Many of us have a fascination with the luxurious lifestyles of the rich and famous. Admiring their mansions and designer wardrobes on social media allows us to live through them vicariously if we can’t afford similar indulgences ourselves.
To help you gain more insight into how the other half lives beyond what you see on Instagram, we’re delving into the history of luxury and giving you an inside look at some of the most extravagant mansions in the country.
Meaning and History of Luxury
Luxury means something different to everyone, which is why it’s so hard to define. But generally, luxury is associated with exclusivity and quality.
Not everyone can afford to buy high-end goods like Rolexes and Louboutins, which makes them status symbols.
Luxury goods are also thoughtfully designed and made of high-quality materials, so they often look better and last longer than lower end products.
Although luxury is something we aspire to now, it wasn’t always viewed positively. The Romans saw luxury as a vice and tried to limit unnecessary spending through legislation. After conquering Greece and being exposed to their extravagant way of life, however, the Romans loosened their restrictions and began to value luxury.
Lavish spending was also condemned during the Middle Ages, especially by religious leaders.
But in the 16th century, attitudes toward luxury began to soften as trading flourished. Port cities like Venice became major trading centers and received a steady flow of goods from Asia, including spices, pearls, porcelain, silk, and gems. As a result, affluent Venetians developed a taste for the finer things, building themselves beautiful palaces and becoming patrons of the arts.
In the 17th century, Louis XIV created a thriving luxury goods industry that boosted the economy and employed one-third of Parisians. He helped turn France into the fashion capital of the world and created fashion seasons by mandating that new styles be released every summer and winter.
He also took on a variety of construction projects during his reign, including the renovation of Versailles. He made it into the grandest palace of his time by adding several new wings and building an impressive garden complete with grottos, fountains, and a zoo for exotic animals.
During the 19th century, American industrialists like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt flaunted their wealth by throwing lavish parties and building mansions worthy of European royalty. Pictured above is Biltmore Estate, a 250-room French chateau that Vanderbilt constructed to serve as his summer home.
Today, the way we consume luxury goods has changed. The wealthy are much more concerned about the ethics and sustainability of the things they buy.
There’s also a movement within fashion to make luxury more accessible and affordable. Companies like Kate Spade and Michael Kors offer high-quality goods at a lower price-point than traditional luxury brands, allowing middle-class consumers to enjoy indulgences without breaking the bank.
What makes a product luxurious? A big part of it is the quality of the materials.
In general, natural materials are considered more luxurious than synthetics. High-end consumers prefer real diamonds to lab-grown, silk to man-made satin, and hardwood to laminate. In mansions and walk-in closets, you’ll find natural materials such as:
- Exotic leather
However, synthetic materials are sometimes used in luxury goods. Stella McCartney, a lifelong vegetarian and prominent fashion designer, only uses faux leather in her line of luxury handbags. Louis Vuitton also makes their best-selling monogram purses with cotton canvas instead of leather, presumably to increase their profit margins.
Although these handbags aren’t made of real leather, they’re able to command premium prices. This suggests that luxury isn’t just about the quality of the materials — it’s also about the brand.
Modern Luxury Brands
In 2019, Interbrand released a list of the most popular luxury brands. Louis Vuitton topped the list with a $32 billion valuation, followed by Chanel and Hermès. Gucci was the fastest growing luxury brand of the year, expanding at a rate of 23%.
One of the main things that these brands have done to stay relevant is collaborate with celebrities and influencers.
Chanel recently released a collection of clothing and accessories with popular singer Pharell Williams. Louis Vuitton has also expanded their reach by signing a deal with Oscar-winning actress Emma Stone, making her the face of the company.
Amazing Luxury Homes and Mansions
If we lived in one of these amazing mansions, we’d never leave. They have high-quality finishes and incredible amenities like indoor pools and tennis courts. Read on to learn more about these drool-worthy homes and take a peek inside.
Asherwood in Carmel, Indiana
As the Indystar reports, Asherwood is a 107-acre estate that once belonged to mall magnate Melvin Simon, and is valued at $25 million.
It clocks in at 50,000 square feet and has seven bedrooms, over a dozen bathrooms, a two-story library, and a palatial wood-paneled great room.
Asherwood Estate is also packed with unique amenities like a billiards room, custom theater, commercial kitchen, and indoor swimming pool. It even has a private spa and an eighteen hole golf course.
Carolwood Drive Mansion, Los Angeles, California
This mansion on Carolwood Drive, one of the most expensive streets in Los Angeles, sold for a whopping $100 million dollars. It has 30,000 square feet, 10 bedrooms, and 30 baths, plus amenities like a nail salon, basketball court, and tennis court.
Carolwood Mansion even has a club complete with a theater, wine room and separate valet entrance - perfect for entertaining.
Gemini Estate in Manalapan, Florida
Gemini Estate in Florida is valued at nearly $140 million. It has three guesthouses and a main house with over 60,000 square feet of living space, a dozen bedrooms, and incredible ocean views.
The estate also has a boatload of amenities, including a wine cellar, golf area, tennis court, half basketball court, spa, and a dock and pier on the lake for water sports.
Luxury Home Interiors
Even if you don’t own a 30,000 square foot mansion, you can still make your home feel luxurious. Take a look at these high-end interiors for some design inspiration.
Luxury Living Rooms
These luxurious living rooms have stunning details like high ceilings, wood beams, and stone fireplaces.
But even if your home doesn’t have much character, you can still make it feel high-end by adding a chandelier, statement art, and luxury furniture like velvet couches or leather armchairs.
The silver sculptures, plush faux fur rug, and white leather couches add a luxe feel to this modern living room.
Adding a statement light fixture like the one shown above can transform a plain living room into something special.
Putting a huge television in the center of your living room can detract from your decor and make your room look less refined. We like that this elegant living room has a mirror over the fireplace instead of a TV.
You can’t go wrong with velvet living room furniture like this green tufted couch above—it instantly makes the space look more polished and elegant.
Or another option would be this green velvet sofa from Global Views:
The bedrooms below are truly relaxing retreats. They have plush bedding, luxury furniture, and beautiful architectural details like herringbone floors and wood paneling.
If you want to transform your room into an oasis that will melt your stress away, look to these rooms for inspiration.
Creating a feature wall can add visual interest to a boxy bedroom. The backlit marble slab above draw the eye up and make this small room look bigger.
Bedding, sheets, mattresses, and pillows are big components of luxury bedrooms, so don’t forget about them. Investing in high thread count sheets, a comfortable mattress, and a thick, fluffy duvet will make your bedroom look and feel more luxurious.
If you have some extra square footage in your bedroom, consider adding a small sitting area and accenting it with a chandelier.
Short on space?
Even a small pouf or velvet armchair will class up your room.
Luxury kitchens like the ones shown below have gorgeous finishes and top of the line appliances, making them a joy to cook in.
The contrast between the black marble island and custom white cabinets makes this ornate kitchen even more striking. Consider painting your island a bold color to catch people’s attention.
The quickest way to make your kitchen look luxe is to have two islands—one for cooking and another for relaxing and drinking wine.
Mixing rustic and elegant decor is a great way to make your kitchen stand out. We love how the exposed wood beams in this country chic kitchen contrast with the classy chandeliers.
Luxury appliances like the La Cornue Château stove in the photo above are definitely worth the splurge. Not only will they make your kitchen more luxurious, but also more functional.
Planning a bathroom remodel? Take a look at these luxurious spa-like bathrooms to get some design ideas.
Tile isn’t just for showers! Consider taking marble or porcelain tiles all the way up to the ceiling for a dramatic effect.
The row of arched windows and freestanding soaker tub are the focal points of this luxurious bathroom.
This open-air master bathroom has a rustic yet elegant feel. The custom stonework, copper tub, and dark wood details give it an earthy vibe, while the crystal chandelier adds a touch of glamor.
Luxury Home Offices
Working in one of these beautiful home offices would really increase our productivity! They have custom wood details like paneling and bookshelves and luxury executive office furniture that’s both functional and stylish.
This two-level office is located in the turret of a castle in Portland, Oregon. It features reclaimed wood bookshelves, a river rock fireplace, and a hand-painted clock on the ceiling of the second floor.
This sleek, modern office features a vibrant painting by artist Zsolt Bodoni-Dombi and custom teak cabinetry, which costs $10,000 or more to make and install.
No one says paneling has to be dark brown! The vibrant color palette and pattern mixing in this luxury office gives it a playful yet chic look.
The crystal chandelier, dark wood panelling, and patterned maroon armchairs give this two-level office a glamorous vibe.
Most people can’t afford 10,000 square foot mansions or expensive designer handbags, us included. But you can add a little luxury to your life by taking design inspiration from fashion magazines and mansions. With a little creativity, you can create a luxe look for less!