Examining House Styles: Luxury
When one thinks of luxury many things come to mind. For some people, the idea of luxury conjures the images of servants and cocktail parties and grand events that feature only the most prestigious guests. For others, this makes them think of large homes with airy rooms and a worry free existence. They think of luxury and imagine days spent lounging by the pool and enjoying lunch on the balcony. Both of these ideas are correct. Confused? Let me explain.
Plan featured above is our Jean Baptiste (NDG 1373) which is our most popular Luxury style house plan.
Old vs. New
When you are looking at Luxury Style house plans, there are two distinct views. One features a closed floor plan and the other features a more open floor plan. The differences between the two views boils down to what you consider to be luxury. Some think of luxury and think of the Old World. Their ideas stem from the days of the railroad barons and industrial millionaires. The other way of looking at luxury stems from America’s Hollywood and their California dream homes. It is simply a matter of preference.
For some the idea of a luxury home harkens back to the Victorian Age. And for good reason! This is the time when a luxury home became something that anyone could achieve not just the noblemen. During the Industrial Revolution, we saw a shift in the economics of the United States. The owners and managers of these factories were normal people who became wealthy very quickly. In the case of some, they became outrageously wealthy.
It wasn’t just the factories that prompted the increase in wealth and the creation of the upper middle class. There was money to be made in the industries surrounding the factories. Railroads made a killing moving the supplies that the factories needed across the company and shipping the finished goods to metropolitan hubs.
In the cities, shop owners were able to sell more and more of the goods that were being mass produced. The goods were cheaper, and the shoppers had more money because they, too, worked in the industries surrounding the factories.
In other words, all of the pieces fit together like a historical jigsaw. You couldn’t change one thing without affecting everything else around it. The end result was that you had a new class of people. These were not the politicians and wealthy landowners who had dominated the upper classes before. These were ordinary people who were just handed large sums of money to spend however they pleased.
Old World Luxury
These ordinary people wanted what they had always viewed through the glass. They wanted to craft themselves homes that gave them the luxury they had always seen. Their inspiration was the nobility of Europe.
Closed Floor Plans
They wanted the large homes that featured a room for everything. Many of the floor plans of this time had multiple rooms for receiving and entertaining. They also separated the bedrooms quite a bit and had additional rooms for guests. The closed floor plans gave space for formality. They invited you to enjoy the home and all of its nuances.
One of the traditional ways of decorating called for darker or bolder patterns. The Victorian Age gave us new ways of dyeing fabric and paper allowing us to decorate with more intricate patterns and colors. Many of the colors used were bold and vibrant. They would pair them with heavy, richly stained furniture.
Another hallmark of the Victorian Age and their decorating style was the abundance of rich fabrics and textures. Sofas were covered in brocade and stuffed with horse hair. Curtains were lace and drapes were gilded and embroidered.
Texture was everywhere you looked. The walls stood out with paneling and rich wallpapers. The furniture was heavy and featured rich stains and fabrics. And every available surface was covered in knickknacks. Did you know those were a Victorian invention? Prior to this time, knickknacks didn’t exist.
On the other side of the pond, the newly rich middle class was trying to emulate this. Their homes may not have been as grand in scale but they were certainly just as luxurious. Materials used in the decoration of the homes were becoming less and less expensive as they were mass produced. It was easier to procure the things that were needed to make this style their own.
Fast forward about 50 years and you have another set of people coming up from nothing to become ridiculously wealthy. This group didn’t earn their money in a factory or own a business. Instead, they earned it on the silver screen. Welcome to Hollywood, baby.
The golden age of Hollywood was from the mid 1930’s to the early 1960’s. This was a time of change for the United States. Prohibition was gone and social drinking became the thing to do. The increasing availability of vehicles and air travel made it easier to go cross country for business or play. And lest we forget, there was a world war, an ongoing conflict, a cold war and a war with guerilla fighters going on during this time, too.
People wanted distractions. Hollywood catered to the distractions: Large musical numbers, beautiful women falling in love with handsome men and war stories that played out where the bad guy was defeated soundly and the good guys win. And the actresses and actors who played these parts became rich and famous.
New World Luxury
Perhaps the idea of new world luxury is more familiar to you. Open, airy floor plans with great views through massive windows and clean lines that give you a sense of space and peace. Those were the hallmarks of the new way people viewed luxury.
Gone were the small rooms cluttered with knickknacks and dusty fabrics. The new American Royalty wanted space and more space. Maybe it was because of the absolutely stunning views offered to them in California. Maybe they wanted more space because for most of the years before they became stars they had to share tiny rooms with multiple people.
Maybe it was just because of the new modernist movement that embraced that sort of architecture. Maybe it was all of it. No matter the cause, the new idea of luxury was room to breathe and room to entertain.
Open Floor Plans
The open floor plans allowed them to seamlessly blend one room into another. Gone were the formal restrictions of parlor, dining room, and sitting room. Now you had one room that was all of those. When you entertained, you were able to talk and mingle across multiple “rooms" without there being a barrier between you.
This also opened up the rooms to the spectacular views offered by Mother Nature. Open floor plans also allowed you to entertain both inside and outside simultaneously. Entertaining outside had always been a great pastime, especially for Americans. We love the great outdoors.
California, in particular Southern California, offers a mild climate that allows you to entertain outdoors for the majority of the year. The denizens of Hollywood took advantage of this and created outdoor spaces that gave them plenty of room to grill and mingle.
Light Airy Rooms
The modernist approach to design is to have large rooms that have no boundaries in between the spaces. It also called for high ceilings and large windows. This gave rooms a light and airy feel. You didn’t really feel like you were indoors and certainly didn’t feel closed in.
The windows let in an abundance of natural light which gave the rooms a bright feeling without a lot of artificial lighting. This type of architecture catered to artists and those who enjoyed art. It allowed them to display the art without having to expend a lot of effort on the artificial lighting necessary to enjoy it.
Your Luxurious Home
Luxury is not something that has to be bought with money. Small things can bring in a feeling of luxury without breaking the bank. Here are some tips and tricks to help make your home look and feel more luxurious.
Clutter is usually a sign of someone who is wealthy, unless your name is Scrooge McDuck. Making a project out of decluttering your house is an easy and inexpensive way to make your home feel like you have a million bucks.
Go through room by room and only keep what you love, use or if it has some value. Otherwise throw it away or donate it.
Another Man’s Junk
That brings us to the next way to get that luxury look on a budget. Luxury homes are filled with classic pieces and sometimes those pieces don’t exactly match. Interior designers do this on purpose. It starts conversations and gives people something different to focus their eyes on. Now you can do that, too!
Talk to family and friends. When they have things that they are getting rid of they’ll let you know. You can take second hand pieces and make them look really nice. We were gifted an older bedroom set for our oldest daughter about ten years ago. They are good solid wood pieces. The downside wa