Design Rules

Design Rules: Texture and pattern

11th August 2015
texture and pattern

Texture and Pattern are tricky design elements to play around with. People are very connected to their sense of touch, so texture in particular is a very important element in a space. Just think about how children need to touch everything to experience it. When designing a room, the use of texture and pattern adds the comfort factor and heightens our experience of the space.

What is Texture?

Texture is simply the surface quality of a material. It could be smooth, rough, bumpy or flat. When we look at a surface, our perception of that surface is influenced by the texture of the adjacent surface. Eg: rough surfaces seem more textured next to smooth surfaces.  The lighting applied to a surface can also influence the texture. Eg: a light shining up a stone wall casts shadows making the wall seem more textured.

What is Pattern?

Pattern is the repetition of a graphic motif on a surface, most often on fabric and wallpaper in our homes. While texture refers to the physical quality of the surface, pattern creates an illustrative perception.

12 Tips to Help You Use Texture and Pattern in Your Home

  • Don’t underestimate the power of texture and pattern, both have an important role in drawing the elements of a room together and making it appear welcoming.  Be careful to ensure that the ‘visual weight’ of these elements is balanced.
  • Because of the strong associations that we have with materials, textures and patterns can be used to make a space appropriate for a particular purpose or for an individual.
  • Light will affect texture: direct light will enhance it, whereas diffused light will detract from it.  Every texture also reflects light differently, so use shiny reflective textures where more light is needed and darker, more absorbent textures where the light level is too high.
  • Infants and children are constantly searching for new visual stimuli to learn more about the world. Cater for this interest by including stimulating patterns and textures in the rooms where they sleep and play.
  • High-contrast, visually stimulating patterns can be disorientating, so use them subtly in your interior.
  • Choosing a pattern for an interior is the most instant way of ‘buying into’ a given style.  An initial selection of fabric or wallpaper can even provide the colour, design and style basis for the whole room.
  • Choose wallpapers and fabrics with a vertical design emphasis to give an impression of more height. Use horizontal textures across the short length of a room to draw the eye across and increase the length of the space.
  • Non-geometric patterned wallpaper will provide good camouflage for walls with surface irregularities.
  • Heavily patterned designs have a tendency to advance towards the observer, whereas less dense patterns will not be as powerful.
  • Use texture and pattern to create areas of interest to guide the eye to particular focal points.
  • Too large a repeat used as a wallcovering will make a room appear smaller, so use large-scale patterns on large areas or expanses of wall and smaller patterns on smaller walls.
  • Balance strong patterns with more subdued ones to avoid overpowering a room.  Think of using these elements in layers, from strong to subtle, creating a balanced look.

These are great elements to play around with and can be done is small amounts too. Use bold patterns on your cushions, combine it with a similar coloured highly textured cushions, see what happens in your space. You can have a lot of fun by playing around with texture and pattern.

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  • Oh I love this post! Nice of you that you share all those facts and tips with everyone, big up! Never new about the impact of patterns on kids though, will definitely take it into consideration before revamping my girls’ room soon.
    I’m a big fan of geometric patterns myself and just ordered a white/yellow zigzag fabric for making curtains and cushions.
    Take care and keep blogging x

    • Hi Olga,
      Thank you so much for the comment, i love to hear from people who read the blog and find out how it helps you. Pattern is very interesting to study as we are highly visual creatures and the effect that it has on us is powerful.
      Do send pictures of the fabric, and the completed cushions and curtains. Do you make them yourself?

      • Yes, pattern and its impact on us is a very interesting thing to study! I’m in my final year of uni [Interior Design] and just started blogging which gives so much pleasure and boosts my confidence! Reading your blog helps me so much, you’re my inspiration 🙂
        I do make curtains and cushions myself, that’s my little hobby 🙂 and I’d love to share some images with you when they’re ready!
        Olga xx

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