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Looks We Love: The Matte Effect

Looks We Love:
The Matte Effect

Bright and shiny things, move aside: Matte finishes are the "what’s next" in design,
with muted tones that allow forms and silhouettes to take center stage.

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As eye-catching as bright and shiny things may be, there’s a definitely place in design for the subtle beauty of a matte finish. By definition, matte sounds like the dark and moody cousin of the glossy and polished, but we’re seeing more and more of the understated finish in modern décor and are officially inducting it into our Looks We Love library.

Matte finishes are making appearances in all kinds of interior spaces, whether it be a painted wall, kitchen cabinets or a show-stopping light fixture. The trend seems like a drastic detour from the brass, copper and gold accents we have come to know and love but, like any trend, it doesn’t take a whole-room redesign to partake in this look.

Here are a few reasons we love the matte look:

Be bold, without all the noise.

Matte finishes are certainly more subdued than ultra-shiny color schemes, but that doesn’t mean you are limited to darker tones. The smooth surfaces downshift saturated colors into the realm of pastels, bringing unexpected colors together without feeling loud or over-the-top.

Ambit Pendant and Nerd Chair by Muuto

In subdued, matte finishes, this soft-colored arrangement by Muuto is easygoing but bold all at once. Shown: Ambit Pendant by Muuto, Nerd Chair by Muuto

Focus on form.

Without all the distraction of the bright and shiny, the shape and silhouette of a design can take center stage. Unsurprisingly, the matte effect works well with minimalistic designs. For instance, the bell shape of the Caravaggio Pendant by Lightyears is perfectly outlined by the solid shell of its matte-painted finish:

Caravaggio Pendant by Lightyears

The uniformity of the satin aluminum finish on Mater’s Baby Dome Table Lamp accomplishes the same effect, but on a smaller scale:

Baby Dome Lamp by Mater

And with its iconic shape, Arne Jacobsen’s Drop Chair for Fritz Hansen doesn’t need any extra ornamentation:

Drop Chair by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen

Matte contemporary to matte retro.

If full-fledged contemporary is a little too much for you, you can always reference vintage designs. The matte ochre finish on this special Margaret Howell Type 75 Desk Lamp by Anglepoise is just the ticket if you want to achieve a little nostalgia within this trend.

Type 75 Desk Lamp by Anglepoise

Matte works in every room.

If you love this look, it doesn’t have to stop at lighting and furniture pieces. Matte finishes can fit right in in every room in the house. We love a matte black finish on kitchen and bath fixtures, using matte paint colors for an ultra-sophisticated look, or even in trims and hardware.

Mix matte with luster.

You don’t have to completely redo your house to achieve this look. Matte finishes work great contrasted with the metallic accents you still have and love. We love the pairing in this kitchen (via Naked Kitchens) of the gold backdrop and faucet with the matte-painted cabinets. The color harmony between the two remains, and is even enhanced by the different sheens.


Or, the flat white finish combined with the intense sparkle of each embedded crystal in the Inlay 5-Light Pendant by Swarovski:

Inlay 5-Light Pendant by Swarovski

Even though matte finishes are popping up everywhere, you don’t need to cut yourself off from all things bright and shiny. The subtle and serene nature of matte surfaces can easily be incorporated in to your current interior design, whether it be a new pendant light, dining room chair or a fresh coat of paint.