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June 16, 2019 – Published in Design & Decor Summer 2019 issue

Your place in the sun

​​Words Rachel Balzan Demajo – Interior designer at SAKS

One of the latest obsessions in interiors is a love for all things lustrous – uber glam, reflective walls and surfaces that throw light back in a room.


In a narrow corridor where space is limited, the effect of light being bounced around expands the space and adds glamour. Dark hues, especially black as well as bright reds and greens, capitalize on jewel tones that are the perfect match for this kind of gloss wall treatment. The finish lends itself well to colours such as petrol blue, crimson and emerald green, as the Chinese have done on homeware and accessories for decades.


Conventional lighting will not showcase your paint’s properties hence one needs to carefully consider lighting – artificial or daylight (such as skylights) to appropriate gloss / lacquered finished walls to certain rooms or spaces.


Reflective qualities of high gloss paint add instant drama and a deep luminosity, often well contrasted against matt wooden and cabinetry. Low level lighting works well for a dark, dramatic look.


Originally used in East Asian countries to decorate objects and furniture, traditional lacquer comes from tree resin and is hard to work with. Modern manufacturing methods might have made production easier, but it is a complicated and time-consuming process, especially on walls. A specialist decorator is key and preparation is everything. High gloss paints from reputable brands are our second best choice, and much easier to apply, followed by a finish coat of varnish.


If the idea of a whole room is too daunting, there are other options, such as treating only the ceiling or woodwork. Dark shades are all the rage in shiny gloss but paler pastels also work beautifully in gloss or a lighter mid-sheen.


Bright glossy pink for a girls room, or deep red for a traditionally inspired Chinese, yet modern take on eclectic styling.


Ceilings can get the high shine treatment too, bouncing light around the space to increase energy and create interest in unexpected places.


Remember gloss creates light reflecting energy so for a calm space, this might not be the best choice. Dark colours absorb the light much more than light ones, which is perhaps why the moody and mysterious shades feel so attractive when painted with a sheen.


Matt finish paint is far more forgiving on old walls or uneven surfaces, so if your walls aren’t in the best shape, consider getting them re-plastered before painting with gloss. Mid-sheen paint is slightly more forgiving, but not much.


This is why painting panelling in gloss is far easier. A timber or mdf surface is flat and even to start off with, unlike many walls, especially in older homes.


So if you just can’t shake off your creative interior imagination and have finished your place and don’t wish to go for a complete revamp, consider glossing some of your walls. The expected yet highly impressionable ooze of colour, style and dramatic effect it will achieve, will have you satiated in no time! As always, proceed with care and under designers advice.

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