Luxury: Design Inspired By a Feeling

Can you recall how you felt the last time you entered a lobby of a luxury hotel or the first time you experienced the reflective crystal of a Baccarat wine glass? I recently walked in the newly renovated Ritz Carlton in San Francisco and the sweet smell of fresh Casablanca Lilies and the cool smooth marble under my feet made me so happy. I felt at home and at peace. 

I am always tuned into spaces that inspire me. And this day was no exception.  As I was planning for a fundraiser lunch, I was drawing a blank on the design and look of my buffet style even before remembering this first step: look for inspiration to establish a theme.  The Ritz was my inspiration. Luxury became my theme.

I checked out the main dining room and the high tea room.  What I observed was the simplicity of clean lines and soft hints of color.  Second step: Color. The dining room inspired me with the subtle linear lines and the soft colors of orange and yellow – like a beautiful sunset.

Keeping with the luxury theme, I wanted to keep it simple. The orange translucent glassware reminded me of sea glass. The hard work is done.  Theme: Luxury. Color: Orange translucent glass.

Here is a general tip for pulling it together.  For those of us that time is a limited commodity and price is no object, simply go to your favorite glassware retail store, or online and select the glasses, napkins and table scape accessories that match your theme and color. If time is no object and being frugal is your goal, then start at consignment and thrift shops.  The secret is to find a shop that usually has a wide variety of quality items.  You may have to travel out of your area to find the perfect shop. Also, get to know the staff and they can tell you what days they stock new items.

Here are two quick design tips you may want to use when hosting an event around the theme of luxury that is all about how you feel and can be as expensive or not as you like.

D & D Tip #1: Improvise – Once you determine your theme and color, you have a solid foundation. I chose to use colored glassware to pull the orange to my table scape. You can also use food to add the color – flowers, candles or linen tablecloth or napkins.  The key is to keep everything else neutral, clear glasses, white or glass plates, so that the color pops on the table.

D & D Tip #2: Luxury Consciousness ™ – One of my design principles is Luxury Consciousness ™. I define it as anything that makes you feel good. All things that give you a visceral reaction of joy, is Luxury Consciousness ™.  Using this definition has little to do with the price and all to do with how you feel.  So if you have an old collection of jars that have meaning for you, use those as a tablescape. I collect old sauce and mason jars.  I love the juxtaposition of using them on my table next to the crystal glasses.  

I often say luxury is a state of mind.  Just as much as I love fine dining restaurants and staying at 4 and 5-star hotels, I also love being inspired by the experience to create my own luxury style in my own home when entertaining friends and family.  Luxury lends itself to one’s own interpretation and that is why it is one of my favorite themes.

For your upcoming event, whether it is luxury or not, let the venue and its surroundings inspire you to select not only your theme and color but the experience that you want your guests to have.  My fundraiser was a hit and I look forward to recreating this look, feel and experience in my very own home.

Have a design question?  I am here to help.  Simply leave a comment below. 

Be sure to check out my other article, “Inspirations of Simplicity,” that also talks being inspired to create themes from people, places and things around you.

You can also learn more about me and my style by visiting my website

Photo credit: V. Sheree Publishing

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Phyllis has a unique combination of varied experience for over 20 years as an interior designer, a decade in the television and film industry, a writer, speaker, corporate IT professional and a former officer in the U.S. Air Force. She loves to share all her experiences from around the world and proven tools on living a balanced lifestyle independent of the economy.