May 31, 2023


Creative living

Why Texture Is Just as Important as Color in Design

4 min read
Photo credit: Raevo
Photo credit: Raevo

From House Beautiful

Photo credit: Lauren Tamaki
Photo credit: Lauren Tamaki

“What a bore!” That’s how Joy Moyler describes a room done all in one fabric. It may come as little surprise that the designer, a fashion lover and veteran of Armani’s design studio, sees textural variety as so essential. “Texture is just always important to me: how light hits fabric, the translucent nature, the sexiness of it,” she says.

“I’ve always been a strong proponent of using multiple textures too,” she tells House Beautiful. Part of that stems from a childhood spent with an aunt who lost her sight at a young age but, Moyler recalls, “was able to navigate her house based on the texture of things.”

“So early on, before I even became an interior designer, I was aware of the importance of mixing textures, not just because they were pretty but because they were serving a functional role as well,” she says.

To Moyler, that variety remains key to all her projects. “You don’t want to use flat cotton everywhere,” she says. “Don’t you want beautiful embroidery so your hand can linger over it? Cotton is cool—at a beach house. But you want something sexy in there, no matter how informal the room is.”

Practical and sexy may seem to be an unlikely combo, but Moyler proves it can be done. Read on for her lessons in texture.

1.The mood is in the mix

“I like to use multiple textures, whether it’s a bouclé or a mohair silk or a velvet, which is my absolute favorite,” says Moyler. “Different elements work together to create an overall environment.”

When making pairings, contrast is crucial: “I love to use Venetian plaster with very French waxed chevron floors, because as you’re walking across them you’re going to feel a different texture with that high-gloss wood than you would if it were just slats,” she explains. “You get a different mood from it.”

2. Practical doesn’t mean boring

That said, the selection of sumptuous fabrics doesn’t always have to scream opulence. There are plenty of ways to impart additional texture while still staying practical. “I’m always concerned about allergies, particularly in the bedroom,” says Moyler. But often the hypoallergenic materials she’ll select for these spaces tend to be natural ones with great texture—and she’ll always punctuate with contrasting elements.

By the same token, she says, “I wouldn’t use lacquer at a beach house—it would weather.” It’s all about context and function. “In fact, to me, functionality is key,” Moyler says. “Everything else is secondary.”

Photo credit: Joy Moyler
Photo credit: Joy Moyler

3. Consider light

A multitude of textures is important for tactile feel, and it also adds visual variety in the space because of the way light affects different textures differently. “It’s so important how the light hits,” says Moyler. “You get a different vibe from light hitting mohair or raw silk compared to, for example, cotton. These are things I consider from the very outset of a project.”

4. Make use of the architecture

Regarding architecture, why not leverage it for textural variety too? “If there’s a lot of molding, play off the molding,” encourages Moyler, who herself is a fan of historic wainscoting. (Don’t have any molding? It’s easy to add!) “If the wall itself is painted matte and the molding is more of a glossy finish, you get a juxtaposition on the same wall, and the light hitting it creates a whole different scene because you have a glistening on the glossy paint but not on the flat,” Moyler says. Texture added, just like that!

5. Use texture to hide imperfections

What to do if the texture of your walls is less than perfect? “One word: wallpaper!” says Moyler. “You can do anything with wallpaper—it can be textural, woven, a raw material, anything under the sun.”

If you want to go the paint route, Moyler says, “your best bet is to use a dead-flat paint because it won’t show imperfections. If you don’t have a budget to go down to the studs and create brand-new walls, your best friend is a brand-new paint.”

6. Think outside the box

Once you get comfortable mixing up textures, the possibilities are endless. Proof? One completely unique office Moyler did for a lucky client. “I had a client who loved sycamore trees, so in her office on her pinup wall I collected a bunch of bark and we glued it over the entire wall, which was, like, 15 feet wide. So it was the texture of sycamore, and then we waxed it and edged it in a grosgrain ribbon from Mokum,” recalls the designer. “She loved it.”

Follow House Beautiful on Instagram.

You Might Also Like