If the home you’re thinking of buying has a four- or five-car garage with an automotive turntable like you can find in some fancy dealership showrooms, the chances are pretty good that you’re envisioning what is considered by many to be a “luxury” home.
Other notable features in lux living include retractable or disappearing doors in all areas of the home for indoor/outdoor integration; a utility room with a dog-wash station or a crafts area; a chilled wine wall or a wine showroom; a full-scale air-conditioned room for storing thousands of bottles of wine; an outdoor shower; automatic toilets with heated seats; or perhaps a dry or steam sauna.
Often it’s the oversized garages that allow homeowners to show off or raise their vehicles that are among the distinguishing features of luxury homes, builders of these homes say.
“A three-car garage used to be luxurious,” said Cammie Beckert, managing director for Camelot Homes, one of the oldest family-owned homebuilders in Arizona. Now it’s four-plus bays in the garage, she said. And large spaces inside the home are gaining popularity, too, she added. It’s not at all unusual to see a great room in lieu of a living room/family room combination; meanwhile, casitas typically include separate living areas.
Other elements that define a luxury home include a distinctive architectural style on both the exterior and interior, said Matt Cody, owner of luxury builder Cachet Homes in Scottsdale.
Cody said you’re also likely to find 10-foot-high (or higher) ceiling heights, a traditional masonry fireplace instead of a sealed-unit fireplace, clay roof tile instead of a concrete tile roof, a private bathroom for every bedroom, aluminum-clad windows and a paver driveway as well as paver or stone patio surfaces. In addition, he said, double kitchen islands are becoming more common. And you’re less likely to see the garage dominating the elevation (exterior design) of a luxury home, he noted.
Full outdoor kitchens, an indoor gourmet kitchen with professional appliances, linear fireplaces (gas or electric) and large walk-in closets with extensive custom closet organizers and chandeliers also are gaining favor with luxury homebuyers, said Kevin Rosinski, division vice president of Toll Brothers, a luxury homebuilder in Scottsdale.
Another luxury trend, Rosinski [of Toll Brothers] said, is that homebuyers have moved away from the home theater room and instead enjoy the home theater experience with a large television and surround sound. The home theater seen in the late ‘90s or early 2000s is disappearing, he said.
Outdoor living continues to capture the hearts of luxury buyers, Rosinski said. Here is what upscale buyers are looking for: alfresco living rooms and full kitchens; beautiful pools in all shapes and sizes; outdoor rooms with and without walls; living walls (which consist of a vertical planter going up the side of the house); massive backyards with up to 30,000 square-feet of outdoor living space.
“All of our new homes are designed for seamless indoor/outdoor living with courtyards and disappearing walls of glass that conveniently hide away into a thickened wall,” said David Kitnick, president of luxury builder Rosewood Homes.
True luxury homes are built from the ground up and encompass the entire home while incorporating superior construction techniques and rigorous quality assurance standards not typically found in production homes, Kitnick said.
Luxury homes often also include decorative and coffered ceilings, dramatic beams, countertop vessel sinks and in-wall plumbing faucets, Kitnick said. “Custom full-overlay cabinetry is provided in a vast range of styles and finishes including abundant features such as furniture-style legs, roll-out spice drawers, cookie-tray dividers, wine racks, dramatic stacked upper cabinets, roll-out trays, a recycling center and decorative cabinet knobs and glass doors,” he said. “Many luxury homebuyers also choose self-closers on their cabinet doors and drawers.”
“Our luxurious master showers are designed for comfort and convenience, with oversized Kohler showerheads with advanced technology, a detachable multi-function hand-shower, built-in seat, invisible drain and separate drying-off area with decorative robe hooks,” Kitnick said. Some buyers also select an optional jetted shower system, he said.
Here is how Rosewood Homes describes part of the model home in their luxury Sierra Highlands community in Scottsdale: “The large master suite is trimmed with beautiful but subtle wood wainscoting along with soffitted and wood-beamed ceiling, a gorgeous hanging light fixture … and a wonderful modern stone-faced Ortal fireplace across from the king-sized bed. The master suite is large enough to include a convenient built-in dresser with mirror and multiple sitting areas…overlooking the resort-style backyard and offering gorgeous mountain views.”
Some builders say many of these lifestyle features can only be experienced in a luxury home. “For the most part, the features outlined are difficult to add into a home after the home has been constructed,” Cody said.
However, the good news for homebuyers not in the luxury market is that “many of these items are easily transitioned into a market-rate home,” Rosinski said, including a chef’s kitchen, a multi-slide door and a smaller space that can accommodate an outdoor living area and kitchen.