Reprinted with permission from "Enlightenment By Design," by Helen Berliner, copyright 1999, Shambhala Publications, Inc, Boston.

The word splendor--from the Latin verb "to shine"--means "great light or luster," "brilliance," "a magnificent appearance or display." Splendor is the radiation of richness. It's naturally occurring and can be found in a rock or patch of earth--and in people, places, and things. In design, splendor can express itself in simple things (a splendid porcelain bowl)--or in ways that are magnificent and grand (a black ebony grand piano).

Grandness doesn't fit easily in our speedy world. We are sometimes embarrassed by splendor; magnificence can make us feel small. (Simplicity, on the other hand, makes us feel noble.) In a whole

world, however, splendor and simplicity are two sides of the coin of awareness--and both are a cause for celebration. You could live splendidly in one room and simply in a palace.

  • Place a square of golden yellow acrylic (large or small) in a window with lots of light to stir your imagination.
  • Take one piece of furniture and enrich it as much as you can--the surface, the fabrics, the trim. Choose one accessory for its splendid panache: a richly decorative pillow, a fur lap rug, a hand-painted or cloisonné lamp.
  • Go to a high-end fabric store and find the richest fabric there by looking for rich colors, textures, and weight (not necessarily heavy, just "weighted" with richness). You can see and feel rich "vibrations" when they're there. Buy a yard or two and use it to create a power spot in a special place in your home.
  • Enrich the tops of tables and bureaus with rich surfaces under glass. Use lavish papers--hand-printed, marbleized, gold or silver foil--or a Mexican wedding shawl. Glass tops make the whole surface lustrous.
  • Emphasize colors associated with richness. In addition to yellow and gold, black is often a color for earth, green for increase, and red for attraction. Use gold-colored objects--in addition to foils, gilding, and shiny brass, look for "gold-washed" accessories, tortoiseshell, and amber.

  • Gilding

    Gilding the lily is an expression of richness and splendid display. On festive occasions throughout Indonesia, aristocrats wore sarongs coated with gold dust. In Western Renaissance pageantry, small children were often completely gilded (sometimes with deadly results).

  • Use gold and silver leaf to transform odd pieces of furniture, dull wooden picture frames, or old serving trays. Gold- or silver-leaf the "wrong" side of glass for gilded tabletops. Gild moldings, cornices, cabinet trim, tiles, the odd wall (or your refrigerator). It's easy to do yourself (look for instruction books in your library or home improvement store).
  • Don't be shy about using gold leaf out of doors. Gilding was originally designed to enrich architectural structures and is still used mainly (on signs) outdoors. For exterior gilding (pediments, front door trim, address plaques), a good sign painter can do the job for a reasonable price, so that it's tarnish- and weatherproof.

    Whether your palace is very small or very vast, you are at the center of it. If you pay attention to the many forms of wealth around you and draw them into your space, and cultivate wealth through conduct and design, richness will reign there.

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