Design Counsel
April 14, 2023

Get Your Sheen Together

By: Anna Popov

Design Counsel
April 14, 2023

Get Your Sheen Together

By: Anna Popov

Design by Interiors by Popov. Photo by Sumaira Amber

Choosing paint colors is a complicated task all on its own but what do you do when it’s time to get your ‘sheen’ together? Yes, choosing the sheen of paint goes hand in hand with choosing the color for any given room and whilst our clients do not have to worry about these kinds of decisions (that is what we are here for after all) it is a qeustion that pops up on our socials on the regular. So, we thought it was time to get the word out on how we approach the sheen when choosing paint for our projects.

There are some hard and fast rules out there that we all learn in design school, but the truth is, each project and each application can require a different approach and although we have a standard set of sheens that we work with, we are known to break our own rules sometimes, when a certain project calls for it that is.

Design by Interiors by Popov. Photo by Miranda Estes Photography


Flat paint is non-reflective and has a ‘chalky’ feeling to the touch. Its non-reflective qualities mean that is hides imperfections very well. It is a favorite when it comes to a modern, luxurious look however, it is not stain-resistant, marks easily and is not easy to clean. Cleaning can rub off the paint finish surface hence requiring touch-ups and maintenance that most homeowners do not want. Suffice to say it is not the best choice for walls in a home with kids, animals or heavy traffic areas.


Eggshell paint gives you the modern look of flat paint with the slightest hint of sheen, making it more reflective than flat paint, the added benefit of hiding imperfections along with better clean-ability. It helps walls appear smooth and is an ideal choice for family homes and mid-traffic areas.


Satin paint is smooth and has just the perfect touch of gloss. It is more reflective than eggshell and provides a durable finish that is easier to clean and maintain than flat or eggshell. In a modern home, satin may be a touch too ‘glossy’ for a wall application but it is great for trim, cabinets and built-ins. Brush marks can be a problem when applying satin paint, our advice is to always use a professional.


Semi-gloss has a slightly glossy appearance. It is highly durable, easily cleaned and moisture retardant. However, its glossier appearance makes flaws and imperfections show through, especially when light reflects off the surface. No matter what surface you choose to use a semi-gloss sheen on, prep work is key – do not cut corners, repeat, do not cut corners!


Gloss paint is highly reflective, gives a dramatic look and is very easy to clean, a quick wipe is all it takes. However, it is best to use it in moderation, especially in a home environment. Gloss paint shows EVERY flaw that you are painting over and so as above, preparation and a professional painter is the way to go.

Design by Interiors by Popov. Photo by Anton Benedikt Photography


Guess what? We are giving away free advice – ssshhh, don’t tell anyone! Here is the rule of thumb that we work to when choosing paint sheens but remember, rules can be broken and as designers, we consider ALL the factors before confirming our projects paint color and sheen choices.

CEILINGS – Flat, also known as Matte

WALLS – Eggshell



CABINETS – Ok, this one may be a secret! This is a different type of paint that we usually do a custom color and specification for with a very low sheen level that is formulated just for us!

Design by Interiors by Popov. Photo by John Granen Photography


Want to know our favorite paint brands? We love Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, Farrow and Ball and Portola Paints.

 Paint is not just there for color reasons, it performs an important function in your home and sheen matters. Paint is one of the most visual elements in a room but that does not mean that you should start there and a common mistake we see when we come by for that initial design consultation. Paint colors, and sheen should be decided once all the other finishes are chosen and the decision should be made carefully – it can make or break an entire space.

Design by Interiors by Popov. Photo by Jeff Beck Photography

What are our favorite colors and why I hear you ask? Do you have any advice on wall textures and luxury paint brands? How about cutting paint color formulas? What does hue, value and chroma mean? You will have to wait for the next installment for all that. In the meantime, here are is a link an IG post where I discuss this exact topic and give even more invaluable advice. And here and here are links to some recent coverage we have had where we weigh in with some other notable designers about the topic of paint. Lastly, if this sounds like torture to you and you need help deciding, drop us a line here – a design consultation might be just what you need.

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