Luxury homes inspire with their impeccable designs that are often new and innovative to suit the tastes of their discerning owners. Celebrities and their elaborate and sometimes strange styles and tastes are what set the trend for the rest of us. Home theatres, marble kitchens and personal projectors had their start in the upscale homes of the famous.
Homeowners who can afford the highest quality designs are discovering that the kitchen needs the same tender loving care as every other room in a luxury home. Very simply put, this room has spent little time as a showpiece or focal point. Until very recently, the kitchen was a utilitarian room for dull daily tasks, such as family meetings, the gruelling work of food preparation or simply a brief stop on the way to garage. This has changed with the rise of a new pop culture personality; the celebrity chef.
Gordon Ramsay is one of the most notable of these, and his recent kitchen renovation was noted for the massive new 2.5 tonne Rorgue cooker into his newly renovated kitchen. It was the size of a small car and needed a crane to get it into the room. This remodelling was priced at a modest £500 000 and is Ramsay’s own design. The kitchen also includes a massive walk-in fridge, under-floor heating and a plethora of shining copper pots. All of the above are features that are finding their way into luxury homes, and smaller scales of these features are also appearing in middle class home designs. It is not uncommon to see a walk-in fridge in a private home anymore, for example. Another design coming into vogue is the outdoor kitchen, complete with a traditional Italian “forno” or clay stove that uses wood, part of a gourmet tradition that makes the simple pizza so delectable and also reflecting the “al fresco” trend of bringing the outdoors inside.
A few years ago, when Western designers discovered Japan, futons and Zen gardens appeared in many luxury homes and eventually made their way to the suburbs. A new Asian nation is coming into focus as the Korean tradition of “ondol”, or under floor heating, is becoming more fashionable. If it’s good enough for Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen, it’s good enough for anyone with similar tastes.
Korea gets cold, and the residents of this small nation developed an efficient, comfortable and brilliant way to heat their homes. Korean furniture tends to be close to the floor, consisting of pillars and mats for seating and low, wide tables. Therefore the heat source also had to be close to the floor, but why isolate it in one small corner of the room, where most of the heat is lost up the chimney and all must huddle in a small, dark corner? Why not find a way to distribute all the heat across the floor, where everyone can relax in comfort as they eat, sleep or go about their daily lives? The answer was simple; heat the entire floor. This idea has also taken hold in other parts of the house, such as heated drawers for linens in upscale hotels.
Until about 2007, undol was virtually unheard of in the west and only appeared in select private homes, often as a luxury item. In the last few years, as Koreans move across the globe and more tourists visit the Land of Morning Calm, it is becoming more common. The simple design, similar to what the Romans used to heat their baths, makes this a logical, efficient and inexpensive heating option.
The Shower Room
Another interesting luxury trend that seems to come from the elaborate bathhouses of Asia actually has its roots in Roman ingenuity. Shower rooms, which you will see in any Japanese onsen, were an integral part of every Roman bath and are enjoying a resurgence. Upscale homes and condominiums in Florida are making shower rooms a standard addition. These are not the kinds of rooms that you see at the gym, lined with dull white tiles and standard undersized shower heads. These rooms are designed to be luxurious, reminiscent of spas, with all of the decadence that a Roman would demand. The design often includes shower heads at varying levels and sizes or simply an opening in the wall from which a generous gushing waterfall pours out.
Aside from being comfortable and elaborate, shower rooms are easier to clean and offer more space for bathroom-related accessories. Ask for assistance from Wilson Peacock to see modern homes with similar designs. The trends emerging in luxury bathrooms are a beautiful marriage of ancient ingenuity and modern design.
Real Life JARVIS
Speaking of modern design, anyone who has seen the Iron Man films has probably coveted Tony Stark’s mansion, perched on a lofty cliff-side in Malibu. The lighting, security, computers and all other tech is impressive indeed, and all of it is controlled by a single entity, a computer named JARVIS (Just a Rather Very Intelligent System). This fictional character has inspired several real-life versions, although they have yet to reach the artificial intelligence level of Tony Stark’s fictional houseman.
If you have a smartphone, there’s several apps for it that can control features of your home just like JARVIS from the films. You can use it to open and close your windows, control your security system, regulate your air conditioning or heating, even schedule tasks that go well beyond a simple alarm clock. This futuristic trend is as fascinating and fun as it is efficient and useful.
Famous people, whether they are fictional or factual, have the time and resources to discover the secrets of good living through tradition or technology. Ancient and modern ideas, combined with incentive and will in the present, are creating new trends that are a must for those that demand the highest quality and luxury in their own residences. In a generation, heated floors and homes controlled by computers might very well be common, and only time will tell as to what elaborate creations will replace them.
Oliver Corrigan has worked on a variety of property development projects and likes to share his experiences and insights with an online audience. He writes for a number of property-related websites.