Glamour doesn’t have to be expensive

How do we define glamour? What does it really entail? And just how do we go about making it a part of our home design?

When we think of glamour in home decor, many of us immediately think of luxury comprising exotic woods, precious metals and custom furnishings. But glamour isn’t only about money. Glamorous rooms belong to all of us and can come in many shapes and forms, simple and elegant at the same time

No, glamour isn’t just for A-list celebrities or the rarified “1 percent,” and it doesn’t have to come with an outsized price tag either. In fact, today’s glamour is more accessible and less intimidating than ever and has re-emerged in home design as a leading trend

Still, because glamour often incorporates the exotic and the unusual, it might only be understood and appreciated by a select few. Often it’s at its best and most seductive with exaggerated contrasts and unusual juxtapositions, such as mixing beautiful antiques and modern pieces in the same space (a look that I personally love ). Or, perhaps, contrasting low furniture with soaring ceilings.

There’s a misconception, too, that glamorous rooms need to be large. Not true. In fact, in my experience, small rooms can be the most glamorous. After all, intimacy does have its own special charm. Glamorous modern rooms tend not to be crowded and bask in the “luxury” of negative space. (Which means don’t fill the space just because it’s there!)

Exaggerations in scale and subtle manipulations of proportion — or the relationship between the size of things — can often produce the drama we associate with glamour. It’s much better to create a room with fewer larger pieces than to fill it up with bits and pieces.

Increasing the scale of objects will tend to make rooms seem grander than their actual size. And playing oversize objects against normal or even undersized pieces actually can make spaces seem taller or wider, as well as more or less open.

Big pieces command attention. Imposing, impressive objects can help to create focal points, organize a room and draw focus. But always, for a glamorous look, the bottom line is that there must be an aesthetically satisfying sense of proportion.

The basics to keep in mind when striving for a glamorous outcome include scale, color, use of Asian artifacts and other antiquities (especially in a modern setting), mixing different periods and countries of origin, fireplaces, drapery and chandeliers along with candles and soft lighting, glamorous sconces and crystals, as well as mirrors and daybeds. Not to mention staircases, which should always be grand, if possible.

Shine and sheen, whether natural or manmade, also go hand-in-hand with glamour. Surfaces and fabrics that reflect light and sparkle at the same time actually define glamour and are a great way of achieving a “mirrored look” without having everything mirrored.

Metal objects of silver, gold, brass, bronze, stainless steel and copper in lamps, side tables, vases and collectibles have been called the jewelry of glamorous rooms along with enamel finishes on floors, walls and ceilings. Be careful not to do too much (of a good thing), as a successful outcome, once again, has everything to do with the right mix and proper balance in a room.

Furthermore, it’s my belief that any glamorous room should have at least one mirror hanging on or, at least, leaning against a wall. Oversized mirrors are like magic as they easily can help to expand a sense of space even further while adding instant glamour at the same time.

Rich-looking (but not necessarily expensive) fabrics and trims, along with color, are great components of any type of space, yet alone a glamorous one. I recommend fabrics with a high silk or metallic content, which often will be velvets, satins and silks, for their sensuality.

Try not to use too much pattern but do opt for lots of texture because, for glamour, texture has it over patterns every time. The color of a glamorous room doesn’t much matter. Of course, red is always glamorous (and I love it), but any color will do the trick. In fact, softly hued rooms often can be the most elegant and glamorous.

And finally, the way objects are displayed is just as important as the objects themselves. Try to group like objects together, and odd numbers are always better than even. Curves indicate sensuality, while rigid straight lines denote order.

No room should be all one or the other, and glamour does lean toward the curved. And it also leans to less stuff, which means no clutter, please. But do pile on the pillows, because pillows absolutely reign supreme in a glamorous space, especially when layering textured ones.

It really is simpler than you might think to transform your home from drab to glamorous. Granted, much of what you see in the interior design magazines is desirable to be sure, but it’s not unattainable.

Believe me when I say that it’s absolutely possible for you to achieve glamour in your home despite your choice of style and/or a limited budget because there are ways of replicating expensive tastes without spending a great deal of money.

Opt for simple forms and clean lines while exercising a certain restraint, because over the top is never glamorous. Try to marry the old and the new, which is a terrific combination that goes beyond trendy to achieve a lasting and authentic style.

In the final analysis, glamour is not about money per se and more about classic and timeless design.

Stephen Leon is a licensed interior designer and president of Soleil Design (; he has been designing and manufacturing custom furniture and cabinetry for more than 25 years. He is past president of the Central California/Nevada Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers and is a certified professional in green residential design. Questions can be sent to

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