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.
Floral paintings are making a contemporary comeback, farmhouses are getting modern face-lifts, and rooms are offering design “experiences.” Here are the latest trends in art, architecture, and design.
A new generation of artists is breathing life into a centuries-old subject: florals. The works, which range from traditional botanicals to avant-garde abstractions and edgy photographic images, are intimate portraits of nature in all its glorious phases. Stockholm-based photographer Carl Kleiner often employs flowers in his works, creating undulating images with stems and petals in impossibly whimsical positions. Belfast painter Ted Pim has been creating oil-on-canvas rose bouquets for the past 15 years. The works, which sell for US$3,000 to US$22,000, are brutally brooding and literally dripping with subtle significance.
“Roses are a symbol of love but also can be incredibly dark,” he says. “I grew up listening to Tarot readings my friend’s grandmother did, and I learned that the rose is a symbol of balance. It expresses promise, new beginnings and hope. Its thorns represent defense, physicality, loss, and thoughtlessness. I use these themes in my work to create beautiful pieces of art.”
Inspired by 18th-century works of Dutch painter Rachel Ruysch, Pim deliberately flaws “perfect floral scenes, with every inch analyzed and overanalyzed for imperfections” by dripping a mixture of etching ink and white spirits over the work at the end to emphasize the unpredictability and fragility of life. “It’s a thrill to pour the mixture over the oils, trying to balance the elements of destruction and creation,” he says. “A lot of people would ask if the flowers I paint are dying or coming to life. I like that they have to make up their own minds.”
Belfast-based artist Ted Pim paints striking oil-on-canvas rose bouquets.
The so-called modern farmhouse is one of the latest manifestations of the quest to create a classical, comfortable residence that is suitable for casual, contemporary life
The hybrid houses, which are, on the outside, spare and Shaker simple, feature opulent, open-plan interiors and are sited to exploit the sun and the natural breezes.
“Modern farmhouses combine traditional forms with the clarity, simplicity, and openness of Mid-Century Modern architecture,” says architect Matthew Griffith, a principal of in situ studio in Raleigh, N.C. “Farmhouses were not meant to be decorative—they were practical, and they were beautiful, quiet places.”
The wood-sided structures, which typically have durable metal roofs, take design cues from vernacular farmhouses, yet look more austerely elegant than agrarian.
A modern farmhouse from North Carolina-based in situ
“The interior spaces are not always one room,” Griffith says, noting that in one in situ studio project, a stairway serves as an architectural connector.
He says that the form, which blends indoor and outdoor spaces, has become so popular that “it’s a movement—developers of spec properties are using the term ‘modern farmhouse’ to describe them. Five years ago, when we designed our first one at a client’s behest, it was a novelty.”
The rooms we live in should not simply be seen but also appeal to the emotions. That’s the credo of experiential design, whose spaces stimulate the five senses.
Becky Shea, whose eponymous design firm is based in New York City and Los Angeles, sees such design as “holistic therapy” that creates “a subconscious calm.”
In her interiors, she evokes memories with, among other cues, materials, meditative ambient sound, living walls, and a signature scent diffused through the HVAC system.
Becky Shea used old flooring that meant something to her clients to create built-ins in a breakfast room.
In one project where her clients were renovating the family home, she used its old flooring to create built-in cabinetry for the breakfast room. “Now, every day, they are reminded of the memories that were created on the floors,” she says.
For another home, she designed an oversize custom rug that matched the material of the client’s favorite sweater. “She told us how much she loves the experience of waking up and wiggling her toes in the plush alpaca boucle before starting her day,” Shea says.
Digging deeply into the client’s psyche is key to the process. “If conventional design is like dating, experiential design is more like being married with two kids and a pet,” she says. “We get to know every detail about our clients from what kind of deodorant they use to where they vacationed as children.” Shea says she knows the design is successful “when clients tell us they’ve never felt more ‘at home.’”
As buyers seek more outdoor space amid Covid-19, this rare amenity provides options for entertaining and connecting with nature.
Daniel Dahler for Sotheby’s International Realty
A French Normandy chateau in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, listed at $29 million, includes multiple gardens and a greenhouse.
The benefits of living in tune with nature have become more apparent than ever in 2020, when even diehard urbanites have been seeking out gardens, forests, lakes, mountains and beaches to soothe their souls. Estates with outdoor space and gardens may attract many buyers, but those with a greenhouse have the added cachet of providing greenery in every season. Sometimes, a greenhouse can be a light-filled living space.
Adding a greenhouse to your property can cost an average of $7,000 to $29,000, according to HomeAdvisor, an online home improvement services marketplace. Adding a one-acre greenhouse can cost $40,000 to more than $100,000, but if you want to add a greenhouse to an urban rooftop, that could run $1 million or more.
The typical greenhouse needs some type of heating and air conditioning system, lighting and water.
Here are some greenhouses around the U.S. that range from expansive spaces for growing orchids or tropical plants to ones that function as living space for entertaining or simply communing with the plants.
Serious Gardening in California’s Sonoma County
A $3.15 million estate listed in Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, California, includes a two-acre garden with a wide variety of plants and gardens.
“Flowers are the passion here, with color and exuberance,” said Sara Harrison Woodfield, a 66-year-old architect who designed the home on Shiloh Terrace that she owns with her husband Peter Woodfield, an 87-year-old retired mining geologist. “To support all this garden, we built a 10’ x 12’ greenhouse, with one side full of plants and one side full of fertilizer, tools and garden gadgets. There’s a potting bench and area outside, which has turned into a secret getaway place to enjoy the plants.”
While the greenhouse is used to start plants, protect sensitive plants during winter and to grow some exotic plants that don’t flourish in the California climate, Ms. Woodfield also enjoys spending time there.
“The front and sides of the greenhouse have wall-to-wall windows with shelves for growing plants and a small place to put a chair and table to just enjoy the space and look down and out over the nearby garden,” she said.
Sunlit Winter Retreat
With a 4.6-acre estate and a 4,400-square-foot residence, you might think the homeowners of this Massachusetts coastal property would have more than enough space to relax in their main house. But for Barry Goldman, a retiree who is selling his riverfront estate in Newmarch Street in Ipswich, the greenhouse offers a special spot amid the gardens and terraces.
“It was worth every penny spent over the course of the year it took to meticulously restore the greenhouse,” Mr. Goldman said. “We especially love luxuriating in the sunny warmth on chilly winter days with a cup of tea and a good book.”
The estate is listed at $2.695 million with Christie’s International Realty.
A City Greenhouse for Entertaining
An unexpected spot for a greenhouse is a Manhattan rooftop, but one rests on the roof terrace at 10 East 14 St.’s penthouse No. 1 in Greenwich Village. The greenhouse, which features plants and trees fed with a year-round irrigation system, can be reached by a private elevator from the condo, which is listed for $4,999,500.
“The greenhouse is used as a living space for the owners and has central heating and air,” said Cherie Hinson, the listing agent with Sotheby’s International Realty. “This conservatory doubles as an additional living room, lounge, entertainment pit or office space.”
A Cape Cod Orchid House
The 10-acre property on Beach Road in Orleans, Massachusetts, listed at $25 million and located one-half mile from Nauset Beach, probably doesn’t need a greenhouse as a selling point. But Ricardo Rodriguez, the listing agent with Coldwell Banker Realty, points out that new owners can grow vegetable, exotic plants and flowers year-round to keep their home in bloom in every season.
“The greenhouse was primarily used for orchids,” said homeowner Raina Ring. “We had virtually every variety, and it was kept by a specialist. They grew like they did in nature, not in ceramic or clay pots; we kept them in cork containers that the orchids grew in and onto the cork itself. The goal was to have every variety of orchid. The greenhouse was a visual and aromatic splendor.”
Long Island Oasis
The 2.7-acre estate, located on Long Island’s South Fork on Sayres Path in Wainscott, is listed for sale at $10.95 million with Sotheby’s International Realty. It features multiple gardens, terraces, ponds, a swimming pool with a waterfall and outdoor sculptures.
Homeowner Marie Eve Berty, a 63-year-old retired public relations and marketing executive, says that the greenhouse is used for a variety of purposes.
“It’s perfect for preparing seedlings for my organic vegetable garden, cutting flowers for floral arrangements and, in the winter, it houses all of our outdoor plants that need winterizing,” Ms. Berty said. “It becomes a wonderful space that can be viewed from multiple locations in the house, making the indoor space feel alive year-round.”
Shangri La on Narragansett Bay
Named in honor of the imaginary paradise in James Hilton’s 1933 novel “Lost Horizon,” this 1.8-acre waterfront estate in Bristol Highlands, Rhode Island, includes two greenhouses in addition to the main house, a guest house and a tea house.
The property on Shore Road is priced at $8.5 million and includes multiple gardens along with a private sand beach.
The greenhouses maintain the tropical plants used throughout the estate, said Kristin Parella, the listing agent along with John Hodnett of Lila Delman Real Estate, a Christie’s International Real Estate company.
“Many plants sleep in the greenhouse during the winter months and come to life in the late spring, where they are transferred to pots and garden beds,” Mr. Hodnett said. “The tropical plants thrive on warmth and moisture, and with extraordinary care, bring out the magnificent beauty of the exotic architecture and the coastal environment.”
Extensive gardens are an important part of the 15-acre estate in Batesville, Indiana, which is listed for sale at $5.5 million. A greenhouse was designed to complement the architecture of the main house.
“The owners built a greenhouse with matching tables and self-adjusting windows that open depending on the temperature inside the greenhouse, then added a heater and a ceiling fan to further control the climate,” said listing agent Rebecca Glazier of Encore Sotheby’s International Realty. “They grow flowers, indoor plants, ferns and seedlings and use the greenhouse to protect some potted plants during the winter.”
Saddle River Estate with Tropical Sanctuary
The 4.24-acre estate in Saddle River, New Jersey, currently listed for sale at $9.88 million, includes a 20,000-square-foot house, a pond, covered patios, a swimming pool, cabanas and a formal garden.
“The greenhouse is used for year-round vegetation, including flowers, plantings, vegetables and herbs,” said listing agent Josh Baris with Coldwell Banker Realty. “The owner enjoys relaxing within what feels like a private tropical oasis.”
French Normandy Chateau in Holmby Hills
When you own a French-style chateau set amid nearly two acres of gardens in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, a greenhouse is almost a necessity
The 1.77-acre estate on Ladera Drive, listed at $29 million, includes multiple gardens that surround the swimming pool, pool house, two guest cottages and the main house. The working greenhouse grows plants that are continuously used throughout the estate, including specimen ferns, orchids and vegetables, said Sharona Alperin, the listing agent with Sotheby’s International Realty.
Originally posted October 12, 2020 on sothebysrealty.com
A spectacular view is one of the best accessories a luxury property can have. Whether positioned on rolling tundra or balmy coastal flatlands, the right home begins with the right location. Boasting stunning scenery, these five land listings offer buyers the exciting opportunity to build a custom home that is just as perfect as its surroundings. Press play to discover the beautiful landscapes and backdrops that could inspire your next picturesque home.
This iconic property is California Bay Area living at its peak. Surround yourself with panoramic views of the Golden State on the 100-plus acres of Easton Point, located on the southern tip of the Tiburon Peninsula. For sale for the first time in a century, this parcel offers a not-to-be-missed opportunity—the spacious hillside property features trees, meadows, views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and ridgelines 590 feet above sea level, making it an ideal spot for an estate amongst the clouds.
One glance at the natural wonders of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and it’s abundantly clear why it’s so special—and why it should be treated with care. The Ranch at Red Rock in Las Vegas, Nevada is an eco-resort community committed to habitat protection and land preservation. In addition to an elevated communal ranch village, an outdoor amphitheater will encourage all to appreciate the fantastic natural landscape. Customizing a home here ensures that future generations can enjoy the sights of Red Rock Canyon for years to come.
Tropical Island Privacy at Water Cay, Turks & Caicos
If you close your eyes and picture paradise, do white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, fluttering palm trees, and endless blue skies come to mind? If so, you may be dreaming of escaping to the 432 acres at Water Cay in Turks & Caicos. Whether this property is purchased for private or commercial use, it’s a picture-perfect tropical destination—thanks to 7,000 feet of beachfront, you can listen to the soothing sounds of the ocean any time the mood strikes you.
For many, the desert is a calling. The vibrant sunrises and sunsets, varied and storied terrain, and the expansive blanket of starry night skies have a special way of making visitors feel in tune with nature. Backing onto national forest, El Rojo Grande Ranch offers all of the desert’s best vistas, and with Sedona only 1.5 miles away, city conveniences remain within reach. The available 91-acre lot has endless potential for building your own home, or the entire 173-acre property can be purchased with residences and amenities, including excellent equestrian facilities.
National Park Landscapes in Awaroa Bay, New Zealand
For seclusion and complete immersion in a landscape, it doesn’t get much better than Awaroa Bay in New Zealand’s Abel Tasman National Park. With golden beaches, lush forested hillsides, and long stretches of mild weather, this property is an untouched oasis ideal for creating your own vacation property. With its nearby marine reserve, surrounding lagoons for exploring, and abundant birdwatching, Awaroa Bay is a peaceful haven away from the rest of the world.
A view of one’s own is the ultimate in luxury, and these five properties yield spectacular rewards. Wake up each morning to green hills, captivating desert vistas, or glittering ocean as far as the eye can see—whatever the panorama that speaks to you, the land awaits. All that’s left to do is design and build a complementary home amidst the views.
Spring is in full effect in the northern hemisphere and as restrictions on some outdoor spaces begin to lift, here are five ways you can enjoy some much-needed sunshine and fresh air while practicing safe social distancing guidelines.
First and foremost, take care of yourself and the members of your household. While some of the heavier restrictions are being lifted, it’s still important to make sure that you stay up to date with CDC guidelines and ensure that you’re washing your hands frequently and wearing a face covering when in public spaces – even while outside.
Just Get Outside
It’s no secret that sunshine offers many health benefits – the good news is that you don’t have to go far to get it. Carve out a part of each day to get outside, even if it’s an hour on your patio, yard or doorstep to get that all-important boost of vitamin D. Enjoying the sunshine doesn’t have to be complicated; if social distancing guidelines in your area permit, take a walk by yourself or with members of your household.
Camping in Your Backyard
You can take your family on a camping adventure in your own backyard. Set up a tent, have a bonfire, roast some marshmallows and tell campfire stories. Try leaving cellphones and other electronics in the house for a truly authentic camping experience.
Go for a Hike
Some trails and parks are beginning to reopen their gates, which means you can lace up your hiking boots and get back into nature. The National Recreation and Park Association offers some guidance like warning other trail users of your presence, allowing proper space or stepping off trails as you pass others, and keeping the recommended distance at all times.
Art lovers around the world have long been entranced by the icons Paul Cézanne, Salvadore Dalí, and Jackson Pollock. To fully understand and appreciate these masters, it helps to visit the places that nurtured and continue to display their talents. Each locale is a thrill to visit in its own right; add in these stops and you’ll come away with a newfound artistic education covering some of the art world’s biggest names.
Salvador Dalí’s Madrid
While Salvador Dalí was born in 1904 near the French border in Catalonia and spent his formative years there, the titan of Spanish surrealism casts an imposing shadow over Madrid.
In 1922, Dalí moved into the city’s Residencia de Estudiantes (Students’ Residence) and studied at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Today, both facilities are open to visitors looking to delve deeper into the artist’s background; the Residencia de Estudiantes, one of the oldest cultural centers in Madrid, hosts myriad conferences, panel discussions, concerts, poetry readings, and exhibitions.
The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía allows Dalí fans to mix with Picasso lovers; the museum holds world-class collections from Spain’s two greatest 20th-century masters.
In 1985, the Madrid City Council decided to dedicate a public space to Dalí and commissioned the artist to create a work for the space. The Plaza de Salvador Dalí is dominated by the only urban monument in the world designed by the artist, a hulking granite dolmen (a single-chamber megalithic tomb). Within the 43-foot structure, in which an oval-shaped natural rock was placed on three carved granite pillars, resides a bronze sculpture of an abstract, masculine figure standing on a pedestal of polished black granite.
Visitors looking to tap into Dalí’s mind can stop by the Westin Palace Madrid, a historic property that was commissioned by King Alfonso XIII in 1912. Back when it was known as the Hotel Palace, Dalí enjoyed jazz nights with friends and preferred to stay in the suites overlooking the iconic Fuente de Neptuno (Neptune Fountain); the artist was notorious for making elaborate demands of the staff. Today, visitors to the hotel, which sits in the shadow of one of the world’s most famous art museums, the Museo del Prado, can enjoy a cocktail in the 1912 Museo Bar. (A case next to the bar holds a piece of hotel stationery bearing a note and poem penned by Federico García Lorca, and embellished with doodles by Dalí.)
Salvador DalÍ, reportedly enjoyed jazz nights while staying at what is now the Westin Palace Madrid.
Salvador DalÍ, reportedly enjoyed jazz nights while staying at what is now the Westin Palace Madrid.
Paul Cézanne’s Southern France
Perhaps no artist is more associated with the South of France than Paul Cézanne. The postimpressionist master, who spent much of his life in his native Aix-en-Provence, was one of the most influential 19th-century painters. (Both Matisse and Picasso reputedly said he was “the father of us all.”)
Cézanne was passionate about Aix-en-Provence—he was famously quoted as saying: “When you’re born there, it’s hopeless, nothing else is good enough”—and present-day visitors can walk in Cézanne’s footsteps. A well-marked pedestrian route allows visitors to discover the landmarks of Cézanne’s early years, including his childhood homes and schools, the addresses of his family and acquaintances, and other notable spots that shaped him.
To see one of the key places in Cézanne’s life, take a guided tour of his family’s manor house, the Bastide du Jas de Bouffan, where the artist established an atelier in the attic and often painted in the garden, looking out to the Montagne Sainte-Victoire mountain ridge from different vantage points. For the last few years of his life, Cézanne painted in his studio in Les Lauves, around an hour from Aix, and after his death it became memorialized as Atelier Paul Cézanne. Visitors can peruse models, furniture, and equipment as the artist left them in his studio.
Cézanne devotees head to the east of Aix to explore the labyrinthian Bibémus quarries. In 1897, the artist rented a cabin there and produced works based on the deserted landscapes; paintings like “The Red Rock” went on to inspire the cubist style.
Active types can take a hike up Montagne Sainte-Victoire, known by some as “Cézanne’s mountain,” which was the subject of more than 60 works by the artist. After a two-hour jaunt up the mountain, which is recognizable for its white limestone cliffs, visitors enjoy gorgeous panoramic views of the region and out to the Mediterranean Sea.
Paul Cézanne, painted the Sainte-Victoire mountain ridge in southern France.
Paul Cézanne, painted the Sainte-Victoire mountain ridge in southern France.
Jackson Pollock’s Hamptons
Some 60-plus years after his death, Jackson Pollock, the pre-eminent figure of abstract expressionism, continues to captivate. His wall-size drip-and-pour painting One: Number 31 has been bringing crowds to the $450 million expansion of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and his large-format works entrance audiences around the world.
Pollock acolytes commonly make pilgrimages to the Hamptons on Long Island, home to the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, a National Historic Landmark open from May through October (guided tours by reservation only). The house, built in 1879, is typical of the area’s 19th-century farmers’ and fishermen’s homes.
Pollock—who lived there with his wife, artist Lee Krasner—converted a barn into a studio. There, without heat or artificial light, he perfected his distinctive “drip” technique of using paint, in which he laid the canvas on the floor and walked around it, applying paint from all sides. The energy in the studio is palpable, especially whenever visitors spot the floorboards, which still bear original drips from Pollock’s very own brushes, sticks, and basting syringes.
A visit to Pollock’s Hamptons comes full circle at Green River Cemetery. After Pollock was buried there in 1956 (Krasner was laid to rest by his side in 1984), the cemetery became famous as a final resting place for notable artists and writers, with numerous headstones that resemble works of art.
Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, bought their home, now a National Historic Landmark, with help from art patron