A bit of shimmer

Luminous fabrics and finishes bring light into the house.

12/29/2012 7:07 AM

12/29/2012 7:09 AM

Shimmery outfits are always popular on New Year’s Eve. But luster in fabrics and finishes are hot even for the home: silver leaf on a chair frame, luminous silk on an accent pillow, 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, Ohio, interior designer Pamela Bayer said. “It’s very subtle.”

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. A sectional sofa in the collection is covered in an ivory fabric shot through with metallic threads and accented with pillows that have a bit more metallic in them — “still safe and basic,” Loper 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 decor, she said.

Candice Olson, the interior designer and TV personality, juxtaposes shimmer against matte to add interest to a room, Highland House’s Burvikovs said. Upholstered furniture maker Bradington-Young made a black patent leather wing chair more edgy and contemporary by giving the back an embossed, silk-screened design with a silvery-gold sheen.

The shimmery look works well with lighter tones such as whites and taupes, said Anthony Cox of Theodore Alexander. The moderate sheen adds sophistication and glamour to those light tones, said Cox.

Stronger colors, on the other hand, might be overpowering with the addition of shine, Burvikovs said.

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.

Bassett was showing similarly complex metallic finishes 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.

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