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A Guide to Furniture Textures

by Magnolia
Published on February 27, 2023

Good design thoughtfully leans into the elements that bring you joy—colors, materials, and patterns—to evoke a feeling of home. Texture plays a key role in that process.

We like to think of texture as anything that adds tactile depth to a room. It’s a sensory experience. Something you can see when you walk into a space and feel as you settle in and make yourself at home. There are many finishing touches that create visual interest and dimension: pillows, throws, florals, and the like. But today, we’d like to focus on a great place to start. Furniture.

Below you’ll find four furniture textures we love, alongside a few pointers for styling them in your living spaces. We’ll also share how to take care of them, so you can select a piece that (practically) serves the season of life you’re in.

A note on design styles: You may be familiar with the six design styles we refer to: farmhouse, modern, rustic, industrial, traditional, and boho. As we walk through these textures, keep in mind that they’re versatile—able to play into more than one style. It all depends on how you fill the rest of the room. So we may note which one they favor naturally, but remember, the end result is up to you!

Texture 01: Bouclé

Good for: A statement piece that offers effortless comfort + style.

Bouclé has been around since the 1940s. This heavy, highly textured textile is made from looped yarn traditionally woven from wool or mohair. Nowadays you’re likely to find a wool blend that incorporates more durable fabrics like cotton and polyester. Like its namesake, a French word meaning “to curl,” this texture creates a soft, comfortable moment to curl up in and enjoy.

How to style:

We love pairing bouclé with a few different styles—from the traditional to the rustic. A set of eye-catching accent chairs in the living room makes the space more inviting. A lounge in the bedroom creates a cozy corner to unwind. Wherever you place bouclé, add some contrast too. We recommend draping a lightweight throw over the back or layering in a colorful pillow or two. Then add a hint of greenery or fresh flowers to a side table or shelf.

We find this texture to be one of the more dramatic options. A little bouclé goes a long way, both visually and tactically, to reimagine a room.

Taking care:

Despite its fuzzy appearance, cleaning bouclé is easier than you might think. The material often comes in a light neutral hue, so keep that in mind if you (or little ones) are prone to spills. We also wouldn’t recommend it for your furry friends, as pet hairs may get caught within fibers—and become difficult to remove.

Use a vacuum to clean (with an upholstery attachment), a lint roller, or a soft-bristled brush. Thankfully, bouclé is a less absorbent fabric, so spills simply need a quick dab with a soft, water-based fabric cleaner to avoid staining.

Find it in:

Ruby Chaise Lounge, Ruby Swivel Chair, Bev Swivel Chair

Texture 02: Velvet

Good for: A soft, elevated look that adds warmth and contrast to a room.

Velvet is a woven tufted fabric with a distinctly soft feel—thanks to its evenly cut threads and short, dense pile. Strongly linked to European nobility and even found in ancient Eastern culture, it was originally made from silk and viewed as a luxury. Nowadays it’s typically created using a blend of cotton, linen, and other synthetic fibers—making it more accessible and practical. With a subtle shine and smooth texture, velvet at once brings beauty and comfort to a space.

How to style:

Color is important with velvet. Whether a soft taupe or deep olive, pick a hue to reference in other pieces—wall art, a rug, even florals and vases. These connections help create a sense of flow.

If you’re a fan of art deco—often characterized by exaggerated, geometric shapes and a hint of glamour—velvet nods to that style era naturally, while bringing an air of modern elegance. It pairs well with other materials, too, like sleek metals, organic wood, relaxed linen, or traditional marble. Don’t be afraid to lean into contrasting styles if you’d like. This can help break up uniformity and make a space more interesting—and unique to you.

Taking care:

Despite its luxe look, velvet isn’t substantially more difficult to clean than other fabrics. Crumbs, dust, and little remnants of dirt can be vacuumed with a soft brush attachment. If you start to notice excessive creases or compressed areas, gently tend to the area with a handheld steamer. Spills and stains are easy to take care of with a soft cloth and a solvent depending on the specific piece of furniture. Different blends may require a water-free solvent—so always reference the care guide provided.

Velvet will naturally patina over time, which is a characteristic we love. But if you want to prevent color fading, avoid placing velvet furniture in areas with direct sunlight.

Find it in:

Hollis Accent Chair, Gerard Chair, Marieta Sofa

Texture 03: Leather

Good for: Sturdy, lived-in seating that stands the test of time.

Leather is a strong and durable fabric made from animal hides—predominantly, cowhide. The age-old craft dates back more than 7,000 years and follows strict, time-honored techniques in the creation process. Whether dyed or left natural, this material’s notable warm tones evoke a welcoming atmosphere in any space.

The primary type of leather used in our furniture is top grain, the thickest and most durable kind of leather. Polished, clean, and smooth… we find it to be ideal for seating.

How to style:

Leather can lean rustic, industrial, modern, or even traditional—depending on the rest of the room’s decor. When styling, we prefer to select one statement piece like a sofa, accent chair, or bench to bring visual interest and warmth. The lived-in, yet refined, appearance will make a lasting impression wherever it's placed.

You can soften leather’s overall look with decorative pillows and throws. Or lay a smooth, textured rug underfoot. As far as colors go, decide whether you want the space to feel light and airy or dark and moody. Then bring in details that reinforce the feeling.

Taking care:

There’s a reason why leather has been loved for thousands of years. Highly durable and long-lasting (due to the tanning process in its creation), leather furniture will repel most spills. When needed, a damp cloth can clean up any mishaps. To note: leather isn’t immune to scratches, so it’s not ideal for pets—or highly rambunctious kids.

Find it in:

Arlo Sofa, Bodie Sling Chair, Charles Chair

Texture 04: Everyday Fabric

Good for: Foundational, easy-to-clean items you’ll love for years to come.

This final texture covers a broad category of upholstery that blends natural or synthetic fibers into a performance-grade, everyday fabric. It can be made with cotton, polyester, linen, etc…for a carefully curated combination with lasting durability and comfort. This material comes in a wide array of hues and patterns—there’s no shortage of possibility here!

How to style:

Minimal and inviting, everyday fabric can act as a blank canvas in your space. We love leaning into neutral hues with the furniture itself and then layering pillows and throws that colorfully complement the rest of the decor. As for room styles—whether farmhouse, boho, or traditional—this material is usually the most versatile, able to evolve with you as seasons of life and design preferences change.

Taking care:

As the name suggests, this material is easy to clean, stain resistant, and able to withstand everyday wear and tear. Pets and kids are welcome here!

If a slipcover, the fabric may be tossed in the washer and dryer. Otherwise, spot clean spills with a simple soap and water solution. An upholstery vacuum attachment can also assist in keeping yours neat, tidy, and pet hair free!

Find it in:

Finch Sectional, Ford Sectional, Rowan Chair

It's in the details:

Of course, furniture is more than its seating and cushions. There are structural elements to consider like backing or legs—which may be hidden or placed in plain sight. Pay attention to the visible details and how they bring the entire piece of furniture to life.

Caned backing gives a chair support but also a natural, laid-back feel. Exposed framing, a hallmark of mid-century style, can highlight an organic wood or sleek metal finish. A hint of gold brass on the legs might make the sofa feel more avant-garde. You needn’t be an expert on the specifics or put a name to the design style—simply pause to notice what catches your eye and consider what materials you enjoy paired together.

We hope learning about these textures has inspired you to see your space with fresh eyes. May you (confidently) find new opportunities to make a room, and the pieces that fill it, feel like home.

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