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James Swan

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Living Luxury Regardless of Your Budget

living luxury

Living Luxury Regardless of Your Budget

“Luxury is anything that feels special. I mean, it can be a moment, it can be a walk on the beach, it could be a kiss from your child, or it could be a beautiful picture frame, a special fragrance. I think luxury doesn’t necessarily have to mean expensive.” Aerin Lauder

In the face of media coverage that touts the glories of excessive living, fueled by an illusion of unlimited funds and unrestricted access it’s easy to draw the conclusion that luxury is reserved only for the wealthiest among us.  I’m happy to report that this is not true. In fact, if you reflect on the definition of luxury as proposed above my Ms. Lauder nothing is farther from the truth.  When we define living luxury to mean anything that feels special it’s amazing how long the list can grow, of things we can frame as luxurious.

To prove the point I’ve dedicated the balance of this article to a long list of things that “feel special” to me and that I deem to be luxurious.  What would be on your list?

A starched shirt, a warm terry-cloth towel, a cashmere sweater on a chilly afternoon

The airy feel of a crystal goblet, peanut butter and jelly on warm toast, puppy breathe

A scented candle, leather bound book, crisp bed linens and a single orchid plant

A leather notebook, a weighty fountain pen, the Sunday comics, sunsets

The smell of lavender, a new suitcase, pumpkin carving, a heavy wool jacket

New shoes, a little black dress, cufflinks and a linen shirt on a hot summer day

Silver picture frames, a camera in hand, Christmas decorations, kittens

An inspired idea, a hot cup of coffee, home-made cookies, a zero-balance on your credit card

A smile, a hug, holding hands with someone special, mistletoe

The smell of a roasting turkey, a crackling fire, receiving flowers, falling snow

Falling rain, water-proof boots, an umbrella, hot tea

An old friend, a newspaper, well-worn jeans, a turtleneck sweater

Thunderstorms, rainbows, splashing in a puddle, dry clothes

Stacks of books, time, quiet, bees-wax

As you can see my list is hardly filled with items of exaggerated expense; in fact most are ‘things’ gently woven into daily life for most people, myself included. What elevates them to the status of luxury is our mindset, our awareness and our appreciation.

If we move through our lives with a mindset that regularly searches for the beautiful, the precious and the dear then these will be the things we find. And with each discovery there will be added layer that transmutes the experience into one of great and lingering luxury.

A great mindset will be put to waste if our eyes are not wide open to receive, to see, to perceive these delicious finds often tucked into ordinary corners of our lives.

And, of course, without a level of gratitude or appreciation all the living luxury in the world can quickly become expected and we begin to take for granted more than we are grateful for. This negates the entire exercise.

It’s much better to be wrapped-up in the many little luxuries which a conscious and grateful mindset discovers than all the expensive ‘toys’ in the world.

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About the author, James

With the launch of the new podcast, Million Dollar Decorating, James Swan adds media-host to his career accomplishments. The interview-based show becomes the first daily podcast devoted to the worlds of design, decorating and beautiful living and features interviews with the world’s leading designers, decorators, architects and artisans. Life-style leaders like Robert Couturier, Sandra Nunnerly, Vicente Wolf and Timothy Corrigan populate the podcast where unguarded conversations reveal behind-the-scenes sources of inspiration, resources and stories that inspire and motivate.
James Swan has built a career crafting classically influenced interiors across the United States. Swan has been featured in House & Garden, House Beautiful, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and The Chicago Tribune and wrote for the “Trends & Shopping” column in House & Garden magazine. His book “101 Things I Hate About Your House” won a 2011 American Bookseller’s Award.
Television appearances on HGTV’s “Homes Across America,” speaking engagements with the professional design industry association NEOCON, regular guest spots on national radio programs have consistently placed Swan in the media spotlight.
Swan’s career took off back in Northern California at a noted San Francisco architecture firm, where he managed residential interiors. After that, Los Angeles beckoned, specifically the prestigious design firm of Frank K. Pennino & Associates, where as senior designer he managed high-profile projects, and earned a reputation for refined classical design that succinctly reflected his clients’ lives. In 1999, Swan opened his own firm in Beverly Hills.
Swan has a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology and music from Southwestern College in Waxahachie, Texas, and studied in Arizona State University's Architecture and Design master's degree program.
Swan is a past member of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, serving on its Executive Board of Directors. His other commitments include PAWS/LA, which assists with the care of pets for people living with disabilities, and KidSmart, an art education foundation for inner-city youth. In his free time, Swan may be found furthering his passion for skiing and traveling. Currently he lives and works from his home on the Maine coast.