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Going With Glass in Modern Design: It isn’t Always Perfectly Clear

Posted on April 15, 2012

Glass and contemporary design are very compatible terms. Glass is sleek, shiny and open. It can be bent or cut into countless cool shapes and be used with an infinite variety of finishes in a space. Since it reflects light, it can brighten a room. When it is clear, it allows light to pass through, giving the space a feeling of expansiveness.

A contrast of materials can add energy and life to a space. One versatile material to consider mixing with any wood or metal finish is glass. Let’s envision a small end table in glass, for example. It can be any shape or size without interfering with a color scheme. If you have lots of angular pieces, it would be a visual relief to think about a glass piece that curves, say a round or an oval. In addition, glass furniture provides function without visually crowding a space.

Along with the idea of contrasting colors and shapes is to offer a variety of textures on a room. The smoothness and luster of glass is a nice balance with more matte finishes that may be present, from stone to wood to to woven fabrics.

You can bring in glass as an accent, like a piece of wall art, a lamp base, a vase or bowl, or an occasional table. You can also make your glass piece a major focal point, like a dining table or wall unit.

Color-less? Let’s start by admitting that the options are not always perfectly clear. Typical glass does have a slight green tint, which is a result of the iron content in the silica that it is composed of. You’ve no doubt noticed green edges of tables or shelves. The thicker the glass, the more visible that green tint will be. It isn’t necessarily an issue, unless you’re going to be viewing colors (like a table base) through it and you are a neurotic perfectionist (just kidding). One option if you are seeking optimum clarity is a type of glass called Starfire, which has less iron and therefore less color.

This green tint in regular glass can also affect any color that may be applied to the glass. There are endlessly exciting options for painting and texturing the underside of your glass furniture pieces, but depending on the colors you want to achieve and the thickness of glass you desire, it may be advisable to invest in Starfire glass, even though it is more expensive.

Here’s an example of the difference between regular glass vs. Starfire glass. The difference is… clear (sorry, that one was too easy!).

standard (left) vs. starfire (right)

If you want to add both gloss and color to your room, painted glass is a terrific option!

Apollo Dining Table

With so many beautiful options, incorporating glass pieces into your contemporary decor is certainly worth some reflection.


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