Going for Gold

By Kate Riley May 14, 2010

When it comes to decorating my own home, I’ve always been a traditional gal.  I adore French style, but despite my affection, I wasn’t really into decorating with gold.  I believe my objections can be traced back to all those bright brass fixtures the late 80s and 90s – they made me fearful to ever go golden again.     

But I eventually got over my phobia and I realized that gold is truly timeless !  You can see from my latest attempt at displaying art in our living room that I’ve come all the way around on my anti-gold stance. 

cg art and vase


This experiment began with the new wainscoting, and my desire for a gallery wall having seen so many of them in magazines and around blog land.  Of the few pieces of fine art we’ve collected over the years, all of them had been framed in gold.  It was not my decision, rather it was the original artist’s choice.   But instead of painting the frames, or paying a hefty sum to reframe all the art, I decided just to roll with it. 

So  glad I did !   I love the black mats and frames too, because they coordinate with the piano across the room. 

 cg sideboard 

This adventure all started around dinnertime the other night when I began by taping a rectangle to the wall to form the outline of my display.  My devilish plan included hiding that thermostat behind a canvas (which we only use for heat December through March).  

tape on wall


I raided the kids’ art supplies, then cut out craft paper the size of my own artwork and taped it to the wall.  I began to cause serious wear and tear to my floor with my pacing back and forth with a furrowed brow, trying to decide what would go where.  

The sun began to set.  The natives became restless with hunger.   

yo yo ma


I had to set the project aside for the night, but yesterday, I was finally able to complete the wall. 

cg art wall

Me likey !


Our art ranges from original paintings and drawings collected on our travels, to prints found at antique fairs, to inexpensive DIY art projects.   

For example, I made this silhouette art by framing a $3 dollar vintage embroidered tea towel with an inexpensive frame from Michaels. 

silhouette art


A tiny black frame, some vellum fleur de lis paper, and script chip letters create this sentiment.

you and me diy art


And I took these keys I found at a salvage shop. . .

extra large reproduction keys


. . .  and simply hung them on the wall because I love their shape and size.  

cg art wall from side


The inexpensive black sconce got a coat of white spray paint and some crystals.

white sconce


I keep all the art straight on the wall with this little kit available at the home improvement or framing stores.  

picture hanging kit


But you don’t need to bother spending the $3 dollars on this kit, no sirreee.  A flat thumbtack and some glue dots will accomplish the same thing.  After you hang your art where you want it, use the glue dot to fasten the tack to bottom corner of your frame,  then press into your wall.   The tack acts as a stabilizer so your artwork won’t budge!

Y’all remember that sideboard I picked up from the local thrift last year ?  I’ve debated what to do with it for awhile now.  Should I stain it dark ?  Shellac it black ?   There’s two reasons I hesitate.   One, I do like the existing wood tone but the piece could use some new hardware.   

 cg sideboard 


And two, I secretly covet the Azure sofa from Crate + Barrel for this wall. 

I have for many many many moons.  

  azure sofa 1


Someday, I dream of placing it right here . . . 


wall with sofa

*** Extra Large Sigh *** 

A girl can dream, right ?  

  Hey, the picture is almost as good as having the real thing. 


cg art and vase 

Meanwhile, I’m very happy with just the gallery wall ! 





  1. My walls are 1m thick old French barn walls, so any display just does NOT sit straight! It kindda adds to the charm, I guess…

    Oh, I do have large chunky keys too – totally inspired by a PB picture I saw once! They just add a touch of … je ne sais quoi, huh?! :)

    Great job!

  2. Hi Kate-

    I just love what you did with the wall – a mix of classic elements = time and money well spent as you created a timeless scheme. Tweaking it from time to time will be so easy, not a total re-do. The sofa will add the soft textural element. Your vision of Someday is beautiful. I have a list a mile long of those wishing for items, too

    I also throughly enjoyed your caption with your son wanting his dinner. We can all relate. Hope you have a great weekend.
    My best-

  3. I think its great that you didn’t do all black or all neutral art. I love the combo here and the keys thrown in are great!

  4. Your wall looks great. I think it looks great just as it is .. without the sofa – the sideboard really balances it all. Thanks for the hanging tips and the idea of taping out your framing area – I would never have thought of that!

  5. Fantastic and absolutely beautiful. I have a hard time swallowing gold and am trying to get over it so your post definitely pushed me in the right direction. ;)

  6. Fantastic and absolutely beautiful. I have a hard time swallowing gold and am trying to get over it so your post definitely pushed me in the right direction.

  7. I love your wall! You have a real eye for placement, among other eyes you have for color, etc. Ok, that was a weird statement, but I am moving on. Lovely wall! :)

  8. Really, really nice arrangement of pix. I’m doing the same thing now in a room w/a mediocre sized wall. It’s so much easier to move around sheets of craft paper!

    I can only hope mine turns out as nicely as yours. The keys add a very nice dimensional touch.

    Thanks for sharing.

    And maybe someday you’ll get that sofa!

  9. I love the wall. It turned out beautiful! I also really like the keys.

    Oh… that sofa is delicious. It would look very pretty in that spot.

    Ya know… speaking of brass… my home was built in Fall ’97 and we have many brass fixtures (lights, hinges, nobs) and lots of oak (floors, cabinets, trim). I loathed them and found myself green with envy over anyone’s home that had brushed nickel (or ORB), painted trim and anything but grainy oak… until just the other day. I’ve decided to just let it go and live with them. They aren’t THAT bad… they are all clean and they work fine.

    I am very lucky to have the things I do. Maybe they aren’t exactly what I’d pick out now, but replacing them just because they aren’t the height of home fashion would be silly and very wasteful.

    So… you’ve inspired me to embrace a little more gold… to go with my brass. :)

    I {heart} your blog… thanks for sharing so much!

  10. Love it! Your gallery wall looks positively amazing!!! You’ve balanced it all so nicely…it looks like it was always meant to be there :) Thanks for the tips on how to do it! I’ve been contemplating one in my own home, and to be honest, the thought of getting it done was a little daunting. Now I’m inspired!!


  11. OOOOh I love this wall. I have been contemplating a wall like this , i wanted to use all old family pictures. I think you have inspired me. Perhaps I will do this in the living room…. thanks for the inspiration!

  12. I likes it a lot too! Well, I love it! Oh and that sofa, yeah its been on my list of things to get too!

    I’m totally using your wall and Janells wall as inspiration! You Gals rock and you know that ;-)

  13. Oh, and I’m loving “gold” and brass. It is timeless. I’ve started using it in my bedroom (dresser hardware, curtain rods, nik nacks on the bedside tables, etc) and next I’m thinking about using them in my kitchen when its time to redo it!

    I can’t wait to see what else you come up with for this space!

    Have a great weekend!

  14. Love your gallery wall. I haven’t been a fan of gold frames either, but I really like your gold frames mixed in with the other frames. Guess it is time to reconsider my like/dislike of gold. Thanks for the inspiration. Love that sofa too. :-)

  15. Gorgeous! I think it looks fantastic! You pulled off gallery style without being messy!

  16. You’ve done it! You’ve created a gallery wall but you have included symmetry and balance! I love the way you’ve placed these things in sort of a free-form grid. . . the straight lines at top and bottom make the whole thing look less busy and more purposeful. One of the things I like less about gallery walls is that they make my eyes tired–I get a headache looking at them and never get to appreciate any of the elements. You’ve created a casual but cohesive whole. Well done!

    And good luck on getting your sofa. It’ll be wonderful there.

  17. This looks incredible, great tip for not having frames move and I have also wanted the Azure sofa ever since C&B came out with it. Seriously considered it for our home, but for our family room I’d need two…that wasn’t going to happen!! I hope yours comes home to you soon!! Janell

  18. It’s beautiful! I love the glue dots & thumb tack idea! I have such a hard time getting things to hang straight but do the tacks & glue dots really keep in their place? I’d be afraid that they’re too tiny & the frame/art would fall. :-/

  19. I love your wall! The gold and black together looks awesome:) Those keys are fabulous as well. Thanks for the inspiration, I may just have to try something similiar. So many wall to fill in my new house!

  20. Gorgeous! What a neat touch to add the sconce… you never cease to amaze! I personally love the sideboard where it is, although don’t know what else or the purpose of the room. Great job and thanks for the inspiration… now I just need to find myself some of those cool keys!!!!

  21. It’s the perfect setup! great job on arranging it. And I love those keys, it adds character to a wall of frames! Love it!

  22. You know, I’ve never liked gold wither, but I haven;t thought about it as a reminder of the brass from the past. I sure didn’t like that brass. Thanks for the therapy. LOL! The wall looks great. I say paint that credenza! Lisa~

  23. I love your gallery wall. It looks fabulous and I think the touches of gold are the perfect thing to give it more character. Great job. I love the buffet chest too. It looks fabulous. If you want it a little darker, one thing is to just wax it with Dark Paste Wax. You’d be amazed at the character this gives a piece. Hugs, Marty

  24. Hey CG, this is my first time commenting but I’ve been following for months–love your site! I had to comment because I’m loving the ice blue and gold combo lately and also throwing in some black, white, and silver for a two-toned effect. If you like the two-tone too, maybe silver leafing that sideboard would be fabulous! I came across this great tutorial from Little Green Notebook just last night, so it’s kinda been on my mind…


    Anyway, just tought I’d share. Thanks again for sharing all your decor brilliance!

  25. Way to go for the gold! Was that too corny? And though you did not ask for advice, and my opinion is just that, an opinion…I would swap places with that gold-framed chair in the top middle with that black and gold-framed piece on the bottom right. The latter piece has such a heavy visual weight that your eye is pulled right and downward. If it were to go up and more centered, it would act like the peak of a triangle, with the lighter matted pieces helping to keep it grounded.

  26. Gee thanks. Now I have a whole host of inspiration (read here – to do’s :) to start off my weekend. It looks great by the way. I like the sideboard where it is. But that’s just my 2 cents…

  27. Love the wall!!! Those keys are amazing! I’d try new hardware on the sideboard first and then decide if I wanted to change it any more.

  28. that is beautiful, and balanced, and intriguing! Just loveit.
    Re: the sofa – have you ever wanted a thing so long that by the time you could get it, it was ‘old’? “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.”!

  29. Kate, your gallery turned out great. Love the way you filled the wall!

  30. You’re a pretty darn good Photoshop-er! You’d never know that sofa didn’t live right where you put it!

  31. really like it – love that you left lots of open space between items – keeps it from looking cluttered AND provides some “fill in” space if you find a little trinket to add later.

    One note… Hiding the thermostat is great, except that it likely won’t pick up the temp changes in your house as well now. The temp gauge for the room is inside the device. So, you may find that the house will get much cooler or warmer than your thermostat is set to keep it. You may have to find a way to provide it more breathing room if it gets to be a problem.

  32. gorgeous! i have completely turned around on my opinions on gold. when i was a teen, i thought it was “so ugly”. i was so ignorant. i absolutely LOVE gold now. such a warm and welcoming tone.

  33. Looks great, and you’re not the only one…a year ago I was anti-gold. Now I find myself choosing gold frames, lamps etc. You’ve done a great job with your wall I love it!


  34. Hi there NearlyDawn, that’s a good eye girl ! I thought about that, but since we have no air conditioning and only use the heater December through March, the thermostat is not in use through the summer. Heh heh, so I can get away with hiding it. Come December, that canvas will just have to come down ! :-)

  35. Oh, you know I love this gallery wall! And I have plenty of gold left in my house too, won’t ever be gone completely. It is classic, that is for sure. You did a wonderful job on your wall, it’s beautiful and inviting. Have a great weekend, my friend!

  36. It looks gorgeous! For the sideboard – what if you just painted the existing hardware or replaced it? That would give it a little “pop” but at the same time, it’s a quick and easy fix and you’re not committing to a big change you’re not sure you’re ready for.

  37. Beautiful! I have a ton of needlework that I’ve done over the years and when we go the big reno I plan on doing a gallery wall with that along with some artwork and prints as well. I had not though of mixing the frame colors but now you have inspired me!

  38. STUNNING! I’m all about gold right now…which is totally weird because I have been all about silver my entire life!! In fact, up until a few years ago I didn’t own ONE piece of gold jewelry! That’s changed…. haha :)

  39. Hi Kate,
    We’re on the same wavelength I tell you!!! This week I have been taping paper cutouts in the size and shape of my art collection to determine the placement for my own art wall!!!!! Love how you’ve made yours symmetrical overall – it all fits into the original rectangle. Mine will be looser, yet still balanced, inspiration from Apartment Therapy. Thanks again!

  40. Your gallery wall looks so cool, Kate! I love it. I’ve been warming up to gold again, too–but I still want to replace all of the cheapo-looking, brassy-gold doorknobs in my house. Hate those things. :)

    Have a great weekend!

  41. WOW, I have to tell you this galley wall looks amazing. But I am so impressed with the wainscoting. I never knew that could be done so easily (err look like it can be done so easily)! Very impressive!

  42. Gold is usually not my thing either, but this has come together nicely with the black accents! That cabinet would look stunning if the whole thing was gold-leafed, with some black handles and pulls. Though I’d suspect that would be a time consuming and relatively expensive makeover, it would completely look like a $3000 dresser. Even if only the top was gold leafed, and the doors, sides and fronts done in glossy black.
    Or maybe it could look good painted soft turquoise with soft gold hardware, that would make less of a statement, but still, beautiful.

  43. Love the mix of neutrals! Love the idea of gold! I have been covering furniture and walls in alumimum foil for a few year . . . I know sounds crazy, but it is a great alternative to silver leaf. I usually age the foil using black paint and medium, but I think it might be interesting to rub gold paint into the imperfections. Thanks for the idea!

  44. This gallery wall is stunning. Would you mind if I posted one or two of these images on my blog as an inspiration photo? Also, what color is the wall behind it? It looks to be exactly what I’ve been seeking!

  45. The wall looks amazing! It’s just the motivation I’ve been looking for to get me going on my gallery wall in my living room.

  46. Me likey too!!! Job well done! I’m sooo inspired to finish my wall now. I think painting the hutch black would so rock that wall.
    I love the pic of your son, hilarious!!! Just keepin it real.

  47. I am right there with you! I have always been anti-gold everything. Even my wedding rings are silver. I think gold can be beautifil if it’s used correctly, though. I am loving it on frames.

  48. I love the mini-arrangement you’ve created within the larger grouping of frames. Four curvy elements (the key, the woman in the adjoining picture, the curvy vase and the round tray) all play off each other nicely and are such a pretty arrangement. The shapes and curves bring a pleasing softness to your gallery wall. As the eye travels down to the vase and tray they become part of the gallery too. Clever girl.

  49. *extra large sigh* I love it too and wish that whole wall (including the sideboard) would magically transport to my house. (c: Just perfect.

  50. i have been struggling with crooked frames on my gallery wall above the sofa. I drives me nutty. they start out straight then in a couple of days….they are all leaning a little. THANKS FOR THE THUMBTACK IDEA!!! headed to the store now to get a box of em’ :)

  51. WOW! That looks fantastic! I like you am afraid of the gold but after seeing what you’ve done (mixing it with black) I may have to rethink the phobia. Also, the couch picture you have created made me laugh. It looks like it’s really in your home!!!

  52. Just seeing this b/c I’ve been out of town. I don’t know how you magically made that C+B sofa appear, but if it works maybe you can make something similar appear in my Family room? ;)

    Don’t kids and their pesky mealtimes always get in the way of a good project?! Every time I really get going, it’s time to start lunch.

    I liked seeing your gold frames. Looking at so many blogs had me thinking perhaps that gold frames aren’t “in,” but you make your wall look so lovely! Maybe the gold frames I have can work something out….

  53. I love it! Gold looks so great when you pair it with the right things and you DID! I can’t wait to see more of the room. It looks heavenly!

  54. I do have this sofa from Crate and Barrel, but wish I had this beautiful picture wall to put behind it! I love how you have collected the pieces over the years!

  55. You have inspired me! I LOVE the keys on the wall! Can you please tell me the length and width of the keys.


  56. Wow that wall looks amazing. It’s very hard to match up objects and different size and coloured frames ye you seem to do it with ease (and juggle kid distractions!). Amazing :)

  57. Hi,
    Can you tell me what is the paint color on that wall? I’m loving it!

  58. I found your blog yesterday and am enjoying reading the other posts…just thought I’d tell you what I use for our wall of ancestor photo frames… In Ireland, all walls seem to be concrete, so thumbtacks don’t work…we use “blue tack” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blu-Tack)… I am American but have been in Ireland since 97 and not sure that they have the same stuff in the States…it is my goto adhesive for hanging kids artwork because it doesn’t hurt the paint but hold things on the wall…might be even cheaper alternative to thumbtacks and glue dots!!! http://www.staples.com/Elmers-Removable-Adhesive-Putty/product_419997?cmArea=search_rr Just my two cents for the Centsational Girl, lol!!

  59. I just love what you did with the pictures gallery. I did similar thing with our Florida home, in fact I posted on the wall in your Facebook along with a question on how to ‘balance the artwork with the wall and furniture surround it’. I love framed artwork and since I am an artist myself I tent to display my own artwork. But yess….I love gold frame that I bought from Ebay and some I intend to gold leaves myself, and ; many I bought from thrift stores in our area in Delray Florida. Oh boy…..lots of them ! I will have lots of my own art work to frame and hang on the wall in our home. But, again what you did is just stunning ! And balance with the buffet under neat it plus the finishing touch of the flower and glass bottles on the tray. How beautiful ! Thank you for sharing that with us !

  60. What is the paint color you used in the living room? Love the blue and am having trouble finding one I really like. Thanks!

  61. You’re killing me….my head is spinning. Where do I begin???? I love the board and baten but I also love the wainscoting. In which rooms should you use either of them? I have so many questions…HELP!

  62. This sconce matches my chandelier perfectly! Where is it from? Ive been desperately searching!

  63. Hi….. I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE THIS!!!! Centsational Girl this is such an AMAZING idea with those cool keys and all! … Also, I’m really LIKING the buffet/chest with your art wall just as much as your dream sofa! You are INCREDIBLE! Hats off to you! … Hugs


    Lynne Marie :)

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