The Interior Design Move That Adds Luxury And Always Gets Noticed
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The Interior Design Move That Adds Luxury And Always Gets Noticed

Our experts’ advice: Spring for soft colour in a glossy finish on your ceiling.

By Elizabeth Sweet
Wed, Jul 13, 2022Grey Clock 3 min

IF YOU’RE LOOKING to put a room’s décor over the top, lacquer up, say interior design pros. The multi-layered technique yields a mirror-like finish, and when applied to a ceiling, says interior designer Mary Beth Wagner, it brings dynamism and texture to the space. “People notice an interesting detail above because, for the most part, there usually isn’t one,” said the Dallas, Texas, pro. “Most ceilings are white.” Here, Mrs. Wagner and other interiors experts weigh in on what the design move entails, and why you should consider it.

The Appeal: If you want to elevate a space and brim with decorating confidence, says Mrs. Wagner, look to your ceiling, a surface typically taken for granted. In the coming months, the designer plans to coat the ceiling of a client’s dining room in a deep-blue lacquer, with walls of pale blue Venetian plaster. As afternoons wind down in the Lexington, Ky., home of Matthew Carter, the interior designer admires the sinking sun’s reflections on the “fifth wall” of his recently repainted living room, the lacquered ceiling shown right. “It’s a little bit of drama,” he said. Mr. Carter had lived for a year with matte pink overhead, and though he loved the pale hue, “it needed a pick-me-up.” So he colour-matched the existing shade to a Fine Paints of Europe hyper-gloss (similar in colour to Farrow & Ball’s Pink Ground). Its reflective sheen conferred glamour on the entire room. “Everyone comments on it,” he said.

New York City-based interior designer Elizabeth Bolognino lacquered a barely-there peach onto the ceiling of her client’s Manhattan dining room. The impact floored her. “It’s not a bright colour,” she said. “It’s more of this curious little accent, but it plays a big role.”

Both designers wax lyrical about lacquer’s mirroring prowess. During the day, reflections stretch and bend; come evening, flickers of candle- and lamplight sparkle back reflectively. Even wall art gets a boost, said Mr. Carter. “Lacquer enhances the room as a whole and makes you more aware of the backgrounds,” he said, letting art pop.

The Tips: Also known as an automotive or museum finish, true lacquer isn’t an easy fix. But the many-layered process of repeated sanding and polishing pays off. When fully cured, “it looks like glass,” Ms. Bolognino said, watery and gleaming. The technique yields more depth and “wow” than simple high-gloss paint does, said Mr. Carter, noting that some find the effect addictive. If you’re tempted to douse a whole room in the shine, stand down, he says: “It can be too much of a good thing.” Besides, it’s the contrast of painted plaster and a glossy sheen that heightens the effect.

For a larger ceiling, try an uplifting but non-oppressive pale blue, shell pink or ivory lacquer, counsels Mr. Carter. If you want to start small, consider the ceiling of a jewel-box room—a foyer bath or a hidden-away butler’s pantry. In tighter quarters, even an emerald green or saturated yellow won’t overwhelm, he adds.

The Caveats: “There is definitely a price to be paid,” conceded Ms. Bolognino. Applying a lacquer finish is an endeavour best left to a professional. In the Midwest, a 12×15 ceiling will set you back approx. $9300 (or approx. $51 a square foot), reports Mike Foley, of Chicago’s DiVinci Painters. Prices are even steeper on the coasts, he says, averaging around $90 a square foot versus $1.50 for matte. Expect mess and a few weeks of fumes. “Generally speaking, most people tolerate it well when site protection is utilised,” Mr. Foley said, referring to dust- and fume-collecting machines, among other precautions. Fortunately, most people who opt for the specialty finish ultimately feel it’s well worth the cost and tussle, said Mrs. Wagner: “It’s a conversation starter.”

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Thu, Aug 11, 2022 < 1 min

New research from Knight Frank’s International Waterfront Index shows waterfront properties are costing more than double their inland counterparts in Sydney while in Melbourne waterside properties attract a 40% premium.

Australia’s coastline attracts some of the highest waterfront premiums in the world with Sydney topping the index — an average premium of 121% — compared to an equivalent home set away from the water.

Auckland ranked second on the list of 17 international locations — a premium of 76%. The list saw Gold Coast (71%), Perth (69%) and the Cap d’Antibes (59%) on the French Riviera round out the top 5.

Australia continued to feature prominently in the research with Brisbane’s waterfront premium coming in at 55%, with Melbourne also in the top 10 at 39%.

According to Knight Frank Australia’s head of residential research, Michelle Ciesielski, there has always been strong appetite for Sydney’s waterfront homes.

Australia’s luxury residential market has advanced, it lacks the depth of prestige markets in more established global cities said Cieselski.

“As a result, our Australian cities can achieve a significantly higher premium on the waterfront compared to a similar property inland without access to, or a view of, water,” she said.

“Also, Australia is known for its balmy outdoor lifestyle, so many buyers in this super-prime space are willing to pay a premium to secure the ideal position along the waterfront.”

The data also suggests that beachfront homes were most desirable, commanding a premium of 63% compared to harbour locations fetching 62% premium and coastal homes with a 40% premium.