NZ House & Garden - - CONTENTS - SALLY DUG­GAN

‘What is lux­ury to you?” I’ve been ask­ing my friends this month. “Eat­ing lunch with­out be­ing in­ter­rupted,” said Cather­ine, a pri­mary school teacher who, I imag­ine, usu­ally grabs mouth­fuls of sand­wich be­tween at­tend­ing to kids’ dra­mas. I thought, at first, that this seemed like an ex­tremely mod­est def­i­ni­tion of lux­ury, but then my busy-busy young doc­tor friend Kim­berly told me she treats her­self by sit­ting on the couch while she cleans her teeth.

And it was the same for most of the peo­ple I talked to. Their lux­u­ries were lit­tle mo­ments that de­liv­ered a long-over­due dose of some­thing scarce in their life. “Sleep,” said my friends with ba­bies. “Sun, sun, sun,” said my friend Crys­tal on a bleak and rainy day.

“A full belly and a sleep­ing bag after a wet day’s tramp­ing,” said my hus­band Nick.

For a mag­a­zine editor want­ing to fill pages of a lux­ury-themed is­sue with ideas and images that scream in­dul­gence and ease, this was not a lot of help. “What about stuff?” I asked my friends. “What about truly lux­u­ri­ous things?”

“Clean sheets!” said a fright­en­ingly large num­ber. “Fluffy tow­els,” said my niece Hazel. “Feta-stuffed bell pep­pers and av­o­cado in a salad,” said my daugh­ter Kate.

Which are things, yes, but small reg­u­lar-plea­sure things: not the lus­cious gleam­ing gold and jewel-coloured ob­jects of de­sire and the sump­tu­ous lay­ers of bed­ding that our stylists had in mind when they put to­gether the luxe-themed pages in this is­sue (pages 46 and 145).

Not one per­son went re­ally BIG with their lux­u­ries. No one said: “Those gor­geous $2200 gilded brass palm lights from Kartell,” (see page 49) or even any­thing re­motely like that.

Which is, of course, a sign of the times: the global zeit­geist spec­i­fies a pared-down life, and my friends are sen­si­tive, well-mean­ing souls with a dis­taste for ex­ces­sive con­sump­tion.

But I’m going to play the devil’s ad­vo­cate here. The fact re­mains that beau­ti­ful well­crafted things (and yes, they often cost heaps) can de­liver real, re­peated mo­ments of joy. The lovely down quilt on my bed (eye-wa­ter­ingly ex­pen­sive when I bought it) may not give me the same burst of well­be­ing that a good night’s sleep does an ex­hausted parent – but every sin­gle night as it set­tles, light and warm, over my body, I have a moment of pure toe-curl­ing plea­sure. That’s lux­ury too.

Just some­times, I reckon, it’s healthy to splash out on some­thing re­ally spe­cial: to en­joy a big treat as well as the lit­tle, daily ones. You could, for ex­am­ple – just say­ing, Kim­berly – shout your­self a soul-warm­ing and eye-pleas­ing, spicered vel­vet sofa like the one of page 46 to sit on while you clean your teeth. Now, that would be real lux­ury.

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