One key to successful clean-and-simple design is to do something unexpected. Of course, whatever you do that's unexpected also needs to belong to the design...in other words, it has to make sense.
For example, you wouldn't use the font comic sans on a sympathy card. Yes, it would be unexpected, but no, it wouldn't belong. Not one tiny bit.
When I found a scrap of white mulberry paper with gold metallic fibers in it, I knew it needed to be on an elegant card with gold embossing. This pretty, flowing angel stamp from PSX seemed a perfect match.
And it was. Notice the crisp lines of the oval are softened by the fringe of random mulberry fibers, and since straight lines love curves, the gold fibers belong as well...as a contrast for the curvy angel and her oval frame.
That paper is unexpected, unusual, highly textured on flat, matte card stock. But by using only a fringe of of mulberry, it doesn't overwhelm the design either. It complements it.
Also note that I need new embossing powder. This was the best angel I got out of about five attempts. Methinks the shelf life of embossing powder is shorter than anticipated by me.
Technique Tip: To tear mulberry paper like this, place the paper flat on a waterproof surface (I used a cutting mat). Use clean water on a clean paintbrush to "draw" where you want to tear. Saturate the paper along the lines you want to tear. Wait a minute for the fibers to loosen, then tear. You can easily pick the edges out when they are wet. Set aside to dry completely before adhering to your card with a glue stick.
And I mean it about the clean paintbrush. Mine still had some bright-red Twinkling H20 in it. What a bloody-looking mess.
ink: gold pigment ink
paper: PTI white, white mulberry paper with gold fibers
accessories: glue stick, dimensionals, outdated gold embossing powder, heat gun, Embossing Buddy (a bag of powdered chalk that keeps embossing powder from sticking where you don't want it to stick), Creative Memories oval cutting system, wow that is a lot of stuff for one card by me, don't you think?