DIY Metallic Accessory Updates

Get a royal look on a pauper's budget by turning everything you touch to gold using easy (and cheap!) metallic leafing and rubs.

small desk with cow hide covered bench and wall art hanging above

Give accessories and accents an update with a new metallic finish. Coat the entire piece or add just a touch of silver, gold, or copper to a small detail for a unique accent with a hint of sparkle. With paint or metallic leaf, it's easy to give items new life. We'll show you how to use the products on a series of fun DIY projects, below.

Tips for Decorating with Metallics

Shimmery Finish

blue and gold lamp with large golden dice on table

Highlight a lamp's textural details with metallic wax. (We used Antique Gold Rub 'n Buff.) Metallic wax works on most surfaces and doesn't require primer. If your surface has a high shine, however, you may need to lightly sand it first. Apply the wax to a clean, dry surface with a paintbrush, then gently buff with a lint-free cloth into a lustrous finish. When the wax is cured (this should take only a few minutes), spray the entire surface with clear acrylic-base varnish.

Mixed Metal

floating wood shelf with knickknacks including books, gold giraffe vase, pine cone and houseplant

Turn a plain vase into a modern masterpiece using dramatic swishes of several metallic finishes. We used gold, silver, and copper leaf foil sheets to create this design. Metal leaf is a micro-thin sheet of metal. Imitation leaf is more affordable and easier to use than leaf made from real precious metals.

Magic Mirror

white mantle with gold mirror above and gold knickknacks

The newly gilded curlicues of this mirror will age well thanks to a protective coating. Sealing projects makes the leaf durable for years, protecting against flaking and damage from handling and dust. Apply two light coats of spray sealer, allowing to cure fully between coats and before handling the piece. The metal finish will dull slightly after it is sealed.

How to Use Gold Leaf

Grown Up

gold dinosaur on shelf with pink flowers in vase and gold mirror in background

A few coats of gold spray paint tie this little plastic dinosaur into his metallic surroundings. A simple refinish can change the look of a cheap toy or accessory and instantly glamorize it.

Picture Perfect

wood art frame with silver paint around edges

Give personality by adding a metallic pattern to basic wood frames you can find for next to nothing at thrift shops. Follow the metal leaf application process, but use a leaf adhesive pen rather than spreading glue with a brush. The glue is clear, so working on one small area at a time and applying silver leaf as you go makes it easier to see the design in progress.

Natural Shine

diy abstract wood and gold painting

Change a simple wood square into artwork using paint and metal leaf. Tape off a section of a wood block and apply spray paint. Once dry, use a leaf adhesive pen to add small lines or other patterns over the painted section and cover with gold leaf. Tape off another section and apply gold leaf.

Topped Off

white animal head with gold painted horns

A little metallic leaf can go a long way. Accent a small part of a sculpture, like the antlers on this resin deer head. Tape off all of the sculpture with foil except the area you're highlighting, then apply gold leaf.

Stencil Detail

black metal chair with gold paint

Embellish any flat surface, like a chairback, with an intricate gold leaf pattern. Pick a hip stencil, or draw a pattern if you're feeling artsy. Spray adhesive on the back of the stencil, let it dry to tacky, then set it in place. Using a foam pouncer, apply liquid leaf over the stencil. Remove the stencil, let dry, and cover the design with leaf sealer to protect it.

How to Stencil

Woven Gold

woven basket with grey blanket

Love gold but worry about going over the top? Stick to subtle changes, such as adding a metallic rim to a rattan basket. Liquid leaf is a great choice for highlighting small areas. Apply it to a clean surface using a soft bristle brush, which will reduce visible strokes and result in a smoother look. The paint will absorb into natural materials, which may dull its shine. If you want a brighter look, apply a second coat after the first has dried.

11 Things That Look More Expensive with Gold Paint

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