True luxury is an investment in amenities that enhance a lifestyle. We canvased five interior designers, all members of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers, to find out what their high-end clients are craving these days. The consensus: it’s all about design, not decoration.

Motorized Window Treatments | Linda Barrett Wagner, ASID, points out that motorized window treatments are gaining in popularity for a variety of reasons. Light control, especially in two-story family rooms (or any room with soaring ceilings), in master bedrooms and for skylights, means eliminating glare and minimizing fading. “We think about sun damage on rugs and upholstery, but I’ve also seen wood floors bleached by the sun,” she observes. Getting rid of unsightly and dangerous cords adds a safety factor, particularly where pets and young children are present. There are also energy benefits and security benefits. The latter is particularly important where the homeowners travel frequently or come and go at a variety of hours. Motorized window treatments can be programmed separately or tied into the home’s other automation systems and can be operated from home or remotely, with settings changed at will. Wagner estimates that the add-on cost for the motorization is $500-$600 per window, but not one client who has had them installed per her recommendation has expressed regret.

In-Home Elevators | In order to preserve the surrounding land, many new homes have a smaller footprint, but extend three to four stores high to achieve generous square footage. And in coastal areas, kitchens may be on the second or third floor to take advantage of water views. In-home elevators make day-to-day living easier, says Laurie Burke-Boice, ASID. Even in a traditional two-story home, if the owners have older parents, or anticipate staying in the home long term, an elevator is a wise investment. From the hallway, the elevator entrance looks just like a closet door. Inside, there is wood paneling, maybe mirrors to make it feel more spacious, artwork to add pizazz, and a floor treatment that matches the home’s foyer.

Sustainable Selections | This trend is particularly prevalent in the under-forty market who desire homes that have the same level of comfort as those they grew up in but who have different aesthetic. Using recycled items is not a question of budget. In many cases, the sustainable choice is more the more expensive option. For example, Esther Chopp, Allied ASID recently completed a home with a bar that is fashioned from recycled wood – original paint included – from Chinese paddleboats. The dining room has a custom chandelier created from a collection of 12 globes, in a variety of sizes and shapes, that came from flea markets around the world. In the kitchen, a vintage black chandelier has acquired more character courtesy of the addition of hanging spoons, forks and knives, all painted in the same black metal. The goal is to create an environment that is interesting, personal, luxurious, and definitely not their parents’ home.

Bathroom Spas | “Relaxation is the ultimate luxury,” says Nancy Mikulich, Associate ASID. “High-end kitchens are for show but the most coveted bathrooms are for restoring one’s equilibrium in a busy, stress-filled world.” Soaking tubs, over-sized steam showers, double showerheads and waterwise toilets are in demand. Marble countertops are always desirable but engineered quartz surfaces like Caeserstone and Cambria are edging out other choices. Full spectrum lighting is key so up-close tasks, like shaving and applying makeup, are easy and the result feels like the bathroom is filled with good natural light.

Customized Details | In the luxury market, clients want their home’s interior to be a piece of art that tells their personal story; they don’t want it to look like the one next door . . . or the one you see in a magazine. And they want a high level of service from everyone on the design team. “They look to the interior designer to find the right product, the right fit, the right comfort level,” says Deborah Leamann, Allied ASID. Going into a store to purchase a suite of furniture is not in their repertoire. And they don’t have them time or the inclination for online shopping. They are also willing to go the extra mile (and the extra cost) for the details that make things distinctive. For example, in addition to being motorized, luxury window treatments have special linings, interlinings, and exquisite trims. Drawers and closets are customized for very particular storage. Lampshades are handmade. Bed linens, towels, napkins and more are monogrammed.

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) sponsors a directory for consumers interested in obtaining the services of a qualified professional interior designer. For residential and commercial listings, visit the ASID New Jersey Chapter’s Designer Directory at

Laurie Burke-Boice, ASID
L.D. Burke Designs
Monmouth Beach, NJ

Esther Chopp, Allied ASID
Phase II Designs
Edison, NJ

Deborah Leamann, Allied ASID
Deborah Leamann Interior Design
Pennington, NJ

Nancy Mikulich, Associate ASID
NLM Design Interiors/Oasis Home
Asbury Park, NJ

Linda Barrett Wagner, ASID
Barrett Wagner Interior Design
Wall, NJ