Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Hotel Living

I was looking through some decorating magazines today and there it was again. It’s an obsession with “hotel” living. There are “hotel” linens, everything from sheets to comforters to bath towels. Presumably, this is so, we can have our homes look just like a fancy hotel. What?

In the past, it used to be that we wanted things to look like home or even be “homey”. We had people like Martha Stewart tell us how to make our homes look more beautiful. We have a whole network devoted towards home and garden television. And yet, we want things to look like a hotel.

I never understood this. I used to travel as part of my job. Travel was always the least favorite part. I love flying, especially the take off, when you are in a huge jet. The faster, the better. I love experiencing a new city. I love seeing new things and getting a different perspective. I enjoy dining with my clients or my friends. However, what I never enjoyed were the hotel rooms. Always, very generic. Even worse, were the bathrooms: very bland, almost always neutrals, and somewhat utilitarian. The faucets, especially the showers, are plain. I am never guaranteed a really hot bath. Sometimes, I get lucky. What I dislike most, is that none of the rooms are personal. There is absolutely nothing to remind you of home. Sure, you can bring things from home, like they recommend in the magazines. However, my suit case is usually filled to the brim and the last thing I am going to bring is extra stuff. Even worse were the bed coverings or comforters. I could never get out of my mind all the people who slept in the room before me.

It’s also not about extravagance. Yes, certainly, some of our homes are more opulent than others. Some are beautiful and some are not. But the best part is always walking through the door and knowing you are home. It’s about being surrounded with things that you love, whether it’s beautiful artwork, a chandelier, pictures of family, beloved pets and/or your children. It’s about good home cooked meals with vegetables from your garden. It’s about making recipes that have been handed down through generations. It’s about looking out over your own garden and having your own flowers on the bedside or kitchen table. There is nothing better than sleeping in our own beds or taking a candlelight bath in our own bathroom with faucets and lighting that we have selected. At home, everything is perfect for “us”. At home, your house is different than your neighbors. In a hotel, we all have basically the same rooms, just more luxuries, depending on how much you are willing to pay.

And it’s not about staying in nicer hotels. That’s totally missing the point. It’s not about money or style, but about being “personal”.

There’s also a trend with industrial or restaurant style kitchens. Every kitchen looks the same: granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Boring!! Very boring! I remember one kitchen that I saw on t.v. last year. It was created by Paula Deen of the Food Network’s Paula’s Home Cooking (who I love!). She designed a kitchen for a young couple. What was great about this kitchen was the attention to detail and the personalization. The kitchen was done in the couple’s favorite color, blue. It featured a salt water aquarium (she worked at the zoo if I recall with the sea lions), a cobalt blue Aga range, a Tiffany lamp and a hand carved round cutting board carved with sea lions. It had a custom granite countertop in a rare shade of blue. What I loved most about this kitchen was that it reflected “their” taste and was extremely personal. (Okay, I did love the stove too!) It was not industrial and it was not like their neighbors. How many people do you know that have a cutting board carved with anything, let alone sea lions?

People’s obsession with hotel living I think comes in part because we have gotten away from personalizing our homes. We have so much now, that we can go out and do so many things, that we rarely spend time at home. I watch home and garden television and am amazed at how many shows will depict someone’s home with “white” walls. Of all the colors in the world, I fail to understand why someone would have “white” walls. True, some people don’t have a knack for interior design but how can you expect to be your best and do your best every day if you have an environment that is lackluster or downright boring? I’ll never know. In the meantime, I’ll go back to looking at my magazine, trying to find ways to personalize my home.

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