There was a place for gold in home decor decades ago — your grandmother’s mantle, that ’80s doorknob, a gilded portrait.
These were the places you might expect to see that shiny yellow, bright brass finish.
Over time, this brash metallic gave way to a cooler aesthetic; the chrome, nickel and platinum that have dominated modern interiors. There was a period of warmer oil-rubbed bronze hardware, but the latest rising metallic is that old standard.
This reincarnation of the timeless shade of wealth and luxury is more subtle than its predecessor.
There are matted, satin or antique gold or brass finishes, soft champagne hues and hybrid shades of rose gold.
“It’s really come back,” said Susan Block, owner of the Designing Block in Clayton. She’s seeing more matte and antique gold in bathroom hardware, light fixtures and home furnishings, such as lamps, furniture edging and mixed material coffee tables.
“What was hot in the ’50s and ’60s is new again,” she said, especially for a young adult generation who has grown up in homes with ubiquitous chrome and nickel finishes.
Steve Schuepfer, showroom manager at Centro Modern Furnishings, a high-end contemporary furniture store in St. Louis, says Knoll reintroduced this year its iconic Platner collection in an 18-karat gold finish.
“I don’t think I’m going to sell in St. Louis a lot of gold Platner chairs because it’s a little L.A.,” he said. But he has seen more brass knobs appearing in contemporary kitchens and some warmer finishes on sofa or chair legs.
“The shape of the object the gold is on makes a difference,” he said.
Designers attest to this maxim: Form matters.
Manufacturers who create products with a 10- to 15-year trend cycle are also adding gold-toned lines.
Ingolf Matthee, president and CEO of Dornbracht Americas, a German-based manufacturer of kitchen and bath fixtures, says they launched a rose gold finish last year.
“It’s an interpretation of gold with a modern take,” he said. The investment at the high end of the design market suggests the finish is more than just a fad.
“We want to be a trendsetter, but we don’t want to be fashionable,” he said.
Their “cyprum” finish for kitchen fixtures is a high-gloss finish using 75 percent 18-karat gold and 25 percent copper. The gold adds sheen, while the copper adds warmth.
Because of the company’s minimalistic aesthetic, they’ve traditionally stayed on the silver side of metallics, the chrome and matte platinum finishes. The addition of a golden hue complements warmer-toned kitchens that include earthy, natural materials.
The Kohler Co., a leading manufacturer in kitchen and bath fixtures, is also launching a rose gold finish in North America next year, according to Tristan Butterfield, global creative director for Kohler Kitchen and Bath. The company first launched rose gold in its Asia Pacific markets.
“Rose gold is becoming a defining and interesting movement,” Butterfield said. He predicts that the pale softer gold — champagne popularized by the newest iPhone —will also be moving more into home décor.
With the rose gold finishes, you have to be careful where you use them, he said. A base palette of white, gray and pale pinks complements the color.
“Champagne and rose gold can be freshened up with a pastel palette, so it can still look modern,” he said. He admits that it’s a tricky color to use.
“It can go wrong very quickly,” he said.