Sotheby’s International Realty is pleased to announce the release of its inaugural 2021 Luxury Outlook report which examines high-end residential markets across the globe in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The comprehensive report provides insight into the world’s top primary and secondary markets and the anticipated wealth trends that will drive discretionary investment in the coming months. The report reveals that global wealth is forecasted to grow and pandemic trends are expected to persist in the year ahead. With priorities shifting toward larger homes with special amenities, including “Zoom rooms,” multiple offices and workspaces, and an increased interest in sustainable homes with wellness and technology features, the Luxury Outlook highlights new spending habits and homebuying trends.
“As a leader in luxury real estate, it was important for us to analyze trends emerging from the most unparalleled year in modern history,” said Bradley Nelson, chief marketing officer for Sotheby’s International Realty. “The pandemic recalibrated interest in larger, greener properties, secondary cities, and geographies with favorable tax and emigration policies. These preferences are likely here to stay for the foreseeable future, and it was important for us to provide a resource to those looking to navigate the months ahead.”
In sharp contrast to the “slacker” stereotype that has defined their generation, millennials aren’t living in parents’ basements. They’re buying multimillion-dollar homes.
At 38%, millennials—adults born from 1981 to 1996—represent the largest share of home buyers in the U.S., according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors released last year. “They’re just as interested in owning a home. They just waited longer to buy their first one,” says Bradley Nelson, chief marketing officer of Sotheby’s International Realty.
Breaking from the notion of a “starter home” that older generations embraced, wealthy millennials, Nelson says, are going big.
“In the past, people bought a modest property, lived in it until starting a family, and then traded up to a larger property,” he says. “Millennials are finally coming out of the gate, and it’s not uncommon for the first purchase as a first time homebuyer to be a multimillion-dollar luxury home in the U.S. or internationally.”
As a result, millennials are quickly becoming a dominant force in high-end real estate.
Millennials are the most educated generation in history, have higher earnings, and are set to inherit more than any prior generation, according to a May 2020 report by the Brookings Institute.
Characterized by their tech savvy and environmentally conscious values, millennial preferences are poised to dramatically shape the market, a dynamic that has been on display during the Covid-19 pandemic. Beginning almost immediately after the coronavirus hit, for instance, buyers began to flock to areas that offered walkability, nature, and a well-rounded quality of life. (Think food and an art scene.)
Total sales volume in Aspen hit a record high of more than $1.5 billion in the third quarter, while in some neighborhoods of Park City, Utah, median sales prices spiked by more than 50% during the summer, according to Sotheby’s 2021 Luxury Outlook.
Outside the U.S., the Mornington Peninsula outside Melbourne on Australia’s southeastern coast has also seen a similar influx, the report states.
Going forward, developers are likely to integrate touchless, high-tech features into more homes and focus on bolstering sustainability credentials in new buildings, Nelson says.
From energy-saving geothermal systems and solar panels to green roofs, “these are the features that are most attractive,” he adds. “If a home is move-in ready and environmentally conscious and has a Tesla charger installed in the garage, those homes are generating a premium, because you have so many buyers interested in competing for them.”
Overall, the luxury real estate market is ripe for growth.
According to a December Sotheby’s International Realty survey, 63% of affiliates polled said they expected luxury home prices to rise over the next three years in their respective markets. More than 70% of respondents reported heightened demand at the end of 2020.
In the short term, however, disjointed vaccine distribution and renewed quarantine restrictions could hamper foreign buyer interest. Only one-third of Sotheby’s affiliates expect to see an uptick in demand in the first half of 2021, according to the report.
Additionally, amid indiscriminate declines in overall tax revenues caused by the pandemic, governments globally are reassessing property and wealth taxes as a means of filling budget gaps.
“Across all buyers, tax implications are going to be larger part of their home-purchase consideration,” Nelson says.
For the fast-growing cohort of young, affluent buyers eager to snag their dream homes, millennials face slim pickings for options that meet their unique tastes. “Inventories are at near-record lows in general, and especially for the homes with the features they’re looking for,” he says.
Still, Nelson adds that with “wealth creation growing and cost of capital declining, it’s a promising storm for the high-end housing market.”
From the sale of the highest-priced home in the history of Vail, Colorado, to that of an architectural masterpiece in Las Lomas, Mexico, highlighted here are 10 Significant Sales from 2020 represented by the Sotheby’s International Realty® global network.
Sold for $57,250,000 | Tye Stockton, LIV Sotheby’s International Realty
When walls collide with geometric shapes, an uninspired space can suddenly have a strong point of view. Whether iterated as patterned wallpaper, mirrors, or artwork in shapely frames, the effect can be subtle or statement making.
“Geometric shapes are very dynamic and carry a lot of visual weight,” says New Jersey-based Jennifer Matthews, co-founder and creative director at Tempaper, a line of removable wallpaper. “If they are small, they can add textural interest, whereas larger shapes create bold movement in a room.”
“When mixed with more traditional motifs, they lend a freshness to the designs,” says Los Angeles-based designer Stefani Stein. Meanwhile, the repetitive nature of geometrics lends an organization to a room, so there’s an automatic symmetry.
“Don’t be afraid to use geometric shapes, regardless of your overall style direction,” says Tulsa, Okla.-based designer Mel Bean. “An all-neutral space with limited layering of geometric shapes and patterns is an entirely different experience from a colorful, complex, extensive use of pattern and color.”
Combining different shapes creates an interesting tension, Matthews says, like pairing oval sconces or circled mirrors with scalloped wallpaper and a diamond rug or bold-tiled flooring. New York-based Barbara Karpf, founder and president of DecoratorsBest, an online retailer for high-end textiles and wallpapers, recommends mixing different geometric patterns together when they have varied scales. “A small, tight pattern works well with a large open geometric—one pattern could have a touch of a color that is prominent in the other pattern,” she says.
Marimekko wallpaper, from DecoratorsBest in New York, adds a chic geometric look to a living room space.
WORK WITH WALLPAPER
The easiest way to apply pattern to walls is by using wallpaper. “Geometric wallpapers range in effect from youthful to sophisticated,” Bean says. “The iconic Hicks hexagon wall covering is an elegant classic. And for a bold, modern approach, I love Cole & Son’s Geometric II paper,” she says.
“A wallpapered statement wall can form foyers from simple hallways, home offices from cozy corners, and separate dining areas from living spaces,” Karpf says. Keep in mind, a small, repetitive pattern works everywhere, whereas a big, bold pattern will work best on an accent wall, she says.
And, when considering color, generally, the lighter the hue, the subtler the experience, says Newton, Mass.-based designer Liz Caan. “Geometric patterns with high-contrast colors will always veer into bold and graphic territory, so be mindful when choosing your palette.”
Using geometric prints has another benefit: They can hide a multitude of sins. For one project, Manhattan-based designer Timothy Brown used a multicolor tonal stripe to hide some millwork he didn’t want to remove but also didn’t want to highlight. They also “allow you to control the direction and flow of a space, whether you want to cast focus on an area or guide the eye away from a less savory spot,” he says.
A bathroom with Tempaper wallpaper, a bathroom designed by Alison Pickart with patterned walls.
Combining geometrics with other patterns adds interest and can balance out the look. “A stripe or geometric pattern on a printed grasscloth wallcovering can soften the crisp nature of a bold print,” Stein says. She suggests trying a variegated stripe, monochrome geometric, or tonal variation for a dramatic backdrop that won’t overpower the other elements of the space. Caan prefers to play with “opposites” when it comes to wallpapers, such as mixing a bold stripe or geometric with a floral. “When the colors are copacetic and the scales are varying—creating some relational value—the end result can have a dramatic effect, but one with a softer edge thanks to the floral balancing the sharp lines of the geometric,” she says.
A bathroom with Tempaper wallpaper, a bathroom designed by Alison Pickart with patterned walls.
THINK BEYOND WALLPAPER
There are other mediums in which to shape your walls, too. “Our favorite method, which introduces rich texture and architectural interest, is through applied moldings,” says Chicago-based designer Tom Stringer. “We’ve used a repeating geometric motif at various scales in applied moldings, and then again in other areas in carved screens to layer pattern and texture into a stark white interior.”
Stringer has also utilized painted designs, which he achieved by taping off patterns and then painting in contrasting colors to create geometric motifs on walls.
Geometric shapes, when applied to upholstery, help create depth, says Chicago- and San Francisco-based interior designer Alison Pickart. “I’ve used ceiling-mounted drapery in hallways that have utility and closet doors that needed to be concealed yet still be accessible,” she says. She also loves to use tiled geometric patterns, whether on kitchen walls or bathroom backsplashes to incorporate interest.
A kitchen designed by Liz Caan features geometric tiles.
STRIKE A BALANCE
“The biggest impact comes from either using them in excess or very thoughtfully in small, understated doses,” Caan says.
Brown considers every aspect of the room when working with geometric shapes to create an overall symmetry.
“Any room is a mix of geometric shapes—from added furniture to the decisive lines of windows and doors. Focus on the scale of any pattern or shape so that it all works together,” Brown says.
There’s a restrained beauty about an all-white space; it’s a sophisticated refinement that awes in its absence of color. And, depending on accent features, furniture, and fabrics, the effect can feel warm and welcoming or modern and minimalist.
“White spaces are serene and provide a neutral setting for other more subtle items in the room to shine,” says Amalia Graziani of Noor Property Group, a Manhattan-based real estate development firm. They also create a blank canvas, says Phillip Thomas, founder and principal of Phillip Thomas Inc. in New York City. “You can build a story within the space,” he says. Creating an inspired design is all in the details.
Set against the blue of the water in Miami, this nearly all-white room designed by Phillip Thomas really pops.
VARY THE SHADES
Playing with different tones of white and cream can keep the room from feeling too stark, says Rome, Italy-based architect and designer Achille Salvagni. He suggests incorporating prints that combine shades of either white or cream on the walls, in the upholstery, or even on the floor. “Small or subtle pops of color or metallics introduced into the room, that come from art and accessories, also add warmth and a level of sophistication,” Salvagni says. “I like to use a warmer white on the walls paired with brighter trim and a cooler ceiling,” Graziani says. “Subtle contrast makes the space feel much more inviting.”
CREATE TEXTURAL TOUCHES
Warming up the room and adding dimension is a matter of texture. “Texture is key in keeping a white space from lacking soul,” Thomas says. “Texture reflects light—both natural and artificial—in different ways, and light excites the eye.”
Salvagni prefers materials such as cashmere, boucle, sheepskin, and mohair, particularly for upholstery, to add warmth, depth, and a sense of comfort. For carpeting, he opts for a plush, warm-toned silk. “I love the idea of complementing a white ceiling and all-white walls with a printed carpet that combines different shades of white and cream,” he says. Hand-knotted and handwoven rugs add sophistication and a sense of luxury to a space, says Lance Thomas, co-founder of Room Service, a fine furniture and interior design firm in Lake Charles, La. “I personally like to contrast the style of my rug to the furniture that sits on top of it,” he says.
Graziani prefers chunky sisal rugs for warmth and texture to offset cool walls. She also loves the contrast of a rough linen weave alongside softer materials such as cashmere and boucle. But texture is not just found in textiles. Lance Thomas recommends wallpapering walls in suede or introducing a lacquered finish on a side table.
A white space designed by Phillip Thomas, feels decidedly upscale.
FOCUS ON ACCENTS
Finishes such as metal play a significant role in achieving an impactful all-white space, Lance Thomas says. “Matte black or iron hardware and fixtures can add stark contrast and a contemporary spin on the space,” he adds. And contrast is a powerful tool. “When the eye sees the truest white and the truest black in a space, all of the other variations of white become richer.”
Given the neutral nature of white walls, there’s a chance to play with interesting hardware and doors, Graziani says. “Sharp stainless door handles, antique glass knobs, or a bold door will shine in an otherwise understated room,” she says. For instance, in one of the white rooms she’s designed, she added three sets of double French doors in place of conventional doors to add depth and reflection. “Adding structural details such as bold beams, chair rails, and paneling also elevates the space and creates dimension,” she says. And don’t forget about greenery, “not only for its vibrant color, but to add a sense of warmth, calm, and fragrance to a space,” Lance Thomas says.
Layering is another important tool. “An all-white space looks best when it feels collected over time,” he adds. For example, a mid-century coffee table would play nicely on top of an antique rug. Or, he recommends framing a vintage piece of art in a contemporary lacquered frame. His other musts: a healthy mix of patterns, patina, and personality, wood furniture, at least one antique—even in a contemporary space—as well as a custom-tailored piece. “When a space feels collected, it creates intention,” Lance Thomas says.
In terms of shapes, Salvagni suggests round and organic forms for sofas, chaises, coffee and dining tables, and even carpets. “These round and organic shapes will accentuate the coziness of the room,” he says.
Black and white contrast well in a room by Lance Thomas.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
“Lighting is probably the best way to add another dimension and elemental layering,” Salvagni says. The first thing he looks for is to add warm-hued lighting as well as an appropriately proportioned light fixture. “This will create the dimension needed to enhance the ambiance in the room, and when done correctly, always helps to keep a room feeling warm and looking elegantly stylish,” he explains.
“Ambient lighting is a wonderful way to intentionally create depth through highlights and shadows,” Lance Thomas adds. “I love the way a pair of wall sconces can cast shadows onto the ceiling and highlight slivers of surrounding furniture.”
Incorporating multiple sources of light helps a room feel more inviting, Graziani says. “Instead of relying on a central pendant or chandelier, incorporating soft secondary sources of light, such as picture lighting and task lamps, can make a big difference,” she says.
Shading your walls in black may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re considering paint colors. But black has a daring all its own that can bring character and chicness to your space.
“The result is both unexpected and incredibly sophisticated,” says Andrea Magno, a Benjamin Moore color and design expert.
“Black has an interesting effect on the walls of a room because the corners and shadows are obscured more than if a midtone or pastel color is used,” Magno says. “This can be used as a visual trick to give the space a less-defined appearance and can make a room feel a bit more expansive.”
Black walls can also bring coziness. “Dark walls coupled with dramatic lighting create an instant air of luxury and sumptuousness,” says Karen Howes, CEO and founder of London-based interior-design firm Taylor Howes.
Choosing the Right Room
It’s important to consider the function of the room and also the time of day that you spend the most time there, Howes says. Great candidates for black walls include rooms used primarily as evening spaces or those that aren’t reliant on task lighting, such as home cinemas and dining rooms, she says.
In a media room, black walls help absorb the light and won’t distract from the room’s main function, Howes says. “We also find using darker tones in dining rooms helps create a luxurious feel in the evening when our clients are entertaining,” she says.
“Often the rooms that are most successful have a balance between light and dark—where black walls are paired with a light floor color or furniture done in neutrals and whites,” Magno adds.
A black accent wall in a bedroom
Accent Versus All Four Walls
“Black can be a superb choice, as it allows you to play with contrasts,” says Nicolas Adnet of Studio MHNA, an architecture and design firm in Paris. “For example, if the rest of the room is done in pale or pastel palettes, painting a wall black can add drama and create atmosphere.”
A single black wall can also give character and structure to a space and be used to highlight furniture or a collection of art, Adnet notes.
If used as an accent, Magno says, it’s important that it creates a focal point and architecturally makes sense in the room. For instance, accent walls work well when a room has a wall with a fireplace or millwork, or when there is an alcove or other feature worthy of attention, she says.
Black walls can handle patterned accessories or upholstery. “The black will tend to recede, causing the pattern to advance or be more eye-catching,” Magno says. Repeating black in patterns also helps tie the look of the room together.
“For instance, many materials used for countertops—whether marble, granite, or quartz—have black running through them and can instantly create a visual connection between the walls and other features in the room,” Magno says.
A nearly all-black bedroom designed by Studio MHNA
The finish you choose for the paint can have different effects on the space. A matte black has a soft quality, while a high gloss will add reflection and drama.
“Using a semigloss or high-gloss finish works well in dark spaces, as it helps to bounce the light around,” Howes says. “We tend to combine different finishes in one space to get a nice balance.”
Using Trims Well
Often rooms with walls painted black have white or off-white trim for a clean look, Magno notes. “Black looks great when used in a space with neutral or white wainscoting or cabinetry because the contrast is striking and chic,” she adds.
For a sophisticated look, she recommends painting walls and trim or millwork in one black hue, and either using the same finish on both surfaces or using a lower sheen on the walls, such as a matte finish and a semigloss or high gloss on the trim.
Purple furniture pops in this black room by Taylor Howes.
Divers of all stripes—from those who travel with their equipment to novices—can select from countless destinations. While the busiest diving spots are often packed with leisure travelers and heavy boat traffic, an assortment of locales around the world provide unique diving experiences—and many are environmentally friendly, too.
Divers undeterred by cooler water temps often rave about New Zealand’s diving spots, especially the Poor Knights Islands, a marine reserve roughly 15 miles off the northeastern coast that Jacques Cousteau called one of the world’s top dive sites. The islands’ volcanic origins—which reputedly date back 11 million years—provide spectacular drop-offs, caverns, lava arches, and tunnels. Due to their location, the islands receive warm subtropical currents from the upper reaches of the South Pacific, which explains the presence of many fish species normally only found much further north.
After tackling the Poor Knights, adventurous divers head farther north up the coast to the Cavalli Islands and the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior, a controversial Greenpeace ship sunk by the French Secret Service in 1985, then turned into a dive site off Matauri Bay in 1987. The location is home to an ever-growing artificial reef of marine life, which attracts schools of golden snapper, kingfish, and John Dory.
Such is New Zealand’s commitment to the environment that the Department of Conservation reminds divers to ensure their gear is trimmed to avoid entanglements, and to maintain good buoyancy control while avoiding collisions with marine life.
The isolated marine park of Cabo Pulmo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Islands of Tahiti offer some of the best diving in the Pacific. Rangiroa, the second-largest coral atoll in the world, is home to more than 25 shark species and offers picture-perfect drift diving through Tiputa Pass and Avatoru Pass. The nearby island of Fakarava, a designated UNESCO Biosphere, attracts divers every June or July, when hundreds of sharks come to feed during the annual spawning of groupers.
Environmentally conscious travelers appreciate the destination’s long tradition of eco-friendly practices. The Polynesian tradition of Rahui is an age-old technique of rotating fishing grounds, which allows stocks to rebuild and diverse fish populations to form, all while attracting lots of large prey animals. Big resorts, such as Hilton and Intercontinental Hotel Group, maintain coral-protection initiatives, which guests can visit and learn more about.
Cabo Pulmo is home to one of only three hard-coral reefs in the Sea of Cortez
The most visited country in Southeast Asia offers hundreds of diving sites appealing to all skill levels and sensibilities. Koh Lipe is a small island in the Strait of Malacca’s Tarutao National Marine Park, home to more than 20 dive sites and around 25% of the world’s tropical fish species. Located near the country’s southern border with Malaysia, the park displays jaw-dropping rock formations, pinnacles, and boulders.
Koh Tao, an island in the Chumphon Archipelago on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand, is heavily involved in marine conservation and education. Novices select from numerous diving schools, and the island’s calm, clear waters contain attractive coral reefs and marine life. Conscientious divers tap into conservation efforts and initiatives, such as the New Heaven Reef Conservation Program, which aims to preserve and protect the island’s marine environments.
Deep-sea diving in Mexico is heavy on coral reefs and colorful fish.
The U.S.’s premier diving destination, the Hawaiian Islands offer many notable diving sites. The Sheraton Caverns, located on the island of Kauai near the Sheraton Kauai Resort, are popular with honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles), while Brennecke’s Ledges are home to a sizable lava shelf, with coral trees growing from the lava rock face.
A few miles off the coast of Hawaii Island, daring divers enjoy blackwater night dives during which they hang, suspended from a 50-foot tether with a dive light in hand, over 4,000 feet of water to watch pelagic creatures drift by—from clear larval-stage critters to squid, octopus, hunting dolphins, and sharks. To amateur marine biologists, the opportunity to witness diurnal vertical migration (when animals from the deep sea come to the surface) is priceless.
Visible from Maui’s southwestern coastline, the Molokini Crater is a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater that was declared a Marine Life Conservation District in 1977. Advanced divers drift dive off the 300-foot sheer outer wall, using channel currents to carry them along while exploring cauliflower coral and keeping an eye out for manta rays and whitetip sharks. Given its long history as a conservation district, Molokini’s marine life is comfortable with the presence of nearby divers, who enjoy unhurried views of the approximately 250 species that call the crater home.
A diver explores Mexico’s Cabo Pulmo.
With 800 miles of coastline, Costa Rica is an aquatic playground. Isla del Cocos (Cocos Island), long ago a hideout for treasure-seeking pirates, was once deemed “the most beautiful island in the world” by Jacques Cousteau. It sits 340 miles off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast and is one of the country’s most renowned national parks as well as a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. (The Costa Rican government forbids inhabitants other than park rangers.) Situated on top of an ancient volcanic mountain covered with lush tropical rainforest, Isla del Cocos is home to species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. The island is surrounded by deep waters, with counter-currents that attract hammerhead and tiger sharks, rays, and dolphins, as well as adventurous divers.
Much closer to shore are the Islas Murciélago (Bat Islands), where divers enjoy seasonal sightings of dolphins, turtles, and whales. Thrill-seekers flock to the “Big Scare,” a site teeming with intimidating bull sharks, plus marlin and sailfish. Santa Rosa National Park, which serves as the departure point for the islands, is home to numerous eco-friendly hotels that hold Costa Rica’s Certification for Sustainable Tourism.
Situated on top of an ancient volcanic mountain covered with lush tropical rainforest, Isla del Cocos is home to species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world
Among Mexico’s numerous lauded diving destinations, the isolated marine park of Cabo Pulmo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stands out. Situated 60 miles northeast of tourist-clogged Cabo San Lucas, Cabo Pulmo is home to one of only three hard-coral reefs in the Sea of Cortez. In addition to the reef’s impressive assortment of colorful fish, divers might spot sea lions, groups of rays leaping from the sea, majestic whale sharks, and sea turtles making their way to shore to dig their nests.
British Virgin Islands
Those looking for a truly out-of-the-ordinary diving experience head to the British Virgin Islands, where Virgin Gorda’s Mountain Point is home to the BVI Art Reef. In 2017, the Kodiak Queen—one of only five surviving ships from Pearl Harbor—was intentionally sunk with a large-scale sculpture of an 80-foot kraken attached. The project was created by a group of artists, engineers, scientists, and donors (including Sir Richard Branson) to raise awareness of ocean conservation across the region. Divers can feel good, given its role as a coral out-planting platform, facilitating a thriving new reef habitat while rehabilitating vulnerable marine life, such as the goliath grouper. The project also maintains swimming, diving, and educational programs for local youth.
Sometimes known as the “Shipwreck Capital of the Caribbean,” Barbados is home to stunning dive sites, many of which have incorporated artificial coral reefs. The island’s largest protected marine park, Carlisle Bay, is home to rare frogfish and seahorses. And it’s one of the few places in the world where visitors can experience six shallow-water shipwrecks—including a tugboat and freighter—in a single dive.
With its 800 miles of coastline, Costa Rica is considered an aquatic playground.
Few building styles are as distinct as the aptly named A-frame.
Starting in the 1950s, these triangular homes became staples in ski towns and other resort areas around the U.S. and Canada. Although interest faded for some time, the efficient design wasn’t lost on modern architects and homeowners, and the A-frame has seen something of a renaissance over the past decade.
“There’s a lot more interest in postwar design in general,” says Chad Randl, author of the book A-frame and a visiting professor at the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture & Environment. “The quirkiness appeals to people.”
In Victoria, British Columbia, Sotheby’s International Realty agents Winston Chan and Logan Wilson are offering an almost 4,500-square-foot double A-frame for 6 million Canadian dollars (US$4.6 million).
The structure was recently updated, keeping the old-school look while adding modern amenities. It has the same footprint as the original home, but was brought down to the studs for the renovation, Chan says.
The current owners didn’t want to lose the historic A-frame shape, he adds. “It’s of an era. It’s almost like a vintage watch.”
A-frames, with their soaring ceilings, allow natural light to flood the home. The Victoria home is no exception, and there are views of the Satellite Channel, with Salt Spring Island in the distance. “It allows for some beautiful sunsets,” Chan says.
The 1.21-acre gated estate also features a second, newly built modern guest house, a fully finished tile garage perfect for showcasing several automobiles, and state-of-the-art technology to control and monitor the home from near or far.
Nearby, in Sooke, British Columbia, a 2,907-square-foot original A-frame home is being offered at C$6.75 million by Sotheby’s Glynis MacLeod. The five-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom home dates to 1969, and both the home and the extensive acreage surrounding it have been meticulously cared for by the original owners.
“This is one of those rare properties preserved by a family who care for the land and respect the environment,” MacLeod says. The home sits on 150 acres of virtually untouched forest, with waterfalls at the ocean and access to a dock in a sheltered bay.
Designed by German architect Tony Burkhart and built by European craftsmen, the home has a 1,360-square-foot deck cantilevered over the water and almost 2,000 feet of ocean frontage on Sooke Basin, plus a protected dock.
The double A-frame has floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides, providing an ever-changing light show that is the source of constant entertainment, says co-owner Virginia Wyman, whose father had the home built. “It’s a cathedral of light,” she says. “Every hour of the day brings a subtle difference.”
Tall ceilings and efficient design are drawing homebuyers to A-frame houses
Most potential buyers are keen to update the historic abode, rather than scrapping it to build anew. “This home is sited closer to the water than current zoning would probably permit, so it is definitely worth keeping,” MacLeod says. “Instead, potential buyers have talked about keeping the existing footprint, and extending the house behind it.”
A-frames, with their severely pitched roofs, make great vacation houses in wintry areas like Canada. “Snow is unlikely to collapse the roof,” Randl points out.
Ski resorts—Squaw Valley and others near Lake Tahoe, for instance—are known for A-frames for this reason, as well as because the peaks of the roofs echo the peaks of the nearby mountains. But Randl says they were popular at other resort areas established after World War II, including places in Oregon and the Adirondacks in New York.
“They were playful and whimsical. They were different than the everyday,” he says.
An elegant home with an A-frame focal point is for sale for C$6 million in Victoria
The design was out of favor by the 1990s, but now that playfulness is popular again.
Kim Schneider and Tracey D. Clarke of Sotheby’s Sunset Strip sold a three-bedroom A-frame in Hollywood Hills, Calif., built for swimwear designer Fred Cole. Constructed in 1958, architect Harry Gesner also made good use of glass and the soaring ceilings to let light into the almost 3,500-square-foot house. Just minutes from the Sunset Strip, it was recently restored by the seller and features Brazilian cherry wood floors, a pool, and expansive views of the city.
The home was listed for US$3.5 million, and was sold in an off-market deal earlier this year.
The house in Victoria, shown in the top two images, has lots of garage space, and lots of windows.
Meanwhile, Davinci Haus, a German company, is bringing A-frames to the Hamptons with its custom-designed four-bedroom, four-bathroom homes starting at US$2.5 million.
Working with local architects and homeowners, the company promises a modern A-frame that is energy efficient and features amenities like standard triple-glazed glass and optional Wolf, Viking, and Miele appliances and Ciuffo cabinetry. Sotheby’s John Healey works with the Bridgehampton, N.Y.–based team to bring these contemporary A-frames to the Hamptons.
The quirkiness many enjoyin A-frames can still be found. David Benford of Landmark Sotheby’s International Realty is marketing a 2,800-square-foot A-frame in Hampstead, N.C., with a decidedly Polynesian look.
Sitting on two acres, the home overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway. Palm trees outside and dark wood inside add to the island vibe, and the distinct triangular home also features a Jacuzzi in the master suite, an outdoor kitchen, and a private deep-water dock. It’s being offered at US$1.3 million.
Rare is the global traveler’s bucket list that doesn’t include a safari. And while many nature lovers associate world-class wildlife viewing with Africa, a growing number of international operators and destination resorts offer compelling alternatives. Here’s a look at notable options around the globe.
A walaroo in Northern Territory, Australia
Australia’s Northern Territory lures adventurous types with untouched nature and close, respectful access to aboriginal culture. A pair of environmentally friendly safari operators provide a range of wildlife-viewing experiences in the northern, tropical Top End region.
Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris focuses on Mount Borradaile, an aboriginal sacred site owned and managed by its custodians, the Amurdak people. Options include bird-watching expeditions and a wetlands cruise with crocodile spotting. Guests can also spend the night in an eco-lodge or cabin located in a natural bush setting.
Bamurru Plains is an eco-friendly, luxury safari lodge with exclusive access to 74,000 acres of floodplains and savanna woodland around the Mary River, on the edge of Kakadu National Park.Ten bungalows overlook the floodplains and feature mesh walls, providing close access to ever-present wildlife.
A safari in India’s Baghvan
Taj Hotels—India’s most iconic luxury hotel brand—maintains four safari lodges, each offering twice-daily safaris and unique, culturally minded guest experiences. Each is dedicated to conservation and eco-friendly behavior.
Mahua Kothi offers a variety of nature-spotting experiences. Animal lovers hop into open 4×4 vehicles to cruise around looking for Bandhavgarh National Park’s famous Royal Bengal tigers, white tigers, and leopards.
Baghvan attracts travelers drawn to Pench National Park, which inspired Rudyard Kipling’s iconic The Jungle Book. Guests explore Pench’s teak-filled jungles in search of tigers and other elusive creatures.
Tucked into a rocky outcrop near Panna National Park, Pashan Garh offers views of the Vindhya Hills and 200 acres of private jungle. When not relaxing in the dozen well-appointed cottages, safari-goers enjoy sightings of tigers, crocodiles, and wildly colorful birds. Cultural-minded travelers take a break from nature to visit the Khajuraho group of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain temples, one of India’s most fascinating Unesco World Heritage sites.
Banjaar Tola overlooks Kanha National Park and offers an opulent glamping experience in one of 18 tented suites. Kanha is one of the largest and best-maintained of India’s national parks, as well as one of the first Indian tiger reserves aimed at protecting the fierce felines and their ecosystems.
A view of Intrepid Travel’s Borneo safari
Intrepid Travel, the world’s largest adventure-travel company, offers a 12-day Sabah Adventure, which packs in the many natural wonders found in Sabah, a Malaysian state located on the northern portion of Borneo. Besides visiting some of the region’s hot springs and tribal villages, participants catch glimpses of rainforest wildlife, such as tigers, elephants, and orangutans. Also included is a visit to Turtle Island Marine Park, where sea turtles come ashore to lay eggs every night.
Intrepid’s Spitsbergen Explorer thrills adventurers who jump at the chance to visit arctic Spitsbergen, the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in northern Norway. Beyond exploring windswept polar deserts, cliff-lined shores, and imposing fjords via hiking, snowshoeing, or kayaking, participants keep an eye out for polar bears hunting along the ice sheets, plus walruses, reindeer, Arctic foxes, and vast colonies of rare seabirds.
Angama Mara in Africa
Towering above the Maasai Mara—arguably the most famous safari destination in Africa—Angama Mara contains two separate camps, each with 15 tented suites, on the edge of a scenic escarpment, where some of the most famous scenes from the 1985 film Out of Africa were shot. Suites feature 30-foot-wide, floor-to-ceiling windows, and guests can use binoculars to view elephants and water buffalo. And guests rest easy knowing that part of their payment goes toward conservation.
Ranch living keeps it on the level. Spread out over one floor, these homes are more casual than other styles, often lacking the symmetry of more classic designs. Buyers are attracted to that casual air, and the style maximizes indoor-outdoor living that adds to the feeling of ease. The homes can also allow for privacy, with clever layouts and landscaping.
Modern examples incorporate features like open-floor plans, floor-to-ceiling windows, and the latest technology into the build, but they are still centered on indoor-outdoor living.
The style flourished in places like California, where the weather allows for the outdoors to be an extension of the home most of the year. Many of these were built as suburban developments in the years immediately following World War II.
Property ID: 0593275 | sothebysrealty.com
Sotheby’s International Realty | Santa Barbara Brokerage
“In the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, most of the very good residential architects here in California were designing ranch houses; it was just part of their portfolio,” explains Irvine, Calif.-based architect Alan Hess, author of The Ranch House. “They are just excellently designed.” Architect Cliff May popularized the style, inspired by the adobe ranch houses owned by his family near San Diego, according to a 1986 New York Times article.
“I rebelled against the boxy houses being built then,” May, who died in 1989, told the Times. “The ranch house was everything a California house should be—it had cross-ventilation, the floor was level with the ground, and with its courtyard and the exterior corridor. It was about sunshine and informal outdoor living.”
May built the first home in this style in 1931, and, over his career, designed more than 1,000 custom houses. The bulk of them were in California, but he also had projects as far away as Ireland, Australia, and Switzerland.
Modern architects are also melding cutting-edge design with one-level living. In Santa Barbara, Calif., local architect Ken Radtkey and his team at Blackbird Architects created a ranch-style home there in 2016. It incorporates a modern kitchen, dining, and living area as the center of the home, with the master suite and office separate from the additional bedrooms. Guests and residents can access the outdoors from almost anywhere in the home.
The home has modern sliding doors and floor-to-ceiling windows, and its curved roof creates a shaded outdoor living space. And the outdoor areas are just as well planned, with native and drought-resistant plantings, grass terraces, an orchard, a pool, gardens, and a koi pond with a stone waterfall.
The owner’s imported Moroccan doors have been incorporated throughout the house, creating a unique contrast to the home’s clean lines, according to the architect. There’s also a separate garage with an artist’s studio. Recently listed for just under $5 million, Montecito-based Sotheby’s International Realty agent Joe McCorkell is representing the property.
The Rancho Santa Fe home, has an open-floor plan.
Homes by May are still in demand, as well, according to Clara Yang, an agent with the Beverly Hills Brokerage of Sotheby’s International Realty. Yang is currently marketing a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home designed by May in 1948. Located in the lower Mandeville Canyon area in Los Angeles’ Brentwood neighborhood, the home is listed for $3.6 million.
The kitchen and bathrooms of the 2,322-square-foot home have been updated, but much of the design remains the same, Yang says. “Wherever you are, there’s a door to walk outside,” she notes. “And there are windows throughout to let the light in.”
The home, built in a U shape, surrounds a courtyard with a firepit and mature landscaping. There are also two patios with fountains, a pool surrounded by a glass fence, and a pocket garden.
“It’s not like a modern house with an open-floor plan. It’s like a treasure hunt; there’s something different around every corner, ” Yang says. “It’s perfect for staying home, because each person can have their own space and everyone can meet up in the middle.”
Other May-designed properties do offer that open plan, however. A four-bedroom, five-and-a-half bathroom home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., boasts a flowing layout, as well as abundant natural light and a central courtyard that connects seamlessly to the indoor living areas.
Landscaping is key to ranch homes, and May is known for having brought in mature trees to plant on the grounds of his projects. This property is no different, note agents Eric Iantorno and Beth Van Boxtel of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty. The home, built in 1973, sits on almost three acres and is currently on the market for $5.8 million.
“Cliff May used adult trees and plants at the time, and these days they are giant,” Van Boxtel explains. They include olive and pepper trees, plus a small fruit tree orchard, a vegetable garden, several kinds of berries, and a variety of tropical plants.
“The olive trees make it feel so romantic,” Iantorno notes. “And the details of the space—things are small and then expand, and that play on proportions makes it feel very special.” Single-level houses have gained in popularity as the baby boomer generation looks to retire and relocate to places without stairs. But Yang says she’s seen more interest in ranch-style homes from buyers of all ages.
People are attracted by the informal ease of living there, as well as the integrated indoor-outdoor experience. Others are drawn to the deceptively simple architecture. “They’re just brilliant little designs, and people are appreciating them,” Hess says.