Not everything Emily and Jade touch turns to gold – sometimes it’s platinum, silver or Dutch metal…What’s their special power? These talented ladies are professional gilders, and founders of the newly-formed company Lūx & Umber. Although their company is new, Jade and Emily are both highly experienced gilders, having worked on some of the most prestigious projects and places in the country – think Buckingham Palace…and beyond!
The girls got in touch a few months ago as they were looking to work on a fun project that they could gild free of charge, which could then be photographed and used to promote their fledgling business. Having found me/The Pink House on Instagram they had the feeling I might be up for a bit of extra sparkle around my home – and they were right! But what to gild?
One of the things I was saddest to say goodbye to in my previous Edinburgh home was my gold leaf cocktail cabinet, which had been made bespoke and fitted in my sitting room. So it seemed sensible (if ‘sensible’ is a word that can ever be used in connection with creating a shiny gold drinks cabinet) to use Lūx & Umber to recreate that as best they could, using my freshly-built bookshelves as a base.
The other space I thought could do with a good gilding was the newly-hewn fireplace recess in what we are now calling the Trapeze Room (for obvious reasons involving the installation of a trapeze – very safely in consultation with our structural engineer, I might add). With the help of a few candles, I thought the gold would seem to glow from the inside, giving it a warm fire-y feel even though the recess isn’t actually connected through to the chimney.
Jade and Emily spent a weekend getting stuck into these two projects, and the finished result is nothing short of spectacular. They were a delight to have as my Pink House guests, and gave me a great excuse to whip out the pink-and-gold tea set!
Afterwards, I asked them a few questions about the process and pricing, for anyone interested in getting these golden girls to work their magic on your own home - or even if you fancy having a go at gilding yourself…
EM: Emily and Jade, thanks so much for bringing some extra sparkle to The Pink House; you’ve done such an amazing job - and so precise! Can you start by telling me a bit about the prep process you went through before actually applying the gold leaf? I know you started by painting my shelves yellow…
L&U: First we have to prepare the surfaces to be gilded. Reflective metal leaf highlights any imperfections so it needs to be sanded smooth and painted with a good quality paint. We love Little Greene; no sponsorship, it's just fantastic quality paint! We give this a day to dry fully before a final sand. For your fireplace and shelving we use a fast cure oil-based size (gilders glue). This is applied and left until it reaches the perfect tack; it should squeak as you run the back of your finger over it. Or as we say, the surface should ‘sing’.
EM: And then it’s time for the shiny stuff?
L&U: Yes! We’re then ready to apply the leaf. For yours we used transfer leaf for that perfect square line-up and crease-free finish. For other effects or finishes we would use a loose leaf. This needs a day to dry fully before being skewed off (the loose gold dusted off with a soft brush).
EM: My shelves and fireplace look like they’re covered in 24-carats, but it’s actually imitation gold leaf you used isn’t it?
L&U: We used Dutch metal for your shelving and fireplace, yes. As the shelves are going to get heavy use we coated them with a hard clear gloss varnish to finish. Not all leaf or surfaces would need this though.
EM: So how much would it cost if someone wanted to hire you for a similar project?
L&U: Your fireplace and shelving would have cost around £1000. But each job needs to be costed individually as it depends how much prep work needs to be done, what leaf is used, and how many coats of varnish are needed.
EM: Can you give a rough idea for square-meter costs for a faux-gold finish like mine?
L&U: It usually works out more cost effective the more you get done, as we work on a day rate and have to leave 24 hours dry time between painting, gilding and varnishing stages – so the cost of gilding a single fireplace and an entire wall wouldn't be that dissimilar. Every job is costed on an individual basis as the price can vary depending on access and how much preparation the surface needs before we can gild it. But as an average guide price estimate, it often falls between £170-200 per meter square for a faux gold, silver or copper leaf finish.
EM: Thanks again for doing such a fabulous job. But now I can’t get that Spandau Ballet song out of my mind…
With a huge thank you to Lūx & Umber for gilding my shelves and fireplace free of charge in exchange for the opportunity to use photos of the project. I was not obliged to post on my blog or Instagram as part of this collaboration; they were simply looking for shareable content – the Queen apparently isn’t too keen on having her private gilded quarters shared with the world… For more info, contact Lūx & Umber on email@example.com, click here for their website or visit them on Instagram