The new definition of luxury is comfort.
Have you noticed a new trend in design articles that equates luxury with the word, *budget*? I am finding articles like this popping up on several websites dedicated to the world of interior design and decorating. Obviously, everyone has a different idea of what luxury in design really is but, for me, I think that the true meaning of luxury is comfort.
I am not sure that luxury and budget are comfort-able companions. We as consumers are inundated with images of celebrities and the rich and famous driving luxury cars and wearing designer clothes which we all seem to covet but want at a discount price. Is that really luxury? If a luxury item is not something necessary to live – but is indeed very desirable – should *budget-friendly* be used in the same sentence? What do you think?
For me, if you are looking for luxury in your interior spaces, I suggest we design, first, with comfort in mind. Comfort is the new luxury.
The definition of luxury includes comfort.
The dictionary defines luxury *as a state of great comfort and extravagant living.* My own experience tells me that only one part of this definition is what my own clients want: they all have the desire to live in comfort.
Unquestionably, luxury embodies superior craftsmanship, exclusivity, innovation, sophisticated design and an elevated aesthetic. It often includes company heritage and philanthropy over time, as well. Comfort, itself, is defined as soothing, consoling, and bringing cheer to a person. My clients respect both, but if given a choice, they would rather live in the embrace of comfort vs. the lap of luxury.
Words associated with comfort are enjoyment, happiness, luxury pleasure, warmth, and well-being. Isn’t that what designers bring to your home? Comfort-able seems to be missing from our interior design vocabulary. Joy, happiness, well-being, and wellness are all buzzwords that keep showing up in posts about design – but what happened to comfort?
If we want to live with luxury whether on a budget or not, certainly what we are looking for is an interior that is comforting. The greatest compliment I receive from a client is when they tell me everyone is so comfortable in their home. Now that does not mean they are dancing on the countertops, but it does mean their home is inviting, soothing and welcoming. Just like a favorite pair of jeans or shoes that fit like a glove, your home should provide the same feeling. You just want to slip into that comfort and retreat from stress, relax and unwind.
What makes something comfortable?
Thinking of luxury and comfort, what visions dance in your head? Generally, I find comfort in natural materials. Beautiful textiles which feel luxurious when you touch them create a pleasant sensation.
Comfortable rooms enhance the senses.
Sight: Beautiful colors, patterns, lighting, and compositions that consider both the emotional and psychological comfort of those who will live in the spaces we design evoke wellness and comfort.
Sound: The quality of the sound in a space can be improved with carpets or rugs and quality window treatments. By reducing noise, you can hear soft music playing in the background allowing the listener to set an intention for a relaxing moment.
Touch: Recently I had a client remark on the wonderful feeling of a countertop. The way the stone felt when you touch it, had a calming effect on him. That beautiful stone, which I use quite often in my designs, brought comfort with the texture it possessed. Tactile sensations add to the physical and emotional relaxation we experience interacting with materials designed into our homes.
Smell: Have you ever heard about baking cookies just before an open house if you are selling your home? Scents can change your mood, help to recall a distant memory, and plays a key role in personal health. Always choose quality products and materials which reduce or eliminate chemicals and airborne toxin smells from your home.
Tips to add comfort and luxury to your home.
- Add natural materials like real wood, natural stone, live plants, and natural textiles like recycled wool, organic cotton, and hemp.
- Use natural colors in your home. Select colors which remind you of a beautiful place in nature.
- Provide as much natural light as possible. Window treatments that easily open allow light into the space. During the evening, use floor lamps, task lights, and ambient lights to create lighting scenes.
- Essential oils provide natural scents to a room. Some of my favorites are wild orange, evergreen, and lavender. Eucalyptus helps to refresh the body and can calm the mind and reduce stress.
- Create a Do Not Disturb spot in your home. Add a comfortable chair where you can read, listen to music, meditate, or just enjoy the view with a cup of coffee.
- Always use quality materials. Whether it is a well-made sofa, the cabinets in your kitchen, or the textiles you surround yourself with, quality matters.
Comfort is personalized design
If luxury is what you are seeking, then personalized design is the map and comfort is the destination. Comfortable, well-designed spaces promote well-being. Certainly, living in a space that is designed with you in mind is living in the lap of luxury. Whether you love midcentury modern, cottagecore florals, or another design style, choose to live with things you love. Surround yourself with whatever makes you happy regardless of the latest trends.
Knowing we will return home to the warm embrace of comfort after a day in our increasingly complicated world gives us the ability to face each new morning.
Sharon L. Sherman, ASID, NCIDQ, CID, CKD
Sharon is the founder of Thyme and Place Design, headquartered in Wyckoff, New Jersey. She’s been practicing kitchen and bath design for the past 40 years and is a Past President of the American Society of Interior Designers – New Jersey chapter. She is a current member of the editorial board of KB&B Magazine, the official magazine of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Sharon has also received a Kitchen Bath Design News 2022 Innovator of the Year Award.
Her award-winning designs and editorial comments have been featured in Forbes, The New York Times, Design Milk, Bergen NJ magazine, Kitchen & Bath Design News, Woman’s Day, Country Decorating, Design NJ, New Jersey Home Magazine, 201 Magazine, The Best of Bergen, Savvy Living, The Vue, The Record, The Star-Ledger, and Aspire as well as several books.
Her blog “Tips from the Trade” appears in digital form on DesignNJ.com and KBBonline.com. She has also appeared on HGTV’s My Big Amazing Renovation and episodes of House Smarts with Lou Manfredini. In 2022, she was a featured *Voices From The Industry* speaker at the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s international convention and is available for further speaking engagements nationwide on all topics related to running a successful kitchen and bath design business.