Whether you’re completely remodelling your kitchen or simply refacing your existing units with replacement cupboard doors, one of the most important factors to consider is the finish.
There are plenty of attractive kitchen styles to choose from – many of which we’re proud to provide at Kitchen Warehouse – but there are two finishes in particular that fuel an ongoing debate.
The big question is: matt kitchens or high gloss kitchens? When you’re searching for modern kitchens online and in showrooms, you’re sure to see these two finishes in abundance.
You may find that you have a preference for one over the other, being drawn to one style of kitchen the most – but what if you find it too difficult to choose between them?
On the surface, they seem to be polar opposites, but they actually have many qualities in common. This blog explores the pros and cons of both finishes, so you can make a fully informed decision about which one is the best choice for your kitchen.
HIGH GLOSS KITCHENS
Futuristic glossy kitchens first became popular back in the 1970s, but this style experienced a resurgence in the 2010s due to how well it fits in with modern interior design tastes.
This finish works best in contemporary kitchens with flat cabinet fronts, where the smooth surfaces emphasise its lustrous shine. It takes multiple sprayed layers of lacquer, paint, and sealant to achieve the high gloss look – though it can also be created using sheets of acrylic or acetate.
A gloss kitchen promises high-end visuals thanks to its polished sheen, but their construction is just as practical as any traditional-style kitchen cabinet or door. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of high gloss kitchens that you should think about before choosing this finish.
Advantages of high gloss kitchen cabinets
The biggest reason that high gloss kitchens are so appealing is that the mirror-like finish reflects light. We all know that a bright room feels much more welcoming than a gloomy one, and there’s no better finish than gloss to maximise the light in your kitchen.
Regardless of the time of day or the season, high gloss kitchen units will amplify whatever natural or artificial light is available to make the room feel more vibrant. Another effect of bouncing more light around the room is that your kitchen will look and feel larger.
The reflected light from most vertical surfaces creates the illusion of additional space, which is ideal when you’re working with a small kitchen. You can’t achieve this open and airy effect with matt kitchens, as the finish absorbs light instead.
You might think that high gloss is reserved for classic white kitchens, but you can actually get this finish in a range of colours – and not just neutrals. Whether you want a dramatic jet black gloss kitchen or a warmer cream gloss kitchen, a middle-ground grey gloss kitchen or a bolder blue gloss kitchen, there’s a glossy shade to suit every preference.
Since gloss kitchens are so sleek – especially handleless high gloss kitchens – it’s easy to wipe them clean in the event of smudges or spillages. All you need is soapy water and soft cloths; simply clean them with a damp cloth then polish them with a dry cloth to get rid of streaks.
Disadvantages of high gloss kitchen cabinets
Unfortunately, the things that make high gloss kitchens great also have some drawbacks – but they aren’t going to be dealbreakers for everyone. If you prioritise the shine over the colour itself, then the problem of non-uniform colours shouldn’t be an issue.
Since the colour depends on the amount of light bouncing off the surface and the angle you’re viewing the cabinet from, it can seem slightly different every time you look at it. This can be a bonus for some people who like the room to feel fresh every time they set foot in it.
Another issue is that while dark gloss kitchens are trendy and stand out, imperfections will also stand out more against the darker colour. That said, greasy smudges will be obvious against the high gloss surface no matter the colour – which means more frequent cleaning.
Though wiping the cupboard doors down is easy enough, the need to do it more often can get annoying, especially if you have sticky-fingered children constantly reaching for the handles. One way to minimise this issue is to opt for handleless kitchen doors.
Additionally, some people find that high gloss just doesn’t fit with less modern homes. It’s most suitable for ultra-contemporary kitchen styles, but not everyone wants to commit to this sometimes intense aesthetic. If you have a cosy or rustic interior design overall, this kitchen finish is unlikely to complement it.
While high gloss is certainly showy and catches the eye easily, matt kitchens have also been a major ongoing trend in kitchen design. This finish is often considered the more ‘mature’ of the two.
Matt paint does the opposite of gloss paint, absorbing light rather than reflecting it, which results in an understated appearance. While some people might find this too dull, others might think a soft and subdued matt kitchen looks more elegant compared to the drama of a high gloss kitchen.
Without the sometimes harsh reflections found in gloss kitchens, the surfaces will look smoother and more uniform, with a depth of solid colour that lends warmth to the matt kitchen doors. Here are the things you should consider before committing to a matt kitchen.
Advantages of matt kitchen cabinets
The colour of your kitchen cabinets quite literally sets the tone for the whole room, so it’s not a decision to take lightly. While the fluctuating nature of a high gloss finish might leave you indecisive and unsure what the colour you want will actually look like in situ, matt kitchens will always have a consistent true colour, no matter the angle.
Another advantage of this is that smudges and scuffs will be less visible, because they don’t have a shiny background to stand out against. Of course, the marks are still there and still need cleaning, but you won’t have to grab a cloth and wipe them as often as you would with high gloss.
Since the colour will stay uniform, there is a greater variety of colours available for matt kitchens. While gloss works best with lighter shades, matt works with both neutral colours and darker and bolder hues. It’s also much easier to mix and match them if you like the monochrome kitchen look. This includes textured matt kitchen doors, which can recreate the look of wood, stone, or metal while still being smooth and non-reflective.
This also means you can choose from a wider range of kitchen door styles. High gloss is often limited to slab doors, especially handleless doors, while matt finishes can be applied to many more designs without looking out of place – such as Shaker-style kitchen doors with a matt painted finish.
Disadvantages of matt kitchen cabinets
Critics of matt kitchens will say that they’re too bland and boring, especially compared to the visual excitement of high gloss kitchens. Since the matt look is so simple and understated, it works best in combination with other features – such as allowing a colourful backsplash to stand out, or letting fancy appliances to be the focal point rather than the cupboards.
Since matt kitchens don’t reflect light, they aren’t always the best option for smaller kitchens, even in pale colours. Your kitchen is likely to feel as small as it is regardless of the colour, and even more cramped and dingy if you use dark shades.
However, matt kitchens looking ‘dull’ and ‘flat’ isn’t always an unavoidable drawback. You can find matt kitchen doors with interesting profiles that add shadows and visual depth to your kitchen, and make the most of ambient artificial lights without worrying about reflective glare.
Another potential problem with matt finishes is that dirt and grease may not show up as much, but it will still be there – meaning that if you don’t clean thoroughly and carefully, you could miss spots, with marks eventually absorbing into the finish. They also don’t wipe down as smoothly as sleek gloss surfaces, but you still need to use soft cloths to avoid streaks and scratches.
WHICH IS BEST: HIGH GLOSS OR MATT?
Now you know the benefits and limitations of both, the question remains: are high gloss kitchens or matt kitchens better? The truth is that this debate isn’t easily settled – it comes down to personal preferences and individual kitchen layouts every time.
This doesn’t help if you’re looking for a definitive answer, but whichever you end up choosing, it’s sure to give your kitchen a new lease of life and keep it looking stylish for years to come.
The general consensus is that matt kitchens are cheaper, simpler, and easier to incorporate into different interior styles, while high gloss kitchens may be more of an investment, but they truly give the room a fashionable facelift with a big visual impact.
Practicality should take precedence over aesthetics, though, as there’s no use in a pretty kitchen that doesn’t function properly. This is why things like the layout, size, and other finishings should be taken into consideration at the same time as the finish of the kitchen units.
Think about how much natural light your kitchen gets and the position of your artificial lighting, and the finishes and colours of your kitchen worktops, walls, and flooring. They all need to work together to complete the vision of a comprehensive kitchen design.
Your kitchen furniture and soft furnishings are also important factors, as the materials and textures you use throughout the room should either harmonise or contrast tastefully with your cupboards. Nothing should clash, as this is visually jarring and makes the room an uncomfortable place to be.
Finally, if you’re finding it too difficult to decide between the two finishes, you could opt for a semi-gloss kitchen instead. This gives you the best of both worlds – shinier and sleeker than matt, but not as bright and reflective as high gloss.
Find your favourite finish at Kitchen Warehouse
Whether you’re on Team Matt or Team Gloss, you’ll be able to find a kitchen finish that suits your preferences for a price that won’t break the bank on the Kitchen Warehouse website. If you’re trying to update your kitchen on a tighter budget, we have even better news – you can purchase replacement kitchen doors separately to reface your existing kitchen cabinets.
We have a huge selection of finishes, colours, and styles available online, and you can even view how some of our kitchens look in person by visiting our kitchen showroom in Ripon, North Yorkshire. If you’re unable to visit, you can always order a sample first to see how our matt kitchen doors or high gloss kitchen doors would look in your home.
Of course, should you have any enquiries about any of our kitchen designs, or any of the products on our website, you can always speak to the Kitchen Warehouse team. Call us on 01765 640 000, fill out our online enquiry form, or email email@example.com for assistance.
This blog was updated on 22/09/2022.