I’m not sure when people first started talking about interiors with ‘wow factor’. Although the phrase has arguably now been done to death, it still describes relatively well that moment of walking into an amazing space for the first time. That moment when your brain hasn’t quite sorted and categorised appropriate adjectives, so all that comes out is a less than articulate ‘wow’.
If everyone talks about ‘wow’ factor, does that mean your home should have it? And if so, how do you create it – what exactly provokes a ‘wow’?
Spending large sums of money
For millennia humans have used their homes to display wealth. Kings and warlords took what they wanted and displayed it. Possessions were a sign of power and victory. As the centuries passed people replaced weapons with currency and starting buying rather than just taking. Stuff brought from far off lands became a sign that you had the wealth and freedom to travel.
In modern times brands have become an outward sign of money spent. Are brands important to you? I confess I’m not really a label person, though once I find a brand that I’m really impressed with, I am fairly brand loyal. (The reverse is also true, the brand that disappoints is unceremoniously dumped, never to darken my doorstep again!)
My advice? – Spend money on what you love, not the label. There will always be a friend, neighbour, colleague, celeb in a magazine who has ‘more’ than you if you look at your home in terms of money spent. And who wants to spend their life competing anyway? Spend money on the things that are important to you – trends and other people’s homes really don’t matter.
It’s easy to think of luxury being about what you spend, but to me luxury is about the effect a product has on the user and that’s not just about what you can immediately see or how much it cost. A great mattress that gives you the perfect night’s sleep is a good example of hidden luxury. No one else sees the mattress, but you will experience that feeling of luxury, night after night.
Personally I love the kind of technology that seamlessly creates heat, light or music exactly where and when you want it without huge ugly pieces of kit. Smartphones, tablets, wifi and bluetooth have all opened up options for our homes that would have involved hard wiring and a lot of money only 15 – 20 years ago.
Another example of luxury being in the experience rather than the product are the large sliding doors that have become so popular. Good ones are not cheap, but done well, the investment can actually change the way you live in a space. Yet the best of such doors are designed for their invisibility – it’s the view, or the feeling of bringing the outdoors inside that draws the ‘wow’.
Have you experienced bedlinen that’s like sleeping in clouds? (well how you imagine sleeping in a cloud would be if you could!) Or towels you can sink your fingers into? Or kitchen equipment that gleams and evokes a sense of the deliciousness to come before you’ve even tasted the meal or drunk the coffee?
Buying quality products for the home really pays dividends both in terms of durability and pleasure in their use. Buying quality isn’t just about money either – it’s about choosing carefully to meet your needs. Linens don’t have to be expensive, but they do have to feel great and wash well. Quality kitchenware can change the experience from a chore to a pleasure. The secret to buying quality is knowing what you want – do your research, rather than snapping up what’s on sale.
True ‘wow’ factor isn’t a quick-fix, purely visual experience – it’s a chair near a window that frames a view, a kitchen that’s designed for cooking and entertaining, a bed that makes you feel it’s great to be home. And to me that’s more of a ‘hug’ than a ‘wow’…