Posts Tagged ‘luxury living’

I think I need to get out more. A recent design conference had me staying in a hotel that I absolutely fell in love with. From the minute I walked through the door, I didn’t want to leave. The lobby felt like an entrance to one of those lovely, old-fashioned department stores; a warm type of quiet that felt elegant without being stuffy, and a feeling that it had been designed but not overdone. I (almost) tip-toed over to the front desk.

Once inside, my beautiful room made me hesitate to throw down my well-worn suitcase. But that didn’t last for long; within minutes, I had plopped onto the squishy pillows, kicked off my shoes, and dreamed of ordering cake for dinner – it felt like I was on vacation.

Hotels always used to be a luxury, somewhere that you stayed for a special occasion. Now, we visit them more often, and most of them, quite frankly, have become a necessary, money-draining, evil part of our lives. (OK, so maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean). We pay a couple of hundred dollars for a bad night’s sleep, and are ridiculously grateful if we have a new roll of toilet paper and a television that actually works.

So, it was with a welcome surprise that I stayed in a place that really did care about the happiness of their  customer. They actually wanted us to have a nice time, not just provide an old bed and ask us for our credit card on the way out. What they did, was remind me that luxury is not always about the amount of money that we spend, but the feeling that can be created with a few, well-chosen ideas:

Bed Linens and Towels:  If in doubt, buy white (clean and classic).
Color:  Add warm, saturated colors (dark red, navy, gold, green, purple) to your walls, floors and accessories for a more opulent feel.
Real Materials:  Use wood (preferably dark), metal and glass instead of plastic.
Lighting:  Vary the style, shape and height of light fixtures. Use dimmers as much as possible.
Pillows:  Buy the pillow that will give you the best nights sleep (then buy a couple more…).

A luxurious life is not such a bad thing, so go ahead, spoil yourself!

Thanks to Gaynor Alder for the fun photograph, the Renaissance Providence for the squishy pillows, and the amazing ADE (Association of Design Education) for the wonderful women.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com

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I went to an event the other weekend, and they were handing out magazines and supplements. One of them, which I had not read before, was “T”, from the NY Times Magazine. It was their Fall Design issue. As I flicked through it, I fell in love. Yes, it was filled with over-priced art and fancy furniture (many of them labelled, price upon request – which means, if you have to call you can’t afford it), but it was beautifully done. Luxury was definitely the theme, but it’s accessibility made me want to pour myself inside and roll around the pages…

For someone like me, who thrives on budgets and spray paint, this magazine was not my usual read. Often, formal rooms go too far, and I (we?) are scared to go inside, worried we may crease the pillow or ruin the design. But, done right, it can be a wonderful, comfortable option.

One article in particular really struck me. The home was based on an 18th Century design, complete with spindly chair legs, gilded mirrors and original artwork from hundreds of years ago, but it was livable.
As I looked at the pictures, I could see how cleverly this couple had worked to create a home, not just an elegant showpiece. My favorite photograph is the one of the bookshelves, deliberately built with bowed wood, to make them look older than they were.

If you lean towards the elegant, and want to live with formality, here are some easy ideas on how to do it:

– Paint the walls a warm color (a bit darker than you dare).
– Use “real” things; wood, artwork, floors and light-fixtures shouldn’t be fake (or plastic). Be authentic.
– Furniture should be comfortable to sit on, and not flimsy. Even if you are inclined towards very formal, classic pieces, consider adding a modern, bulkier chair or sofa to bring some weight to the room.
– Group your accessories very tightly together (closer than you would think). This is a clever way to show off your collections, but make the room feel comfortable at the same time. Scattering them around just leaves them looking homeless and confused.
– Keep curtains simple and classic (avoid trends, and too many doo-dads).
– Make furniture groupings deliberate. Use a rug and coffee table as your centerpiece, and bring sofa and chairs up close to them. (Think about a doctors waiting room – if it looks like that, change it).
– Layer non-matching pillows and blankets on the sofas for added softness.

Remember, you have all these beautiful things, enjoy them!

Wendy E. Wrzos  http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/2011/10/formal-living-made-easy.html

Thanks to Mr and Mrs. Goldman, who inspired me to think good thoughts about formal living http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/30/the-contrarians/?ref=design-issue

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