There is a renaissance in the use of gold in tasteful interiors. Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall looks at using it to best advantage.

Over the last couple of weeks, I think it is fair to say that the United Kingdom and Yorkshire in particular has definitely got used to enjoying a fair amount of gold in its daily life. The same can definitely be said for the world of interiors where this finish, which was in the wilderness for a few years, has definitely begun to firmly re-establish itself in our hearts.

Used en masse in its brightest form gold can be jarring and off-putting – ostentatious is rarely a look that many domestic interiors attempt to achieve. However, the modern incarnation of gold tends to favour the more subtle distressed effect – think gold which has been well handled and achieved a certain patina – less bling and a lot more distinguished glamour.

Many wallpapers include flecks of gold, rather than a full on pattern, which help to reflect light within a room – without drawing attention to itself. If gold is more predominant within the pattern the sheen is often antiqued to help add gravitas and a more regal aesthetic.

The light reflectivity is obviously an important element of this finish and it can be used to great effect to bring light into a darker room. This type of reflected light is a warm glow, rather than a harsh enhancement, which is particularly flattering to both the beholder and the beholdee. It is why we all tend to find candlelight so appealing and why gold works to great effect in rooms which are likely to come into their own at night; such as a dining room or sitting room.

Elegant gold adds a shimmering hint of oppulence when partnered with darker colours

This glorious, soft light can easily be introduced throughout your house, without making any great impact on your interiors scheme.   Many companies now offer gold card linings in their lampshades which not only help to reduce light bleed from an overly harsh lamp, but also to focus the warm glow to create accent illumination pools throughout your room.


Gold also works to great effect when used as a highlight within a monochrome setting. In this type of environment a delicate wipe of gold along the detail of a picture frame, in a table leg or on a cornice can add drama without alerting the viewer to its presence.It seems to be the perfect accompaniment, whether you are adding accent to a light, cream interior or making a bold, delicious statement in a rich chocolate, aubergine or even black scheme. Used carefully, the effect of gold is always rich, warm and timeless.


Antique map wall mural from £220 at

All that glisters…

When visiting a fine Country house, you may find that the gold on view is not necessarily all that is seems. In the 18th & 19th centuries a finish called Ormolu was much in vogue. This is the term used to describe gilt brass on decorative art objects, for example gilded mounts on furniture.

The gilding was applied using a mercury amalgam process, sometimes referred to as fire gilding. Copper corrosion products can form on the gold surface through minute gaps in the gilding. As with silver gilt objects, the gold layer is thin, soft and easily polished away.

Jamie Hempsall, BIID, is a multi-award winning interior designer.