Tag Archives: Emerald

A guide to paint sheens, from glossy to matte

Yas sheen yas (but also, in some cases, no)

Sam Frost

So you’ve done the hard part—after much debate you’ve finally settled on a paint color. Now, the merchant wants to know what sheen you want and there are so many choices. We asked artist Mary McMurray to help us sift through the options.

For the past thirty years, Murray has run her own color consulting business, called Art First Colors for Architecture, in Portland, Oregon. Her unique perspective—she’s an artist and also became a licensed painting contractor in order to mix her own colors—makes her an authority on the medium. Here’s a cheat sheet for choosing the right paint sheens.

1. In general, there is a sheen scale

The first thing to know is that sheens typically exist on a scale, usually from flat (no shine) to glossy (ultra-shiny), with steps in between. According to McMurray, a loose sheen scale that accelerates in shine quality looks like this: flat > matte > eggshell > satin > semi-gloss > gloss or high-gloss.


The sheen designations can be a little confusing at times because each paint manufacturer coins their own. For instance, at Benjamin Moore, satin is also referred to as Pearl. At Farrow & Ball, sheens are referred to as emulsions. In general, however, a scale will exist.

2. Shine tends to equal durability

The general rule for matching a paint sheen to the room is this: The higher the shine level of the paint, the more durable it will be. This means different sheens are appropriate to different areas of the home, depending on their activity level.

There can be exceptions to this, thanks to modern developments in paint formulation. For instance, Sherwin-Williams now makes a line of flat paint called Emerald that they advertise as having the same “washability and durability as the matte or glossier sheens.”

3. Low sheen for low traffic rooms

The lower end of the spectrum, that being the flat and matte sheens, are typically used for low-traffic rooms since the finish is susceptible to marks and stains that don’t easily wipe off. This makes these finishes good for places like adult bedrooms or home offices—as opposed to kid’s rooms where there is more activity.

When picking a flat sheen for a wall, McMurray suggests using the highest quality paint possible, as it will be more durable in the long run. “If you do happen to get a handprint on a flat-finished wall that you used a cheap paint on, and you try to wipe it off, it’s probably going to destroy the finish,” she says.

4. Higher sheen for high traffic or moisture-prone rooms

Since higher shine equals higher durability, use an eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss in the bathroom, kitchen, hallways, and kid’s rooms. This ensures that constant exposure to moisture doesn’t affect the finish and impromptu stains or scuffs can be cleaned off the walls easily with a sponge and cleaner.

In the bathroom and kitchen, make sure to extend the same sheen to the ceiling that’s being used on the walls. “In the kitchen, it depends on what kind of cooking you do and how much ventilation you have,” says McMurray. Some people might be able to do a matte finish in a kitchen but a safer bet would be eggshell or higher, for ease of wiping down splatters.

5. Highest sheen on trim and doors

Baseboards, doors, and trim are probably the hardest hit surfaces in your house. For that reason, opting for satin or semi-gloss will protect them. “For trimwork, I like satin or semi-gloss depending on what the project is,” says McMurray. The higher sheen will highlight the architectural features and allow them to contrast with the body of the wall surface nicely, while also surviving nicks and scrapes better.

Just be aware that higher sheen paints are thinner in consistency, and can be harder to work with and control for a smooth finish (depending on your painting skills, of course). For this reason, self-leveling paints, like Benjamin Moore’s Advance line, are extremely helpful. McMurray does not often specify a gloss or high-gloss finish, except for the occasional client who wants a standout front door.

6. Consider the overall effect in the room

In addition to selecting a sheen for its function, McMurray cautions people to also be aware of how it will look in a room. Consider the wall surface quality as well as the sheen’s overall effect. Lower sheen paints will soak up more light rather than reflecting it, which is good if there is imperfections in your wall surface that need to be hidden. Shinier paints will reflect light and draw attention to bumps and divots in drywall or plaster.

The latter can be “very distracting,” says McMurray. “I like flat finishes on the ceiling, partly because that doesn’t offer any distraction with light bouncing off the surface and it creates a calmer effect,” she says.

Noise amplification is also something to consider. “If you painted a whole room in semi-gloss, the light would feel very noisy,” says McMurray. “You would get a lot of glare reflected and it wouldn’t be a very calm and peaceful environment.” She has read studies wherein it was discovered that audible noise increases with the degrees of sheen.

7. For the exterior, go more matte

Exterior paint has a similar range of sheens, yet here McMurray cautions against painting your whole house satin, even if the logic is that the shinier finish will stand up better to the weather and elements. “Then your house looks kind-of like a big plastic box,” she says. “So I would not recommend satin on the siding.” Instead, save satin for the exterior trim and paint the body of your house flat or “low-lustre.”

Looking for the perfect shade of white paint? We’ve got you. And check out all our advice for painting your home here.

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And it’s anything but neutral.

Benjamin Moore color of the year

Benjamin Moore

Even though in recent years whites, creams, and beiges have ruled the design world, Benjamin Moore is taking a bold step away from this safe choice. Sure, last year their color for 2016 was Simply White OC-117, but this year they went with something they describe as a rich, deep amethyst: Shadow.

“After a year of looking at white, we were looking for something with more feeling,” a spokesperson for the company said at their reveal party at the New York Public library this week. The company also shared a palette of 22 colors they recommend pairing with this statement hue, which includes other jewel tones like ruby and emerald.

Here, the color is seen in a grand entryway and show homeowners you don’t have to go light and airy with your entrance. Sometimes a dramatic, in-your-face hue does a better job setting a sophisticated tone to your home.


Need some more inspiration? Here are a few designer-approved ways to use different shades of purple and plum in your home. Our advice? Don’t just limit yourself to the walls. Why not use doors, ceilings, and more to add a pop of trendy color to your home’s decor?

[h/t People]


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Trends That Will Influence US Homes in 2017

During the past few decades interior design in the US has borrowed much from other cultures, as has Europe, to the extent that both have truly become reflective of global influences. This is not at all a bad thing, as many of the home-grown European and US trends have likewise caught on elsewhere.

Colorful Fashions

In 2015, the Pantone color of the year was Marsala, which is a wine produced around the Italian city of the same name in Sicily. In 2016, for the first time the company nominated a blend of two colors known as Rose Quartz and Serenity.

After the deep plum red of Marsala and the baby blue and pink shades of the pairing of Rose Quartz and Serenity, many design experts are looking towards shades of green as a possibility for 2017, although others believe that earthy shades and pastels will continue to be popular.

Emerald was the Pantone color of the year in 2013 and Turquoise in 2010, so although some interior professionals have touted dark green as the new replacement for navy and midnight blues, variations on hues such as sand (2006), orange (2012) and yellow (2009) may yet be resurrected.

One thing is for certain: every aspect of interior design will be touched by the result of Pantone’s 2017 color of the year, including decorative schemes and accessories, textiles, and flooring, as well as indoor and outdoor furnishings.

Pantone color of the year, Marsala.
Marsala was the Pantone color of the year.


Taking care of the environment has soared to the top of the agenda for those concerned with many aspects of home interiors and lifestyles. In 2016, increasing climate change pressures helped architects and design professionals respond by taking a creative approach to construction methods and building materials.

The trend to improve power generation within home sites with the adoption of eco-friendly alternatives to fossil fuels is likely to last well into and beyond 2017, as the benefits include saving both energy and money. Rising sea levels and increasingly strong hurricane winds mean it is both responsible and cost-effective to apply environmentally friendly techniques to home building.

On Trend Materials

While cool marble and sizzling copper were sought after in 2016, it looks like 2017 may well be the year of clay and wicker in place of marble, while mixed metals seem to be on course for a new lease of life in 2017. It’s likely that dusting off the family silver, gold, polished nickel and brass may well be worthwhile, as well as burnished metals and black steel.

Terracotta has also been mentioned as part of the new décor for 2017, but this is not a throwback to rustic tiles. Instead, it represents a segue into stylish fireplace cladding and elegant interior feature walls with a matte finish. With the trend towards homes becoming more open plan, feature walls are a useful way to break up larger spaces and absorb some sound.

Another material that is making something of a comeback in this respect is cork – placed underneath stone tops on coffee tables, on side tables and also stools. Some interior designers predict the rise in working from home will not only result in the creation of more home office spaces, but also encourage homeowners to clad some walls completely in cork, the better to pin-up maps, schedules and fun notes to family members.

Wood and Textiles

It seems like there’s a kind of swap going on between timber and fabric for 2017. Just as wooden bed frames are giving way to elegantly plush upholstered bed heads, fussy drapes seem set to be replaced with chic spare elegant shutters.

In a way, this is all about bringing modernist architecture into interior design – specifically, form follows function. The bedroom atmosphere should be calming and perhaps a tad glamorous and can be softened by additional fabric to achieve this effect.

On the other hand, the functional areas in homes such as living rooms, kitchens, playrooms and the home office are activity spaces. These can be stripped back to showcase the clean lines of the window openings. To find out more about padded bed heads, check local retailers, and to learn about the benefits of installing shutters, click on window shutter video guides.

Quirky Corners

One trend that is set to really take off in 2017 is the creation of interesting and customized nooks and crannies. So many homes have the same interior layout that they can end up looking like every other house on the block, both inside and out. This is one of the reasons why the flexibility of open plan living is becoming more popular. Whether a household needs quiet calm corners for study, soundproof basements for playing video games or relaxing tranquil spaces with a comfy sofa for reading, it looks like being able to personalize even the smallest of spaces is a surefire winner for the creation of the dream home in 2017.

Structured Plants

Statement indoor plants change with the seasons, and in 2017, it looks like the olive tree could just dominate the domestic interior. Despite this, some experts predict that the best plants for improving air quality may come into their own, as people are more conscious of environmental issues. Among these are the succulent Aloe Vera, the bright and breezy Gerbera daisy, and the Chinese evergreen, which produces beautiful blooms and red berries. All these are known to cleanse the air of a variety of air pollutants and toxins, thereby promoting a cleaner home atmosphere.

Modern Vintage

Finally, one enduring trend seems to be the fashion for contemporary furniture based on vintage styles. This is not likely to go away anytime soon. It includes items that have natural textures and are also durable, such as abaca, cane and rattan.

The desire to make the best possible use of natural and sustainable resources makes sense in the context of how popular upcycling and repurposing has become. Indeed, it may mean that 2017 becomes known as a revitalizing game changer in terms of what has become the throwaway society.

Whether it’s new color schemes or a mixture of different textural choices around the home, the design trends that will influence US home interiors heading into the New Year are bound to be exciting ones.

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