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Should I Choose Gloss or Matt Kitchen Units?

Both can look fabulous, so how to choose? Follow these tips to help you make that all-important (and expensive) decision

Houzz Contributor. Editor in Chief of RealHomes.com. I am an editor, journalist,… More

If you’re splashing out on a new kitchen – whether a clever, budget buy or a top-of-the-range dream investment – you want to get it right first time. So, gloss or matt cabinetry for your new room? Compare and contrast these beautiful kitchens and collect some tips to help inspire you.

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Matt two-tone units
Compare this open-plan kitchen with the next one – both have similar colour schemes, but this room has matt cabinetry and the following one has gloss.

Why matt here? The clue is in the furniture and lighting – both are period-style, which flatters a subtler matt finish more than the glitzier-looking gloss.

Need a kitchen designer or fitter with reviews you can check out? Click here

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Gloss two-tone units
This modern gloss kitchen blends classic grey and white for the shiny units, island and splashback. It’s also a subtle mix of contemporary and traditional styling – which just goes to show that gloss needn’t be all about minimalism or ultra-contemporary style.

The dining table might have modern lines, but the style of the period dining chairs is echoed in that of the kitchen lighting and bar stools, cleverly bringing the two zones together.

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Mix and match two-tone units
The dining furniture in this part-glossy, part-matt kitchen is as modern as the cabinetry, which suits it just fine.

Why does this room hit the right note? The chairs are upholstered rather than hard-edged and shiny, which chimes with the matt peninsula cabinetry.

The contrasting matt finish on these units is also a pleasing foil for the shine of the rest of the units, providing solid colour where the wall cupboards also add reflection and bounce light around.

The muted tones of the palette also contribute to an overall softness in this kitchen.

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Matt dark units
Why keep ultra-dark cabinetry matt? There’s a case for the practical angle – with a dark colour particularly, it’s less likely to show up every single smudge and fingerprint.

From an aesthetic point of view, it’s far easier to make a dark matt finish, especially black (just a step away from this super-dark grey) look more contemporary than a deep gloss shade. However…

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Gloss dark units
…it can be done. The winning tricks in this cool, contemporary kitchen are the details around the units – rich matt walls in the same inky shade for starters.

Also helpful are the vintage-style, wall-mounted lights rather than harsh spots (which, with gloss finishes, can create unattractive beams of glare and reflection) and mixing in natural matt finishes – the wooden worktops, stripped floorboards and bare brickwork provide soothing counterpoints.

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Matt neutral units
If you want to create a kitchen that’s part of an open-plan living and dining area, here are three good-looking ways to achieve it: by using the same matt paint finish on the walls as on the units; by choosing a colour that recedes rather than advances, and by picking out flush-fit cabinetry that blends away into the background. Masterful.

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Gloss neutral units
If, on the other hand, you want your kitchen to feel harmonious within the rest of the room, but draw attention as the showpiece, choose your neutral cabinetry in a gloss finish.

In addition, if you pick out eye-catching furniture, such as these stools, you’ll draw still more attention to that end of the room.

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Matt bold-coloured units
An all-red kitchen, whether gloss or matt, is a dramatic choice probably best avoided unless this is your forever home and you’re convinced you’ll be happy with the shade for a good 10 years.

One way to incorporate a strong, bright shade like this, though, is to limit it to just one element in your kitchen, such as the island, as here. As for gloss or matt, let your kitchen style lead you… A matt finish tends to suit more traditional-style cabinetry, and it’s easier to repaint, too.

Follow the example here and use small surrounding details to tie it into the rest of the scheme. Small appliances, accessories and flowers do the job in this kitchen.

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Gloss bold-coloured units
The same rules apply for red (or any other bold shade) within a gloss kitchen, but more so, because the shiny finish makes it all the more in-your-face, and it can’t easily be repainted.

Here, a flash of high-gloss scarlet in the wall units adds real zing and bounces light around.

Choosing doors in a standard size and a simple style, though, will mean that if you do grow tired of them, you can simply replace them at little cost.

A cleverly designed kitchen in a narrow house

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Here, the same point is made using a different shade: gloss gold cabinetry is outrageously fabulous but, again, limiting it to a short run of cupboards, with every other detail in the room pared back to a minimum, makes it a bling detail that adds drama without overwhelming.

Swerve fancy handles and sparkly worktops, so your golden focal point won’t be competing. Loving the earthy brown matt wall here, too, which functions as a softening counterpoint.

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Matt white units
Enduringly popular, easy to redecorate around and pleasing to potential future house buyers, white kitchens are a safe choice.

So, what’s the benefit of matt over gloss? Well, matt is subtler, (very slightly) easier to keep looking clean, and a touch less likely to date than gloss.

Find your local kitchen designer or fitter here

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Gloss white units
Again, it’s difficult to go wrong with a white gloss kitchen, the biggest bonus of which is how much light it bounces around.

The downsides? Fingermarks will show up more readily and it needs to be carefully matched with warmer, natural materials and textures if it’s not to look harshly modern.

Tell us…

Which do you prefer, matt or gloss kitchens – or a mix of both? Share your thoughts and photos in the Comments section.

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