Gold -- it's a color that can be subtle, warm and welcoming, or it can be dazzling and opulent -- like the palace of Versailles or the gilded bronze statue of General Sherman, still waging war in front of the Plaza Hotel. Gold can be toned down or brought to life when decorating. Your choice of paint color is the least-expensive tool you can use to complement or contrast a golden room.

Complementary Colors

On a color wheel, the direct complement to gold is purple -- the colors of royalty. If your room has gilded wood furniture, gold brocade draperies or gold damask upholstery on the furniture, tone down the brightness a few ways using lilac tones:

  • Paint your walls a very delicate lilac.
  • Neutralize the colors by using a chalk white semi-gloss paint on the trim to highlight the lilac and the same color in flat texture for the ceiling.
  • Focus the eye away from the furnishings by hanging wall art with lilac subjects and beige matting. Bring it all together with thin, gold picture frames.

Analogous Colors

On the color wheel, the basis of color theory and how to use colors together, colors adjacent to each other are called analogous. Looking at gold, on one side are the colors and hues of orange, and on the other are yellows. Create a harmonious color palette by integrating terra cotta:

  • Paint the walls a dusty terra cotta, creating a rustic feeling in the room.
  • Remain neutral on the ceiling by using a flat ecru paint...
  • ...but add interest in the trim by adding just a bit of the terra cotta to the ecru.
  • Going the other way on the color wheel, yellow proves too bright for the gold furnishings unless the walls are painted marigold or a buttery yellow, then mix the terra cotta into the artwork, accessories and table toppings.

Split Complementary Colors

If purple is used as a complementary color, go to either side of it, and you'll find the split complementary colors--blue and blue-purple. Blue is bold, as is gold. Tame both with these tricks:

  • Paint the walls steel blue, trimmed in neutral light wheat.
  • Use a lighter, chalky white on the ceiling to raise the eye.
  • Use the purple as a highlight color in the accessories and wall art, or upholster a chair in a light version of the purple.

Monochrome

Don't fear the gold; instead, embrace it. Choose your colors from the same hues found on the color strips at your paint store. Be bold by painting the walls the deepest gold or remain neutral by choosing the lightest hue. Blending shades of gold in a monochrome environment is classy and elegant, modern or art deco.

Complex Color Choices

If green is a dominant color in your gold scheme, you can highlight it by painting the walls a light sage with white trim. Follow the same principle if maroon or red is in your gold theme. Play on the maroon with a pale maroon (more like dusty rose) paint or neutralize it by painting the walls golden wheat. Use white on the trim and ceilings to avoid color conflicts.