Q+A: Choosing Paint Finish

I often get asked, “What is the easiest way to refresh a space”? The answer is a new coat of paint. Repainting your home leaves it feeling clean and new. It creates a fresh foundation for you to slowly layer upon as you find furniture and textiles that you love. It’s also so doable for those on a budget that want to do the work themselves. I get a lot of questions about paint and have shared my go to paint colors, but today I want to share answers to questions I’ve been getting on what type of paint I use on different surfaces.

Q+A: Choosing the Right Paint Finish

Q: Should you use the same paint finish in bathrooms and kitchens or do they need to be different?

las palmas bathroom

Las Palmas Project

A: Both bathrooms and kitchens get a lot of traffic and need a paint that can stand up to humidity and use. Although each paint company differs slightly, most have 5 categories of paint finish: matte/flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. The higher the gloss the greater the durability, but glossier paints tend to show imperfections in walls and woodwork. For this reason, I use an eggshell finish for the walls in both kitchens and baths. It’s durable but does not have noticeable sheen.


Lucia Project

Q: In an all white kitchen, how do you know which finish to use on the walls, trim, and cabinetry?

Classic Modern Kitchen

Estillo Project

A: Picking paint in your all white kitchen depends somewhat on the look you are going for. I always use eggshell on the walls but have used both satin and semi-gloss for cabinetry and trim. Semi-gloss really creates contrast between your wood work and your walls, but if you are painting old cabinets, it will highlight any imperfections in the wood. Lately, I have been loving the look of less sheen and have been choosing a satin finish for the cabinets and trim.

Q: What are your favorite white paints and what finish do you use?

black, white and brass kitchen makeover

Ledgewood Project

A: My go to white paints are Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace, Simply White, Plain White (no pigment), or for something a little warmer, Swiss Coffee. To read more about these white paints, read my Q+A: White Paint and see my quick reference guide below.

Q: When painting in dark tones, like black or navy, which finish do you use?

SC cove project becki owens

A: Dark moody walls look pretty in a matte finish. But in family homes, practicality still trumps. If you have kids and they will be using the space, I would still do my dark walls in eggshell and dark cabinets in satin. I used a black satin paint for the kitchen cabinets in my SC Cove Project and they are beautiful. To see some of my favorite dark painted cabinets, read my post on deVOL kitchens and my cabinetry paint guide.

I hope that this answers some of your paint questions and helps you as you start your projects. Good luck! New paint is always worth it!


white kitchen paint finish

white paint guide becki owens

One thought on “Q+A: Choosing Paint Finish

  1. Kristie says:

    Thanks for always providing such informative posts – I check your blog eagerly every day! This was timely for me because we are having our new interior doors painted black. In the past we have done a satin finish on our older black interior doors but I was contemplating switching to a high gloss this time around. We have all Simply White satin walls and high gloss trim to help reflect light in a darkish house but I love hearing what the experts like yourself do!

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