At its core, elegance is the characteristic of being “graceful and stylish in appearance or manner.” Elegance is attractive, mature, and sophisticated while still being approachable. Elegance, particularly in design and personal style, is one of the first qualities that outsiders notice, and elegance certainly causes a favorable and lasting first impression.
But the word – elegant – can sound pretty imposing and unapproachable. You don’t have to have baroque or gold-plated tastes to have elegance in your design, though. Quite the opposite is true. Elegant design is possible (and recommended) for every style and taste. In this article, we’ll break down what, exactly, elegance looks like in a variety of styles and situations.
Clean and Nice-Smelling. Elegance requires physical cleanliness. No matter your style, it cannot be elegant if it is not clean. Scrubbed walls, laundered upholstery, vacuumed rugs – all of these are elegant details for one’s home. Also, a lovely scent in your space will go far in leaving a lasting impression of elegance.
Organized and Tidy. Organization and tidiness are inherently related to cleanliness, and these characteristics are also part of elegance. Use tasteful, strategic storage solutions in your design. Keep décor well-edited and clutter to a minimum.
Clean, Contemporary Lines. Elegant design also involves cleanliness in the lines of your space – in the architecture, furniture, and décor. Modern minimalism exhibits contemporary elegance, with its clean lines and forms that speak for themselves with confidence and sophistication.
However, if you prefer other design styles in your life, don’t fear – opt for forms and proportions that most generously support your unique style for an elegant and unapologetic aesthetic.
Classic Elements. Elegance itself is timeless, although the specific trends that are seen as “elegant” may vary from era to era. However, the incorporation of classic elements into your space is elegant. Classic doesn’t mean stuffy or buttoned-up; rather, it simply means something that has withstood the test of design time and always comes out on top.
Things such as classic color combinations (such as black and white or blue and gold), classic neutral colors (such as grey or navy), or classic pieces (such as a fabulous armchair, sofa, or armoire) will all lend elegance to your space no matter what your style.
Quality Pieces. While you’re selecting the perfect classic, elegant elements for your space, don’t overlook the importance of picking quality pieces. To achieve elegance (and to save money in the long-run), you’ll need to avoid filling your space with a bunch of trendy, cheap items.
Opt instead for higher quality things that you love and that will stand the test of time. This quality adds intrinsic elegance to a space, whether you think anyone will notice or not. (They will.)
Simple, Strategic Accessories. For maximum elegant appeal in your design, you should take care to incorporate relative simple accessories and décor. Avoid extravagant accessories and overly showy accents – these tend to veer the aura away from elegance rather than toward it.
You’ll want to select accessories and accents that complement the entire space – its architecture, its lighting, its features, and its style – rather than standing out solely on their own. Then keep these accessories and accents well-edited to avoid the feeling of clutter and chaos.
Sleek and Technological. Elegance in today’s design world is sleek. This includes technologically savvy spaces. Keep your design up-to-date with technology, even in the most basic forms. For example, you display elegance in your space with smart cord management, updated light fixtures, even USB charging outlets, none of which has to cost a lot to give off an elegant air.
A Mix of Showy and Subtle Details. Where historical elegance may have been more associated with opulence and over-the-top showiness, today’s elegant designs exhibit more subtlety in details. Although elegant spaces can certainly have featured items (e.g., a gorgeous fireplace, show window, or even piece of art), not everything in the design itself has to be front-and-center. Quite the opposite.
Elegance involves utilizing a spectrum of design players – a small few in the spotlight, and many subtle design and décor elements serving as the support team and foundation.
Ultimately, if you incorporate these elements of elegance into your design, your space will adopt an underlying sense of elegance and taste that you AND your visitors will recognize and love.