Once you go matt, do you go back?
One of the biggest style elements of any new, designer kitchen is its finish. The ‘matt versus gloss’ debate may seem futile, until you come to choose your new kitchen – then it becomes a difficult decision! Gone are the days when a lick of paint will do a high-end kitchen refurb justice. In fact, painting over any of the units Burnhill provide, would be a travesty. Aran, Burbridge and Pronorm build kitchen units made from materials that don’t need an outer coat of anything – they’re beautiful bare. But with so much choice in Instagram-worthy kitchen units, the decision of which style to go for remains just as hard. A kitchen’s finish can make a huge impact on the overall style and feel of a kitchen, which is why clients occasionally become fixated on the question which is better – gloss or matt?
While we can’t say that one is better than the other, there are advantages and disadvantages of each from an aesthetic perspective. The best way to decide between the two is to consider what each one has to offer and think about your kitchen project. First let’s take the design appeal with matt, then we’ll compare this to what’s associated with gloss.
Unlike gloss, matt surfaces boast a soft surface that absorbs light rather than reflects it. This means that matt kitchens can have a more understated and refined aesthetic than their gloss counterparts. It doesn’t mean your kitchen will look dull – especially if you opt for lighter colours. If you have a kitchen with multiple colours, these will not be reflected on the matt surfaces. As a result, matt worktops and cabinets are great for well-lit kitchens. They also work well with open floor designs because they add a more expansive feel without any unnecessary, additional shine.
As a sweeping – and now outdated – generalisation, gloss works best in modern kitchens and matt is more commonly associated with traditional designs. This is no longer the case, so if you’ve always preferred the idea of a modern kitchen, this doesn’t mean that you can’t choose a matt finish. Matt became a trend for cabinets, floors and worktops in both contemporary and traditional kitchens about six years ago. One of matt’s strengths is that it can be used in almost any kitchen style, whether traditional, modern or somewhere in between. Browse Aran kitchens by category (Modern, Contemporary and Traditional) to see what we mean.
Due to the nature of gloss, it tends to work best – but not exclusively – in lighter and more neutral colours. Matt also works in a broader variety of colours that can easily be designed according to your kitchen and it can create a modern, chic and individual look. We’ve already touched on this but what’s more, since matt doesn’t rely on light to accentuate its definitive hue, it creates a smooth, solid colour, on all sides. In other words, regardless of which angle you view it from or what level of lighting is available, there’s colour consistency throughout the kitchen area.
High gloss creates a sleek and stylish look. With its reflective finish, gloss kitchen doors have a reflective quality that makes light bounce off them. This can change our perception of how big a room is, similar to the way that a mirror does. The reflective surfaces in a gloss kitchen can make a room brighter and feel larger and more airy. Gloss units combined with either natural light or strategically placed lighting can turn your small kitchen into one that appears bigger and more spacious. And this illusion of size can be used to transform your kitchen space.
High gloss surfaces can show smudges (such as fingerprints) more easily than other surfaces but they can be easily cleaned with a microfibre, non-scratch cloth.
Like matt, high gloss kitchens are also available in a wide range of colours so this needn’t be of any concern when choosing between the two.
Although we’ll reiterate that this isn’t a black and white rule, part of our sweeping statement from earlier (that gloss work best in modern kitchens) is more firm. Probably the only situation that gloss could be anything but modern is when used to paint wooden doors but these really aren’t used in high-end kitchens.
If your kitchen doesn’t have ample natural lighting you might want to consider a gloss finish. If looking to make a kitchen space feel larger, matt may not be the best option because light won’t be reflected off the surface but instead absorbed. Remember that light drawers and cupboards help make a space feel larger and more open which is ideal for small kitchen spaces. Gloss is fantastic for this but if your kitchen is on the small side don’t give up on matt just yet – you can utilise white hues in matt because this still contributes to illuminating the available space. Just not quite to the same extent as gloss.
Consideration of the materials used in your kitchen enables you to match and contrast textures which create different overall aesthetics. Shine and glitz bring a glamorous and chic quality whereas softer textures (such as matt, textiles and wood) create a more earthy and cosy feel. Matt cabinets can be used to add a deeper texture, warmth and could be used to create a striking contrast between a marble effect or granite worktop and metal appliances. Read our guide to choosing a kitchen worktop here.
Secondly, what do you want to be the focus points in the room? We ask this because, for example, any accessories or artwork you want to display in your kitchen can be enhanced with matt as a backdrop.