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, for example; 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."
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Bayer is incorporating the look into a master bedroom and bath she's decorating for 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.
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.
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 decor, 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.
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."
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.