This article appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of This Old House Magazine. Click here to learn how to subscribe.

James Ransom

Nothing extends a more cheerful welcome than opening the door to reveal an expanse of uplifting, unexpected color. And nowhere is it more surprising than overhead—and with a gleaming, lacquer-like look.

Take the cantaloupe-colored “fifth wall” just inside the front door of this Nantucket, MA, cottage, selected by Connecticut interior designer Lee Ann Thornton. “I chose high gloss to reflect all the natural light in the entry,” Thornton says, an effect she amplified even more with pale finishes on the walls and a pickled wood floor. “High gloss adds a pop of glamour, and a front entry can be the perfect spot for that little extra drama.”

TOH Pro Tip

“To create a lacquer look, I like to use a high-gloss oil-based formula like Fine Paints of Europe’s Hollandlac Brilliant 98 system. This paint is really thick, so you’ll need a stiff China bristle or white hog-hair brush. It will require two coats, but will give you a brilliant, mirror-like finish.” —Mauro Henrique, painter

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