Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Changing Face of Luxury

How To Market Luxury

This article was in a E-Zine from a local furniture rental company called Welcome Home in Dublin, CA. Although it pertains to home sales it has some great information for the rest of us as well. I had posted it on my other blog but I am not sure anyone goes there anymore so thought I'd post it here too.

"I had the pleasure to attend a great seminar and networking event last week that was just too good not to share. There were so many points relevant to our industry, my mind has been buzzing ever since. The seminar was entitled "Redefining Luxury in the West," given by Michael Wollaeger, Editor-In-Chief of Western Interiors & Design magazine.

June/July Cover of Western Interiors & Design Magazine

Michael spoke eloquently about a new type of luxury emerging in the West that is influencing the global marketplace. Michael explained that this luxury is societal driven and is changing how the most important and influential builders, architects and designers are creating the hottest new living spaces. This is so apropos to what we do in the real estate industry, meaning that many of these trends need to be incorporated into how we market homes.

This new definition of luxury isn't about scale and abundance anymore. Space, in and of itself (and especially in the West), is a luxury. We have moved to an era where protecting space, such as in National Parks, holds great value. Architects are now being driven by the idea of land and sky, instead of just abundance. A very small space can now be viewed as luxurious simply because of the view. Even in urban areas, the idea of incorporating the cityscape view into the design is now more popular than trying to block it out.

Luxury Bedding

Sanctuary places in the home to retreat from reality are now more popular than ever. This includes reading retreats, massage & yoga rooms, hotel style master bedrooms, and spa-like bathrooms. Spa style master baths are trending towards materials with rough textures; stone and metal and mixing them with natural light.

Indoor-outdoor extravagance is a trend that is gaining more and more momentum with sumptuous fabrics, rugs, lighting, and furniture for outdoors emerging in the marketplace. Now designers can fully furnish outdoor living spaces with formal dining and sitting areas.

Another major trend that is influencing almost every aspect of our lives is The Green Movement. In the luxury market, this trend has translated itself in many ways. Reclaimed materials, such as wood and metal, are unique and therefore luxurious. They are not obtainable to everyone. They are not materials that anyone can just go out and buy. They are rare and often have outstanding unique patinas. There is a desire for a sense of purpose to reuse and connect to the past to create a sense of soulfulness. The use of natural materials from local sources is now more luxurious than the idea of importing materials from half way around the world.

Small house lavishness has also emerged from The Green Movement. Buyers are seeking ways in which to make small spaces work in multifunctional ways. They want solutions that are easier on the planet. They want to make purchases based on what makes them feel good about themselves and their lives.

All these trends are on the cutting edge of Interior Design today. So how does, and should that, relate to how we market and sell houses now? We have the opportunity to use the knowledge of these trends on every home we prepare for sale. Often times when we need to market a home with an older floor plan that does not have a dedicated home office, we create a home office in one of the bedrooms. Even though our lives are now more dependent on the use of home computers than ever before, the ease and affordability of wireless networking has made the reality of a small laptop in any room of the house easily obtainable. We are trending towards using that space (that used to be for the home office) as a luxurious personal retreat. It can now be a yoga room, meditation space, or massage room. Almost any master bath can be made luxurious looking by adding the right accessories, art and plush towels. An unusual corner of a room can be transformed into a relaxing reading retreat. "

Jim and I like the trend towards smaller homes with lots of views and space around the house. Maybe our property value will go up again with this new trend. Fingers crossed anyway!