Setting the gold standard
Mix it up with metallics for an expensive look. Just choose your shades carefully
I'm a big fan of Dutch gold. No, not the lager. Dutch gold is a metal alloy made of brass, copper and zinc. It looks like gold but it's a whole lot cheaper. Fancy a bit of gilding but can't afford real gold leaf? Dutch gold will be your friend.
Over the past few years, the trend for metallic interiors finishes has drifted from copper to brass and then to gold. Now, there's a lot of it about. But when interior designer Laura Farrell set her heart on putting a gold ceiling into Restaurant Patrick Gibauld, gold décor hadn't yet gone mainstream. Eyebrows were lifted.
"It was inspired by the ceiling of a Russian Orthodox church," she says. "I like the idea of using gold architecturally to lift things to a higher plane. There's something religiously sexy about that." On a less elevated level, if you fork out on a Michelin star meal, you want the premises to look the part. Gold looks expensive. That's kind of its thing.
Even at the swanky Gibauld's, real gold leaf over an entire ceiling wasn't a realistic option. Instead, the ceiling was layered with Dutch rose gold leaf and an overlay of copper. When the restaurant reopened in 2016, the gold ceiling was the star of the show.
Trends in domestic interiors often evolve from hotel and restaurant design, and the gold effect is one that Farrell has since used in people's homes. "Obviously you need to be careful," she says. "Even Dutch gold is too precious to be used willy-nilly." Overdo the gold and you can end up with a room that looks like the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. That's a hard one to pull off in an Irish semi-d. The trick is to use it sparingly.
"I've used gold tiles in a bathroom," Farrell explains, "but not over the whole room. The tiles were real gold leaf under glass mosaic and they were phenomenally expensive so I just ran a stripe down the wall. The rest of the tiling was dark." Gold, in general, looks more opulent against dark colours but fresher and more modern against white. Gold comes in many shades and, before you commit, it's sensible to choose the hue that's best for your project. Gold doesn't work with stainless steel, silver or chrome. Rose gold can work with copper, while brass and gold can sit together nicely. You might even consider window frames in dull metallic gold.
"When you buy window frames you order from a RAL colour chart," Farrell says. "Until now 99.9pc of the frames have been in battleship grey." The grey is so ubiquitous that Dulux has produced a colour called "Window Grey".
Now, as Farrell has discovered, you can order window frames in a lovely dull gold.
"I used it in a home with sandstone wall, so that you get that contrast between the opulence of the gold and the plainness of the stone," she says. There's no cheap way of going for gold. If money is tight, go for smaller items. These are more likely to be "golden" than actual gold and some of them are a lot of fun. The Flowers Not War bud vase from Audenza looks like a pistol bursting into leaf. They also have wine bottle holder in the shape of an octopus (€32) and a nutty looking Monty Dog watering can (€218).
Gold also works well for minor pieces of furniture like the Jazz chair in rose gold and black (€330 from the French Bedroom Company) and a Gold tripod table (€193 from Audenza).
It's also good for lighting. The Suspension Tilt Pendant is golden inside and out - and set at a jaunty angle.
Those in search of an Irish handmade item might look to the Cream silk cylinder lampshade (€98) with gold lining from Shady and the lamp. For upmarket projects, the wallpaper company Phillip Jeffries has a Japanese silk wallcovering shot through with a surface layer of fine gold scrim. It's available in a range of background colours but the golden layer gives the surface a colour-change effect.
"It's delicious," says Farrell, who recently used a pale teal version in a client's home. "In one light it looks gold and then the light changes and you can see through the layers to the colour underneath." Prices for this are by request from Farrell. Brace yourselves. "It's a stunning product with an equally stunning price."
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