The grain of a timber door or window frame, the sheen of paintwork and the sparkle of glass are a few examples of the textures which contribute to the look of every room. By modifying colour and reinforcing pattern, texture adds an extra dimension to the home. Without this variety, a setting may seem dull, however carefully co- ordinated it may be.

A soft touch

The contrast between marble and wool shows how texture can vary the effect even where the colour is constant. Matt textures absorb light and convey an impression of warmth, particularly welcome when using cool colours in a temperate climate. Blue takes on a warm tinge when rubbed into wood to reveal the grain, while silvery scoured floorboards look softer than polished oak. The warmth is more than just apparent. While the mellow brick walls of Britain absorb sunlight and retain much-needed warmth, the white painted surfaces of many continental homes reflect the sun and dispel unwanted heat. Raised textures emphasize warmth (though remember that they may also reduce the sense of space) and have an informal effect which suits contemporary or cottage interiors. Loop or long pile carpet, rattan or wood furniture, tweed upholstery and slub weave curtains give an instant impression of warmth and comfort.

Sheen finish

There is an inherent formality in smooth textures like marble, chintz and ceramic tiles which makes them the perfect choice for many traditional homes. Mirror and glass are important because they add brilliance to a room, whether in the form of overmantel mirrors and pier glasses which reflect the light or cut-glass goblets and chandeliers which refract it. It is not always necessary to choose materials with a natural sheen, for even matt textures can be treated so that they become smooth and reflective. Wooden floors can ceramictiles, and cotton can be glazed to create chintz or calendered to produce a soft sheen.
Close woven fabrics and velvet pile carpets have a smoothness which complements reflective materials and there is a wealth of oil-based paint finishes which add distinction to walls, ranging from the soft sheen of eggshell to the translucence of scumble glaze. Dark or warm colours are often used to offset a high shine: look at the crimson of lacquer work and the black of a town house front door. Remember that it is important to offset smooth and shiny finishes with warm textures for the best results. The traditional combinations of an iron gate in a brick wall, rush matting and quarry tiles and fringed rugs and polished floorboards show that there is an instinctive awareness of the need to balance warm and cold elements.