When a space feels stark, creating warmth is key, with so many ways to go about it. Upholstery and natural materials like linen, jute, and stone are beloved go-tos for texture, from substantial furniture pieces to area rugs and window treatments. But another option that can not only define a space but provide character and uniqueness? Textured walls. And trust, the latest trends are a modern departure from sponge painting á la the ’90s.
No matter your taste in interiors, wall treatments are often anxiety-inducing, from choosing the perfect shade of white to selecting wallpaper, which makes sense. Changing up your walls’ look is a lot more labor-intensive than swapping out a throw pillow or decorative vase. But don’t forget, paint nor wallpaper are permanent, and neither is a textured treatment, be it limewash, plaster, or a woven wallcovering like grasscloth. Interior designer Jake Arnold — whose celebrity clients include Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, Dan Levy, and Rashida Jones — tells TZR, “Textured walls bring this immediate warmth and richness into a space, whereas regular paint can sometimes feel a bit flat. It’s a fresh take that we haven’t been seeing for many years now like we have with wallpaper.”
The current craving certainly stems from a desire for earthy elements in the home, which NYC-based designer Tina Ramchandani says is a result of 2020’s turbulent year. “People are looking for change in 2021,” the designer explains. “Many of my clients are but aren’t ready to jump for joy with happiness, pattern, and color. Texture is a fantastic way to help those that want to mix it up and elevate their spaces in a sophisticated and timeless way,” the designer adds, noting faux Venetian plaster, textured brushstrokes, and faux cement as three of her recent go-to’s.
Echoing Ramchandani, designer and stylist Colin King says, “I honestly do feel because we’ve all been in quarantine, we’re ready to invite something more natural into the home and onto the walls. Placing focus on texture emphasizes the fact that materiality is elemental, irregular, sensorial — a souvenir of nature. Textured walls offer an elegant sense of nature in a way that regular paint and wallpaper can’t. Whether it’s fabric, woven material, or wood, a good textured wall should always channel a sense of nature. Even if it’s something that creates a statement, the materiality should speak for itself.”
King points out how textured walls are available to anyone, regardless of budget, suggesting Etsy as a source for affordable treatments and Phillip Jeffries for those looking to splurge. Whatever your taste, project size, or budget allows you, keep reading for Arnold, Ramchandani, and King’s top textured wall trends for 2020. Plus, design tips to inspire ideas that will work well in your space with an edit to shop so you can get to texturizing.
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Textured Wall Trend: Plaster
Arnold tells TZR, “I’ve been using plaster in most of my projects for many years now. In 2021, it’s become an interesting way to revamp a room and add depth without having to source new furniture and a way to incorporate color without it being so saturated and shocking.” Intending to make every space comfortable, livable, and ageless, Arnold adds, “I typically lean toward darker neutral and warm-toned plasters. I love using Portola’s plasters — Piano Room and Presidente are my favorite tones.”
King tells TZR, “Plaster is an amazing agent for a hint of wabi-sabi, incorporating the simplistic, natural beauty of age and patina. My friends at Kamp Studios are masters of plaster, and I’ve always been a fan of Maya Romanoff as they offer beautiful selections and really cool wood veneers.”
Textured Wall Trend: Woven Wall-Coverings
While treatments like Venetian and tadelakt plaster or limewash are genius for an earthy environment, woven wallcoverings have a similarly natural vibe, with a cozier and classic feel. “It’s nearly impossible to go wrong with a beautiful woven grass or reed wall-covering,” King tells TZR. For a barely there touch of texture, opt for light and solid papers and speckled motifs or abstract patterns in neutral tones for a little more interest.
Textured Wall Design Tip: Mix-And-Match Treatments
Ramchandani frequently opts for texture over pattern in her designs to create special-feeling spaces with character and says that textured walls are a more subtle way to fill wall space sans loud or bright elements. “It’s easy to mix with other textures, materials, and even patterns,” she tells TZR. “It’s an interesting backdrop to have in a space, especially more interesting than the standard flat painted wall. It’s a quieter look that’s still interesting.”
Textured Wall Design Tip: Enhance An Architectural Element
Accent walls are one way to enhance architectural elements in a space, which Arnold says is a great way to incorporate a textured wall treatment. “I think of textured walls as an architectural element more than a decorative one,” he says. “As a general rule of thumb, I like to enhance architectural elements like casings or molding by keeping it all tonal.”
Textured Wall Design Tip: Incorporate A Ceiling Treatment
To enhance the effect of textured walls, Ramchandani suggests continuing texture onto the ceiling. If that feels too uniform, she says, “We’ve gone the opposite way and created super smooth glass-like painted ceilings to reflect the textured walls. The mix is incredible and really adds depth to spaces.”
Textured Wall Design Tip: For Minimalists
According to King, there are many ways to make texture work, even in minimalist spaces. “Incorporating textures for the minimalist is about embracing quiet neutrals; woven fibers or plaster within a muted palette work well,” he explains. Linen or grasscloth wall-coverings work well in this case. Or limewash, for a subtler take on plaster.
Textured Wall Design Tip: For Bold Tastes
For those with bolder design preferences, King says, “There are incredible wood veneers that pop with or without the presence of color. Dyed fibers work here too. Vibrant hues are beautiful when done in a grasscloth.”
Textured Wall Design Tip: Consider The Size of Your Space
When incorporating texture, Ramchandani says to think about where it will have the most impact in your space and design accordingly. “If we’re doing a small room, maybe we use texture on all four walls, so the space has a really cozy feel to it,” she explains. “Or if we have a large space, maybe texture is on the ceiling to help it feel less voluminous.”