Interested in upgrading your bathroom or kitchen in a subtle, yet sophisticated way? Looking for an approach that goes beyond quick trends, chic moves or merely what’s cool? If you’d like to make an impact that’s light-handed, quiet and timeless, then here’s a powerful idea that will not only elevate your design, but offer you unbounded opportunities to exercise your creative mind.

We call it “wet vs. dry.” Yes, it’s that simple, and you can be an expert at it with just a bit of insight into this effective tool.

When it comes to interior design, contrast is often leveraged by organizing opposites in an interesting way—like the use of black and white, or dark with light. Opposites also apply to your kitchen counters and powder room walls, but through the use of different textures and sheens.

By integrating “wet” surfaces with “dry,” through the imaginative use of contrasting finishes—shiny, polished, smooth, matte, brushed and textured, for example—you can create subtle patterns, fascinating rhythms and a wide variety of subtle moods.

“Wet vs. dry” applies to paint finishes too—flat, eggshell, satin and gloss all have different effects. In fact, the higher the sheen, the darker and more intense your color will look. Same with the multitude of tile and hardware options available today—the stronger the sheen (wet), the darker and more sophisticated your room may feel. Textured or matt finishes (dry), on the other hand, will create a more casual appeal.

Glossy surfaces also introduce reflections, creating more glamorous, dramatic, theatrical results. Gloss dazzles. It creates sparkle and a cleaner look—it’s also more durable (but, it does show the dust!). Matte finishes, on the other hand, are earthier—it’s all about how light interacts with and bounces off the surfaces in your room. And you can use the same color palette for everything, with amazing impact.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb—to go modern, or create a more current look, use more “wet.” To make a room feel more traditional, go with more “dry.”

The “wet vs. dry” approach allows you to achieve something unique and classy, all by contrasting and balancing different textures and sheens. Think of a how a street looks when it’s wet vs. dry—the difference in color saturation, light reflection and mood is dramatic. You can do the same in your home—like a shifting theatre set that is all about tonalities and reflectance, try playing with wet and dry rather than color this year!

Eric Mandil, AIA, RA

Mandil Inc.

Eric Mandil is the principal, architect and designer of Mandil Inc.  Founded in 1980, Eric and his Denver based firm have been creating commercial and residential buildings, architectural interiors and retail spaces on many different scales.  Their work ranges from horse ranches in Wyoming to retail stores for Barbie at FAO Schwarz in New York City. 

 Color has been a strong focus on all elements of design.  The application of exterior and interior coloration has been a creative voice in all aspects of each project. 

 His work has appeared nationally in magazines like Traditional Home, Western Interiors, Source & Design and Colorado Homes & Lifestyles. 

 “There is nothing more noble than creating beauty”  -Eric Mandil

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