Blog contributions are provided exclusively from Luxury Real Estate members throughout the world.
Courtesy of Frederick Peters, President of Warburg Realty
I have spent the last few days visiting friends in coastal Maine, where there are wonderful summer "cottages" and antique houses, often cheek by jowl with newer homes both beautiful and not so beautiful. The trip has led me to ponder again the aesthetics of housing. What are the qualities which make one space welcoming and appealing while another leaves us uneasy and on edge? Here are some ideas about the confluence of factors which inform our perception of interior space:
1. LAYOUT - Perhaps the most influential of our perceptions of the space around us pertains to its organization. Human beings are drawn to symmetry. We like it in architecture no less than in the faces of those we perceive as beautiful. So the way rooms are organized around the central axis of the space is critical to our enjoyment of them. That said, absolute symmetry can lack originality or any element of surprise. Thus the layouts, be they in apartments or houses, to which people are most often drawn are those with a sense of balance and symmetry in the enfilade of rooms-but nonetheless enlivened by asymmetrical touches.
2. PROPORTION - Proportion enhances the sense of comfort and pleasure introduced by a good layout. The golden mean, which mathematicians have defined as a ratio of 1/1.6, is most easily rounded off in architectural terms to a 2/3 ratio. In other words, the eye and the senses are pleased by a room of 20' by 30'. If you increase the smaller proportion, the room becomes more and more square, which continues to please the senses. If on the other hand the larger proportion is extended, the room becomes a longer thinner rectangle, increasingly losing its sense of balance with each additional foot.
3. VOLUME - Ceiling height must scale to both the overall size of the property and each of its rooms. On the one hand, large rooms with low ceilings can create a claustrophobic experience for the user. But it is equally true that small or narrow rooms with excessively high ceilings can generate a spatially disorienting "wind tunnel" effect. While most people prefer a high ceiling to a lower one, more is not always better. In a welcoming space the volume is generous but balanced with the other architectural elements.
4. OUTLOOK - Even the best proportioned spaces can be compromised by a poor outlook. For most people the critical component in outlook is light. Natural light creates resonance in an interior, adding its luminous glow to all the architectural elements. And the quality of the light in New York seems to change around the tenth floor, becoming whiter and more penetrating. View also enhances any outlook. For those who can afford it, nothing extends interior space outwards like a view. The majority of people with whom I have dealt over the years prefer a mid floor, to preserve the human scale, gazing at water and natural elements such as trees or flowers.
5. DETAIL - Every space is enhanced by detail, from the most elaborate cornice to the simplest baseboard. To the modern eye, less is usually more when it comes to detail. Many of us find the deep elaborate moldings of the late Victorian era overwhelming; we tend to be more comfortable with the simpler Classical sensibility evident in the New York apartment buildings of the mid to late 1920s. Details influence the eye; when well done they can visually raise a ceiling or square a room. The best architects always use (and used) detail to enhance a space's best qualities while minimizing its drawbacks.
The great architects are magicians. They brilliantly deploy the tools in their toolbox to create living environments which subtly draw us in and make us feel at home. The world over, the spaces which please us have elements in common; the deployment of layout, proportion, volume, outlook, and detail chief among them.
You can read more on www.warburgrealty.com/blog.
Courtesy of Mitch Laufer of Vanguard Properties
Reproduced from SFGate.com, August 1, 2012 by Allison Brophy Champion
This nature-infused architect’s estate in Marin County is so magnificent in scope and idea as to recall a grand public space. Yet the setting is secluded, the four-bedroom home at 450 Ridge Road carved into a hillside sheltered from bay winds.
Imagined by acclaimed Tiburon architect Angela Danadjieva, she built the home for herself in 1995 into the town’s “Hill Heaven” with sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island and eastern hilltops. The architect said she placed the property just right “ so that it does not impose on the landscape of Tiburon Hills.” It’s just as impressive inside.
Danadjieva described the property as “a symphony of light and space with natural and organic surroundings of water, stone and positive energy.”
“It is an extension of the landscape,” she added. “A garden pavilion - that is the main theme.”
Now on the market, this home in a gated community offers impressive natural features like a majestic waterfall/fountain edged by stone staircases. Tremendous open living space waits, as well as organic materials throughout like redwood and granite.
“I am very environmental,” said Danadjieva. “I designed it like a park, everything of natural materials.”
Most captivating is the home’s facade with its geometric grid of large windows framed as mountain peaks pointing toward heaven. Light pours in from all sides and through a series of awesome skylights on 36-foot ceilings.
“Everything is glass,” Danadjieva said. “No barriers between the indoor-outdoor space.”
Outside, explore private pathways and gardens on the 1.5-acre rural-in-feel property located in Tiburon, which is Spanish for “shark.” Situated just north of San Francisco on lovely Tiburon Peninsula, the old industrial town today boasts boutique shops and restaurants, the Richardson Bay Audubon Nature Trail and regular ferry service to San Francisco, Marin City and Sausalito.
The residence is a short walk from the bay, and is marketed as offering views, views and more views. The house certainly provides a high standard of living attributable to the design of Danadjieva, principal at Danadjieva & Koenig Associates.
Originally from Bulgaria, she was living in France when she came to America in the 1960s as winning architect in an international competition for landscaping at the San Francisco Civic Center Plaza. Danadjieva said her first job was in Richmond, Va., where she oversaw a Downtown Riverfront Plan. There, the park was the river, she said. At 450 Ridge Road, the park is home.
The property is owned by Danadjieva’s sister, Fani Hansen, another acclaimed Tiburon architect. Listing agent Paula Gold-Nocella with Vanguard Properties said the house is incomparable.
“In 24 years of selling real estate in San Francisco and the Bay Area I have never seen a home like this. It is absolutely a one-of-a- kind work of art!” she said.
The Santa Barbara lifestyle evokes thoughts of all the finer things in life – incredible luxury homes in exclusive neighborhoods such as Hope Ranch and Montecito, the best in wining and dining, pristine beaches and high end resorts, strolls along the waterfront, world class golf and country clubs, and so much more. Another major part of the Santa Barbara lifestyle is our community’s love of and support of arts and entertainment. From the annual star-studded Santa Barbara International Film Festival to our monthly “1st Thursday” celebrations, it is abundantly clear that Santa Barbara is a city that values and encourages community-driven creativity and artistry.
Santa Barbara’s involvement in the entertainment industry reaches back to the birth of our city. In 1873, the Lobero Theatre was founded, and today it is California’s oldest continuously operating theatre. Originally an opera house, the Lobero would evolve into a venue for artists and performers of many types to showcase their talents in beautiful Santa Barbara. The building itself was rebuilt in the early 1920s and redesigned by the famed architect George Washington Smith and Lutah Maria Riggs in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, making the building itself a part of Santa Barbara’s art history. During this time, the Lobero really developed into a cultural hot spot with headliners such as Bela Lugosi and Sergei Rachmaninoff. In the 1940s, the Lobero continued to attract a wide range of talented artists such as Clark Gable, Igor Stravinsky, and Ingrid Bergman. The late 1940s marked the beginning of the Lobero’s jazz history – the theatre would go on to host jazz legends such as Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, and many others. Today, the Lobero continues to host a wide variety of world class performers, and is hailed as one of DownBeat Magazine’s Best Jazz Venues. (Click here for the Lobero’s current lineup.)
Santa Barbara is a perfect stop between Los Angeles and San Francisco for performers traveling between these major centers of the entertainment industry, and Santa Barbara residents enjoy the luxury of the finest offerings in entertainment without the hustle and bustle of living in a major urban center. We hope to share our love of arts and entertainment with you on your next trip to Santa Barbara!
ATLANTA, GA – Music legend Kenny Rogers’ former estate-turned inclusive resort is now on the market. The home, personally designed and decorated by Rogers, is listed with Harry Norman, REALTORS® in Atlanta, Ga.
In 2003, rancher and investor Wes Adams and his wife Liz purchased the 973 acre Georgia estate, known as Beaver Dam Farms, and transformed it into an inclusive resort with a full-time staff. Other than structural improvements, the Adams family has left the estate relatively unchanged. Most of the furnishings were chosen by Rogers and are included in the sale of the property.
Beaver Dam Farms features a 12,000 square foot main home, three guest villas, an equestrian facility, lake house, barns, two swimming pools, clay tennis courts, a conference center, and a spa. But the focal point of the property is the 6,285-yard, 18-hole executive golf course. Rogers took pride in the creation of the golf course, designing it based on the courses he visited during his travels. It has been played on by golf greats like Payne Stewart, Lanny Wadkins and Ray Floyd.
“This listing is pure perfection. It is secluded, completely relaxing and intensely private. Being just 90 minutes away, it is still close enough to enjoy all of the wonderful things the city of Atlanta has to offer! The property can be entertained by both buyers looking for a private residence or second home to another investor looking to continue the business,” said Bob Glascock, listing agent for Beaver Dam Farms.
Beaver Dam Farms is now on the market for $9.5 million.
About Harry Norman, REALTORS®
Founded in 1930, Harry Norman, REALTORS ® is Atlanta’s oldest and largest residential real estate firm with 12 sales offices, various franchise and satellite offices, and more than 1,000 real estate professionals. Harry Norman, REALTORS ® is a wholly-owned subsidiary of HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. Harry Norman, REALTORS ® is the exclusive Atlanta affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate and achieves additional international exposure through membership in such exclusive real estate networks as Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate and Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®. More information is available at www.harrynorman.com.
Courtesy of Teressa Francis of Intero Real Estate
What do you get when you combine the innovative, tech savvy power of Intero Real Estate Services headquartered in the Silicon Valley, with the division of the company specializing in high-end real estate, Intero Prestigio? Nothing other than a virtual magazine featuring its multi-million dollar properties. Now, Intero proudly announces the release of its premier issue of the Intero Prestigio Virtual Magazine.
The magazine offers enhanced and global promotion for Intero’s most exclusive homes and estates. Designed with ease of circulation in mind, it can instantly be shared through social media websites and email. As if reading a handheld magazine, online viewers can browse through gorgeous pictures and find the property information of the unique homes featured. The virtual magazine aims not only to raise awareness of properties offered in the Prestigio collection, but also to exhibit their finest qualities––and the magazine is only one aspect of the Prestigio marketing program.
Renowned real estate entrepreneur Alain Pinel, senior vice president and managing officer of Intero, is the primary mastermind who pioneered and launched Intero Prestigio as part of his goal of expanding Intero’s luxury brand. From local print advertising to international display, properties in the Prestigio collection have an elevated level of exposure to help them sell quickly and efficiently. On the release of the first virtual magazine issue, Alain excitedly stated, “It is wonderful to see how Intero’s luxury brand has taken off. The release of this magazine shows Intero is established in the global high-endmarket, and attests to Intero Prestigio’s growth.”
About Intero Prestigio
A luxury division of Intero Real Estate Services, Inc. Intero Prestigio provides an elevated level of service through its elite selection of marketing tools set up to expose homes and estates to relevant markets locally, nationally and globally. Intero Prestigio hosts a quarterly virtual magazine featuring its current luxury listings. Find the current issue at www.InteroPrestigio.com
About the Intero® Brand
Founded in 2002, Intero Real Estate Services, Inc. has quickly become one of the premier real estate brands in the U.S. In 2004, Intero Franchise Services Inc. began franchising and currently is operating in many of the western states. In 2009, Intero International Franchise Services, LLC embarked on developing territories in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. The companies are private and headquartered in California’s Silicon Valley.
Courtesy of Frederick Peters, President of Warburg Realty
I have spent the last 25 years working on how to be an effective leader. I always knew that integrity and honesty mattered to me more than anything, but I wasn’t sure how to build those into a corporate culture based on collaboration rather than fear. An inspiring recent interview in the Times helped me crystallize some of my thoughts and got me thinking more proactively about what I believe. The article can be read at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/business/bill-flemming-of-skanska-usa-building-on-leadership.html.
Here’s what the years have taught me:
There is, as Bill Flemming notes in his interview, a great distinction between being a leader and a boss: a leader helps people figure out what to do while a boss tells them what to do. This resonates strongly for me. People will often come to my desk looking for solutions. Increasingly, I am out of the solution business. I try to ask “What do you think is the best way out of this situation?” I am a guy with a lot of opinions, but these days I try to bite my tongue. More often than not I find that people already know the best solution. They are looking more for affirmation than problem solving.
An important corollary of this is the discovery that people solve problems in different ways. My agents and managers often arrive at solutions I wouldn’t have thought of. Sometimes I think my solution would be better but usually I find that this interaction can be a significant learning experience for me. I often don’t have the best answer. My job, I increasingly understand, is to bring out the best in those around me.
This brings me to another great statement of Flemming’s: “I work for the people below me.” I think this notion lies at the heart of the management philosophy of any successful leader. As the president of Warburg, I am only as successful as the agents and staff working for the company. And their success, in turn, depends on my leadership. How well do I empower them to make good decisions? How well have I communicated my vision for the company? How good am I at listening to suggestions and complaints? Do I facilitate teamwork?
I did not set out to be a business owner; as I have noted before in this blog I began my adult life as a musician. I never went to business school. I am pretty bad with Excel and PowerPoint and my main arithmetical skill is a lightning-fast ability to compute 6% of any sales price! But over the two plus decades during which I have led Warburg Realty, I have learned that this business, probably like every business, is a people business. I strive every day to NOT be the leader who feels entitled because my name (or my middle name, actually) is on the door. I know today that respect may or may not accompany a title; if it does it is only because it is earned. And I know that while I may be impatient, if I lose my ability to listen and really HEAR what my colleagues are telling me, my organization suffers. I may not agree, I may not do what is suggested, but I need to pay attention to it.
I don’t much like being criticized or having people disagree with me. I can get my back up. But it is my obligation, and that of every leader in my firm and every firm, to get over it. We work for our agents, and they often know more than we do. We cannot continue to do what we do because we have always done it. I trust my team: staff, agents, and managers alike. With their guidance, I know Warburg will move confidently into the future.
You can read more on www.warburgrealty.com/blog.
The wonderful luxury homes and real estate opportunities in our city by the sea are just one part of what makes living in Santa Barbara so desirable. Santa Barbara also enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate year-round, with cool coastal nights even on the warmest summer days and gentle winters. This ideal climate, in fact, is what drew many wealthy industrialists who sought to escape harsh Eastern winters to Santa Barbara at the turn of the 20th century. Falling under the spell of our lovely city, they began to build luxury homes in esteemed areas such as Montecito and Hope Ranch. And of course, to compliment their grand estates, many luxury homeowners commissioned elegant gardens and landscaping that could thrive year-round under the California sunshine. Today, Santa Barbara remains a horticultural paradise, and even houses the largest concentration of orchid growers in the nation.
Though many luxury homes in Santa Barbara have impressive gardens, very few can compete with Lotusland in Montecito. These exclusive gardens, accessible only by advance reservation or membership, are a closely guarded treasure of Santa Barbara. Lotusland consists of a series of spectacular and exotic collections on the grounds of the historic Montecito estate of Madame Ganna Walska, an early 20th century opera singer. In 1941, she bought the 37 acre estate known at the time as Cuesta Linda, originally intending to use the property as a retreat for Tibetan monks. Although the monks never came, Ganna continued tirelessly designing and planting the exquisite gardens. To this day, Lotusland remains a fantastic retreat from the everyday, with over 3,000 plants, many of which are exotic and unusual. Lotusland is comprised of 18 gardens, each unique and expertly arranged. Because of Santa Barbara’s ideal climate, a staggering variety of plants thrive here, from the resilient succulents of the cactus garden to the most delicate lotuses in the water garden, which grows in what was originally the estate’s swimming pool.
This weekend, Lotusland presents its annual Summer Twilight Tour, one of only a handful of special events open to the public. On Saturday, August 18th, attendees can walk through the gardens on a docent led tour or take advantage of the very rare opportunity to journey through the gardens themselves, enjoying a selection of fine wines and hors d’oeuvres on an enchanting summer evening. The peaceful, serene, and ethereal gardens of Lotusland highlight what a special place Santa Barbara is – few other climates could support a garden so extensive and varied throughout the year. We hope you’ll join us in beautiful Santa Barbara to enjoy the homes, the weather, and the amazing gardens at Lotusland soon!
Courtesy of Frederick Peters, President of Warburg Realty
In real estate, technology is our future. Or is it?
This past week, we talked a lot about technology at our management retreat. How 85% of home buyers begin their search on line. How many buyers feel they don't need an agent because all the information on every property is right there at the touch of a keystroke. So much information is now on line that buyers view properties virtually, through photos and video; they can eliminate many properties without ever seeing the actual bricks and mortar, thus making themselves much more efficient.
These buyers are right; there is a LOT of information on line about properties. But does information actually drive purchases? Does anyone really want to buy a home based on information alone? Are the facts about a property (or a person) and its essence the same?
I love Facebook. I check it every day, often several times a day, to see what's new in my newsfeed and who has been reading my posts. I post regularly on Facebook, though not multiple times a day as some of my colleagues do. But if you read about me on Facebook - if you and I become Facebook friends - what you know about me is carefully curated. I make conscious decisions about what to post and what not to post. I create a context for myself around the areas I write about on Facebook: real estate, cooking, a little music, my children and grandchild. Knowing me on Facebook is not actually knowing me. To a certain degree I actively avoid nuance. I want to create an appealing distillation: these interests, this focus, these ideas. I avoid controversy in my Facebook self.
I believe this is the paradigm for responsible, professional on line interaction. And I think the implications spread far beyond Facebook. We are all curating a projection of ourselves, be it curmudgeonly, friendly, wise, or funny. And the goal is always attraction.
The same paradigm holds for on-line real estate. Every agent tries to put his or her listing's best foot forward. The on-line projection reflects careful editing. It lacks nuance. And that is where agents come into the picture. Frequently the property the buyer has rejected based on its on-line depiction is precisely the one he should be seeing. You can only imbibe the feeling of a place - the light and air, the way the space flows, the detailing - as you walk through it IN PERSON. What looked small on your iPad may look just fine when you are there, and vice versa. Buyers know just where they want to live, and they refine their Internet searches accordingly. But agents know that time and again people end up enthusiastically buying in neighborhoods they had never even considered until their agent led them there.
I say often in this blog that we as agents sell both a property and a sense of home. Anyone can buy a condo on line. But to find a home requires your presence in the space to soak up the intangibles. That reality can never go virtual.
You can read more on www.warburgrealty.com/blog.
Santa Barbara is beautiful in so many ways. For one, our city on the coast is home to some of the finest luxury real estate in the world, with homes in exclusive neighborhoods such as Hope Ranch and Montecito that show truly inspired design and architecture. However, Santa Barbara possesses great natural beauty independent of these stunning luxury homes. Nestled in between the towering, verdant mountains which slope into gentle foothills and the sparkling Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara has earned the nickname of “the American Riviera.” In addition, Santa Barbara’s ideal Mediterranean climate makes it easy to enjoy the outdoors any time of year. This summer, we have hosted a variety of outdoor events and extravagant festivals such as the Summer Solstice celebration and Old Spanish Days Fiesta. We also enjoy a number of smaller scale events that occur throughout the season to bring the community together and make it easy to take advantage of the wonderful weather and fantastic vistas.
No trip to Santa Barbara is complete without a visit to the waterfront, and weekends along the coastline never fail to please! Few things are as enjoyable as strolling down Cabrillo Boulevard during a summer sunset with music floating through the fresh seaside air. On Thursdays at Chase Palm Park, locals and visitors alike gather under the tall palms to listen to live music. Each concert brings its own special flavor to the waterfront, with performances ranging in style from Latin to Oldies to Beatles tribute bands. On Fridays, head to Stearns Wharf to catch a movie above the water and under the stars. On Sundays, take part in a treasured Santa Barbara tradition by visiting the Art Walk at the base of Stearns Wharf. Here, you can stroll along the beachfront to view and purchase paintings, sculptures, crafts, and many more varieties of handcrafted artwork in support of local artists.
There's something wonderful to do in Santa Barbara every day, whether you're searching for luxury homes and real estate with us, attending the many events, festivals, and celebrations that our city offers or simply taking in the natural beauty of the Riviera landscape. We hope you'll be able to join us in your search for the best in Santa Barbara homes and real estate in our coastal paradise!
Courtesy of: Luxury Homes in Spain
A local chef from a town in the Alicante region of Spain is conquering New York without leaving his home town of Denia. The Michelin star's dishes are overstepping the borders to delight the most demanding palates. An article published in the “New York Daily News” chooses the Alicante chef Quique Dacosta as the best European chef according to a consumer interview. The results arise from a blog that the prestigious British gastronomical critic Jay Rayner and the famous chefs Tom Colicchio and Anthony Bourdai took part in, testing the opinion of the net users.
Dacosta's menus combine local produce with creativity, obtaining Mediterranean flavours, according to the New York press.
The Alicante chef leads the list, followed by other renowned Spanish chefs and these, in turn, are followed by French chefs.
Dacosta's restaurant, that bears his name (Quique Dacosta Restaurant), is located in the region of the North Costa Blanca, an area which is fast becoming a popular destination for luxury tourism and the construction of exclusive homes.
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