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Varying textures enhances room's decor


Very often, a good cook progresses to being a great cook when he or she realizes the importance of texture in the preparation of a meal. Chinese chefs, for example, learned ages ago that textural differences in food can enhance a diner's enjoyment as much as taste and aroma.

The same applies with interior decors. Although it's a more subtle element than color or form, texture must be attended to if a room is to be fully designed. Many talented amateur decorators grow frustrated or uncertain at some stage of a project because they don't realize that textural differences are the missing ingredient in a design that seems somehow incomplete. By manipulating textures, it becomes possible to transform a rather ordinary space into a truly striking composition.

Various textures each have their own visual effect, and consequently can greatly alter a room's overall appearance. For example, lacquered walls have a lustrous look that's very different from the sort of background produced by walls painted in a flat finish. Similarly, a stucco effect on a white wall, along with a bleached and flatly finished planked floor, will form the foundations for a Southwestern-style interior. But walls and flooring of exactly the same color, when given a lacquered and highly glazed finish, will more appropriately act as the background for an elegant contemporary or traditional setting.

Same colors, same materials -- but change the texture and the results can be stunningly different. With fabrics, too, an identical pattern can be made to complement various room styles simply by changing the yarn content and the weave.

Today, more imaginative uses of texture afford even greater opportunities for interior designers. Cottons and linens are now seen in formal settings much more frequently than before, with their flatness being deliberately accentuated by highly polished surfaces such as metal picture frames and glass tables.

Texture will also help produce subtle variations in color. The room shown in the photo is completely white, but because of textural differences in the wall covering, carpeting, curtains, table skirt and bedspread, it seems to be colored in a variety of shades. In fact, a highly polished surface will reflect light, while an embossed finish will create shadows, altering the way the same color is perceived.

In this model, the embossed wall-covering is used as a dado below the chair rail. This type of traditional surface treatment is known as "anaglypta," a term derived from the Greek prefix "ana," meaning "raised," and "glypta," the word for "cameo." The original patented material was created in England over a century ago. Today, anaglypta is manufactured exclusively in Darwin, England, and is available in stores throughout North America.

This particular embossed pattern can be painted almost any color without diminishing its ability to produce interesting light-and-shadow effects. It therefore serves as a fine foil for the flat-painted wall above the chair rail and for the silk-like luster of the table skirt and pull-back curtain panels. The bedcover has a paisley-type weave in all-white yarns, but because of variations in the weave -- and thus in the texture -- it also picks up light and color.

+ Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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