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posted: 7/4/2014 6:00 AM

Think of luxury as a trial run for affordable goods

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  • Luxury often means creating a unique space unattainable by everyone.

    Luxury often means creating a unique space unattainable by everyone.

By Joseph Pubillones

People all over the world -- those who can afford it -- want the best of the best for their home. But just what is it that they consider luxury? Every day there is something newer and better in technology, and in some cities, there is always a taller, nicer building to call home. Defining luxury is hard to do.

For some, luxury is defined by comfort and ease of daily activity. For others, luxury items mark professional or financial accomplishments. Still others consider luxury from a design point of view: sleek lines with unusual finishes. And others allow highbrow brands to guide them. While luxury can have a bit to do with keeping up with the Joneses, I believe that luxury in terms of interiors is a combination of all of the above.

What all consumers in a luxury market have in common is that they are looking for a lifestyle. Luxury also can be defined as something we consider pleasant and desirable and not within the reach of everyone. This is part of the reason that many people want something unique and exclusive to them when designing their interiors. An understanding of this concept on the part of both homeowner and designer is important. It can serve as the arbitrator when extravagant requests arise during the design process. Is it necessary for the lifestyle you are designing? Ultimately, this is the litmus test for your client's must-haves.

Most projects have a budget, no matter how extravagant, and there is a financial consideration that comes into play in luxury interiors. Even if it is a large one, budgets give the designer or homeowner some parameters for their investment. In today's market, technological innovations make their mark in interiors almost as much as any one piece of furniture. Most everyone wants smart features in their homes. Mobile or remote-activated home appliances such as air conditioning systems, coffee makers and security systems are must-haves in any luxury home or condominium. Almost-invisible sound systems and large-scale ultrathin televisions have replaced entertainment units and armoires. In bathrooms, no matter how small, showers with rain showerheads and multi-spray fixtures are quite common and rival the Jacuzzis of years ago.

Does luxury make you turn green? Indeed, the design world has embraced green practices and with that came an increase in earth-friendly manufacturers using certified woods, organic fabrics and environmentally conscious low-impact finishes and paints. Some luxury manufacturers even use reclaimed exotic woods from fallen trees and woods gathered that have been buried for years in muck from rivers. Tanneries are using less noxious dyeing methods, and some have gone back to original practices using urine and pigments produced by nature.

While luxury does seem to be discerning and exclusive, it also enables manufacturers and vendors to experiment with products. Ultimately, through these trials in niche markets, luxury goods quickly become available and less expensive, making it easier for all to keep up with the Joneses.

• Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla.


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