Six rooms that do metallics, and get away with it

on page 57 of the december issue of house & garden (out
now!) acting decoration editor ruth sleightholme presents an edit
of the best metallic fabrics. notoriously difficult to get right,
here ruth edits some of her favourite interiors that balance beauty
and bling

metallics, and in particular
gold, are an age-old way to communicate opulence in an interior.
from the gold-wrapped threads of english medieval embroidery, to
dazzling gilded art deco interiors, precious metals communicate a
sense of importance. for this very reason, metallics have fallen
well out of favour in the last 100 years, coming to indicate hollow
prestige and brash showiness. nevertheless, a glimmer of gold gives
an undeniable romance, has a power of luminosity like nothing else,
and the uncanny ability to make human skin glow beautifully next to
it. these six rooms each use gold in a beautiful and original way,
staying absolutely on the right side of tasteful.

1) for the brave: pure, gold leaf

blue and gold is the most dazzling of colour combinations,
recalling the vibrancy of medieval christian paintings: it can also
be strikingly modern. in this kitchen, belonging to hannah cecil gurney, gilded walls have been
set against yves klein blue, making ‘the tiny cooking space feel
like the inside of a delicious chocolate box’. eschewing pattern
helps keep this look bold and modern.

2) metallic furniture

metallic paint can be used to turn plain furniture into
beautiful pieces of decoration, and is much less costly than
gilding. this trick can be used if metallic on the wall feels a
little too much for the space, and can easily be amended or
reversed. foale and sons created this headboard, and can
offer several designs in silver and gold. pressed tin is another
way to achieve the glimmer of metal with far less ostentation, for
example this beautiful headboard from casamidy. from
the may 2011 issue.

3) modern gold

british wallpaper designers custhom have a brilliant way with
gold. they use it sparingly on minimal, modern designs with plenty
of white space, bringing it right up to date and out of the
category of heavy opulence.  this design, with it simplified
architectural motifs could work well in a spare georgian house or a
modern loft or warehouse.

4) barely- there sheen

this chinoiserie paper by de gournay is not gilded as such, but has a
warm golden tone with a slight shimmer. the trails painted on are
not at all metallic, keeping the whole effect on the subtle side.
traditional gustavian furniture and striped or plain fabrics create
a calm balance against the golden walls of this room by stephan
eicker.

5) picking up on parchment

here, gold accessories and highlights (such as drawer handles)
are perfectly partnered with rough, parchment-y textures on the
walls. the gold elements contrast with the rougher textures of the
wall, but also work to emphasise their warm, golden tones. the
result is sophisticated, elegant and warm. from the november 2011
issue.

6) gilty pleasures

almost always candlelit and filled with twinkling crystal,
alidad’s london dining room is the perfect example of the
traditional atmospheric effect of gold. the walls are gilded
leather and hand-painted with beautiful fruit and flower trails,
whilst gold braiding stands out against the red of the dining
chairs. the decoration of every surface, plus the glimmer of
candlelight on gold, lends a cossetting and romantic air.

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