The WOW factor is not about glitz, prestige or money. It is about enticement and mystery.
This simply cannot be done if your home looks like everyone else’s. Your house simply will not have it if it is merely functional and nothing else. Your home will also struggle to have it if it is fully fitted out from any one single store, be that IKEA or Poliform. It will simply look like a showroom. It will be predictable and while familiarity is great in many areas of our lives, aesthetically it is boring and bland.
A friend of mine owns a stunning home in Bali which he rents out at a premium when he is not there himself. The villa has been designed and decorated with superb pieces of furniture and lighting specifically sourced for the house. Not all expensive, but they are all beautiful and not readily available. On a recent visit I noticed the addition of cheap fruit bowl on centre of the table. Not only was dead ugly, it was something that could be bought for a few dollars on the island. Putting the aesthetics of the offending bowl aside, I explained to my friend that it ruins the whole look and feel of his ‘exclusive’ and ‘stylish’ home. The problem with the bowl was not that it cost $2 (I have lots of things in my home that cost very little), but because the bowl can be found in every crappy little shop throughout Bali. When you see the bowl you associate it with that context. It immediately cheapens everything else in the house.
So, the WOW factor has nothing to do with cost, although often the best-made things, of the nicest materials, are more expensive. It has to do with a feeling that is conveyed. It’s about the unexpected and about evoking an emotion. It’s about dramatically changing someone’s state. It’s about contrast which is why a pure white villa can create a WOW in the bustle of the tropics, but a white house in a new suburban development can feel bland. It means different things to different people. It can be bold and dramatic or it can be calm serene and understated. It should make people literally say WOW, and take their breath away. My staircase wallpapered in Fornasetti’s Nuvolette clouds does that without fail, but so does the inky blue walls with its bare Edison light bulbs in the bedroom of a bachelor apartment I designed.
The easiest and most effective way of creating some WOW is on the walls: think colour or wallpaper. As many of you know wallpaper is a passion of mine and I am working on a post talking about how to most effectively use it. Stay tuned.
What is the WOW factor for you? How have you incororpated it into your home?
I will be talking about this and more in my upcoming design workshop. It’s being held at my studio and I am keeping it intimate so there will be lots of opportunity to ask questions. It’s on Sunday 28 August 2016 from 10am-1pm and you can book online through Eventbrite.