I moved my office around last week to put the desk facing the window and noticed how the light caught the metallic gold ceiling. I often catch myself stopping on the way past to have a look in this room and take pleasure in the ceiling and so it has sparked today’s Beautiful Rooms post on A Touch of Gold. I was helped in this by Jess Hurrell, of Gold is a Neutral, whose own brass covered bathroom cabinets were the first thing I thought of when compiling this post. So we decided to work together and you will find Jess’s post, together with a picture of my study, over on her blog.

dark bathroom via gold is a neutral
dark bathroom with brass accents via gold is a neutral

So this is Jess’s bathroom. It was a huge job to turn it into this as it was a long narrow room (still is) with an empty fish tank in the fireplace on the left hand side of the picture and a 2m wide jacuzzi bath on the other. You can see the transformation here. Jess refused to compromise on this room. She wanted dark and sexy and elegant and that’s what she got. I think she does have to spend a bit of time removing fingerprints (she has two small children) from the cabinets but she feels that’s a small price to pay.

I like the way that although the bathroom is painted black, including the ceiling, the brass cupboards and the shiny white bath both bounce the light around. My own bathroom is dark green as regular readers will know and the bath does bounce some light but I think it’s probably not as light as this and I have left the floor and ceiling white.

brass vanity unity in black bathroom by Jess Hurrell of Gold is a Neutral
brass vanity unity in black bathroom by Jess Hurrell of Gold is a Neutral

So the first point is that a bit of gold, or metallic can be a good trick in a dark space. Below is the brass splashback belonging to Jenna Lyons which sent the internet (well our corner of it anyway) into meltdown when it was published last year. This isn’t even a particularly dark room but that brass throws the light back out instead of sucking it in which a matt surface would do.

Besides with the coral velvet sofa and dark cupboards it’s all just a lovely colour scheme. Not to mention if you live in an open plan space, or prefer the non-kitchen kitchen look, then using an unexpected material is a good way to blend the practical working side with the more relaxing space in front. You can see how the light shines on the worktop too which reflects it back up to that glass light fitting as well. It’s all be very carefully thought out. As you would expect from the woman who used to work at J Crew of whose clothes Michelle Obama was such a fan.

jenna lyons gold kitchen via coco kelley image by simon watson
jenna lyons gold kitchen via coco kelley image by simon watson

Another gold kitchen from Australian Fiona Lynch. This one is a little shinier but it would do the same job and, at a time when many kitchen designers are rejecting the overhead cabinet in favour of open shelves, this feels like a good idea. Many people don’t like open shelves, not just for dust but also because they like things put away. If that’s you then make your cabinets work hard in their space. They can be practical inside and look good on the outside.

gold kitchen cupboards by Fiona Lynch
gold kitchen cupboards by Fiona Lynch

Here, the designers Humbert & Poyet have simply added a huge gold picture propped up against the wall to do the same job. As you can see it’s catching the light from the nearby window and throwing it back out. This is a good idea if gold paint feels a step too far.

interior design by humbert et poyet

Or here, the metallic gold wallpaper in this changing room has been reinforced by a gold silk curtain. This isn’t going to bounce the light back so much as just catch it in the folds as you can see and it’s a more subtle, and yet clever effect. I have used wallpaper with metallic gold flowers on before and it brings a touch of luxe without feeling overboard. Well I say that, my mother-in-law called the wallpaper heinous and always sat with her back to it but we liked it!

gold curtain via humbert et poyet
interior design by humbert et poyet

Here’s another idea for you. So many fireplaces are black and they can dominate a pale room but here the walls are dark and the gold fireplace draws the eye. Using gold here would work in any coloured room, not just here where it has a job to do. A white or cream room with a gold fireplace would look pretty amazing too.

black-gold-bedroom-decor by raspberry flavoured windows
black and gold by raspberry flavoured windows 

Or what about painting the side of your stairs. If you have a runner the sides are barely touched although I imagine you might want to dust the edges rather than crash about with a hoover. That said it’s a good idea for a subtle touch of the shiny stuff and since landings are often dark and windowless (unlike this one) a good way to bring in more light. Do as Rach as done here and hang, or prop, a mirror to catch more light and chuck it back out.

gilded stairs by @raspberry_flavoured_windows
gilded stairs by @raspberry_flavoured_windows

From ceilings to cupboards, via stairs and soft furnishings there are so many ways that a touch of gold can work in your own interior design. We’ll finish with a door as it’s the way out of this post.

gold doors by inge watrobski
gold doors by inge watrobski

So what do you think? A touch of gold coming to your homes any time soon?


Tags : beautiful roomsblack ceilingblack wallsdecorating with goldgold accentsmonochrometouch of gold
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. My daily email didn’t arrive at the usual time.
    Anyway I found it today and it’s very interesting. Teaches us things we may not have thought of, about how to bounce light and I love the images.

    1. Hi Janet, as I mentioned to you privately – not thinking that it might be useful for other people to see – there is a glitch and we are working on it. Do come and check manually in the meantime.

  2. I was worried today as no Madness in my inbox…were you sick? Had your system crashed? So I waited until 19.30 and went to your site to discover that you had written a Blog today Monday 14 October after all but for some reason I did not receive it.
    I did receive the Gold is a Neutral Blog which I had joined upon your recommendation.
    Your Blogs differ slightly but have the same theme.
    As there are no comments but mine thought I’d flag you Kate.

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