Making themselves at home in the great outdoors, today's luxury homeowners expect to have all the amenities of indoor living available on the grounds of their estate as well.
Luxury homes are no longer just places to retire and rest. Connecting with the outside world is a rapidly growing trend. Affluent homeowners have spent the last 20 years cocooning inside, say trend spotters, but now they are looking at their outdoor space as a place to decorate and entertain.
While there has been a dramatic increase in outdoor entertaining, for affluent homeowners this trend is about much more than decks, barbecues and swimming pools. It's about seamlessly extending the luxuries they expect inside their homes to their outdoor living spaces as well. Traditional backyards are being transformed into private getaway destinations with all the amenities of home, plus many of the most desirable features of posh, sophisticated resorts and hotels.
The design and decorating of outdoor living spaces reflect homeowners' tastes and sensibilities. Whatever luxurious amenities you can imagine for the inside of your home can now be duplicated for outdoor living.
Real Living’s network of Sales Professionals who work with luxury home buyers and sellers say that one of the latest style trends in luxury lounging is the outdoor bed. Stylish, dramatic and seductively comfortable, these outdoor beds, seen poolside at luxury resorts throughout the world, are now putting in an appearance in upscale homes. Whether you use them for snoozing or perch on them while sharing a cocktail, they create an almost instant sense of intimacy.
No one wants to put an outdoor bed too close to a busy outdoor kitchen. Creating separate outdoor living zones for activity and tranquility is an important overall design trend in luxury outdoor living. Affluent homeowners want their outdoor living spaces to provide numerous environments for all the activities they enjoy outdoors. They want cooking and dining areas that can host both elegant dinner parties and family gatherings where marshmallows for s'mores can be roasted over open flames in a free-standing fireplace.
The trend toward outdoor entertaining means dining areas are separate from out-door kitchens, and are furnished with high-end, weather-resistant furniture. This might include lounge chairs and a conversation table made of teak, or an oversized jarrah dining set with a tempered-glass table-top.
In addition to comfort and amenities, the outdoor living spaces of upscale homes are increasingly being designed using top-grade materials in unexpected ways to provide a sense of unity with the natural environment. Natural materials such as native stone and pebbles are being incorporated into floors and countertops. Gently gurgling outdoor waterfalls provide both aural and visual links to the natural environment. Water spilling from aqueducts that flow both inside and out blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor living.
In climate zones where the outdoor season is not as long as it is in Southern regions, retreating glass walls are being used in luxury homes to bring in a sense of connection to nature all year-round, as well as to provide easy transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces during cold-weather months.
Landscaping also plays an important role in establishing a sense of unity with the environment, as well as creating multiple environments for activity and tranquility. Outdoor space need not be uniformly flat. Some upscale homeowners, for instance, prefer to incorporate a multilevel lanai, with steps and, perhaps a spa, in the design of their pool area because doing so can create zones of privacy.
Some affluent homeowners, eager to emulate the chic, sophisticated amenities they've enjoyed at resorts in Hawaii, Bali, the Indian Ocean, and the Caribbean are adding luxurious outdoor baths and exotic showers tucked away in private gardens to their outdoor living spaces.
A more subtle way to create a sense of easy flow from inside to outside is accomplished by using centralized lines of sight within the house that incorporate design elements from the outside. These elements might include a perfectly centered swimming pool that lines up with a view from the front door, or a raised spa with a fixture that bubbles and catches the eye as you enter a study. Each creates a visual flow from inside to outside.
Outdoor living need not, of course, be merely about tranquil communion with nature. Light and sound can create a lively outdoor living environment. Out-door speakers are no longer the only all-weather electronics available to affluent homeowners. An outdoor plasma television allows homeowners and their families to watch all their favorite programs alfresco. These outdoor plasma televisions are either manufactured to weather the elements, or can be whisked into all-weather cabinets if Mother Nature threatens stormy weather. For the ultimate in outdoor theaters, consider installing a versatile Nippura Blue Ocean rear projection video screen that can be used in full outdoor weather conditions.
In addition to all-weather furniture, appliances, and cabinetry, there are now all-weather rugs, lamps and even artwork. But there are no restrictions on what can be incorporated into an outdoor living environment. Gotta dance? Why not install a sprung hardwood or marley dance floor? When it comes to outdoor living at its most luxurious, the owners of luxury homes know there's no ceiling: The sky's the limit when it comes to upscale outdoor design and amenities.