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The Kiss, by Gustav Klimt

A splash of gold offers a hint of something special to any masterpiece. There’s a fine line between the gaudy and the artful,  of just the right amount of metallic shine. Early 20th century artist Gustav Klimt used gold not to highlight rich detail in his paintings, but as the background. Some of his ‘Golden Phase’ pieces use gold to such excess that it is the opaque flesh of his subjects that stands out.

While there is definitely the risk of over-doing gold in interior design, we can take a few cues from Klimt and use its attention-grabbing qualities to highlight a few aspects of a room. From polished, gleaming gold to duller, more subtle tones, a little Midas touch brings interest to any room. Let’s take a look at a few simple ideas for incorporating gold hints into your decor.

Paint a ceiling accent to extend the illusion of space

It may seem indulgent to paint such a large surface area as the ceiling gold, but in the right context, the look can be very effective. Avoid severely yellow, super-shiny shades. Instead, opt for a more muted gold that offers a more translucent glaze. There shouldn’t be a harsh glare from the lighting. Instead, your choice in lighting should be subtly reflective, extending the illusion of space by drawing the eyes upward.

turquoise moroccan style living room with gold ceiling

Photo: Thelennoxx.com

Make sure there is enough varying texture and shape in the room itself so that the ceiling is not the focal point. For example, a rich shade of turquoise or purple helps to balance the brightness of the gold, making sure that the eye is drawn to all parts of the room, from the brightness of the ceiling to the color of the walls.

deep purple aubergine living room

Photo: Thelennoxx.com

The gold helps to highlight other metallic accents in the room, bringing together an eclectic set of colors or prints. The trick is to find a barely-there shade of gold that is more a light, shimmery glaze than a heavy, yellow coating.

Keep gold accents simple and sleek

If you’re afraid of overwhelming your decor with gold, just remember that you can have multiple gold accents as long as they are simple. Too many ornate, baroque gold pieces will antiquate your interior. Instead, keep surfaces smooth and lines simple to keep the look fresh.

Photo: Cozamia.com

The gold accessories balance the dark walls and the bar, adding warmth to the decor. The sleek grouping of cobalt blue bottles, black paint, and gold accents makes for an interior that is richly masculine, but also inviting and warm. The flower vase and desk lamp have simple designs, while the picture frames are barely bordered with a thin line of gold. The brushed surfaces also help to keep the gold subtle and not overwhelming.

Gold accents spruce up an everyday table setting

Gold doesn’t need to be reserved for the holiday season or even for formal occasions. A little dab of gold here and there can be a fun way to refresh a plain table setting or welcome guests for dinner. In moderation, it can work during any season.

Photo: Styleathome.com

 A simple accent pattern and homemade napkin holder offer an easy and special welcome to dinner guests.

gold egg

Photo: blog.myweddingreceptionideas.com

This simple cutlery set isn’t too ornamental in design, making it a subtle addition of gold to the table. A geometrically patterned napkin keeps things modern, while a rustic napkin weight and salt and pepper bowls keep the setting from looking too stuffy.

Try a gold-toned building base

Consider gold-based tiling or stones for your floor or walls. Give floors a honey-warm look, or add interest into a bathroom with a mosaic accented with gold. Gold tones don’t necessarily have to be shiny or metallic–an earthy golden base offers warm undertones for the entire room.

gold travertine

This gold travertine tile from BuildDirect offers a warm tonal foundation for the entrance way or dining room. The light floor allows the darker leather and wood to stand out, putting focus on the architecture and furniture. This balance of light and dark helps to create interest and depth in the room.

A gold mosaic brightens any wall

Perhaps most Klimt-esque of all, a golden mosaic brings unique texture and shading. One of his masterpieces, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, is almost completely covered with mosaic-inspired gold-leaf.

Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt         

For a boldly luxurious look, this mosaic wall makes the room into a treasure chest. This works with subdued accessories and furnishings, such as the simply contoured black sofa and table.

One of Original Style's most unique and exceptional mosaics

Photo: Leafcutterdesign.co.uk

If you’re interested in a more subtle option, consider some simple mosaic tiles for your bathroom walls. There are yellow-based shades that have an earthy warmth coupled with unique patterns, such as this BuildDirect glass mosaic tile. Such subtler shades are more versatile while adding unique color and texture.

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Hopefully, some of these simple golden ideas inspired by Klimt can help you add a special touch to your interior design.

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Alexandra Wong

Alexandra Wong is interested in design and home decor. She has lived and studied in Canada, England (Oxford, no less), and the United States. She writes pieces on art and lifestyle that reflect her passions.