The Top Seven Trends in Luxury Real Estate
01. The Smarthome
Imagine returning from a trip and dimming your foyer lights, opening the library shades and heating up the sauna—all while your plane is still taxiing on the runway. “Everyone is [digitally] connected in some way,” says Eric Thies, founding partner of home technology provider Via International, “and that allows you to control your home.” High-end offerings from companies such as Savant Systems and Crestron let you fine-tune your home from your smartphone. Homeowners can not only control creature comforts from afar, but can oversee security systems—locking and unlocking gates, windows and doors and monitoring encrypted security cameras from anywhere they’re online.
02. A Separate House for Entertaining
A growing number of high-end suburban and rural homeowners, especially those with children, are building stand-alone houses for entertaining. Owners typically outfit entertainment houses with indoor pools, full-sized kitchens, media rooms and even basketball or squash courts. Film buffs can create a true home theater with Prima Cinema Player, a device for viewing first-run movies at home the same day they are released in theaters. Many new luxury towers also provide lavish lounges for residents to entertain guests. One MiMa Tower, a premium rental property in midtown Manhattan, converted a penthouse apartment into the opulent Jewel Box for residents’ social gatherings. “People find it appealing to be able to entertain outside the home but within the building,” says Brian K. Lewis, a broker for Halstead Property in Manhattan.
03. Rethinking the Mudroom
The mudroom, that classic space to kick off muddy boots and hang winter coats, has come of age. No longer is it an afterthought, appreciated only on wet days. Instead, mudrooms now have radiant heated floors, separate washers and dryers, pet areas and ample built-in storage space. “Children today play so many sports, they have so much sporting equipment,” says Mary Higgins, a Halstead Property broker in New Canaan, Conn. “Parents want it all neatly organized in one large space.”
04. A COOLER KITCHEN
The kitchen has long been the domain of the latest gadgetry, as evinced by the built-in wok burners planned for One57, the ultra-luxury Manhattan skyscraper. Another must-have: a built-in water filter by Grohe that dispenses carbonated water straight from a faucet. Smart appliances send alerts if a stove is left on. And the open kitchen takes on new meaning with the hidden backsplash by Studio Becker that rises from the countertop to display tools and appliances and then vanishes.
05. THE SELF-SUFFICIENT HOME
Look no further than the Earth to heat and cool your home. A geothermal heating and cooling system can be three times as efficient as a traditional HVAC system, according to Edward H. Brzezowski, a mechanical engineer at the Falcon Group, an engineering, energy consultancy and architecture firm. Another benefit: The subterranean system replaces unsightly and noisy condensers that mar landscaping and building façades. “When you have geothermal, there is nothing visible. The ground is your heating and cooling service,” says Brzezowski. But even the best heating and cooling system will be compromised in a blackout. Worried that the wine cellar climate-control or security system might fail, high-end homeowners are installing powerful automatic generators. A large system that toggles between natural gas and a 2,000-gallon underground diesel storage tank can operate a home at full capacity for a week or longer.
06. CUSTOM DETAILING, DOWN TO THE DOORKNOBS
Recent advances in computer software allow architects and designers to custom build details of the home in ways never before possible. Using 3D modeling software and printers, a designer can create a precise model from a two-dimensional drawing. With robotics, a manufacturer reproduces it. The result: long-lost or badly damaged antique Beaux Arts or Art Deco features can be precisely recreated, or architects can design a modernist, spiraling staircase with laser-like precision. “It’s a radical change we’re experiencing,” says New York-based architect Peter Pennoyer.
07. HI-TECH BATHROOM FIXTURES
New building technology continues to benefit the bathroom—often an owner’s primary household retreat. Smart technology heats radiant floors and towel warmers on cue. Smart glass turns a clear glass shower stall opaque when someone steps in. And a bathroom mirror by Séura, the same or similar to those often found in high-end hotels, transforms into an LCD television at the press of a button.