Going for Golden Hues

by Donna on August 4, 2012

Rich, Earthy, or Elegant

Looking to gold tones for wall color leads to a range that can seem bewilderingly extreme. While you can find wall paint colors called ‘gold’ of some sort that are highly saturated yellow-orange colors like ‘marigold’, most are more muted. You’ll find colors that are marigold toned down, but also colors that will make you think of herbs like turmeric or mustard – colors that are essentially golden tans.  Some gold paint colors are deep earthy shades.

Finding room examples has been a bit of a challenge; many rooms that have a ‘golden glow’ are more in the yellow category and you can see examples in my post “Sunshine in a Can“.  My room example discoveries below show a range of decorating possibilities — possibilities ranging from earthy to elegant. Wallpaper enters the scene, too. And, I’ve included rooms that have golden-toned upholstery.

A rich golden glow

Bathroom with golden toned wall color

The walls of this bathroom are a moderately bright gold with an orange cast. The color choice works towards creating a version of  ‘Tuscan’ style.

Great room with golden toned wall color

The walls in this great room have a yellow-orange content.

Seating area with a golden glow

Designer Paul Vincent Wiseman created a warm glow in the master bedroom of a home in California, using softly golden hues. (From Architectural Digest. Photo: Time Street-Porter.)

Muted gold & golden tan

Living room with dark fireplace and golden walls

The black mantel of the fireplace mantel is accented against golden toned walls. (From Southern Living at MyHomeIdeas. Photo: Laurey W. Glenn.)

gold toned walls in an office space in a Pasadena Showcase house
Dunn Edwards paint color Madera DEC728

The golden wall color in this Pasadena Showcase House adds brightness to a space by designer Julie Kays. Reflected light heightens the gold undertones of the tannish paint color. (From Traditional Home. Photo: Michael Garland.) The swatch shows the paint color used in the room: Dunn Edwards (and California Paints) Madera DEC728.

Evening light casts a golden glow on bedroom walls of golden tan.

A casually luxurious bedroom by Pamela Pierce has golden tan wall color – the golden undertones heightened by the glow of early evening sunlight. (From Luxe Interiors and Design.)

Dining room with golden tan walls

The image of this dining room, by Gwen Driscoll, shows a room with golden tan walls. (From Elle Decor. Photo: Pieter Estersohn.)

Martha turns to golden paint color

Martha Stewart updated her East Hampton, New York, home on Lily Pond Lane, using a golden buttery paint color in some rooms. Colors in nature were the inspiration for new room colors. Martha felt that the white walls contrasted jarringly with the gardens and trees outside and that warmer tones would work better in the spaces.
Dining area of Martha's Lily Pond Lane home before

In the above ‘before’ picture the walls and woodwork are a bright and cool white. What a difference the new paint color makes, as seen in these ‘after’ images:

Martha's entry and dining area painted a golden buttery hue

A rich, warm glow is created with the new paint color (a custom mixed color). The dark wood furnishings harmonize with the buttery wall color, as does the new console.

Sitting area has the new golden walls and a sofa upholstered in a buttery hue.

A sitting area, displaying a stuffed tarpon fish, has the new golden wall color and a sofa upholstered in a buttery hue.
You can read more about the remodel and see other rooms in the house at Martha Stewart. (Photos by William Abrannowicz.)

Earthy golden hues

The earthy shades of gold are associated with the naturally occurring clay pigments of ochre and sienna. Used since prehistoric times, and still derived today from sites around the world, the pigments and colors have long been linked with southern France and Tuscany and Sienna in Italy.
Ochre hued buildings in southern Europe

Above, century’s old buildings in these areas can still be seen painted in earthy ochre and sienna hues.

Gold ochre powder

Gold ochre powder.

A restored farmhouse in Tuscany

Interior designer Mark Long Fletcher worked with an American couple on the restoration of a 15th-century stone farmhouse on a Tuscan hillside. In the entry, living room, and a bedroom images below we can see that a golden wall color was used, relating to clay pigment hues.
Tuscan farmhouse entry has earty gold-toned wall color
Tuscan farmhouse living room
Tuscan farmhouse bedroom

(Images from Architectural Digest. Photography by Mario Ciampi.)

Deeper shades of golden wall color

Dining room with deep golded wall color
Benjamin Moore hathaway gold

The dining room above, by designer Amanda Nisbet, has walls painted Benjamin Moore Hathaway Gold (194) – shown in the swatch. (Image from House Beautiful. Photo: Pieter Estersohn.)

Bedroom with reddish-gold stripe wallpaper

A richly appointed bedroom by acclaimed designer Bunny Williams uses stripe wallpaper in reddish-gold tones. White lampshades and bedding provide contrast.

Bright contrasted with earthy

Rich golden tan sofa with bright yellow-gold accent pillows

Bunny Williams used patterned yellow-gold accent pillows on a deep golden tan sofa.

Glimmer and glitter of gold

Dining room with delicate gold pattern wallpaper

In this dining room by Jan Showers the gold pattern wallpaper is from Gracie Inc. Gold tones are repeated throughout the elegantly dramatic dining space. (From Traditional Home. Photo: Werner Straube. The ceiling and trim color is Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter HC172.)

Dining room with gold pattern fabric used for wall and curtains

Designer David Herchik used Fadini Borghi fabric, with a yellow-gold floral pattern on a gray ground, for both the walls and curtains. (From Traditional Home. Photo: Gordon Beall.)

Schumacher gold wallpaper patterns

Two metallic gold wallpaper patterns from Schumacher: Medina in Gold and Sadari Gilt.

Osborne and Little Ponchielle wallpaper

The Ponchielle wallpaper pattern from Osborne & Little has a metallic gold look.

Gold-toned furnishings

Contemporary living room with gold-toned modern chairs

In this contemporary living room by distinguished designer Clodagh, the modern chairs, upholstered in a yellow-gold hue, add a touch of color along with the muted lavender accent pillows. Yellow and purple are complementary colors, of course; here the muted combination is soothing.

Living room with soft golden-tone upholstery

In a long narrow living room, designer David L. Smith divided the space into two seating areas. In this view we see upholstery in a muted golden tones including the tiger stripe pattern on the fauteuil. (From Traditional Home.)

Living room detail with gold furnishings against soft pink background

Designer Celerie Kemble has used an interesting combination of patterned upholstery with golden tones against a soft pink wall as background. The golden cast is picked up in the sunburst wall clock. (From Elle Decor. Photo: William Waldron.)

Golden backdrop

I’ll close with this room detail from Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, with its fascinating and eclectic mix of elements against gold-toned patterned wallpaper.
Eclectic room with gold patterned wallpaper

The red of the Chinese chest and the chair upholstery, plus the blue of the chair and stool, plus the yellow-gold wallpaper – equals a complementary color scheme. The pink of the painting against the gold catches our attention. The mix of styles is unexpected, quirky and fun.

Donna's signature

Links to image sources:

Architectural Digest. Elle Decor. House Beautiful. Luxe Interiors and Design. MyHomeIdeas. Traditional Home.

For more on clay earth pigments

Visit this Wikipedia entry if you’re interested to learn more about clay earth pigments.

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