The word “luxury” gets a lot of use in the hotel and auto industries, so it’s no wonder it conjures silky-smooth bedding, plush robes, sparkling champagne, and a day at the spa for some or, for others, high-end leather interiors, impeccable audio, and a supremely quiet engine that can accelerate or stop on a dime. While these industries hope you’ll chase luxury outside the home, there’s really no reason you can’t achieve luxury within your own confines. Home should be your place of respite, and with a few tips big and small, you can enjoy added comfort and lavishness to create an escape that doesn’t involve, well, escaping.
What exactly is luxury, anyway? For Nicole Ruppel Jones, interior designer at Legend Interiors, luxury living is a combination of elegance and taking your need and elevating it to a want. I need a floor, but I want an amethyst border inlaid in French white oak. I need a kitchen island. I want a quartzite countertop waterfall on either side. Everyone needs a towel after a bath. Why not a plush, warm, personalized towel? For Jones, even something as small as a floral arrangement on the breakfast table can add elegance by delighting your senses.
For Designer Tara Shaw, luxury living means combining comfort and extravagance, and having a home “that is comfortable, suits your lifestyle, and cocoons you with items that are meaningful to you.”
Defining what items and moods are meaningful to you is a great first step in increasing your home’s luxury appeal. Not merely relegated to your finishes or furnishings, luxury can emanate from a scented candle that helps you relax or a single-serve espresso machine that inspires your first joyful sigh as you rise for the day. From the art on your walls to the soap in your shower, items that intrigue and engage your senses can heighten your enjoyment of your living spaces and your time within them.
For the bedroom, Shaw recommends creating a bed with bedding so appealing to you visually and sensually that it becomes your safe haven after a long day. Chad Graci, owner and lead designer of Graci Interiors, agrees, stressing the need for quality.
“Quality items that last and stand the test of time and trends are a must for luxury living,” he says. “Invest in quality bedding and pillows—it makes a huge impact on comfort, style, look and longevity.”
Investing in quality fabrics is one of the most recommended ways to add luxury. According to Graci, nothing says luxury like a 100% silk rug with a subtle sheen and unparalleled comfort underfoot. Other designer recommendations include velvet throw pillows for changing the vibe of a room or adding a silk or silk and cashmere jacquard throw to a living room couch or bedroom chaise.
“But even better,” says Grace Kaynor, owner of Grace Kaynor Designs, “add an alpaca throw with a creative finish such as tassels. Alpaca is gathered in a very safe and environmentally friendly process, and unlike cashmere, it doesn’t pill.” According to Kaynor, beautiful fabrics are luxury defined. Natural and organic fibers, silk, alpaca, cashmere, wool, cotton, and handwoven and hand-embroidered fabrics—especially in deep saturated hues—add a touch of luxury to any application.
Hand-crafted is a term that comes up often in combination with luxury, and according to Rebecca Vizard, owner and antique textile pillow designer for B. Viz Design, items that are slowly and purposely created—whether food, clothing, or other products—will add luxury to your surroundings. There is an obvious uniqueness imbued in an item lovingly made over hours and hours that you won’t find in mass-produced and manufactured goods.
“Especially the metallic embroideries, which are removed from distressed textiles by carefully cutting around the antique hand stitching and then precisely measured and re-stitched to a sturdier fabric,” says Vizard. “We had one pillow take 66 hours of hand work.”
At B. Viz, even the candles come in hand-thrown terra cotta pots. Similarly, at Sotre, Grace Kaynor can’t get enough of the Baobab candle collection, which uses blended French perfumes that are hand-poured into hand-blown, hand-painted vessels. Marian DeMeyers of Marian DeMeyers Designs also frequently uses handmade objects or objects of interest in her work, from vintage ashtrays and light fixtures to horns or hand-thrown pottery.
Lighting also factors into your luxury. Putting dimmers on light switches is a fairly easy update that—on or off of a remote—will improve the ambiance of a room.
“Picture lights and directional lighting highlighting art or sculpture are easy things to add to your home,” adds DeMeyers. Additionally, antique lighting elements can increase the wow factor in rooms like kitchens and dining rooms. Not skimping on lamps and lampshades can make a room, as each lamp showcases its own personality while adding ambiance.
“Most people go small and safe with the table lamps in their homes,” says Maria Barcelona, owner of Maria Barcelona Interiors. “I love a large lamp that makes a statement and commands attention.”
Other small, simple ways to add luxury to your living spaces include a few room-specific tips. For example, in the dining room, use your fine china.
“Too many people wait for a special occasion to pull it out,” says Chad Graci. “Make every meal an occasion and entertain on a family level. Ditch the paper plates.”
Along with the china, use nice glasses, says Rebecca Vizard.
“Even a glass of lemon water can feel special in a nice glass.”
To add luxury to a powder room, Maria Barcelona recommends wallpaper for adding drama and sophistication. Tara Shaw echoes this idea and adds that an unexpected sink, mirror, or sconces will make you and your guests experience something out of the ordinary in this typically small space. Powder rooms are also perfect places for those candles that waft your favorite scent.
For larger-scale design improvements that add luxury, the sky’s the limit. From adding and renovating all new spaces to specially designing “smart” homes, luxury comes in all manner of bells and whistles. With today’s technological advances, luxury can mean pressing a button and having your work done for you. Remote-controlled blinds and curtains allow you to close and open your window treatments from your bed or couch, and a warming drawer in the bathroom will afford you the ultimate luxury of a warm towel after a lavish bath.
Grace Kaynor calls a full bathroom renovation “the ultimate luxury.” Spa-like bathrooms can create an oasis for relaxation with wet rooms, steam showers, large soaking tubs, infrared saunas, warming drawers, heated floors, and dedicated vanities all making the list of top bathroom renovation wants.
“A master bath makeover is a wonderful way to invest in your home and your well-being at the same time,” says Maria Barcelona.
Rethinking space in the home to add room for a “want” is another way to add luxury, and Barcelona recently helped a client realize one of her dreams for her home—a small, dedicated space for working out, just enough room for a Peloton and Mirror smart gym.
“We rearranged the current closet spaces and found just the right square footage,” says Barcelona. “We mirrored one wall, added a small TV, and painted a funky mural on another wall, and ‘ta-da!’ The cutest pocket gym was born.”
According to Marian DeMeyers, building a custom bar out of underutilized space is another way to add luxury. Bars are a great way to create drama and display special pieces that might otherwise be stowed behind closed doors.
“Bars really sparkle whether you are entertaining or not,” she says.
DeMeyers recently completed a project where she rethought the possibilities of an unused outdoor porch and created better party flow and access for the home’s dining room, breakfast room, and pool.
“Many times, an unused closet, a cabinet, or porch in your home can be converted to create a mini mudroom, bar, powder room, or coffee/toaster cabinet depending on the size and location,” says DeMeyers.
Bars are another place where one can invest in luxury bells and whistles, and Rebecca Vizard likes to design her bars with two ice makers, “One with large cubes for cocktails like Old Fashioneds or scotch, and one with ‘sonic ice’ for others, especially Mint Juleps during the Kentucky Derby,” she says.
In the kitchen, Nicole Ruppel Jones’ tips for useful gadgets include hidden under-cabinet USB and outlet strips to eliminate outlets from sight on the backsplash. A large-scale luxury addition might include an expansive 60-inch galley workstation kitchen sink with mobile levels of cutting boards, wash stations, a condiment station, utensil caddy and more.
Whether it’s modifications to the home, additions of high-tech conveniences, or simply adding a sumptuous throw over the back of a chair to evoke coziness, keep in mind that the greatest luxuries for you are the ones that stimulate your senses, bring joy, and create comfort. Take advantage of these tips, and that five-star hotel or high-powered sedan will be mere blips on your luxury radar.