It’s grey outside and winter is getting a little tiresome. But, as mother always said, it’s best to look on the bright side. So I’m thinking about introducing a little decadence and opulence into the home as a way to boost the spirits. You know, touches of richness such as silk or satiny fabrics, over-the-top chandeliers, gilt-edged furniture with elaborate handles, and fringed lampshades.

The look reminds me of living like a movie star in the ’30s and ’40s. So it’s not at all strange that some call the look “Hollywood Regency.” It’s really an eclectic mix of Asian, Baroque, Neo-classic and Art Deco. But whatever it is, it’s all over the place these days.

Torononians can take a a peek at what it looks like, check out the Dream Home at the National Home Show. There you’ll see all manners of shiny and rich detailing: Mirrored furniture, lighting with crystals, shiny enameled furniture, gilded decorative birdcages or furniture, shimmering reflective patterned wallpapers, and so on.

It’s all about the details. Small ornate touches give a feeling of richness and wealth; it wafts glitz and glamour. However, to save the look from going totally overboard, the rich detailing is combined with clean-looking décor foundations, a luxurious minimalist look, if you will. For example, introduce a few elaborately upholstered old-fashioned chairs with button tufting, or a buffet edged in gilt into a quieter contemporary space.

No doubt about it, there’s Hollywood tacky with too many home decor items that scream, “Hey, look at me, I’m rich.” Not necessarily a classy look. And then there’s Hollywood elegant, a sophisticated look, with a few tasteful nods to decadence, richness and luxury. Designers of the time were creating homes that were destinations, so people in the business could impress each other with their cushy and elegant homes. Not that you necessarily care about this, but the main thing is that you may find you impress yourself with your ability to introduce luxury into your home decor at a time like this.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. In these difficult economic times, putting a luxe touch — a-la-old-fashioned-Hollywood — into your home may seem exactly opposite to what economic realities dictate, but this is precisely what gives the look its appeal. A little luxury can go a long way if you’re feeling a tad bleak. And you don’t need to overdo it and you don’t have to spend a fortune. All you need is a few effective pieces to achieve this look.

For example, black or dark shiny lacquered furniture or surfaces painted with glossy paints are a part of the Hollywood look. Also check out antique shops for furniture with the circular or eight-sided “Chinese medallion” pattern in the chair backs or the front of a china cabinet, for example.

Sumptuous fabrics play a big role in the look as well. Think velvet drapes, silk lampshades with fringes (that you can glue on) and thick, sculpted rugs. Rich and sumptuous throw pillows can make quite a splash, as can decadent faux fur throws. “Chinoiserie”, or Chinese-looking vases and decor items fit nicely into the mix as well.

In the bedroom, if you go for “bedspreads”, think of shiny, silky, or satiny fabrics, with an many of ruffles and elaborate stitching.

Another great thing about this look is that you can safely combine vintage or borderline tacky with a few high-quality details and make the total look work, lowering your redecorating costs. One thing is sure —waiting out the winter in these surroundings will be a pleasure, dahling.


The Dream Home at the National Home Show runs until March 1 at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place.

– Sylvia Putz is a journalist with an interest in decor and design. She’s written for the TV show Arresting Design;

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