Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Publication Date: 2011-12-05

Design Insights

The Glamour Factor: How Experts Add Instant Elan to Any Room

Glamour. Chic. Panache. It goes by many names—and isn’t always tangible—but its presence positively makes a room, especially at the holidays when spaces are a bit more aglow. It can be as simple as adding accessories that gleam, or as grand as lacquering everything in sight. Here, Dering Hall designers weigh in on infusing a home with flair—and what glittery pratfalls to avoid—no matter what the season.

Getting glamorous doesn’t necessarily mean a whole-room redo. Stir in little things that shine, say the pros. “Arrange a silver tray with a collection of crystal decanters,” suggests Donna Livingston, of Donna Livingston Interior Design in Los Angeles, “or put your family’s photographs in antique silver frames.” New York City-based Jeff Lincoln ups the glamour in one toss: “Add silk-velvet pillows to sofas and chairs,” he says. For some subdued dazzle? Erika Brunson, of Erika Brunson Couture Living in Los Angeles, reaches for rock-crystal accessories, especially when a room is covered with candles. “Light gets reflected in the translucent stone.”

Lighting is, in fact, one of designers’ favorite ways to create glamour. Brunson loves candles but says to forget the flicker of two or three wicks around the room. “Mass “20-cent tea lights everywhere rather than just one $80 candle,” she advises.

Other stylish lighting techniques? Uplight everything with simple, plug-in canister fixtures, which look like open coffee cans with a bulb nestled inside. They create intense drama by washing walls with upward beams of light. Placed behind plants and trees, as Lincoln and Brunson do, “they cast such beautiful shadows,” says Brunson. Livingston even puts them behind sculptures.

As for downlighting, which is equally important, “light should travel circularly around the room,” she says. All agree on thin, elegant picture lights, attached to frames, for casting glows down onto artwork. Rearranging your largest room to enhance intimacy also creates an alluring environment. “Two chaise longues facing each other are always sexy and glam,” explains Lincoln. Brunson places “four beautiful, upholstered swivel chairs around a pouf,” with the low hassock acting as a point of focus and a spot to prop your feet. “There is no better place to have a conversation.”

Livingston pulls chairs close to sofas, then eliminates any resulting void around the room with a wall-filling screen: “An Oriental screen, a French Deco lacquered screen,” anything with a burnished glow, she says. For gestures of a grander sort, Livingston loves “a black-lacquer piano and a Régence fireplace surround.”

For his part, Lincoln swears by thin sheets of silver, no holds barred. “Silver-leaf your ceilings, silver-leaf your walls, silver-leaf your dog!” he quips. Walls, indeed, beg for a blast of glamour. “Sheathe them with antique mirror,” says Lincoln, “or try Maya Romanoff glass-bead wallcoverings, or Venetian plaster with mica rubbed in.” Livingston recommends waxing Venetian-plastered walls (“such a depth to them”), or upholstering library walls in mohair.

Brunson has lacquered or glazed and strié’d entire rooms. “It gives a subtle shimmer to the room,” she reports. Too much gleam, though, tops the professional shortlist of what isn’t glamorous. “Mixing too many shiny surfaces with too many animal prints,” is a peeve of Lincoln’s. Livingston avoids “too much gold—and too many pillows.” Brunson’s bugaboo is wall panels of sparkling new mirror, not antiqued, speckled with gold. “That always looks like a house of ill repute,” she notes.

Come holiday-time, robust bursts of glamour are always welcome. “In a big round bowl, or on a platter,” says Brunson, “pile 20 or 30 silver Christmas ornaments of all different shapes and sizes, like fruit in a bowl.” Livingston loads her tree with tiny white lights and on party nights, “I’ll push fresh poinsettia blooms into the tree, all over.” Brunson thinks whiffs of fresh fragrance— pine, berries—are as glamorous as it gets, too. For Lincoln? His November/December decorating goes like this: “Fly to St. Barth’s, stay at the Isle de France hotel and eat at Le Ti.” Happy holidays, indeed—and certainly glamorous.

- Rob Brinkley


Subscribe to our Newsletter

At Dering Hall you can shop for more furnishings, find top design professionals, and browse photos of exquisite interiors and architecture.

Sign up today to receive our latest home furnishing picks & news.

By joining, you agree to our Terms of Use