I love to apply gold leaf and when ever a project comes along that involves this - I just love to explore extremes. Be careful though; a little gold accentuates a project whereas a lot of gold is pretentious. There's a fine line between glorious and gaudy.
Gilding in copper, silver or gold is a tedious and slow process and the art is delicate, intricate and beautiful. I love the instant results....when the gold is applied the piece adorned instantly shines with luxury. I have more examples and information on my web site link. (http://www.coggart.com/styles5.html)
Recently, I was awarded the contract to complete the restoration of the private Chapel of St. John Cantius Church in downtown Chicago and I used 24k German double gold leaf on the cross icons in the ceiling. Gold comes in various colors due to karat weight. I have a gold color chart and hold it adjacent to the area to be matched. This way; in restoration art, I can be as close to the original as possible.
This restored ceiling icon of Christ with the 24k gold leaf cross is about 4' high. This is one of eight designs on the barrel vaulted ceiling of the private Chapel. Gold leafing was also used on the communion rail, lettering on one arched beam (Instaurare Sacra: restoration of the sacred) and faux wooden window arches. It brought an old European flavor to the Chapel and enhanced the beautiful hidden details in the architecture.
I also use a faux metallic gilding though powdered paints. I prefer to use Crescent Bronze Powder Company out of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Their products are stellar to my tastes. I love the look and their quality is consistent and excellent.
This scrolled wooden frieze art in a foyer was painted in gold and warm silver powders. I mix the powders with a clear latex paint or an oil varnish until I achieve the desired consistency. The background use of black popped the colors forward. This was painted instead of gilded as a time/cost saving method. The wooden frieze (carved scroll work) was so distant from the viewer that using real leafing wouldn't have been practical.
The use of gilding in a home is a wonderful touch of opulence. Just a little goes a long way. There's no need to gild the entire crown molding for instance. Just a small part of it can pop out your trim work with a luxurious statement. Crescent Bronze makes a wonderful metallic paint that I often use for far away areas to achieve the same gilded appearance.
Try a little gold in your home and life. Enjoy the warmth of simple elegance.