Race is on to out-luxury your movie industry friends. No doubt your fellow Democrats and Obama will be wowed when they arrive for the next fundraiser.
If you thought Southern California mansions could hardly get more outlandish, consider the latest must-have feature: A moat encircling the property.
Other exclusive amenities include dental chairs, botox stations and wine “cellars” that somehow made their way into the kitchen. It’s all part of growing competition among designers, architects and developers for the attention of ultra-wealthy buyers.
Moats are making their biggest splash since medieval times.
For clients, [designer Steve Hermann] has transformed closets into the equivalent of luxurious showrooms, wrapping every surface in hand-stitched leather.
“They become like actual display rooms,” Hermann said. “Guests will come over and you’ll show off your closets.”
Extravagant features enable spec builders hemmed in by lot size and regulations to push the asking price per square foot, Hermann said. “You are limited by how much you can build.”
Because of building height restrictions in Malibu, for example, luxury builders will often put basements in homes to increase the living space. Then it’s up to local architects such as Doug Burdge to come up with ideas on how best to use the square footage.
Burdge has designed homes along Malibu’s celebrity-row beaches with Italian-style wellness suites where hairdressers, fitness trainers and masseuses can come to the homeowner out of sight of the paparazzi. Light wells and garden rooms make the stylized spaces feel anything but subterranean.
For car collectors, Burdge creates a garage space that resembles a paneled and carpeted showroom.
For the bejeweled, his designs have included walk-in safes where the owner’s valuables are displayed on shelves. “The safe room can be small,” he said, “yet it creates a nice amenity that can be used for important papers or other things.”
What’s mind-blowing to local luxury home buyers, however, may seem somewhat provincial to what’s being built elsewhere.
Kenneth Bordewick, who heads a design group bearing his name and is chief executive of Beverly Hills Luxury Interiors, has created such distinct spaces as a $17-million hand-carved bathroom and a poker room complete with a jewel-inlaid table.