures – shiny silver, rough textures like pottery, smooth finishes. When decorating a bookcase, layer your pieces in front of each other. Don’t feel you have to see the whole piece,” she said.
Layering textures is especially important in monochromatic outfits or room settings as well as in those that bring similar colors together – ivory and tans, for example, as shown in the outfit above.
Texture goes beyond interior design and fashion. Experienced gardeners know all about texture and how it can be used to enhance the landscape.
They talk about different plant textures – fine, medium and coarse – and how light, shadow, color, leaf shapes and other factors play a role. They use words like “fuzzy” to describe lamb’s ears and “feathery” for the plumes of some ornamental grasses. They observe how textures can change depending on the distance from which we view a plant – as well as with the season. And they note how additional textures come from garden decor, rocks, pavers and other hardscaping elements.
“Texture is often a subtle, yet powerful, element in a harmonious garden, and when thoughtfully used, it can appeal to three senses – sight, sound and touch,” writes Rebecca Sweet, author of “Refresh Your Garden Design with Color, Texture and Form” (Horticulture Books, $19.99 paperback).
Some other ideas:
• Layer rugs of different textures, such as a richly patterned rug over a sisal carpet.
• Layer your tabletop. Pottery Barn suggests using its dark Nailhead Charger plates as backdrops for place settings that can include either casual or more formal dinnerware. You can layer tabletop linens of various textures as well.
• Find textures in unexpected places. Fall hosiery (see fashion story below). Glassware. Vases. Especially unique: Bath mats and placemats crafted from smooth river stones that bring unique texture to a bathroom or dining table. Viva Terra sells them in its catalog and on its website. Table runners, coasters and placemats made from the sliced cross sections of reclaimed teak branches are other options.
• Experiment with embroidery. Stephanie Robb, from Turnstyle Designs, 298 Ashland Ave., said that uniquely embroidered tops are a stylish way to add texture to outfits this fall. Textured leggings and skirts that combine taffeta and velvet are other options.
• Update your head-to-toe black. Macy’s names Black Modernism one of its top trends adding this note in its fall fashion report: “Fabrics and texture are key with an unexpected combination of high-tech and luxe materials.”
• Embrace accessories. While knits – from fine to chunky – reign in fall/winter fashion, don’t overlook jewelry, scarves, shoes and other accessories as great tools for adding texture. We’ve spotted boots and handbags in quilted or pebble leathers. Scarves in waffle weaves, nubby yarns or with fringe.
For fall, vests are another option. In addition to faux furs and shearling, look for vests in quilted fabrics. Talbots shows one with a detachable faux-fur collar for added textural interest.