Gold is the ultimate symbol of wealth.  Actually – that may not be true any more.  Maybe it’s now a super-yacht, or a private jet?  Anyway – it gets pretty close.  It can really lift an interior.  Especially on the ceiling.

And if gold doesn’t work with your colour scheme, you can go for silver.  Silver is more subtle, more ethereal.  It will bounce light back into the room in a flattering and seductive manner:

You don’t have to be some talented artist to do this.  But you do need to be patient.

Firstly, you need your surface to be smooth.  If you’ve moved light fittings, beams and so on, if you have cracks – these must be filled and polished down.  Otherwise you’ll have odd lumpy-looking bits showing through the lead.

Then, you must steel yourself to working in an uncomfortable position for a long period of time.  Best to do it section by section.  Once the area is prepped (sanded and primed if necessary), apply the gold size (which is effectively the glue that stick the leaf to the paint).  Allow this to dry until it is tacky to the touch.  If it is too wet, the leaf will appear dull, and will slip as you apply it.

silver leaf drawer

That is the drawer where it went wrong.  See how the leaf is crinkled up?  I had to sand it all off and start again.  You can see the whole project here.

Patience is definitely rewarded.  Make yourself a cup of tea and then be ready to apply the leaf.  Slightly overlap each leaf – by about 1-2mm – so that you don’t have any gaps.  Actually, you can get a fabulous effect by planning for gaps and painting the ceiling terracotta (for gold leaf) and indigo (for silver).  There is a wonderful antiqued look achieved by that.

silver leaf

When you get it smooth, it will have a luminous, lustrous effect.

If you wish, you can apply a wash over the top to slightly change the colour.  Otherwise, remember to varnish it, as the leaf will oxidize over time.  Unless you’re using real gold leaf (rather than Dutch gold) – in which case – why aren’t you paying some artisan to apply it for you?

And if a ceiling is too much – go for a door.  The photo below shows gaps between each sheet of gold leaf – which creates a different effect. 

Even a very plain home can look amazing with a bit of gilding…