We all long for home — that is, for a place where we belong, where we feel comfortable, and where our surroundings speak to us about the things that matter most. Home interior design arises out of this longing. It is our effort to personalize our space and make it truly our own.
There are so many ways to do this. For most people, the first things that come to mind are elements like furniture, paint colors, and pictures for the walls. These are clearly significant. But there are two other aspects of personalizing a space that are less obvious but equally important: the patterns and textures used. We’re going to explore these easily-overlooked elements, hopefully giving you some fresh ideas for how you might bring your personality to your space.
Interior Design: Getting Ready
When you get inspired, it’s easy to rush out and start buying furnishings for your home. But it’s important to approach the design of your space with patience. For one thing, you’re probably going to be living with the results for an extended time so you want to be sure you are happy with them. For another, remodeling a space can involve a significant investment of money. You don’t want to make purchases you’ll later regret.
So how should you get started? Begin by thinking carefully about what kind of space you are trying to create. Do you want something rustic and cozy? Or are you going for sleek and modern? Have a clear sense of what you like and what you hope to create. This will guide your choices when it comes to the individual elements you will select.
You should also gather all the inspiration you can. Looking at pictures of what others have done is a great way to find out what you like — and what you don’t. Use what you find as a starting place for your own design.
Finally, don’t feel like you have to decorate your space all at once. When you have an overall idea in mind, you can start with pieces like a rug or a sofa and add other elements as you find ones that suit you.
Ready? Let’s dive into texture and pattern.
The Wonderful World of Texture
But we also experience texture visually. Different textures lend a distinct feeling to a room. Consider, for instance, the difference between a kitchen that contains granite countertops, polished concrete flooring, and stainless steel appliances and one that features butcher block, enameled appliances, and rustic terracotta tiles on the floor.
Once you begin to think creatively about texture, you realize how many opportunities you have in a room to take this into consideration. Furniture, upholstery, flooring, window treatments, decorations, and appliances all come in a wide variety of textures. Texture even is a consideration in wall treatments. The sheen of paint, whether it be matte or glossy, makes a difference in how a room feels and how light plays on its surface.
The Possibilities of Pattern
Just like texture, patterns affect the feel of a room and help to set the tone. For example, bold, geometric patterns tend to convey a modern feel while delicate, floral patterns are associated with a more traditional aesthetic.
There is a tremendous variety when it comes to patterns. Natural materials, for instance, have distinctive patterns. Consider the grain of wood or subtle color variation in tanned leather. Natural materials can also create patterns depending upon how they are crafted, as for instance in a woven basket or a jute area rug. Then there are patterns created by weaving different colors of thread or printing designs on fabric or wallpaper.
As we saw with texture, literally every element of your room’s decor has the potential to incorporate patterns to help make your space unique.
Using Texture and Pattern in Interior Design
So how can you successfully incorporate texture and pattern into the design of your home? There are a few principles that apply equally to both. First, and most importantly, keep in mind the basic artistic principle of balance. Both patterns and textures can make wonderful accents but can definitely be overdone. Imagine a room in which every surface was covered in a busy print; it would feel overwhelming. So use patterns and textures to add interest to your space, but keep things in balance through the use of variety.
Second, be willing to experiment. As with design in general, there are no hard and fast rules for what works. This doesn’t mean, however, that anything goes! There are definitely principles, like balance, that should guide your choices, but judgment also comes
through experience. So try things out. Get some samples of materials or patterns you’re considering using and place them in your space to see what your eye likes.
Third, it’s a good idea to begin decorating your space by selecting a rug or the main pieces of furniture, like your sofa. It is much easier to match other elements — like cushions, decorations, and paint colors — to these than the other way around.
Now, when it comes to working specifically with textures, one of the most effective techniques is to combine different textures in a space to add depth and interest. For instance, a bathroom is often a space dominated by glossy surfaces like tile, marble, and glass. Consider adding a rustic wood chair or a natural wood vanity for a softening contrast.
When selecting patterns, pay attention not just to color, but also to the size of the pattern as well as its genre. When you combine different patterns, try to also include variation in these elements. For instance, you might pair a large, geometric pattern with a small, nature-inspired print.
Getting Some Help
Maybe this brief discussion of the use of texture and pattern in home interior design has been inspiring and you’re already populating your Pinterest board with ideas you’re ready to run with. If so, great!
On the other hand, maybe it all feels a bit overwhelming. There is a skill to putting together successful interior designs and it isn’t always easy to do well. That’s why it can be so helpful to work with a professional interior designer, who is able to help you clarify your vision and make suggestions about how best to bring it to life.
In this article, we use references to Ahmad AbouZanat from PROJECT AZ’s work as an example. He has been incorporating a strong balance of patterns and textures for his residential clients in New York City and surrounding areas since 2017.