Defining Australian Luxury
At Melbourne's Decor and Design show last month, I was asked to present on Luxury! This therefore got me thinking! When trying to define Luxury, other words come automatically to mind: Elegant, Expensive, Grand, Impressive, possibly Self-Indulgent... to some, Luxury may be a sports car or an expensive holiday; to others it can be as basic as a massage or a bubble bath and a glass of champagne. As a matter of fact, to each of us personally, Luxury means something different, so when it comes to understanding what it means for our homes and interior design, the choices are endless and what we choose to satisfy our idea of luxury is a very personal experience.
Versailles Palace, France
Our choices may be driven by many factors, like cultural background, neighbourhood and trends. But, specific to Australia, I believe there are a few basic elements that truly define what Luxury means within building and interiors: Spaciousness and Light, Apparent Simplicity of Design, Quality of materials and natural finishes. Do Australians think that less is more? Yes. Quality over quantity is indeed our way of achieving a luxurious look we can live in and enjoy.
One example I often use with my clients to give the idea of a luxury look is that of a simple black dress, paired with tastefully chosen details like precious earrings, beautiful shoes and a statement handbag. Surely you know the iconic looks of Audrey Hepburn in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany... the streamlined black dress becomes a super-expensive look when paired with a few tasteful details like strong earrings and an oversized hat. Similarly at home we can achieve the feel of luxury by adding to an ordinary room, few but precious details like marble tops for example, quality wooden flooring, precious rugs and tasteful artworks... these help to elevate the overall feel in any home.
But before the decor, there are stronger elements that firmly establish a sense of Luxury in our homes, like the staircase for example, the look and layout of the kitchen and bathroom and their finishes, and of course, the facade, because of the power of first impressions. A streamlined design is often associated with luxury, especially when reinforced by the quality of materials used, like stone walls or wooden features; add wide eaves, large windows, an oversized entry door and there you have it. For me the Barcelona Pavilion says it all, with its clean lines, simple but stylish use of materials and great bright and open spaces. I am not often quiet, but when I visited this masterpiece, I was stunned and overwhelmed by its beauty. To me this is Luxury!
Barcelona Pavilion, Spain
The staircase is often the first element we see when entering the home, and the simpler its design, the stronger the impression. The ultimate in Australian luxury is clear glass with timber treads and a streamlined design. The floating effect, whether supported by a steel spine or side stringers not only offers an amazing look but also allows the flow of light through, enhancing the sense of space.
In the kitchen we achieve a luxurious feel by using natural materials like stone bench tops, teamed with timber tones, contemporary appliances and carefully chosen door handles and tapware, (the earrings!!) Decluttered and expansive surfaces also add to the elegant feel, and of course, a must-have in Australian kitchens, the island. Ideally, and in the right home, its dimensions can really make a statement, and its finish whether of precious marble or more affordable options, scream luxury, creating a functional yet great asset for any home.
The bathroom is about self-indulgence, and this feeling is obtained by using organic surfaces such as natural stones, wood, and beautiful details like contemporary tapware and accessories. This room especially must be beautifully styled to achieve the luxury pampering feel; add quality soaps, soft and stylish towels and luscious plants, which always bring inside that sense of freshness and resort glamour we dream of.
To conclude I must insist that achieving the Australian Luxury is not about showing off and spending a fortune, as that may indeed end up looking quite gaudy and feel uncomfortable to live in. Instead pay attention to well placed quality finishes, allowing you to "keep it real", instead, and simply remember and apply the following points: