This past weekend I had a remarkable experience which reminded me that the American Dream is still alive, a tour of the nominations for the “Most Luxurious Home” in Seal Beach.  During a time of recession, why would we focus on luxury?  Simple, in a relentless media barrage of negativity, luxury is still something which we can relate to as material success and with some positive feelings.  This success is part of the American Dream – what deep down all of us can connect with and ultimately aspire to.  In this way, the exploration of luxury helps us all become more optimistic about life and our own aspirations to comfort and security..

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?  Perhaps, but luxury is not something as fully subjective.  All five homes were remarkably luxurious, but what really is luxury?  According to the Free Dictionary, it is:

  1. Something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort.
  2. Something expensive or hard to obtain.
  3. Sumptuous living or surroundings.

All five of the homes I toured definitely fit the second two definitions, but it was the first definition, which convinced me of a dividing line between everyday luxury and extraordinary luxury.  It is what is fun and entertaining to have but certainly not a necessity in your life.  Art or views could play a part in some of the consideration of luxury, but more often it is the use of space, light, furnishings, electronics and the convenience of choice, which defines luxury in a home.  I saw a remarkable in-home theatre, infinity pool and fire, amazing water features, trompe-l’oeil walls, ceilings and vistas of oceans, nature trails, art, rich furnishings, sumptuous fabrics and gardens galore. I felt that the American Dream was alive and well for these homes and more importantly their owners & families.  It was not a celebration of excess, but a celebration of the attainment of what people desired in their own environment.

This humility and pride coupled together is part of what makes the American Dream so great.  We can be pleased with our accomplishments and generous in sharing it with others.  They in turn can appreciate it.  In one home in particular, there was a very creative family crest done with a modern take in one of the most delightful bar rooms I had ever seen.  In yet another, the interior was the showcase among amazing patterns, décor and artistic elements.  Finally, in another, a fellow judge commented to me “why with all of this, there is never a reason to leave.”  I concur.

So with all of the terrible news in the stock market, late night state budget, housing bubbles bursting and grim financial issues, negotiations where no one seems to win, Seal Beach can hold its head high.  We have a community where individuals can survive and prosper – just like the American Dream, entrepreneurship and our own community newspaper, The Sun.  Luxury, the idea of “sumptuous living” is alive and well.   Congratulations to all of the owners of these homes for sharing and also being proud enough of their accomplishment to be generous with it.  Thanks for helping us all strive to be more successful professionals and remember to shop local!

Seth Eaker is the current President of the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce and is the founder of Black Marble Consulting, LLC., a business consulting and marketing firm.