Published on October 3, 2019

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Photo by Jennifer Hughes

We’ve already seen the return of lacquer furniture, but its cousin, lacquer paint, has been slower to creep into the mainstream—and for good reason. Mainly, it’s a hard look to pull off; one false move, and every imperfection in your walls is on full display. However, when done right, the glossy finish is anything but flawed. For proof, you need only look at designer Cameron Ruppert’s most recent project, a historic Washington, D.C. home–turned—maximalist haven. 

The crown jewel is definitely the electric blue dining room—impactful yet cozy, it’s made even more interesting thanks to the high-gloss wall treatment. It ended up being well worth the effort, but Ruppert warns that lacquering is tricky business; before you start, take note of her best practices.

Hire a pro: “Very few people realize how difficult it is to correctly lacquer a room. You can’t just throw some paint on the walls—it’s an incredibly time-consuming and meticulous process that, if not done correctly, can lose its intended impact.”

Go bold: “Otherwise, I don’t think it’s worth it. I would never lacquer an entire room in beige or cream. It’s going to fall flat if it’s not a color that makes you say ‘wow’ when you walk in.”  

Walk the line: “Balance it out with texture and dimension. This is part of the reason I love doing it in dens, where I can combine it with leather and wool to ground it. One thing I would never pair with lacquer is Lucite furniture; it’s too much. No one wants to walk into a room that glossy.” 

While this may not be an easy project—Ruppert says that the cobalt room took two to four weeks to complete—one thing you can get excited about is planning the design. If you’re willing to commit to a more unusual wall treatment, it’s time to look to the spaces that got it right for some inspiration.

If you’re scared of commitment…

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Photo by Black Lacquer Design

Focus your attention on a single wall. Black Lacquer Design’s Caitlin Murray used a high-gloss paint on the fireplace to add depth and contrast with the wallpaper. 

If you’re not one for subtlety…

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Photo by Matthew Williams | Design by StudioDB

Steal a page from this teal Studio DB project and take the lacquer all the way, coating both the ceiling and any built-ins in the shiny finish. Bonus points if you’re working with an already-textured surface (like shiplap), which adds an extra layer of visual interest. 

If you never do what’s expected…

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Photo by Adrian Gaut

Forget walls altogether and varnish your floors. Kimberly Von Koontz’s Manhattan apartment makes the case for turning tradition squarely on its head; gleaming black hardwood perfectly sets off the matte white walls and the designer’s colorful art collection.  

If you don’t know what to do with a cramped space…

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Photo by Cody Guilfoyle

Throw out the rule book and swap safe neutrals for a bright hue, covering everything right down to the stools. It’s a daring move, sure, but as Edith Young’s home proves, sometimes the best things come in small packages. 

If you’re a “pop of color” kind of person…

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Photo by Matthieu Salvaing | Design by Guiliano Andrea dell’Uva

Corral that pop into the space where it will have the most impact: the powder room. The fixtures in this Guiliano Andrea Dell’Uva–designed bathroom might be minimal, but, as with all these examples, paired with a high-shine shade, they feel anything but boring. 

See more fun paint ideas to try:
4 Paint Projects That Took This Muralist’s Home From All-Gray to Technicolor
For This French Interior Architect, Paint Belongs Everywhere But the Walls
Pantone’s NYFW-Inspired Color Palette Will Cure Your Post-Winter Blues

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