How To Upcycle With Gold Foil

How to Upcycle with Gold Foil by Leoma Harper of Style The Clutter. Intro by Debbie Blott

It is official! Lockdown has resulted in a frenzy of home projects, big and small, across the UK and beyond. Leoma Harper of interiors consultancy Style The Clutter is leading the charge. She is full of ideas to add character and style to our homes. Here she shows us how to upcycle with gold foil. This was her first attempt.  She takes us through the process of up-cycling her Ikea bed side tables into individual designer pieces, complete with gold leaf. It is an absolutely brilliant tutorial and will give you the confidence to try yourself.

Ikea Hennes Table Hack Before & After

Getting Started:

I have been up-cycling furniture for many years and am never short of pieces to work on as we have kept most of the furniture that we bought on a budget years ago. They are still fully functional, but look tired and lack character. This latest project has really made me appreciate how easy it is to take something plain and ordinary and transform it into something much more elegant and individual, with a designer feel.

It is such a pleasure becoming your own designer, creating something totally unique, reflecting your own character. It also saves money and is much better for the environment than buying something new. The first step is simply to look around your home for a tired piece of furniture and decide what you want to do.

White Ikea Hennes Bedside Table

Choose Your Furniture:

I chose to up-cycle a pair of Ikea Hennes bedside tables I bought some time ago. I love the simple shape of these next to our bed. They are actually well built but lack a quality finish and were looking tired. I selected an Ash colour Fusion Mineral Paint I knew would work well in our bedroom. I have used it for previous up-cycling projects and also had some left over.

Paint Binser 123 undercoat

Apply The Primer & Paint:

These Ikea tables already have a smooth surface and so didn’t need to be sanded. The first magic ingredient is a coat of Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 Interior and Exterior primer to make sure that the top coats adhere well. I applied two two coats of Fusion Mineral Ash paint for a beautiful matt finish. I love this paint and have used it everywhere in our house, even on the windows in our orangery. It comes in a very small pot, but don’t worry as you will need much less than you think. It is also very easy to apply and dries quickly.

Painted Bedside Table

Layer on The Gold Foil:

I have never used gold leaf before but I wanted to add a touch of glamour to the drawers and so I thought I would have a go. Step one is to prime the surface with a metal leaf adhesive. Then, very carefully, lay your gold leaf foils along the area to be covered, slightly overlapping each one so that there are no gaps. Gently pat each foil into place as you go and then leave them to dry for about an hour. I strongly advise that you do this inside, where there is no breeze, as they will be blown away if there is the slightest movement of air.

It took me a couple of attempts to get it right. The first layer I put on didn’t look great and so I took it straight off. The key is to keep the backing on when you apply the gold foil. This helps to make it a bit more even and will give you a much better quality of finish.

Foil leaf layers on bedside table

Reveal The Foil Finish

Step two is to carefully take away any excess foil with a soft, clean brush. This is the fun bit, although it does show up any little flaws and gaps in your handiwork. These can easily be filled by repeating the process of brushing on a bit more of the adhesive and patting on another layer of foil. As long as you don’t want a very slick look, you can repeat this process as many times as you like. I actually prefer a more individual, slightly rustic and uneven look so this works well for me.

Another tip, is to use a soft car windscreen cleaner to window cleaner to very very gently brush across the surface and take off any final excess, and leaving a smooth finish.

Gold foil on drawer of bedside table

Finishing Touches:

The final step is to apply two coats of Crystal Clear Lacquer for an attractive Matt finish.  This is done once the gold leaf is completely dry. Then add your handles. I replaced the old Ikea knobs with these beautiful new handles from Anthropologie. It is these details that make all the difference.

I am really pleased with the transformation in these tables. They are so different now, it is hard to remember how they used to look. It is great to know that you can create an individual, designer piece of furniture with just a lick of paint and foil on a tight budget.

Ikea Hennes Table Hack

As I said, this was the first time that I had used gold leaf and so I wouldn’t pretend to be a professional, but if you like the rustic look, I would really recommend that you try it too. I have spent years trying to find the right bedside tables for our master bedroom and now, at last it finally feels perfectly finished.

Now Watch The Video:


Full credit for this feature goes Decorcafe Expert, Leoma Harper of Style The Clutter.
It is adapted from an article that she originally wrote for her blog and which you can follow here:
Find out more about Leoma on the Style The Clutter Website:
Subscribe to her You Tube Channel for the full experience: youtube
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