Three Textures in Every Space


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See “Tapestry of Light and Dark” (135) “Good Materials” (207), and “Half Inch Trim” (240).

With earthen materials, it is possible to build nearly everything with that one material: earthen walls, floors, ceilings, doorways, window frames, bookshelves, even the furniture itself; a single color and texture covering everything. But it is hard to make something truly fine that way.


Some may be drawn to the ultimate simplicity of only using only one material. Arguably it is probably easier, cheaper, and faster construction than trying to incorporate a variety of materials. However, exceptional rooms develop character from weaving together multiple textures. They are never monochromatic. Variety is the spice of life. You need both dark and light. Both hard and soft materials. Some areas smooth and others rough.



Look closely at the photo of the stained glass bathroom window up above. There are multiple textures visible.  What happens if you take those away? Imagine it without the polished white marble windowsill, or the hand hammered brass hardware.  Now picture in your mind what it would look like without the wood sash and frame.  None of those features are strictly “necessary” to create a window, but each of them adds significantly to its beauty and charm.

A concept from the world of art says that whenever you have two broad sections of color meet you should always have a thin bit of a 3rd color separating them and highlighting their difference. This is also good advice for textures.




Try to incorporate at least three different textures in every space. Charm comes by weaving different materials together. Stone, plaster, and wood make a great trio, but there are many possibilities.


Gary Zuker is a Senior Systems Administrator at the University of Texas, Austin. In 1989 he built a house outside of Austin. Inspired and guided by "A Pattern Language", he developed 12 new patterns during the process of building his house.
Gary Zuker

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