DIY: Liquid Gold Leaf
You may remember not too long ago that I posted my Ikea hack of the Vittsjo shelf which I am still absolutely crazy about. In fact, I am so crazy about how it turned out that I wanted to make it an even pair. I envisioned the pair of them flanking the sofa in some kind of fabulous glamorous symmetry. When my sister mentioned they were going to Dallas to visit our nearest Ikea, I asked if they’d do me a favor and bring back another shelf for me so I didn’t have to pay shipping. They graciously obliged and then a brand new shelf was awaiting its assembly on Friday. I spent all afternoon Saturday working on DIYing my new shelf. Then once I had it all said and done, it didn’t fit on the other side of the sofa (measure, people, MEASURE!). But I loved it so much, I didn’t care and thought it’d look great in the formal living room too.
I have to admit, the only thing that wasn’t my absolute favorite thing about the original DIY was that I felt it didn’t have the depth and richness that many similar (and more expensive) gilded products do. The spray paint was fine, but it wasn’t as rich as I wanted it to be. Standing in the aisle at our local Michael’s, I surveyed my options. Gold leafing was definitely an option, but my experience with gold leafing this year’s Easter eggs proved that it could be a tedious and inconsistent experience. Another option was liquid gold leaf. Now that could be interesting. Not sure of how the results would be for either, I bought both with plans to return whatever I didn’t use.
In the end, I went with the liquid gold leaf, and I have to tell you, the results are fantastic. Take a look at this set of Pier 1 campaign tables that I have that I purchased for a steal 2 or 3 years ago. Literally a steal – I think I paid $17 for one and $35 for the other. They were both the same darker bronze finish, but I used the liquid gold leaf on the larger one and the result is exactly what I envisioned. It reminds me of this little gilded lovely but for a fraction of the cost.
Here’s what you’ll need to accomplish this DIY:
- liquid leaf in the shade of your choice: silver, copper, bronze, etc
- spray paint in the same shade
- foam brushes (get several; they’re cheap at only 49 cents a pop & you won’t want to mess with rinsing and reusing. It’s practically impossible)
- sealer or varnish (spray or applied by hand)
1. I highly recommend spray painting the object of your gilding affection with the same color as your metallic of choice. That way you won’t stress about using a ton of the liquid leaf because it does come in a pretty tiny bottle. Plus, you’re also looking to create an effect here. Don’t feel pressure to totally coat the entire thing in the gold leaf. The streakiness and imperfections are what create that hand-gilded appeal.
2. After the spray paint has dried, you can begin applying the leaf with a foam brush. I prefer foam brushes to actual brushes for two reasons. One, the foam brushes are cheap and you can toss them out when you’re done; real brushes will be a huge pain to clean and you may ruin them. Secondly, the coverage you get with a foam brush is better than the bristle brush. Bristle brushes left too many streaks for my liking. Please note that it dries almost on contact, so be super super careful. In fact, I accidentally dumped half a bottle of the liquid leaf on my parquet floor and nearly died. Luckily I got most of it up quickly and then used a toothbrush and Dawn liquid detergent to get the rest up. There are still shimmers in the parquet, though. Oh, and be sure and wear clothing you don’t mind ruining. You WON’T get it out of your clothes. Promise. In fact, I’m still peeling it out from underneath my fingernails.
You’re going to want to do all of this in a very well-ventilated area. Liquid gold leaf is kinda like inhaling a sharpie stuck all the way up your nose, touching your brain. It’s that strong.
3. Once the leaf has dried, you can apply a sealant. There’s several different kinds – spray lacquers or spread-on sealants.
4. Enjoy your fabulous find!
So now I have a lovely pair – one in each living room. Doesn’t the gold look pretty against my aqua walls? And I think it’s safe to say I’m not afraid to mix-and-match my metals as we have both silver and gold in all parts of the house. In the living room below, I balanced the silver lamp against the gold shelves by including silver-hued pieces in the display.
But it does double-duty, too. It actually houses my printer as well!
And my DIY skirted table that was previously in this corner is now living happily in the sunshiny window. As an aside: skirted tables are FANTASTIC storage solutions. I hide TONS of work supplies underneath ours!
Of course now my wheels are spinning about what else i can gold leaf. Frames, trim, all kinds of things. I’m also loving Jude’s artwork hanging over the couch, although I feel it looks dinky on that huge wall. It’d be much more dramatic if there were 6 instead of just the 3. ::sigh::
Finally, a last little look at some of my favorite photos now living happily on the table overlooking the front yard.
What would you use gold leaf on?
Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.