Picture the nicest hotel that you’ve ever stayed in. What stands out? Was it the softer-than-silk bedding, pillows that exceed all expectations, or the service and overall hospitality that had you swept off your feet? Or perhaps it was all of the above.
Zeus Home Designer, Sarah, studied the elements of interior design that are successful in upleveling a space and transmitting a feeling of luxury. She distilled her findings down to five elements most effective in creating that awe-inspiring, luxurious experience.
Sarah kicked off the conversation by speaking to the power of textiles. She explains that a textile is simply anything woven or made of fabric. “Blankets, pillows, rugs, upholstery – these are all opportunities to introduce textiles into your design.” Adding unique textiles like a Persian rug or floor-to-ceiling curtains can really spice up a space and communicate a more tasteful, luxurious feel.
Textures have a broader scope as they’re used to describe a material, such as a textile. If a rug is the textile, Sarah tells us that soft could be the texture. Otherwise put, it’s how things feel. Upholstery, curtains, ceramics, metal trays and glass vases – these are all items that carry a texture. She recommends making sure that you have a strong mixture of textures in the space so that it feels dimensional vs. flat. “Mixing contrasting textures like metal with leather will add depth to your space and truly take it to the next level.”
When we got to the topic of plants, it was hard to pinpoint exactly why they are so effective in contributing to that luxury experience you’re striving for. “There’s definitely something psychological about being in the presence of other living, breathing organisms, particularly ones that smell nice and add color to your space,” Sarah notes. She goes on to describe how plants are able to blur the boundaries of indoor vs. outdoor and can help energize a space. She recommends for those not gifted with a green thumb to incorporate fake plants or other natural elements.
One of the most important elements of designing for luxury is color. Sarah shares her approach here which she describes as monochromatic with pops of color. “You don’t want it to feel like a box of crayons. Stick with a neutral theme and utilize different shades while incorporating pops of complementary colors via accessories.” She relates it to fashion and the idea that dressing in neutral colors can present a more timeless, classy look and provides a nice palate for colorful accessories.
5. Strong Focal Point
Strong architectural elements that are native to a space, such as a fireplace and mantle, make for perfect focal points. “Play up these elements. Think about someone’s first impression of a space and drawing their eyes to one specific area of the room.” She adds that “if you don’t have a focal point, don’t be scared to create one.” With luxury spaces in particular, go big in this department and aim to create a focal statement piece. Large-scale art is a great option and can be sourced inexpensively from thrift stores, flea markets, or created DIY. Other ideas include layering art on a mantle or creating a bright accent wall.
When You Can’t Do It All
In asking Sarah which of these elements has the single biggest impact on our perception of luxury, she reports that “they all work together, but I’d say textiles. It’s all about the feel. If you have a nasty pleather sofa, there’s no coming back from that,” she jokes. We dug into this a little bit more and there’s a lot of truth to this statement. One weak textile that doesn’t fit the space can really throw off a design and diminish the luxuriousness. On the other hand, designing with exclusively one textile throughout an entire space will also create a shallow, monotonous feel.
When You’re Focused on What Not To Do
You’ve come this far, now let’s be sure to avoid a few design pitfalls that tend to evaporate the aura of luxury:
- Don’t skimp on seating: if you read our blog post on how to maximize a studio space, you know how we feel about skimping on seating. Don’t make this mistake. Invest in plenty of comfortable, quality seating and save money in other areas.
- Don’t over-accessorize: Sarah poetically describes light fixtures as the home’s earrings, but stresses the importance of not over-accessorizing. “It’s all about balance. You want to drive home your style with accessories like light fixtures, pillows, and blankets without over-stimulating your guests.”
- Make sure to add energy: plants, art, and books are all great ways to bring energy and character to a space.
When You Need A Visual
We asked Sarah to share a few examples to help our readers see these elements come together IRL. She highlighted three Zeus homes:
- 2127 N Street Northwest – Note the textiles in the couch and blankets, as well as the architectural elements such as the floating stairs and steam shower.
- 716 N Carolina – “Fit for Meryl Streep,” this home hosts a chef’s kitchen and full dining area. It also features exposed brick in the bedroom that Sarah embraced like a piece of art and let speak for itself.
- 515 N Washington St – A true monochromatic theme with metal and leather textures chosen to complement the industrial, masculine vibe.
Sarah notes that while there are tangible ways to create luxury spaces via design, there is also an intangible element that comes through hospitality. “Zeus is special because we provide a space that feels business class and luxurious in conjunction with a turnkey, tech-enabled experience including 24-hour support from our team. This merging of the tangible and intangible is what really makes us unique.”
Bio: Zeus provides beautiful, fully furnished neighborhood homes for extended stays. Check out the Zeus Blog for conversations around Design, Travel, and Community. We’ll feature properties, offer interior design tips from the experts, and share stories of residents, property owners, and partners doing things differently.
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