Thursday, May 15, 2008

Texture and Pattern

Using Texture and Pattern To Make the Most out of You Color Selection

Texture - this is the visual or tactile surface characteristic of something, be it fabric, timber carpet or glass. Tactile means that it is perceptible by the sense of touch. Every surface has a texture.

There are two types of texture – rough and smooth – and through using texture, we can create quite different effects.

Rough textures – linoleum flooring, molded textured glass, timber look textured wall covering, plaster look handmade wallpaper, worsted wool patterned fabric, rough sawn timber boarding, brick, boucle wool blend upholstery fabric, wool carpets, perforated slim line blind, tread plate vinyl flooring, non-slip floor tile.

The hard smooth shiny textures tend to look cold to the eye and to the touch; the rough thick surfaces have a warm look and touch.

Some examples of rough textures are – brick, timber, wicker work, carpets, coir and sisal, suede, linen, furs – these elements create a rustic natural homely feeling.

Some examples of smooth are glass (not patterned) chrome, plastic, lacquer paint finish, Vinyl upholstery, High Gloss paint finish, chintz fabric – these elements suggest a harder crisper formality to a room.

Smooth textures – black granite, paint finish, leather, prefinished hardboard, chrome tap, aluminum blind, glass tile, polished aluminum tile, polished brass tile, modern clock, 100% silk, stainless steel with checker design, gloss granite laminate, prefinished board, polished copper tile, 100% plush wool carpet, prefinished melamine board, red fabric – polyester & polyurethane composition.

The ceramic tile floor, stainless steel balustrade and handrail, painted walls all create hard surfaces.

They are juxtaposed with soft surfaces – carpet on the stair treads and a floral display, balancing the space.

It is important to balance color with texture and pattern to provide a harmonious environment. Combining rough and smooth textures and using these to contrast with each other creates balance.

Obviously there are times when a smooth shiny look for example is the desired end result. Burger King / Hungry Jacks restaurants have red vinyl seats, black and white chequered glossy tiles and trim, white shiny prefinished wall panels which creates the effect required “a clean crisp fast food restaurant” but these items alone create a very sterile atmosphere for its patrons.

They have not forgotten the requirement of balance and have managed to use pattern in the form of mass coverage of the walls in “50’s period prints” to achieve a more inviting and harmonious dining space.

Comfort is an effect which can be created by clever choices in soft textures, using soft fabrics like velvet or cotton on sofas, rugs over hard flooring and by scattering cushions and throws over chairs.

Juxtaposing hard and soft accessories creates balance. A stone sculpture with a green leafy fern beside it, a cane coffee table with a glass vase of fresh flowers, or an antique copper etching over a brick fireplace.

When using texture you have to be very aware of the absorption/reflection of light altering the quality of color. Smooth textured surfaces reflect light and rough textured surfaces tend to absorb it. The planning of lighting is always important but especially when using texture as too bright a direct light will flatten out texture and cast little shadow, losing the surface definition. A more indirect lighting scheme will emphasize even subtle textures, and is far more effective.

Size, scale and proportion should be taken into consideration with pattern. You can generally get away with using small patterns on large pieces of furniture, but the same cannot be said for the reverse.

Large patterns on small items of furniture can weigh them down and look too overpowering and dominant as well as out of proportion.

A small pattern or texture is generally a better choice. It is often wise to use two or three different pattern sizes, small medium and large, and relate these back to the items that you will be using them for in the room. I.e. a large floral pattern on the sofa, with small floral print cushions, medium width striped walls with a medium floral for drapes and a small stripe for the footstool.

While making these selections we must also remember that pattern will make a room look smaller no matter what size pattern or color way you use.

Don’t panic, remember there are no hard and fast rules with pattern, you can use geometrics with florals, textures and stripes, it is all a matter of balancing the weight of the patterns to the items they will be covering and the overall look that you are trying to achieve.

You can make a single patterned item be the focal point of a room that has no special architectural features to highlight, i.e. by using a monochromatic textural scheme of creams, using linens, leathers, rattan chairs, suede walls, simply place a woven woolen rug of geometric design using beiges, creams and a huge dollop of red in the central square in the center of the room with the furniture surrounding it to create a feature/focal point of the room to great effect.

The grouping of pictures on this wall creates pattern and a focal point in a large space with many smooth textured surfaces. Note how the Oriental rug adds pattern to the floor and introduces other colors and textures to soften and compliment the overall scheme.

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