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
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.
The walls in this great room have a yellow-orange content.
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
The black mantel of the fireplace mantel is accented against golden toned walls. (From Southern Living at MyHomeIdeas. Photo: Laurey W. Glenn.)
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.
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.)
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.
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:
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.
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.
Above, century’s old buildings in these areas can still be seen painted in earthy ochre and sienna hues.
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.
(Images from Architectural Digest. Photography by Mario Ciampi.)
Deeper shades of golden wall color
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.)
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
Bunny Williams used patterned yellow-gold accent pillows on a deep golden tan sofa.
Glimmer and glitter of gold
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.)
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.)
Two metallic gold wallpaper patterns from Schumacher: Medina in Gold and Sadari Gilt.
The Ponchielle wallpaper pattern from Osborne & Little has a metallic gold look.
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.
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.)
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.)
I’ll close with this room detail from Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, with its fascinating and eclectic mix of elements against gold-toned 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.
Links to image sources:
For more on clay earth pigments
Visit this Wikipedia entry if you’re interested to learn more about clay earth pigments.