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Finding colors that go with gold is trickier than it looks. While gold is considered by many designers and color experts to be a neutral, in practice not all color pairings are made equal. Some of the most popular looks from the last few years feel dated and overdone – so it's all about choosing the right shades for a contemporary look.
If you're using gold as an accent color, you're also likely to be using more than one other shade in your scheme – so it's important to make sure all of them work together. The best way to do this is to establish your base scheme first – so if you know you want to use green, research the colors that go with green, then check your pairing works with gold too.
When you do find the perfect match, gold is a fabulous color to decorate with – and happily, it's also incredibly versatile. To find out exactly which shades to look for – and how to use them in a modern space – we spoke to the experts in color theory and interior design for their ideas.
What are the colors that go with gold?
Before we delve in, a few notes on using gold in a color scheme. Cathy Dean, interior designer at Studio Dean, advises paying careful attention to finishes. 'Gold can quickly move into brash unless used with care,' she says. 'Opt for burnished and aged finishes to give a sense of authenticity over its shiny counterparts. Place it with matt chalky finishes and low sheen paints and paper to keep things sophisticated.’
And of course, use gold as a way to introduce texture into your scheme. ‘Metallic shades are one of the easiest ways to introduce a real warmth into your space,' says Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown. 'Gold and bronze work wonderfully well texturally as they also add shine. These deep warm tones are versatile and look fantastic with sleek surfaces, but also with natural materials like exposed brickwork. Often full rooms of metallic paint can be overwhelming, so try feature walls or blocks of shimmer.’
Read on to discover which colors the experts recommend pairing with gold – and how to use them for a truly contemporary look.
Let's start with a classic – and a color pairing gaining more ground by the day. Green and gold took over from navy as a popular scheme, particularly for kitchens – and it's a great way to inject a little glamor into a space, too, as this green kitchen by interior design studio PlaidFox shows. ‘Deep green really pops alongside metallic gold or bronze touches that will enhance its warmth and give it shine,' says Justyna Korczynska.
'‘Whether it’s a little dash of retro Hollywood chic on a brass cocktail trolley, a beautiful abstract chunk of metal for a coffee table or some judicious use of gold leaf or paint, gold screams glamor – so choose your pairings accordingly depending on the effect you want,' says Patrick O'Donnell, color consultant at Farrow & Ball. 'For a full-on Beverly Hills look, think verdant greens such as Calke Green or Emerald Green to really make the gold accents register.’
Cathy Dean advocates for deep greens with warm tones for a fresh take on the look. ‘Golds and brass sit comfortably with dark greens, but head for a more forest or olive tone and steer clear of the blue greens with golds for a more contemporary feel,' she says. Look, too, to pistachio, a lighter yellowy green that's making its way into modern schemes – and pairs particularly well with the warm tones of gold.
White and gold might evoke images of Regency-era glamor – but used in a modern scheme, it can be a sleek and stylish pairing, particularly when used with lots of natural textures. ‘For a chic Parisian apartment effect, keep all other elements super calm to really let the gold take centre stage,' says Patrick O'Donnell. 'Keep walls and woodwork in nothing more than Wimborne White to act as a clean but not cool background.’
If you love the idea of white and gold together but worry it'll feel a little gaudy, try introducing it through fabrics. ‘Gold works beautifully in interior schemes to add depth and luxury,' says Lauren Stonnell, CEO of luxury textiles brand Chase Erwin. 'I personally prefer muted gold yarn in textiles, nothing too bright and bold. Subtle and subdued gold works perfectly next to ivory and cream colors for an elegant and sophisticated scheme.’
Long a color scheme associated with luxury – but not necessarily the good kind – black and gold is tricky to pull off, but worth it when you get it right. ‘When you say black and gold, it can conjure up some rather terrifying mental images,' says Cathy Dean. The design of this living room scheme – a masterclass in how to decorate with black – sees black woodwork and gold accents pop against a background of soothing caramels and browns.
To tone down the glamor, Cathy recommends layering the colors with other softer, warmer shades for a space that feels inviting. 'Use gold with chalky off-blacks, inks and caramels to allow the gold to be part of a tonal palette rather than the stand-out “pop of color”, which can appear brash,' she says.
Tom Rutt, founder of architecture firm TR Studio, also advocates for using gold with dark colors – but not just black. ‘Gold in many respects can be considered a neutral,' he says. 'It pairs with many other colors but I think it looks the most sophisticated when teamed with very dark tones such as charcoal, chocolate brown or olive green, aubergine and navy. The eternal classic pairing of black and white is of course enduringly stylish paired with gold.'
A softer take on white and gold, introducing neutrals into your scheme is a great way to make gold feel like a more natural part of a space. In this scheme by Chicago and LA-based interior designers Studio Gild, the team steered away from more traditional beiges, instead opting for the unexpected and sophisticated pairing of gold with warm greys. 'We infused bold punches of smoldering brass to intensify the provocative vibe of this moody bedroom,' says Melissa Benham, principal at Studio Gild. 'The subtle reflection casts a metallic glow on a dark palette that could otherwise have felt somber. Gold is one of my favorite neutrals to layer in any palette. Even the smallest dose elevates a space with incomparable warmth and rich luminosity.'
‘Taupes, greiges and other tonal neutrals welcome gold into their roomscapes happily and the gold can elevate a scheme from relaxed to glamorous,' says Cathy Dean. The key is to make sure your colors err on the warmer end of the spectrum. Gold is a color that goes with beige tones particularly well, but a silver-grey might not work quite the same, unless you're opting for a deliberate mixed-metal effect.
5. Pinks and purples
Pink and gold have been a classic color pairing for some years now – but this year's hottest schemes have seen the metallic used with shades of purple, too. The reason it gold is a color that goes with pink and purple so well? It feels playful – while still taking its place as a modern classic. ‘Blush pink, lavender and terracotta are some of my favorite colors to accent with gold,' says Grace Baena, interior designer at online pre-loved furniture marketplace Kaiyo. 'They really compliment each other in a way that feels sophisticated without being too serious.’
Steer clear of rich royal purples – which feel too regal and old-fashioned – in favor of the color du jour, lavender, and also lilac. As for pinks, blush and dusky shades are still going strong. ‘Warm, lighter tones such as blush pink can look very modern,' says Tom Rutt. Justyna Korczynska agrees: ‘For a more unusual combination, try a flash of something unexpected, like a dusky pink or a vivid turquoise – this could go on something as simple as a single chair or oversized vase,' she says.
6. Deep red
Many of the experts we spoke for advocated for classic jewel tones when we asked them for their favorite colors that go with gold. 'Gold can look great paired with rich and bold colors if you’re wanting to curate a more maximalist look,' says Laura Fernandez, senior designer at Prestigious Textiles. 'Deep reds or burgundy, royal blue and forest greens will bring a decadent feel to a space and accents of gold will add hints of luxury for a “more is more” style.’
‘Like all metallics, when gold is your base tone it acts as a neutral which means you can pair it with just about any color and it will work,' says Megan Dufresne, principal designer at Californian studio MC Design. 'In my personal design, I like to pair gold with deep jewel tones to create a rich and luxurious palette.’
If you're using red, stick to an antique gold finish to avoid the scheme feeling too brash – and don't be afraid to bring in other colors to add a contemporary twist. In the red living room above, an otherwise traditional space – complete with rich red walls, period fireplace and coving detail – is made contemporary by including unexpected accents of bright blue alongside the gold wall lights.
For a grounded, earthy scheme, look no further than terracotta – and its on-trend cousin, paprika. 'The on-trend color paprika, a more bolder version of terracotta would be a great match to the warm metallic,' says Tom Rutt.
Similar tones like Benjamin Moore's Cinnamon, shown above, also work well with gold. When using gold as a color that goes with orange, consider layering up with warm-toned wood such as teak and accent the scheme with hints of a blue-green – or jade, another of Tom's recommendations – for a cool twist, and to stop things from feeling too monochromatic.
Surprisingly, few of the experts mentioned blue as a favorite color pairing with gold – possibly because the industry has become oversaturated with the scheme. However, it still remains a popular choice thanks to blue's ability to make metallics shine, as in this blue living room by designer Greg Natale.
For a modern take on the scheme, opt for brighter blues and blue-greens – and if you're using it in a kitchen, choose a sleeker style over traditional Shaker units.
Gold's closest color match, shades of yellow can work well as a way to layer a scheme – creating a subtle glamor that never goes out of style. For this dining area by Honeybee Interiors, designer Sacha Berger opted for opulent velvet for the banquette seating.
‘I wanted to create a warm and inviting feel for the dining area and so used a color palette of taupe walls and natural woods, with mustard and gold accents,' she says. 'The velvet is actually called Omega Brass. It tonally layers with the metal accent in the lighting and detail in the back of the chairs, whilst also giving a strong pop of color that still balances in the overall scheme.’
What colors don't go with gold?
As a versatile color – and pretty much a neutral – there are very few colors that don't go with gold, as you've seen. However, the key is getting the tones right – warmer colors will work better with the natural warmth of the metallic. Paying attention to trends, it's clear that classic pairings like dark blue and gold are falling out of favor, too.
Some recommend avoiding mixing metallics – so pairing gold with silver, for example – but we've seen an increasing number of designers creating amazing looks by doing just that. It's an upcoming trend we're really enjoying, so we wouldn't rule it out just yet.
One final thing to note is to watch out for your other color combinations – in particular, green and red. It's fine for Christmas, sure – but not something most of us want in our homes for the rest of the year.
The Livingetc Newsletter
For style leaders and design lovers.
Ellen is deputy editor of Livingetc magazine. She cut her teeth working for sister publication Real Homes, starting as features editor before becoming deputy editor. There, she enjoyed taking a peek inside beautiful homes and discovered a love for design and architecture that eventually led her here. She has also written for other titles including Homes & Gardens and Gardeningetc. While she gets ready to buy a house of her own, she takes inspiration from the works of some of her favourite architects and tastemakers. She has a particular passion for green design and enjoys shopping small, local and second-hand where she can.
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