Leoma Harper founded Style the Clutter to provide a service that is all about making significant tweaks and changes that will transform your home into a stylish functional space, you will love to spend time in for years to come. Leoma also styles photo shoots for brands and homes. Finalist of the Amara Blog Awards 2018
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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