Growing up in California, I've always been fascinated by Big Sur: the knotted driftwood, the jagged rocks, the miles of coastline and the way the water turns from teal to deep blue to gray. I remember the wind whipping through my hair as I sat in the backseat of my parents' Rambler, windows down, driving Highway 1 to Big Sur for the day. It was a magical escape to nature - a complete departure from my childhood in the suburbs.
As a designer, the dramatic landscape of Big Sur continues to inspire my work. We’re seeing a shift in interiors that reflects a return to nature. Hand-blocking techniques are quickly replacing traditional prints, and unprocessed fabrics are gaining popularity. Surrounding ourselves with various fabrics and textures brings natural elements into the home and creates a sense of comfort. Home itself becomes a nature-inspired escape.
Engage the senses
Great design is a sensory experience. The spaces that draw us in are the ones that engage all the senses: the sights, sounds and smells that remind us of home. Touch and texture can create a sense of comfort, calm and rest. There’s something about the feeling of sinking into a velvet armchair and getting lost in a book, the soft blanket you reach for while watching Netflix on the couch or the cool marble countertop while rolling out pizza dough.
A textured home has character. The grain of a worn dining table is familiar and sets the stage for time spent lingering over many dinners. Natural woods such as walnut and white oak age beautifully, taking on a slightly different color and feel over time. Elegant stoneware is timeless, earthy and elegant in any space.
I love accessorizing a living room with throw pillows covered in repurposed grain sacks or nubby wool, and tossing a crocheted mohair throw over the sofa. The stamping process of hand-blocking feels organic and delightfully imperfect. Layering a variety of textures feels both stimulating and calming, creating both visual and tactile interest.
The nubby wools, welted linens and fringed wools are delightfully 1970s – but without the itchy kitsch. These upgraded textures feel organic and fresh rather than dated. Creams and blues lighten these blankets and pillows to work in any space.
Clients ask me again and again, “Why wool?” My answer: lanolin in the wool makes cleanup easier, and wool has a great feel on any surface. Just like a dress in polyester or acrylic doesn’t feel the same as wool or silk, a wool rug or throw lends both comfort and authenticity to a space.
When I was designing a client’s beach house, I incorporated rich texture, creating a feeling that’s cozy and fresh for both foggy coastal days and summer heat. A gorgeous wool rug bound in beige linen in the living room ties in perfectly with a hand-knotted wool and silk rug in the dining room. The result is luxurious, soft and still durable under bare feet.
Combine a linen headboard with a rich walnut side table, pillows in various sizes and colors, and a buttery leather chair. Or pair a tufted headboard with luxe velvet and linen pillows in jewel tones. Rugs anchor the space, tying together colors and textures to create a cohesive look.
Get inspired by your favorite natural escape, textures that evoke a sense of comfort and pieces infused with history and meaning. Then layer textures for a home that feels welcoming and effortless.
Celeste Randolph is an interior designer in Los Altos. For more information, visit celesterandolphdesigns.com.