We all know how the right necklace or earrings can dress up an outfit.
In much the same way, a little bit of luster can dress up a room.
Shimmery fabrics and finishes are hot now, adding a bit of glamour to our everyday environs. They can take a variety of forms – silver leaf on a chair frame; luminous silk on an accent pillow; or perhaps a scattering of metallic threads woven into a linen upholstery fabric.
This isn’t about dazzle, though. The look now is more glowing than shiny, more luminous than sparkly.
“It’s not glitzy,” Hudson interior designer Pamela Bayer said. “It’s very subtle.”
Bayer is incorporating the look into a master bedroom and bath she’s decorating in a client’s beach house in New Jersey. The iridescent paint on the headboard wall and the glass knobs on the furniture pick up the shimmer of the ocean, she said.
Like so many trends, the look sashayed off the fashion runway and into the home. Think glazed fabrics and leather handbags with an oyster-shell sheen. Think Malia Obama’s blue silk skirt at her dad’s victory speech earlier this month.
The lustrous look may sound formal, but it’s surprisingly versatile, designers say. It can loosen up traditional furniture by making it a little more daring or flirty, or it can add a surprising touch of opulence to a casual setting.
“It’s the jewelry,” said Jana Burvikovs, senior creative director for furniture maker Highland House. “You can dress it up or dress it down.”
Today’s shimmery finishes have a soft nature that make them work as neutrals, said Renee Loper, a marketing vice president with Bassett Furniture Industries. The company used the finishes and fabrics in the collection it recently introduced for HGTV Home, including an understated metallic finish on a hall chest and a pearlized coating on an end table. A sectional sofa in the collection was covered in an ivory fabric shot through with metallic threads and accented with pillows that had a bit more metallic in them – “still safe and basic,” she said, “but updated for today.”
Those luminous looks are eye candy, Loper said, pieces that get attention without commanding center stage.
“They become a statement piece in a room without being overpowering,” she said.
Because their luster makes those pieces noticeable, they offer an easy way to update a room, Loper said. Adding just a single accent piece can lend a fresher feel to the décor, she said.
Luster was in evidence at the High Point Market last month in North Carolina, where manufacturers were using it as a way to add contemporary elegance to furniture, lighting and accessories.
Probably the highest-profile example was a furniture collection created for Highland House by Candice Olson, the interior designer and TV personality known for putting a modern spin on traditional shapes and motifs.
Olson used lustrous fabrics and finishes in her collection to create contrast, Highland House’s Burvikovs said. The juxtaposition of shimmer against matte adds interest to a room and brings “a little bit of formality, but not too much,” she said.
Upholstered furniture maker Bradington-Young, on the other hand, used a bit of luminosity on a wing chair to achieve the opposite effect: to make a traditional shape a little more edgy, said Sandi Teague, director of upholstery merchandising for Hooker Furniture, Bradington-Young’s parent company. The back of the black patent leather chair has an embossed, silk-screened design with a silvery-gold sheen, which Teague said was aimed at customers who prefer more contemporary design.
The shimmery look works well with lighter tones such as whites and taupes, said Anthony Cox, executive vice president for product development for furniture maker Theodore Alexander. The moderate sheen adds sophistication and glamour to those light tones, said Cox, whose company introduced luminous pieces at High Point that included a neoclassical sofa with accent pillows in a light-reflecting silk velvet and a boxy cocktail table finished in burnished silver.
Stronger colors, on the other hand, might be overpowering with the addition of shine, Burvikovs noted.
“I think it’s more pleasing to the eye if it isn’t a bold color,” she said. “It’s got to be livable still.”
One of the elements of the Candice Olson Collection that was getting attention was a wood finish Olson calls Glint, a warm combination of gold and silver. The finish was used to dramatic effect on a table base with an espresso wood top, Burvikovs said, and it’s especially effective because it doesn’t jump out at the viewer.
Bassett was showing similarly complex metallic finishes in the furniture it introduced for HGTV Home. Those finishes were accomplished by layering colors to produce more dimension and texture – a look that makes them play well with other metals in a house, Loper said.
The lustrous look has another benefit, too: Since the surfaces are reflective, they bring a bit more light into a room, Cox noted. Maybe that’s why they seem so inviting this time of year, when sunshine is at a premium.
A little bit of sparkle just makes us feel better, it seems – just like that perfect piece of jewelry.