Phooey on the Hooey Part 1 - Paint Sheen Level on Walls

Home Stager with FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor

Sheen level refers to the degree of shininess that a paint takes on when dry.

The right sheen level has been customarily decided on based on four factors:

  1. The purpose of the room
  2. The preference of the painter
  3.  The condition of the walls.
  4.  The price of the paint

                                                      I say PHOOEY on all four.


The walls of your home should look as fabulous and well-maintained as possible to create as much perceived value as you can. This means creamy and free of blemishes. Walls that show damage and wear make your house look cheaply made and shoddily painted. Savvy renovating means knowing where to splurge and knowing where to save. The smart choice is the one that, for a only few bucks more per can, will increase the perceived value of your entire home, increasing it's resale value.

One should endeavor to buy the paint that works the hardest for one's investment of time and money.

There is only ONE sheen level that will do this for the walls.

Before I reveal this design secret, let's talk about your face, (or your wife's face if applicable).



Have you ever had or seen a greasy or sweaty face? Does it turn you on when you do? I didn't think so. When skin is sweaty or greasy, you can see every pore, bump, pimple, and hair, because they shine in the light. They also reveal a shadow near the blemish, heightening this crater effect. Shine makes things stand out and come toward.


When make-up is applied to the face, the goal is to minimize flaws and add shine to key areas, such as the lips and eyes. This makes the most of the assets of the face. Women powder-down the face to detract attention to the flaws. They add irridescence to eyes and gloss to lips. The skin becomes a smooth, shadow & shine reduced backdrop so these other features can take center stage.



 In one's home, shiny walls come toward, visually shrinking the space. They distract from other elements of the room, such as gleaming granite,hardwood floors and wonderful light fixtures. One would never see diamonds displayed on aluminum foil in a jewelry store. The fathomless velvety backdrops serve a definite purpose of making the diamonds sparkle and dance.



The only sheen level that works 100% of the time is a flat or matte sheen. Back in the day, flat paint was the least expensive and least washable. Today, matte paint is equally as washable, and in some of the better brands, it is actually THE MOST cleanable, touting the ability to actually be "scrubbable."



Implementing this sheen level on walls throughout the home, even in bathrooms and kitchens, is the best way to make your home look bigger, more well-built, and showcase your other design choices and furnishings.

Semi-Gloss vs. Mattes


Some people just don't like the look of flat paint. People can paint their walls any way they want, but when selling, always make the choice that pays.


 ~Michelle Molinari


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Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I love your more valuable than just saying "use matte" without explaining why.  The makeup comparison is perfect!

Jan 10, 2012 09:58 AM #1
Michelle Molinari
FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor - Lafayette, LA
Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts

Thanks Sharon. I used to sell paint as a color consultant. It always amazed me how many people had semi-gloss on their walls. It was then that I learned how important is was to explain in ways anyone could understand. When they took my advice, the transformation was nothing short of miraculous. Color is important, but the right sheen can work absolute miracles.


Jan 10, 2012 10:07 AM #2
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Michelle-excellent post. We're all used to thinking "semi-gloss" but your explanation is certainly helpful!  I also love the make-up comparison.

Jan 10, 2012 02:09 PM #3
Kim Gaston
RE/MAX Advantage Realty - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs REALTORĀ®, CNE (719)661-6987

Awesome explanation. I like your analogies, too. In Colorado, orange peel walls are the norm. Builders don't bother to finish the walls properly, so its a good disguise. Semi-gloss or satin sheens just make it all look cheap. Homeowners are scared of flat, so I recommend a lot of "eggshell". 

Jan 10, 2012 03:23 PM #4
Beth Lester
Beth Lester Designs - Torrance, CA
Home Staging & Interior Decorating

Interesting point, Michelle.  It has been many years since I've used flat paint, and I hated it then, so I've not given it another try.  I've also made the mistake of going too Satin, which reflects light nicely, but does show every flaw.  I've never seen semi-gloss used on walls besides kitchen/baths, and I also prefer a lower sheen there.

I usually recommend one step above flat because I like a touch of sheen and it's easier to clean.


Hmmm, I may need to do some experimenting!

Jan 14, 2012 05:44 AM #5
Wendy Tomm
Beyond the Walls - East St Paul, MB
CCSP, RESA-PRO, BBB - Wpg Realtors

Nice Post Michelle.  I am not a fan of semi-gloss. My fan favorite is a matt which is better than a flat as it's wipeable.  I also use the Benjamin Moore line of paint so the quality is premium.

Jan 15, 2012 03:31 AM #6
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

Hi, Michelle. I notice this post is from January. Are uou discouraged about ActiveRain like I am? Anyway, I'm activing as a messenger here for Russel Ray. He wanted me to let you know that he left a surprise for you in his most recent post at his Russel Ray Photos WordPress blog. You can find it here (and on Facebook):

I think you'll like it.

Mar 13, 2012 07:29 PM #7
Michelle Molinari
FEATURE THIS... Real Estate Staging & Interior Decor - Lafayette, LA
Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts

Yes, Jim, regarding Acitve Rain... the old gray mare just ain't what she used to be. 

And thank you so much for the link to Russel's Photography blog. That was such a cool thing he did! What a dear man.

Mar 14, 2012 02:54 AM #8
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Feature This Real, Estate Staging & Curb Appeal Concepts
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