Combining matt and glossy paint finishes

Living room with one wall painted matt and gloss in the same colour

The skilful combination of colours and textures is a central element of perfect interior design. This also includes the combination of glossy and matt surfaces in the same colour. The juxtaposition of matt and gloss creates dynamism and gives the room depth, character and a touch of avant-garde elegance.

Joa Studholme, who is responsible for curating the colour tones at the British paint manufacturer Farrow & Ball, is also enthusiastic about the effect of such combinations. And she mentions another advantage: "The finish of a colour or paint has a major influence on how long the surface remains flawless." In general, the higher the gloss level, the more resistant the colour is. This is particularly important in kitchens: "A kitchen island painted with Farrow & Ball Full Gloss is not only extremely easy to clean, but also looks glamorous. If you paint the wall behind it in the same colour but with Farrow & Ball Dead Flat, the result is a subtle yet fascinating contrast," says Studholm.

Küche, deren Fronten und Wände mit dem Farbton De Nimes von Farrow & Ball gestrichen wurden

The De Nimes colour by Farrow & Ball was used throughout the kitchen. The area in the foreground painted in Full Gloss draws the eye. The walls in the background, painted in Dead Flat, form a striking contrast. 


At first glance, the idea of using the same colour with both a gloss and a matt finish may seem unusual. However, the unique effect of this combination is that the same colour tone creates a calm effect, while the subtle contrast stimulates the senses. The technique works exceptionally well on both walls and furniture.


The wooden wall panelling was painted in the lower area in the colour India Yellow from Farrow & Ball with the ultra-matt finish Dead Flat and in the upper area with the high-gloss Full Gloss. The ceiling was painted with Dead Flat in the colour School House White. Here, the transition between gloss and matt separates the wall element from the ceiling and organises the room. 

Special light effects

Applying the same colour to the walls in different finishes has a further effect: glossy walls reflect the light more strongly and give the room a luminous and expansive feel, while matt walls absorb the light and create a cosy, intimate atmosphere. This effect can be used strategically to emphasise architectural elements in the room or to accentuate areas.


This picture shows how differently matt and glossy surfaces reflect light. The ceiling and wall were both painted in the colour Tar from Farrow & Ball, with Full Gloss used for the ceiling and Dead Flat for the wall. 

The art of contrast

This principle can also be applied to wooden surfaces. The design possibilities here are even more fascinating. A dining room set in an elegant, matt finish harmonises with glossy coffered walls or individual glossy painted decorative elements in the same colour. The contrast between the smooth, reflective surface and the muted, velvety furniture creates a surprising effect.

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Strategic placement for maximum impact

The placement of the combination of glossy and matt finishes is crucial to their effect. Glossy surfaces are suitable for areas that capture and reflect natural light, such as accent walls, cabinets or special pieces of furniture. In contrast, matt surfaces work particularly well in areas where a subdued, intimate atmosphere is desired, such as cosy reading corners.

In open-plan rooms, the technique can be used to separate individual zones while creating a sense of cohesion. Imagine a kitchen and dining area where glossy kitchen cabinets meet matt dining room furniture, signalling a change of function while the colour palette remains consistent.


Here, the play with matt and gloss shows how different the two finishes look. The smooth wall on the left, painted in Titmouse Blue matt, looks much calmer than the brick wall on the right, painted in the same colour but with Full Gloss. Here, the countless small light reflections of the glossy surface emphasise the structure of the bricks. 

Which colour shades can I use?

Any colour is suitable for a combination of glossy and matt finishes. Neutral tones such as grey, white and muted pastel shades are particularly versatile and allow the interplay of the different surfaces to take centre stage without being too prominent. But strong colours also have their place: Combinations of matt and glossy colours ensure order.


The Eddy white colour from Farrow & Ball is used exclusively on the walls and ceiling. The variation between matt and glossy brings a subtle dynamic to the room.

My takeaway: It's definitely worth considering the interesting combination of glossy and matt finishes for your next design project.


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Picture Source: Farrow & Ball