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Trend Alert: Lacquer and High-Gloss Finishes

By: Amanda Lecky
August 08, 2018

Here’s an easy(ish) way to add instant impact to any space: Choose high-gloss or lacquered finishes for everything from walls to ceilings to furnishings. Just keep in mind that this light-reflecting finish highlights imperfections, so if you’re dreaming of glossy walls, be prepared to spend serious time on perfect preparation before you paint.

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Photo: Tom Crane

Dramatic Pause

Within the light, expansive spaces of an open-plan house, this high-gloss butler’s pantry functions as a sort of punctuation mark, providing a surprising interlude in the overall design. "The space was intended to be a small moment of great intensity, to create a sharp contrast to the pale palette characteristic of the balance of the house," says architect Richard Buchanan. "The entire interior is the same gloss enamel, which proved a challenge for the painters to get right and required a couple of tries to manage the demands of a very smooth, very reflective surface without ripples or runs."

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Photo: unknown

Right on Red

"This hall had a lot of sedate tones and as a counterpoint we used this bookcase to drop a big color punch," says architect Emily Jagoda of her design for a contemporary home. "The thing to keep in mind with glossy surfaces (especially in spaces with good light) is that the sheen telegraphs every imperfection. If you’re okay with that then fullspeed ahead, otherwise take the time to do whatever prep work is necessary to get the surface perfectly smooth before you paint."

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Small Space Strategy

"The project started with a typical, plain white box junior one-bedroom apartment, with the main living area and bedroom separated by pocket doors," says designer Courtney McLeod, principal, of Right Meets Left Interior Design. "We decided to paint the doors using a high-gloss lacquer in a blue-black color. This accent of strong, glossy color added a much-needed architectural elementto the space.We painted the walls and ceiling of the small bedroom in a deep peacock blue, blurring the lines of the ceiling and walls to make it appear larger. The rich hit of color is a wonderful accent when viewed from the main living area."

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Pretty and Practical

When designing a girl’s bedroom in Chatham, MA, designer Laura Wilmerding kept things simple, using pink and brown accents against an all-white background. "I’m a fan of white walls—they look fresh and clean and let your eye go toward the windows, without fighting with the natural colors of the outdoors." To add a touch of glam, Wilmerding chose a bedside table in a glossy lacquered white finish, a choice that’s also smart in a kid’s room, as the hard, shiny finish is easy to wipe clean.

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