The right necklace or earrings can dress up an outfit -- in much the same way, a little bit of luster can dress up a room.
Shimmery fabrics and finishes are hot now, adding a bit of glamour to our everyday environs. They can take a variety of forms -- silver leaf on a chair frame, for example; luminous silk on an accent pillow; or perhaps 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 interior designer Pamela Bayer said. "It's very subtle."
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. Think Malia Obama's blue silk skirt at her dad's victory speech last month.
Look is versatile
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 was covered in an ivory fabric shot through with metallic threads.
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."
Luster was in evidence at the recent High Point Market in North Carolina, where manufacturers were using it as a way to add contemporary elegance to furniture, lighting and accessories.
Probably the highest-profile example was a furniture collection created for Highland House by Candice Olson, the interior designer and TV personality known for putting a modern spin on traditional shapes and motifs.
Olson used lustrous fabrics and finishes in her collection to create contrast, Highland House's Burvikovs said. The juxtaposition of shimmer against matte adds interest to a room and brings "a little bit of formality, but not too much."
Upholstered furniture maker Bradington-Young, on the other hand, used a bit of luminosity on a wing chair to achieve the opposite effect: to make a traditional shape a bit more edgy, said Sandi Teague, director of upholstery merchandising for Hooker Furniture, Bradington-Young's parent company. The back of the black patent-leather chair has an embossed, silk-screened design with a silvery-gold sheen, which Teague said was aimed at customers who prefer more contemporary design.
Light tones work well
The shimmery look works well with lighter tones such as whites and taupes, said Anthony Cox, executive vice president for product development for furniture maker Theodore Alexander. The moderate sheen adds sophistication and glamour to those light tones, he said.
Stronger colors, on the other hand, might be overpowering with the addition of shine, Burvikovs noted.
"I think it's more pleasing to the eye if it isn't a bold color," she said. "It's got to be livable still."
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 at this time of year, with sunshine at a premium.