The Gilded Age: Glittering gilt décor adds pure French luxury

By on July 7, 2014, in Home and Furniture, Soft Surroundings

gildedtitleThe French have an inexpressible way of making their mark on a room by combining simple, pared-down, rustic pieces with luxurious ornate ones. This technique adds visual interest, depth and surprise. There is a new direction in home décor—one we like to call “The Gilded Age”—and it’s a perfect example of this French styling approach.

5 ways to capitalize on the trend toward gold

 1. Juxtaposition.  Keep an eye out for accent pieces and design elements that have a touch of French gilding or a warm bronze finish to them.  They don’t have to be big or dramatic, although that’s great too!  The juxtaposition of gold glittering next to the worn patina of wood, or the pastel washes of French verdigris suggests the Palace of Versailles, without being over-the-top.

Take, for example, our Fleuri Switch plates.  They are inspired by fleur de lis and classic acanthus leaves on 13th and 14th century French cathedrals.  Imagine how their gold finish will accent a switch on a mottled terra cotta or grey-blue wall.  We use a multi-step gilding process to give them that catch-the-light allure.

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2.  Drama. Another way to infuse the mystique of gold into a room is to add a bold linchpin piece. Our signature Gilt Mirrors make that kind of impact.  The French stylists scoop up mirrors like our Avalon or Guinevere and hang them in entryways, over vintage sinks and vanities, or above stone fireplace mantels.  They instantly give a room old-world charm and modern chic.


We’ve seen French homes with more than one gilt mirror leaning on the mantel, layered with the smallest one in the front.  It’s a brilliant way to bring dimension, angles and shine to the space.

Or consider hanging French gilt mirrors on a wall surrounded by picture frames that have a gold perimeter around the center art.  The glints of bright metal tie the ensemble together and dazzle with drama.

3. Versatility and Longevity.  By that we mean seek out and buy gilt items that nod to the current trend, but will also serve as glittering focal points this holiday and beyond.  There’s no better example than our hand-gilt Martini Tables.  Next to an archetypal French wingback chair, one of these tables is “everyday” enough for a cup of chai and the crossword.  Then, put a potted spruce or glimmering bowl filled with boxwood balls on it this holiday, and it’s the epitome of an authentic French Christmas.

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4. Other Precious Elements. All that glitters is not gold.  Sometimes it’s bronze or antique brass!  But the direction is definitely away from silver, chrome and stainless—those cooler metals—and toward the warmer ones.  That’s why you’ll see more and more gilt and bronze adornments on larger pieces.  For instance, our Parterre D’eau Demilune table has a hand-rubbed ivory finish, with bronze swags, fluting and crests.  The affect is a slightly regal twist on a simple favorite.

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Another way to take advantage of the movement toward gilding without investing a lot of money or space is through our gilt architectural fragments.  We always get a huge thrill when we bring back architectural bits and pieces from our trips abroad. They never stop inspiring ideas! Our Acanthus Fragment is a perfect example.  Use this ‘found treasure’ as a paperweight, or fill a vintage basket with a quite a few and place them on a desk or console.   You’d be surprised how much attention they get.

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5. Light the way. Gilt chandeliers are one of the quickest ways to give a room the glamour of gold.  It’s even better if the chandelier is dripping with crystals.  The combination of facets and finish catch and reflect the twinkling light.  Ours exclusively, the Eleonore Chandelier is just the right mix of metal and glass.  It effortlessly adds a little Hollywood opulence to a romantic bedroom or dressing room. Big or small, finishes to furnishings, anywhere you incorporate gilt elements into your décor you’ll feel the shift to cozy warmth.  That’s why “The Gilded Age” is so popular and why the French have embraced it for years.



  • Nancy

    I just tried to shop your sale items- twice, and was told that my e-mail address was not available. I updated it- twice, also. Yet still could not shop the items I wished to purchase. Guess what! I won’t be buying anything from you!
    Poor service, whether electronic or human results in poor sales. I will no longer purchase from your companies.
    Nancy Murphy

    • Soft Surroundings

      Dear Nancy,

      Thank you for letting us know about your frustrating order experience and please be assured that we will work quickly to resolve it. Your information has been forwarded to our Customer Service Team and you should hear from someone soon.

      Soft Surroundings

  • brendan

    Received items that were smashed and did not receive refund after 7 days. Very poor quality for expensive pieces. Never again!

    • Soft Surroundings

      Dear Brendan,
      We are sorry to hear that you had such a negative shopping experience with Soft Surroundings. We sincerely appreciate your feedback and would like to know more about this situation. Your information has been forwarded to our Customer Care Team and you should hear from someone shortly. We hope to have another chance to make this right.

      Soft Surroundings

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