Decorating with Gold

With the resurgence of 1970s culture in fashion, movies, and music, and with our recent Olympic fever, is it any wonder gold is trending in home design? The tony metal is appearing in wallpaper patterns, as painted coatings on wood and metal furniture, as eye-catching accessories, and in fabrics and upholstery.

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Using gold in home design goes back as far as ancient Egypt, and it appears in every period and style through the ages since. A truly cameleonlike accent, it can appear aged and traditional on the gilded frame around a Victorian oil painting, or sleek and contemporary on the rim of a midcentury martini glass. Today's use of gold pulls from all the eras. What makes it notable is the mixing of periods -- Victorian with midcentury -- into a uniquely of-the-moment look.

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Style Notes

It is often said that gold is a "warm" metal, due to its yellow cast. Any hue in the red, orange, and yellow range is considered a warm color because it evokes the flames in your fireplace and has a resulting cozy feel. Gold is also a rich hue because it was once used to show that a homeowner was of wealthy status and that he or she could afford the rare and exotic, such as a gold-leafed ceiling or gilded birdcage. And finally, gold has an elegance that comes from its use through the ages in beautiful jewelry. Adding gold handles to a chest is like dressing up an outfit with a gold necklace. As a precious metal, it's used to set off gemstones of every hue, and in a home setting it works with all colors of the rainbow.

3 Ways to Decorate with Gold

1. Make a statement. Gold has impact on a room, so you can really create a "wow" moment with very little effort. Use gold-pattern wallpaper on one wall in an entry. Place a gold-covered pillow in the mix on your sofa. Paint a side table with gold paint to perk up your bedroom.

2. Mix it in. Gold is the tool to create a truly eclectic look. Hang a gilded antique mirror in a wall arrangement with collected and modern art pieces to add patina and pedigree. Or wheel a contemporary gold-and-glass bar table into a traditionally decked out study to bring levity to a somber space.

3. Use it like jewelry. It can dress up a dull or hardworking space, and provide something unexpectedly beautiful. Think of a small desk lamp in your home office or a gold hook to hold your towel by the shower.

Where to Find It

As hot as this trend is right now, nearly every retail source has gold-patterned fabrics and wallpapers, gold-accented furniture, gold-leafed lamp bases and chandeliers, and decorative accessories coated in gold. You can shop flea markets and thrift stores for vintage pieces like gold-painted picture frames or 1970s barware that won't break the bank. Or, you can go the DIY route: dip the legs of your coffee table in gold paint, stick a metallic gold decal to your dining room wall, or iron a gold-fabric monogram onto a pillow for your bed. Watch the video below to learn how to gold leaf.

How to Gold Leaf

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