Think floors are boring? Think again. Arguably it was photographer Sebastian Erras’s project @parisianfloors that got us studying the world beneath our feet so intently.His Instagram account features pictures of the intricate and colorful floors that he found himself surrounded by in Paris, and has more than 80,000 followers. But this isn’t news to designers and architects the world over, who have long known the power of a solid floor, from glittering marble to humble wood, to make or break a building.

Mosaic: Sicis
Sicis, located in Ravenna – itself on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for its spectacular collection of mosaics dating back to the fifth century – uses marble, silver, and gold in its dazzling creations. Each design is produced by master craftsmen, who combine centuries of acquired knowledge with cutting-edge technologies to create bespoke, contemporary mosaic works of art for homes and public spaces.

Above, and banner image: Mosaic designs by Sicis. The company's founder and president, Maurizio Leo Placuzzi, hopes the new flagship store in London will become a “destination venue for professionals and clients looking for inspiration, uniqueness, and fine craftsmanship.”
Above, and banner image: Mosaic designs by Sicis. The company’s founder and president, Maurizio Leo Placuzzi, hopes the new flagship store in London will become a “destination venue for professionals and clients looking for inspiration, uniqueness, and fine craftsmanship.”

Marble: I Vassalletti
Tuscan design company I Vassalletti also looks to the past when it comes to manufacturing its sumptuous inlaid floor designs, paneling, and one-off pieces of furniture – to the artisan shops of the Renaissance where young masters learned their craft from the elder statesmen of design. To create unique floors, handcrafted paneling, and interior schemes, the firm works exclusively with a small team of trusted local craftsmen, who between them have thousands of hours of experience, and who are keeping traditional craft alive in an ever-more-mechanized world.

Noteworthy I Vassalletti projects include an oak wardrobe inset with transparent resin that is backlit to glow ethereally in different colors, and the Giona flooring (above) in absolute-black marble, which features oak inlay that's finished with natural wax.
Noteworthy I Vassalletti projects include an oak wardrobe inset with transparent resin that is backlit to glow ethereally in different colors, and the Giona flooring (above) in absolute-black marble, which features oak inlay that’s finished with natural wax.

Tiles: Heath Ceramics
Known for its beautiful glazes, handcrafted character, and high quality, Heath Ceramics was originally founded by Edith and Brian Heath in 1948. Edith was the first non-architect to win the prestigious AIA Industrial Arts Medal, for the exterior tiles on Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum, and original examples of her work can be found in the permanent collections of museums such as MoMA. The California company – now with showrooms in San Francisco and Los Angeles – has been run by Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey since 2003, and although the iconic, midcentury aesthetic remains, these days the company collaborates with artists, mavericks, and individuals looking for something extra-special for their home.

Hand-glazed and characterized by a midcentury aesthetic, Heath Ceramics’ tiles provide endless opportunities for creative, custom designs – such as this mix-and-match concept by Stacia Garriott Kass for her vintage store, Sojourn, in Sawyer, Michigan. Photograph: Mike Schwartz
Hand-glazed and characterized by a midcentury aesthetic, Heath Ceramics’ tiles provide endless opportunities for creative, custom designs – such as this mix-and-match concept by Stacia Garriott Kass for her vintage store, Sojourn, in Sawyer, Michigan. Photograph: Mike Schwartz

Wood: Dinesen
For those who like their floors pale but interesting, this 118-year-old family-owned Danish company is the place to turn to. They passionately believe in the natural beauty of wood; their mission is to “preserve and respect the personality of the original tree” when producing their 50-foot (15-meter) planks of Douglas fir, responsibly sourced primarily from the Black Forest.

Favored by design aficionados and architects worldwide, Dinesen epitomizes the Scandi-luxe look, and was the floor of choice when Copenhagen's Noma was redesigned.
Favored by design aficionados and architects worldwide, Dinesen epitomizes the Scandi-luxe look, and was the floor of choice when Copenhagen’s Noma was redesigned.

*Fuente: Luxury Defined, Christies International Real Estate


Focus On These 5 Features To Sell Your House Faster

From kitchen updates to backyard decks, these are the features to consider if you’re hoping to sell to a first-time homebuyer.

If you own a midsized home (especially in a hot suburban real estate market like Cary, NC, or Chesapeake, VA), you may be selling to a younger demographic. Millennials have begun entering the home-buying market and, according to a Trulia survey, are specifically interested in homes between 2,000 and 2,600 square feet. If your house already includes these five features, you’re in luck: Your house has the amenities this group will be looking for by 2018, when 72% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 plan to buy a home. Read on to learn which features will help you sell your home fast, and how you can renovate your home now to be ready to sell in a few short years.

1. Backyard deck

Few things disappoint a millennial more than discovering their otherwise-perfect dream home has no back deck. If you don’t have one, or if you have a tiny afterthought-type deck, consider building one for the 59% of millennial homebuyers who, according to Trulia’s survey, adore this feature.

Besides pressure-treated pine, there are composite deck materials, which many homebuyers prefer. Composite materials require less maintenance and can be just as beautiful as wood — or even more so. But they often cost more to build with. Split-level decks and built-ins are also great features to consider when designing a back-deck addition.

2. Gourmet kitchen

Remodeling your kitchen can be a great way to see a sizable ROI and will keep your home attractive to buyers in a competitive market — 53% of young buyers surveyed are interested in gourmet kitchens. But do you know what constitutes a gourmet versus a functional kitchen? Here’s your formula for a millennial’s dream kitchen: state-of-the-art appliances, impressive surfaces, and storage galore.

Gourmet cooks and gas ranges go together like love and marriage. Double ovens (one being convection), warming ovens (much better to keep foods warm than zapping in the microwave), and a microwave drawer are other impressive features to include in a kitchen overhaul. And if you don’t have room for a separate fridge and freezer, choose a fridge with a freezer drawer on the bottom.

Stainless steel or stone countertops are good options, especially when paired with a subway tile backsplash. If those just aren’t in the budget, choose a laminate that mimics the look. “Millennials have grown up on HGTV and want the look of a granite countertop, even if the seller has used less expensive materials to achieve that look,” says Melissa Rubenstein, a New Jersey real estate agent. And you know cooks will open all the cabinets and drawers to see what’s what. Impress potential buyers with a big pantry, impressive use of space — such as a sliding spice rack — and lots of cabinet room.

Can’t afford to go totally gourmet? “Definitely spend the money on a cosmetic update,” says Ann Wilkins, a San Francisco, CA, real estate agent. “New counters, subway tile backsplash, and freshly painted (white) cabinets go a long way in updating a kitchen for minimal money.”

3. Open floor plan

If you have an open floor plan, you’ll attract 45% of millennials, who use the space for socializing while cooking, keeping an eye on the kids, and having a more impressive entertaining space. Plus, the open floor plan lets in more light, which makes your house show better. If your house still has a staged living and dining room, be honest: How many times a year do you use these rooms? Only on holidays, right? Remove those walls and create an open floor plan. (Of course, you might need to leave up a partial wall or install some posts to hold up the house!)

4. Balcony with a view

If you’ve got a balcony with a view, you’re golden — 60% of millennials put this at the top of their lists in Trulia’s survey. While you can’t create a view from scratch, you can make your balcony more inviting. Add some flower boxes on the top railing for enhanced privacy. Create a welcoming seating area with bench seating along the walls or add outdoor tables and chairs to show potential buyers how they can enjoy dining alfresco.

5. Vegetable garden

Question: What do millennials and the sweet grandma down the street have in common? Answer: They both love vegetable gardens.

Besides posting pictures on social media of their homegrown produce, large numbers of millennials are truly interested in getting back to nature and living a simple, healthy lifestyle. Buying organic can be pricey, so being able to grow produce is hugely attractive to 40% of millennials surveyed. Start a garden yourself, or at least point out the perfect spot in your yard for growing vegetables.



Top Celebrity Home Buyers & Sellers of the Past Decade

These stars are experts at scratching that real estate itch.

In the 10 years since Zillow rose from a twinkle in co-founders Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink’s eyes to an online real estate powerhouse, home-loving celebrities have been powering through some real estate of their own.

Oprah was far and away the top home buyer during that decade-long stretch. But Ellen DeGeneres, Cher and Nicolas Cage (hello, “Moonstruck”!) were no slouches in the home buying and selling arena during that time.

Oprah Winfrey

America’s favorite billionaire owns homes all over the country, from Chicago to Nashville to Hawaii. She’s even bought a 2-bedroom in a small Indiana town where she once owned a whole farm.

Recently, the television mogul paid $14 million for a high-tech mansion in the box-canyon ski town of Telluride — complete with a seven-person hot tub and a “wine mine” — and $28.85 million at a recent auction for this sprawling horse farm in Montecito.


Ellen DeGeneres

Beloved comedian and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres has been buying copious numbers of homes since before she married Portia de Rossi. “I’ve never bought to sell. I always say: ‘This is it. I’m never moving.’ People laugh at me now,” she told The New York Times.

DeGeneres bought this Malibu home from fellow house-flipper Brad Pitt.


She also spent $26.5 million on an acreage in Montecito with ocean views.


A couple of years ago, she went on a streak of owning homes for just 6 months each, including the famed Brody House in Los Angeles.

Nicolas Cage

“Other people own beachfront property; I have ghost-front property,” actor Nicolas Cage said of owning the most haunted mansion in New Orleans, the Lalaurie House.

Not that he limits himself to ghosts. Among the dozen-plus places he’s called home over the past decade are a castle in Bath, England, and a castle-looking home in Rhode Island, which he sold at a 60 percent loss.

Nicolas Cage RI home exterior


The multi-talented entertainer with seemingly endless energy found time over the past decade to trade real estate, including buying this home in the coveted 90210 ZIP code.

Cher's home

She also bought a home in Malibu where family reportedly live. It’s near her villa there, where she told Architectural Digest “every room has two views of the ocean.” The remodel of her villa wasn’t cheap, she acknowledged. “My mother once said to me, ‘What you need is a very rich man.’ And I said, ‘Mother, I am a very rich man.’”

Cher has also sold a slew of homes in recent years, from Palm Springs to West Hollywood to Los Angeles, where her son Elijah Blue reported lived in this home near Venice Beach:

Living Room 2

And she auctioned off her Hawaiian estate for a hefty $8.72 million:


Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt

Here’s a power couple with a powerful appetite for real estate. They’ve bought at least six homes in the past decade and sold one to Ellen DeGeneres. That doesn’t even count the $22.5 million sale of the Beverly Hills home Pitt and ex-wife Jennifer Aniston sold after their split.

Jolie and Pitt recently cut the listing price on the New Orleans mansion they bought in 2006 for Pitt’s Big Easy filming of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by $850,000.

Brad and Angelina's New Orleans home4

Julia Roberts

Here’s a superstar with a super-long list of homes. Roberts bought her main residence, at Malibu’s Point Dume, in the early 2000s, but has done a fair bit of transacting in the meantime.

She’s asking $26 million for a lush Hawaiian estate that’s near two other Hanalie properties she owns:

Julia Roberts' home4

While she dropped the price on that tropical oasis, Roberts raked in more than she was asking — for a total of $5.35 million — on a Greenwich Village penthouse for which she paid $3.9 million in 2010:

Julia Roberts' living room3

Roberts still has a pad in Manhattan, which she’s reportedly renting out. But she’s unloaded a lot, including homes in her hometown of Smyrna, GA, and in Pacific Palisades, Beverly Hills and Venice, the latter to actor Tim Robbins. Across the country, she’s sold homes in Tennessee, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

For a guy his size, Dwayne Johnson is surprising nimble — at home trading.

The Rock has leaned mostly toward home selling over the past decade — most of those homes in Florida. He’s unloaded at least 10 homes there over the past decade, including this mega-mansion outside Miami with two 3-car garages and a deluxe master bath:


master bathroom

Rosie O’Donnell

Here’s another talk-show host with a voracious appetite for real estate. O’Donnell’s most recent score is this mansion in West Palm Beach with 180 feet of waterfront:


She paid $5.3 million for it, fully furnished, which shouldn’t be a stretch given the $9 million sale a couple of years ago of her Greenwich Village penthouse:

Rosie O'Donnell's living room

She tried unsuccessfully to sell four riverfront homes she collected in Nyack, NY:1 wash ave from the water

But the comedian had better luck selling multi-million-dollar homes in Chicago, Manhattan and Miami Beach.

Kelsey Grammer

While Sideshow Bob was busy being a, well, sideshow on “The Simpsons,” the actor who voices him was center stage in the first season of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” in which his marriage fell apart — precipitating all sorts of real estate swaps.

The property-loving Grammer unloaded many of his and ex-wife Camille’s holdings in recent years, including their main home in Malibu:

Kelsey Grammer main home

The Grammers also let go of homes in Beverly Hills, Hawaii, The Hamptons and this ski retreat in Colorado:


Before his marital woes began, Grammer sold a Bel-Air estate to actress Salma Hayek for $13.5 million.

Reese Witherspoon

For a while, this Oscar winner was a Brentwood fanatic. She bought three homes in the posh Los Angeles enclave, including an “enchanted cottage,” that collectively went for $13.6 million in 2014.

Witherspoon sold her Ojai getaway at a loss:

Reese Witherspoon Ojai home

She picked up a $12.7 million Pacific Palisades mansion, along with two homes in Nashville suited to a Southern belle. One of them is a historic home she plans to restore:

front door


10 Homes For Sale With Stunning Outdoor Kitchens

You’ll never go hungry in these homes with outdoor kitchens as beautiful as their indoor counterparts.

Ever wonder what it would be like to flip burgers while overlooking the Pacific Ocean? Do you imagine whipping up a frozen margarita just steps away from your infinity pool? (Remember — plastic cups only!) Outdoor living and entertaining spaces have exploded in popularity over the past few years, replacing the tried-and-true charcoal grill with full-service cooking areas, including ventilated grills, smokers, rotisseries, weatherproof cabinetry, outdoor refrigerators, stone sinks, and more.

Dream big and take inspiration from these stunning outdoor kitchens across the country, from homes for sale in Malibu, CA, all the way to Myrtle Beach, SC.


Under the Texan sun: $589,900, 2249 Cardinal Blvd., Carrollton, TX 75010

Built in 2011, this four-bed, three-bath home in Carrollton, TX, has a stylish interior and an even more extraordinary exterior. Dine under its pergola or covered patio any night of the week — each part of the outdoor kitchen is complete with ceiling fans to cool you off on a hot summer day. When it does get too hot outside, simply head inside to the indoor kitchen, complete with granite countertops and an island bar area — perfect for gathering friends and family around.

A screened-in dream: $750,000, 222 E. 25th St., Houston, TX 77008

This Houston, TX, abode is a chef’s dream, complete with a screened-in patio and kitchen grill area. There’s no need to ever step inside when a refrigerator, sink, grill, and warmers are all at your fingertips on the patio. Not to mention, the home’s most distinctive amenity — the Jacuzzi tub — is conveniently adjacent to the outdoor bar. As for rainy days, there’s a full bar inside too, as well as two large, renovated bathrooms and a home gym.

Outside on the Intracoastal: $995,000, 1545 Pachino Drive, Myrtle Beach, SC 29579

This extravagant beachside mansion has massive kitchens — inside and out. The backyard features a central cooking area, screened lanai, and a remote-controlled fire pit. Entertaining is easy-breezy on the back patio as the wind from the Intracoastal Waterway joins you for alfresco dining. This new construction Grand Dunes estate was completed in December 2015 and offers large windows that stream in natural light from the home’s expansive backyard.

Myrtle Beach masterpiece: $999,900, 3604 Tabby Lane, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582

Another Myrtle Beach, SC, beauty, this home has breathtaking inlet views to enjoy from the outdoor covered patio. Watch the Carolina Panthers on the outdoor flat-screen TV or sit and enjoy a drink at the bar while your filet mignons sizzle on the grill. The extravagant interior is simply a bonus to the exterior amenities, complete with traditional decor, a large master suite along with three additional bedrooms, and an entryway mudroom with handy built-ins for storage.

Embrace the unusual in Oregon: $1,733,000, Address Not Disclosed, Bend, OR 97703

Vibrant colors are no stranger to this Bend, OR, home — and we hope entertaining isn’t either. Relax by the fire or enjoy happy hour with friends at the shaded outdoor kitchen as you become one with nature. Can you believe those mountain views? Once inside, pear-green accents and plum walls add whimsical charm to this 3,490-square-foot home’s interior.

Chateau California: $9,250,000, 1414 Paseo La Cresta, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274

This chateau-style sanctuary has picturesque views outside its whopping 10,400 square feet. Carefully select a wine to sip while overlooking the Pacific Ocean from the home’s extensive wine cellar. If you tire of the outdoor perks, including a pool, spa, and spacious cooking and dining space, head inside to the home gym, movie theater, or game room. Pro tip: Even if you don’t have an outdoor kitchen, add a bistro set to your own outdoor living space to create a breakfast nook, like on this home’s balcony.

Oceanfront oasis: $10,800,000, 6400 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach, CA 92663

This modern oceanfront abode, called “La Cristal de la Mer” (the Crystal of the Sea), will keep you entertained in its sky lounge, complete with an outdoor fireplace, grill, and dining area. Easily stroll down to the beach from your back door and listen to the waves crash as you watch TV in the indoor/outdoor lounge. Inside, take a decorating note from the home’s award-winning interior designer, Karen Butera: The house features Ann Sacks glass tile, backlit white onyx countertops, Swarovski pendant lighting, and Italian cabinetry.

Malibu’s most wanted: $10,995,000, 28830 Bison Court, Malibu, CA 90265

This ’bu abode will transport you to an island oasis within your own backyard. Create a feast on commercial-grade appliances, then relax as though you’re at a resort on plush white lounge chairs by the pool. This space truly embraces indoor-outdoor living: Almost the entire dining area and (inside) kitchen open to the outside, giving it a luxurious yet exotic feel — the palm trees don’t hurt either. While only minutes from the beaches of Malibu, CA, you’ll never want to leave this California hideaway.

Rooftop haven in Hermosa Beach: $25 million, 2806 The Strand, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

This custom Italianate villa will make your jaw drop: It features custom mosaic tile floors, a great room with 800-gallon saltwater aquarium, and master bath with steam shower, just to name a few perks. But the pièce de résistance is the rooftop kitchen, accessed by a 16-foot rotating skylight (yes, you read that correctly). And there’s more: This five-bedroom, 10-bath home has its own sports bar complete with a pool table and flat-screen TV, a three-car garage, and its own movie theater.

Ski bunny paradise: $36 million, 455 Sunnyside Lane, Aspen, CO 81611

This mountainous haven will surely make you a homebody — everything you could ever dream of is right inside the eight-bedroom, nine-bath property. No heavy lifting required: The home is fully furnished and move-in ready. You’ll be able to cook for your crew in two outstanding kitchens — one inside and, you guessed it, one outside. And while you may get lost in the 14,000-square-foot house, the wafting smell of steaks cooking on the grill will draw you back to the outdoor spa and fire pit.


7 Secrets of Celebrity Real Estate

Stars’ house-hunting expeditions look quite a bit different from everyone else’s.

Never mind what the celebrity magazines say: When it comes to home listings, the stars are not just like us.

Agents who represent celebs on either side of a real estate transaction must tread carefully.

“The last thing you want is your neighbor taking a selfie with your Academy Award,” said Kofi Nartey, who recently launched Compass’ global sports and entertainment division.

1. No cell phones allowed

Nartey and other agents frequently prohibit cell phones inside properties listed by stars. Allowing them is not worth the trouble, and people who are truly interested in buying the home — sometimes celebrities themselves — tend to understand.

2. Discretion is key

Because paparazzi and gossip mongers are constantly lurking, it’s important to be discrete about all sorts of things — including what exactly a celebrity client is looking for in a home. Take the star Nartey represented who was deciding whether to buy homes “based on how many people could fit in the shower.”

That was a tricky expedition. “Sometimes you can tell from photos; sometimes you preview it,” Nartey explains. “Sometimes you call the listing agent and say, ‘This is going to sound odd, but how many people can fit in the shower?’”

3. Tell a story

Celebrities who agree to publicity for their multi-million dollar listings often have more control over the message, and an agent can have a lot of fun with those stories both in the media and in presenting homes to potential buyers.

Michael JordanWhen Nartey was marketing the Michael Jordan estate outside Chicago, which is listed for $14.855 million, “we were able to talk about the breakfast club, which was a group of his teammates who got together for breakfast and to train at his house.”

Even former homes of everyone from Cher to Groucho Marx can gain publicity points for the lingering stardust.

4. Some stars are shy

Fame brings more eyeballs to a property, and sometimes more money. But it can cut both ways: Stars who value privacy must take extraordinary steps to hide their ties to a home.

That can start when the home is bought, by using a trust name and address that’s not traceable to the real owner. Still, photographers and fans have a way of ferreting out celebrities’ homes — one reason that, by the time they sell, they’re ready to leverage their celebrity.

Even then, the going can be rough.

One star had people trying to climb over his fence as soon as news of his listing hit, said Sally Forster Jones of the John Aaroe Group. She has brokered her share of celebrity real estate transactions, including for Mariel Hemingway, Candy Spelling and baseball player Coco Crisp.

5. Other celebs are just weird

It helps when celebrity sellers move to another home so prospective buyers can drop by without invading their privacy. But some insist on staying.

Christophe Choo of Coldwell Banker Previews International in Beverly Hills had one client who hung out in her bedroom during showings and hid behind a screen while potential buyers were in the room.

“I can’t tell you how private some of these clients are,” he said.

6. Watch out for looky loos

People used to dropping by open houses just to snoop can forget about that with celebrity homes — or almost any luxury listing.

Agents are good at sussing out whether you have the dough to buy a place, and whether you’re genuinely interested. There’s the Internet, the polite-but-probing telephone interview, and the network of other agents. Some agents require people to come with their own real estate agents.

“We vet who the buyer is, so they’re not going to see a home just because of the star appeal,” said Forster Jones.

On occasions when an open house is permitted for a select group of brokers, there will often be security guards in bedrooms and even in large closets, Choo said. “There can be maybe 10 people manning a private open house.”

7. Keep the entourage happy

Control is a big deal for many high-end clients, whether they’re used to the limelight or the board room.

“A well-paid billionaire or businessman likes to be in control of situations,” Choo said. Even celebrities who are not control freaks can have PR managers, lawyers and others who are, he said, adding that he can’t mention the names of famous clients whose homes he’s sold.



Luxury homes around the world with play spaces, kid-friendly art, and amenities

Flair, refinement, and…family life? Of course. The comforts and conveniences of luxury living can easily be extended when children are part of the family. Many grand homes and estates boast amenities for kids as well as for adults, and swimming pools and playrooms are only the start. Today’s high-end homes often include arcades and home theaters, pro-style sports courts, or fancifully constructed play spaces. Whether designed to fit in with a sophisticated adult aesthetic or spectacular enough to appeal to even the most discriminating grown-up’s inner child, kid-friendly features are just as attractive and appealing as the properties they enhance.

Chicago Choo-choo
Chicago, Illinois

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The spacious grounds of this handsome Tudor-style home feature wooded landscaping, waterfalls, an expansive wood deck and nearby pool, grassy lawns and stone paths, and a separate two-bedroom coach house. Best of all is a miniature rideable train, with an engine that can pull 10,000 pounds and large enough for children and adults alike to comfortably ride. The train circumnavigates the perimeter of the property, crosses a bridge, and circles the pool deck. Indoors, the billiard and game room likewise has an electric toy train that winds through the room and even through walls to the adjoining family room. Adult spaces are not shortchanged—the magnificent foyer, carved stairway, vaulted and beamed great room, library, sauna, steam room, and wine and fur vaults help ensure that residents and guests of all ages are catered to.

Toronto Toyland
Toronto, Canada

The colorful arcade room in this unique Toronto residence enjoys plenty of natural light and has its own 1950s-style soda bar
The colorful arcade room in this unique Toronto residence enjoys plenty of natural light and has its own 1950s-style soda bar

Spacious and light-filled, this 15,000-square-foot, six-bedroom home presents lovely, tree-filled views from nearly every room. Inside, natural light showcases exquisite craftsmanship and detailing. Parquet wood floors lie beneath the entry skylight, the home office has a wood-panelled ceiling and parquet-detailed walls, the master bedroom has a vaulted night-sky mural set into the ceiling (as well as a full-length treetop view.) The arcade and game room, a source of fun for kids and adults alike, is brightly painted in cheerful colors. The pool with a child-friendly slide and the spa, both of which adjoin the private gym, are enclosed in a greenhouse with a retractable roof.

Florida Fantasyland
Boca Raton, Florida

This lakeside estate in Florida is a 6.5-acre private family resort that has its own waterpark.
This lakeside estate in Florida is a 6.5-acre private family resort that has its own waterpark.

Covering six and a half acres of prime lakeside property, this magnificent Florida estaterepresents the ultimate in outdoor family living. An expansive, covered outdoor kitchen, dining room, and bar look out onto the home’s private waterpark wonderland—a tempting feature for all ages. A two-story pool with a gently sloping entrance and a plunging waterfall beyond surrounds a sunbathing island. While the waterfall drops from the height of a private, multi-story cliff with multiple waterslides, a curving lazy river can be experienced at a much more relaxed pace. Beyond, a private boathouse with a lift allows for easy access to the private lake.

Mexican Murals
Guanajuato, Mexico

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This grand adobe-style Mexican casa combines sophisticated family living with charming touches. Colorful murals featuring butterflies and Disney characters adorn the children’s rooms. A cobblestone central courtyard has a wishing well at its center, and a large grassy lawn includes a shaded playhouse and trampoline. A paddle tennis court, pool, and pergola-shaded spa are designed to keep older children and adults entertained. Impressive wood beams, stone floors, and patios—as well as the private shaded upper balcony and a vaulted brick ceiling—testify to the skilled craftsmanship that went into constructing this 16,000-square-foot home.

Theatrical Treehouse
Beverly Hills, California

The sprawling grounds of this Beverly Hills estate include a magical multi-story treehouse that could have come from a movie set.
The sprawling grounds of this Beverly Hills estate include a magical multi-story treehouse that could have come from a movie set.

This Beverly Hills mansion’s grand gate, winding approach, and 40-foot-high entryway present an elegant introduction to a property worthy of the Golden Age of Hollywood. The family room opens to a hand-cut mosaic pool and spa surrounded by a deck with plenty of room for entertaining. The pool pavilion has an outdoor kitchen and bathrooms, and behind the pavilion is a private tennis court. Far enough away from the pool pavilion to allow adults privacy but close enough that the tree-shaded play area it occupies can be supervised, a fairytale-like, four-story, tree-shaped playhouse is accented by a slide, swings, and other play equipment. The whimsical play area is adjacent to the six-bedroom children’s wing of the mansion, which also has a capacious attic playroom.

Home for Hoops Fans
Southwest Ranches, Florida

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This six-bedroom family home in an exclusive town in southern Florida just southwest of Fort Lauderdale offers every imaginable family amenity. Outdoors, a private kitchen and pool adjoin a spacious playground and Air Jordan lighted basketball court surrounded by expansive, palm-lined lawns that spread over 2.28 acres. Inside, a private arcade room and fourteen-seat theater serve up entertainment for all ages. The grand interiors provide plenty of adult-specific luxuries as well. While the master suite has a large closet for the lady of the house, the exercise room has a steam room and sauna. A cigar bar, wine storage, and gourmet kitchen also help make for effortless entertaining.

Cube for Children
Shanghai, China

This centrally located Shanghai home has a number of kid-friendly attributes: a grassy lawn, a pool, easy indoor/outdoor access, leafy views—and even a cube-shaped backyard treehouse.
This centrally located Shanghai home has a number of kid-friendly attributes: a grassy lawn, a pool, easy indoor/outdoor access, leafy views—and even a cube-shaped backyard treehouse.

This stylishly contemporary home feels like a private oasis in the center of Shanghai. Each room has outdoor views, the open interior allows for natural light throughout, and the use of natural materials contributes to the minimalist and organic aesthetic. The ground floor has rotating glass walls that allow full access to the rear terrace, pool, and lawn. On upper floors, leafy views, terraces, and a glass viewing cube all contribute to the feeling of living among the trees. The master suite seamlessly integrates with interlocking rooftop terraces. In the rear garden, a contemporary cubic treehouse give children their own treetop retreat and play space.

*Fuente: Luxury Defined Christie’s International Real Esate


Expert insight on trends shaping the luxury residential real estate market from Christie’s International Real Estate’s 2016 white paper, Luxury Defined

The global prime property market continued on a steady growth trajectory in early 2015 after several post-global-crisis years of price appreciation and booming sales.However, shifting economic dynamics and financial-market volatility created a paradigm shift in the second half of the year and into 2016 across many luxury housing markets internationally.

Skyrocketing home prices and record-breaking luxury sales volumes that captured headlines worldwide in recent years were abated somewhat in 2015 and 2016. After starting 2015 at the same breakneck speeds that characterized 2014, volatile financial markets and related geopolitical uncertainty caused international luxury real estate market growth rates to finally begin to slow.

Many of the world’s prime property markets plateaued in late 2015 as a result of macroeconomic factors that caused softening across the world’s financial markets: the slowdown in China’s economy, the drop in oil and commodity prices, and the unrest in Russia/Eastern Europe and the Gulf regions. The confidence and buying power of many high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) were impacted. Despite these factors, meaningful pockets of the world’s most affluent continue to turn to luxury real estate as a safe and tangible wealth-storage asset. The volatility of real estate is, indeed, substantially lower than that of the stock market as observed in a 14-year comparison of the S&P 500 and the Case-Shiller Home Price Index. HNWIs are likely to continue to invest in property because it can weather changing economic cycles, creating long-term value and superior risk-adjusted returns.

Luxury Housing Sales Return to Historic Norms

Global economic issues resulted in a small contraction in the number of billionaires, according to Forbes (1,810 billionaires, down from a record 1,826 in early 2015), the first drop in this ultra-affluent population set since 2009. Some of this shift in international wealth can be attributed to the impact of the strong US dollar and the concurrent drop in other more commodity-tied currencies, which had both a positive and negative impact on different markets, hampering inbound investment in some and attracting new interest in others. “The greatest impact in the luxury real estate market has been the fluctuation in global financial markets over the last year,” says Alex Head of First Team Real Estate in Orange County, California. “In our market this is having a positive effect as foreign buyers are seeking the tangible investment real estate allows, with the added benefit of the security of the U.S. dollar.”

Second-home resort markets saw on average a 10% increase in year-on year luxury home sales

Despite a slowdown in the second half of the year, the 2015 international prime property market was characterized by steady overall growth. Across our more than 100 surveyed luxury housing markets worldwide, million-dollar-plus home sales grew by eight percent over 2014, a decline on the 16 percent jump recorded in the prior 12-month period, yet still solid levels of overall growth.

Del Dios Ranch, Rancho Santa Fe, California
Del Dios Ranch, Rancho Santa Fe, California

Luxury property sales in the world’s top global economic hubs—Hong Kong, New York, and London—plateaued in 2015 and into 2016, despite several outlier top sales. While prices have continued to increase, demand at the top end of the market has begun to level off but without pointing toward an overall collapse or lack of confidence in the luxury market. On the contrary—as evidenced by Hong Kong’s record-breaking $194 million top sale, ultra-affluent investors continue to recognize the longterm value in the purchase of prime property in prized international cities.

Luxury property sales cool from their frenzied pace in 2014; primary markets steady<br/>Growth in the number of annual $1 million-plus home sales by market type, 2014 vs. 2015
Luxury property sales cool from their frenzied pace in 2014; primary markets steady
Growth in the number of annual $1 million-plus home sales by market type, 2014 vs. 2015

Beyond the big three, many top-ranking US housing markets experienced more normal levels of growth in luxury home sales as compared to prior years. San Francisco, which recorded explosive growth in year-on-year luxury home sales of 62 percent and 19 percent in 2013 and 2014 respectively, saw a 12 percent jump in 2015. California’s flourishing economy also resulted in stable gains across many of the state’s other luxury housing markets. Million-dollar-plus sales in Los Angeles grew by five percent annually, with transaction volumes soaring at mid and low luxury price points, and remaining consistent at the upper echelons (82 sales above $10 million in both 2015 and 2014). Despite a drop in Canadian buyers due to exchange rate pressures, “Coachella Valley’s high-end market inspires optimism,” says Harvey Katofsky of HK Lane Real Estate in Palm Springs, adding that his firm’s sales for 2015 were better than 2014.

Low interest rates, a weaker euro, and lower-than-peak property prices prompted many HNWIs to consider the purchase of a second home in prime European destinations. “The strong US dollar has brought Americans back into the market,” explains Michael Baynes of MaxwellStorrie-Baynes in Bordeaux. In Paris, luxury sales jumped by more than 20 percent in 2015, the first significant uptick in three years. Much of the resurgence has been fueled by American and Middle Eastern buyers, who comprise 27 percent of overseas buyers, up from 16 percent in 2012. “The sales increase was due to the return of newly confident buyers attracted by prices at 2011 levels, down 20 percent from their peak,” says Charles-Marie Jottras of Daniel Féau Conseil Immobilier, who adds that Paris is now one of the least expensive European economic hubs for luxury property.

A stately residence in the 7th arrondissement of Paris
A stately residence in the 7th arrondissement of Paris

Luxury housing markets worldwide recorded an 8% annual increase in million-dollar-plus home sales

Despite much media attention on the reduced buying power of HNWIs in oil-money-dependent markets, many astute Middle Eastern buyers continue to purchase prime property overseas, transferring a portion of their equity into illiquid assets in safer currencies and thereby leveraging against any devaluing of their own currency. Much like savvy Asian investors who were “saved” by their geographically diversified equity and property portfolios during the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis, the acquisition of prime property abroad remains an important portfolio strategy for many ultra HNWIs based in turbulent home-country markets. Geographical diversification for these affluent individuals is more important than ever.

Top luxury property markets stabilize from extraordinary post-crisis growth levels<br/>Growth in the number of year-on-year $1 million-plus-home sales (by percent), 2013 - 2015
Top luxury property markets stabilize from extraordinary post-crisis growth levels
Growth in the number of year-on-year $1 million-plus-home sales (by percent), 2013 – 2015

Australia and Canada—both commodity-dependent countries that experienced rapid declines in their respective currencies over the past 12-24 months—have witnessed brisk growth in their major prime property markets. Sydney’s million-dollar-plus sales were up by 15 percent and Toronto’s by a whopping 48 percent in 2015. Growth was not consistent countrywide, however. The differences can be attributed to two key variables— affluent buyer demand and inventory levels—that strengthened sales in some cities and obstructed growth in others. In Canada for example, cities with strong international appeal, most notably Victoria, Vancouver, and Toronto, continued on an upward trajectory, whereas luxury property sales in oil-money-dependent Calgary slowed. “Strong governmental, banking and investment systems, favorable migration trends, leading educational institutions, and stable employment have all caused our market to defy the impact on other marketplaces that are experiencing declines in sales volume and average prices,” observes Chris Kapches of Chestnut Park Real Estate in Toronto.

Luxury Forest Hill Residence, Toronto, Canada
Luxury Forest Hill Residence, Toronto, Canada

Compounded by the challenges posed by global financial market turmoil, growth in several prime property markets is also being stymied by local market issues. Many prime property buyers in London postponed purchases due to concerns of a mansion tax proposed by the Labour Party in the lead up to the UK’s General Election (May 2015). Despite Labour’s defeat, the anticipated post-election rebound in sales failed to materialize. Although prices remained relatively steady, London’s prime property sales ended down four percent year-on-year. Changes to stamp duty land tax for properties above £1.5 million that took effect in late 2014 along with a further three percent stamp duty on additional properties are among the causes. “These changes have understandably impacted the luxury London market at every level as people take stock and take longer to make decisions,” says Lulu Egerton of Strutt & Parker. “However, they have not stopped buyers purchasing our very highest quality properties as London remains a fabulous city to invest in and a very attractive place to live. Prices have gradually been adjusting to absorb the extra taxation and are now at a stable level.”

Commodity dependent countries Canada and Australia have both witnessed brisk growth in their major prime property markets

Other markets that saw significant annual sales declines were also burdened by imposing factors led by government intervention in the market. Cooling measures introduced between 2011-2013 in Hong Kong to curb price speculation continue to impact prime property sales. Luxury property transactions in 2015 dropped by more than 12 percent in total during the year and have continued on their downward slide in early 2016, registering their lowest month since 1991 this January.