Greenhouse or Conservatory: Which is Better?

While the warm weather is slowly coming to a close in most of the country, greenhouses and conservatories are great for any type of weather. Both can add a beautiful, unique addition to any home — but what’s the difference, and how do you decide between the two? 

While greenhouses are primarily meant to grow plants in a climate-controlled space, a conservatory is meant to be more of a living space where plants can grow in the same area. Here’s how to decide which would be better for your home:

Photo courtesy of Conservatory Craftsmen

Photo courtesy of Conservatory Craftsmen

Photo courtesy of Garden Trading

1. Use of Space

If you’re looking for extra living space in the home, a conservatory would work better. Add couches and benches for comfortable seating in a relaxed atmosphere. The glass walls allow in the much-needed light to create the bright, refreshing atmosphere for you to relax in.

If you’re interested in cultivating plants and produce, a greenhouse is a better fit. While it won’t add another seating area to your home, it will contribute to the uniqueness of the home allow those who love gardening to continue their hobby all year round.

2. What are Your Hobbies?

For the green thumb, adding a greenhouse to the home is always a step in the right direction. The main purpose for the area is to cultivate plants regardless of the weather outside, which will keep the hobby alive during all seasons of the year. Used solely for growing plants, it’s important to understand the commitment involved with keeping a greenhouse alive. The space requires upkeep, which may only be enjoyable for someone who loves gardening.

Photo courtesy of Garden Trading

Photo courtesy of English Blinds

For the person who likes to read and relax more than garden, a conservatory might be a better fit. While still allowing the individual to connect with nature, they don’t have to be as involved as a greenhouse owner would.

3. Atmosphere is Everything

The atmosphere in a greenhouse would be much different than in a conservatory. Look toward a greenhouse if a more nature-oriented atmosphere centered on gardening is desired.

Meanwhile, a conservatory will have a more finished and refined atmosphere with its furnishings. While still oriented around nature and the plants it holds, it is much less involved in the gardening process and therefore has a more polished atmosphere than a greenhouse.

Photo courtesy of Conservatory Craftsmen

Photo courtesy of Garden Trading

4. Overall Style

For a more modern and refined style, a conservatory is the right direction — while involved in nature, it is primarily meant for relaxing near the outdoors during any season of the year.

While both add a unique addition to any home, a greenhouse is a niche space for those who love nature and gardening during all seasons of the year. For a more eccentric look, a greenhouse is the perfect fit.

 

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Whiskey Grows to be Trendy Drink

Is any spirit currently trendier than whiskey? Its popularity nationally is reflected in elaborate bars dedicated to its discovery.

The history of whiskey dates back to the 15th century and in America its popularity has endured every beverage trend from flavored martinis to craft beers. As Americans embrace this brown liquor — originally from Scotland but now produced from Bangalore to Brooklyn — as a timeless indulgence, they increasingly patronize high-end whiskey bars showcasing the spirit’s remarkable diversity. In Los Angeles, one of the bars that set the whiskey revolution in motion was Seven Grand and its success led to spinoff s in San Diego, Denver and Austin. Steve White, general manager of the downtown Austin location, reports a current selection of just under 600 whiskeys, but insists that sheer numbers are not what motivates him. “My goal is to have the most curated collection of whiskeys that our bartenders can be proud to put in front of anybody,” he explains.

In addition to rare and exotic varieties like a 21-year Hibiki from Japan or Balvenie Tun 1509 single malt from Scotland, Seven Grand offers Texas-crafted whiskeys, including Garrison Brothers Distillery not far from Austin. White reports that customers are eager to discover local brands — a prevailing trend throughout the food-and-beverage industry — and insists Balcones Dsitilling, another Lone Star State label, is competitive on the world stage. In the back of the original Seven Grand in L.A., an exclusive tasting library called Bar Jackalope pours particularly rare whiskeys and give s regulars an opportunity to rent lockers to store their own valuable hooch.

With its mounted game heads, antler chandeliers and two-story whiskey bar, illuminated in a soothing amber glow, Butcher and the Rye is a popular hangout in downtown Pittsburgh. Owned by classically trained chef Richard DeShantz, a restaurateur whose four establishments have helped fuel a hot food scene in the Stell City, Butcher and the Rye stocks 600-plus varieties of whiskey, including more than 350 bourbons. Meanwhile, the kitchen offers specialties like beef tartare with black garlic aioli and truffled egg, duck liver pâté with Sauternes gelée, panseared halibut, and buttermilk-fried rabbit.

Canon in Seattle boasts America’s largest spirit collection (4,000 labels and counting), with whiskeys consuming about 150 pages of the 191-page Captain’s List. “We have a very fiite amount of space and when it’s completely consumed that will be our number,” says proprietor Jamie Bourdreau of the lists’s upside potential.

Reluctant to express personal preferences, the Seattle whiskey authority quips, “Whenever someone asks me for my favorite it can usually be translated to, ‘What should I drink or order?'” Bourdreau explains, “The proper reason to that question, in my humble opinion, is: ‘What are you using the whiskey for, what time of day, time of year, what have you enjoyed in the past, and what’s your budget?”

Canon’s list includes many century-old whiskeys priced in the stratosphere, such as a 1898 Canoe Club ($1,225 per pour).

Cocktails — many are memorialized in “The Canon Cocktail Book” authored by Boudreau — include classics like Sazerac and Champs Élysées, multiple mules and creative originals. “I enjoy classics and their history, but have an equal passion for coming up with new combinations and presentation styles,” reports Boudreau, who in spite of his mixology expertise insists Canon is much more than a bar. His kitchen turns out inspired dishes like seared foie gras on pain perdu with cocoa nib “soil,” sweetbread nuggets with agrodolce and barbecue sauce, and duck cassoulet.

Las Vegas’ The Whisky Attic claims to maintain the greatest whiskey collection in America, and whether or not that is actually the case, this off-the-Strip venue is certainly one of the best places to learn about different styles and explore new labels. Various tastings are offered by appointment only, and whether a customer’s interests lean toward Kentucky, Scotland or Japan, the Attic’s approximately 1,800 bottles provide fertile grounds for discovery.

As politics is often enough to drive anybody to drink, it should be no surprise Washington, D.C. offers several outstanding whiskey bars. The Next Whiskey Bar is ensconced in the historic Watergate Hotel, part of the property’s recent $125 million renovation. The space features curvaceous floor-to-ceiling shelving displaying 2,500 custom-made whiskey bottles, all dramatically and sensually illuminated.

Among the selections at The Next are a 23-year Pappy Van Winkle ($500 per pour), 25-year Macallan ($300) and 18-year Yamazaki Mizunara 2017 ($650), all excellent options for lobbyists with unlimited expense accounts. But there are whiskeys for everybody at The Watergate’s chic watering hole. “We’re shaking off the ‘appeal to only older men’ mentality,” says the hotel’s assistant food-and-beverage director Chad Gentile, insisting whiskey is a versatile ingredient that appeals to a diverse clientele. “We host men and women in their late twenties to more venerable guests wanting to relive the vivacity of the period,” he says of the capital’s cocktail culture.

Also in D.C. is the more traditional-looking Jack Rose Dining Saloon, where candlelit tables beneath a tin-stamped ceiling are enveloped by shelves containing approximately 2,700 bottles of whiskey for sampling. With 10,000 bottles a year sold by the dram, owner Bill Thomas is confident his establishment dispenses more whiskey than any bar in the world. Suggesting a demand for quality is driving the popularity of the spirit, he reports, “In the early- to mid-2000s people started paying attention to what they were consuming.”

Jack Rose Dining Saloon presents a sophisticated menu that extends well beyond whiskey-habanero wings to include ginger-glazed pork belly, scallops with black trues, and steak in peppercorn or blue cheese sauce — generally hearty fare that stands up to whiskey. Popular with diplomats, members of Congress and professional athletes, Thomas says of his diverse clientele, “On any given night a guy in a hockey jersey might be seated next to a Saudi prince.”

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Creating the Perfect Outdoor Dining Area

With the last few weeks of summer ahead, now is the perfect time in much of the country to embrace the warm summer days and spend time in the sun. A perfect outdoor dining area can allow you to spend more time with family and friends and soak in the sun at the same time. Here are a few tips to design the area that will best work for you and your home:

Photo courtesy of Chaplins Furniture

Photo courtesy of Go Modern

1. Consider the Colors

 

It’s always important to take into account the colors of the outdoor area. If the outdoor area is more centered around nature, consider more earthy colors that blend right into the background, creating a soft, calm atmosphere. For a bolder style, however, pick a color that contrasts sharply against the background. 

With this area, the lighter pinks and tans behind the dark table and chairs create a beautiful distinction of colors. Whichever your style, make sure to consider various colors in your design process.

2. Working with the Landscape

When working with nature, there are mainly two choices: working with the land or changing the landscape to fit your needs. Keeping the land untouched will allow for a more natural atmosphere, while changing the landscape may be more accessible and practical for an outdoor dining area.

For example, this bench by the pool allows a great lunch or dinner with family and friends. While nature is not emphasized, it creates a sleek, clean design that’s easily accessible to the house and pool, allowing for gathering around the table at any time.

Photo courtesy of Garden Trading

Photo courtesy of Go Modern

Photo courtesy of Lagoon

3. Creating Shade

While the idea of an outdoor dining area underneath the bright sun is important, practicality should always be a factor. With the sun out all day, it may get too hot to stay outside and enjoy the summer air. Remember to provide adequate shading, whether that’s with a tree or a canopy, so you and your guests are able to spend as much time outside as you would like.

This outdoor dining area was built with a roof for this exact purpose. Crafted with natural wood, it forms a calm atmosphere blocking the sun but keeping everyone close to the nature that surrounds them.

4. A Style that Fits You

Whatever the design, make sure that it fits your personality and will be used often for gatherings of family and friends.

Photo courtesy of Lagoon

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Modern Chandeliers as Works of Art

With a sleek, modern style becoming the new trend in home design, chandelier makers are turning from the traditional designs to modern light fixtures instead. Not only do they add an elegant and modern piece to the room, but they’re becoming pieces of art in their own right. 

The creativity that goes into designing and manufacturing these modern chandeliers is pushing the boundaries on the line that constitutes furniture and works of art. With that said, here are some tips on choosing which modern chandelier is best for you:

Photo courtesy of Covet NYC

Photo courtesy of DelightFULL

1. Get Creative with Material

With any modern chandelier, the material matters. Getting creative with the material used to create the chandelier can add a great addition to the room’s decor. Creativity is proven to go a long way in designing the perfect modern chandelier.

The Botti pendant lamp, inspired by the American trumpet player Chris Botti, adds a fun twist by using trumpets as the main material of the chandelier. While still luxurious in its style and design, it adds personality and a conversation piece to the space. While the chandelier is more retro in its style, using a creative material and thinking outside of the box can be beneficial for whichever style is preferred.

2. The Space it Resides

Both small and large chandeliers can be a great addition to any space. It’s important, however, to consider the type of space when choosing which modern chandelier to include in it. For a foyer or room with high ceilings, look for a larger chandelier to create a major focal point. In spaces like dining and living rooms, a smaller chandelier will still be a work of art, yet it won’t take away from the rest of the design in the space.

Photos courtesy of Muse Residences

In recent years, more and more hotels and apartment buildings are getting rid of the traditional designs and replacing them with modern and sophisticated styles instead. The modern chandelier in this residential building is certainly the focal point, simply for its sheer size and elegance. When visitors and residents walk into the building, they are in awe of its design. 

Photos courtesy of DelightFULL

3. The Lighting

In terms of lighting, either a dramatic flair or a softer hue can be a great addition to any space. While the design and material of chandeliers can be similar, the lighting can make a major difference in the atmosphere in the space.

 

While the first chandelier provides a dramatic light in a darker room, the second provides a more subtle light in a room ample natural light. Both, however, add to the design and atmosphere of the space.

4. A Work of Art

Regardless of the material, design and lighting, it’s crucial to remember the creativity a modern chandelier allows. Whether it’s above a dining table, in the living room as a statement piece or the focal point of the foyer, modern chandeliers aren’t simply light fixtures anymore — they’re works of art.

Photo courtesy of The Alyn

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Bringing Wellness Home

Wellness may be a hot topic, but not everyone is sure what it means.

Every year one topic seems to dominate real estate. This year it’s wellness. Yet, if you ask designers and architects what comprises wellness in he home you are apt to get a variety of responses ranging from connections to nature to spaces for meditation or yoga to air quality. Some might point to certifications such as Wellness Within Your Walls or the WELL Building Standard or biophilic design. Others say LEED and other green certifications address wellness.

“I think health and wellness is still in the ‘public education’ stage of what it means. All last year you’re hearing it more and more and more. But I still think it’s educating the designer,” and the public, says Beverly Hills designer Christopher Grubb, president of Arch-Interiors Design Group. Designers often understand the term as it applies to LEED accreditation or to aging in place, but not necessarily the overall concept.

“It might mean one thing to one person and something else to another,” says designer Allie Mann with Case Architects and Remodelers in Washington, D.C., noting that some might be caught up in the movement without fully understanding it.

“I think that this is really being driven by a lot of consumer behavior. When it comes to the builder-developer world, I think our consumers are much more educated. I think they know what they want. They just don’t know how to get there,” says Angela Harris, creative director and principal of TRIO, an award-winning, market-driven, full-service interior design firm in Denver.

“Health and wellness is a new frontier for all of us, says Jacob Atalla, vice president of sustainability for KB Home. KB Home, along with Hanley Wood, KTGY Architects and Delos, a tech and wellness company, created a concept home outside of Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada, to illustrate what a home designed with wellness as a core value looks like and how it functions. “It is the home story of the future,” he says.

Even though wellness seems to have suddenly burst onto the housing scene in the last year, the idea of connecting home to health is not new. More than 20 years ago, health issues potentially linked to building materials and toxic conditions such as black mold gained attention, giving rise to the term sick building syndrome. Since then, awareness of the relationship between the built environment and health has been growing. A decade ago, new technologies led to the development of products that either reduced the level of toxic contaminants released into the indoor ecosystem or scrubbed the air of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Other concerns about noise, water and connections with the natural environment were also beginning to surface. At the same time, health and wellness was becoming an important value for consumers worldwide, expanding beyond fitness to include personalized medicine, mind-body connections, spa, wellness tourism and also the built environment.

By 2015, wellness had morphed into a $3.7 trillion industry worldwide, according to the Global Wellness Institute, and climbed an additional 6.4 percent annually to reach $4.2 trillion in 2017. One of the fastest growing sectors in the wellness space is a category called Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate, which includes everything in the built environment that incorporates wellness elements in design, construction, amenities and service. In addition to physical well-being, wellness real estate also addresses social wellness and mental, emotional and spiritual wellness.

The biggest difference between homes designed to promote wellness and homes that address air quality or other environmental factors that impact physical health is that wellness is integral to the design and permeates every aspect of the home from floor plan to amenities. “Overall you are programming the home to be more livable,” says Harris.

Frustrated by the lack of attention to the ways in which indoor environments influence health, Phil Scalia, a former partner at Goldman Sachs, founded the initiative that eventually became Delos, which has been on the forefront of wellness in the built environment for more than 10 years. In 2014, Delos established the WELL Building Standard, which was initially applied to commercial buildings. Over 1,200 projects in 45 countries, across over 250 million square feet of commercial real estate, fall under the WELL umbrella. The WELL standard focuses on seven categories of building performance: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. Additionally, it takes connections between a building and the surroundings into consideration.

During groundbreaking work on EcoManor, the first LEED Gold certified single-family residence in the U.S., designer Jillian Pritchard Cooke discovered that both consumers and design and construction professionals lacked accurate information on how to reduce toxins in the interior environment. That was the inspiration for Wellness Within Your Walls, another wellness certification that offers education on building and designing healthier interior environments. The focus is on materials both for construction and also furnishings and finishes.

Another more recent wellness initiative centers around the principles of biophilic design and the benefits of bringing natural elements into buildings. In 2016, Amanda Sturgeon, a biophilic design expert and CEO of the International Living Future Institute spearheaded the Biophilic Design Initiative. In addition to designers, builders and architects, current proponents include tech companies who have added natural elements to buildings to increase productivity and reduce stress for workers.

This year, it’s fair to say wellness is coming home as attention shifts from commercial to residential applications. The KB ProjeKt Home takes wellness in residential structures to the next level. Not only are established practices regarding connections with the outdoors, indoor toxins and air quality embedded in the design, but a synergy with smart home tech transforms wellness from a passive attribute into one that is active.

“The motivation was to examine how we can make the home healthier and at the same time how do we engage that home in partnering with the occupants, with the people living in it, to enhance their health and wellness or engage them in making the environment they live in better. We know that about 90 percent of our lives are spent indoors, and a lot of that indoor living is in your own home,” Atalla explains. Recent research from Hanley Wood shows that homeowners believe housing is essential or extremely important to good health, and two-thirds say the right housing environment could cut annual medical costs by 40 percent.

Central to the home’s wellness quotient is an innovative smart system, dubbed DARWIN, developed by Delos. This first of its kind, home wellness intelligence network constantly monitors the home environment and interacts with and adjusts systems in the home as needed. A network of sensors built into the walls — there are nine in the ProjeKt Home — constantly tests air quality.

If it detects problems with air quality, containments or chemicals from everyday products, DARWIN directs the climate control systems to bring more fresh air to that room. Water quality is also monitored, and purified water is delivered to every fixture in the home. “You have a wellness intelligence system that is constantly doing things on your behalf to increase your wellbeing,” says Atalla.

The system also monitors the plumbing system and alerts homeowners to leaks. Sleep is an important wellness component and the master bedroom in this home is primed to promote slumber. Special noise-damping drywall ensures quiet. Motorized shades block out exterior light. “Total quietness, total darkness, and circadian rhythms help you sleep,” adds Atalla.

Lighting is another mainstay of wellness formulas, both natural light from large windows and expanses of glass as well as interior lighting keyed to circadian rhythms. DARWIN adjusts lights to match the time of day. But what makes this function more worthwhile is the homeowner can change the lighting to produce a desired effect, which means the lights can create an energizing morning environment even if morning comes at 5 a.m. on a stormy day.

A living garden wall enables the home to grow herbs and microgreens. Turning the home and kitchen into a place to produce healthy food is an emerging area of innovation for kitchens.

Social interaction is another wellness component, and community design increasingly takes social interaction into account with spaces such as walking trails, parks and coffee houses designed to encourage interaction and encounters among residents as part of everyday life.

It might seem like a big jump to add wellness to typical new homes, particularly production homes, but Atalla says the KB ProjeKt Home is an example of what can be done. Additionally, Harris says it’s often an easy tweak to add features such as water filtration in the kitchen and master bath. “That doesn’t cost a whole lot. And again, I think it’s just about livability and how you’re programming your floor plan to be more livable.”

Looking ahead, most research points to continued growth of the wellness economy, with new initiatives approaching wellness from the perspective of design, construction, materials and function. There are now more than 740 wellness real estate and community developments built or in development across 34 countries — a number that grows weekly according to the Global Wellness Institute.

Right now, the $134 billion wellness real estate market is about half the size of the global green building industry and projections call for the pace to continue. “But the wellness market isn’t just growing, it’s extremely dynamic. We believe that the three sectors that represent the core spheres of life will see the strongest future growth — wellness real estate, workplace wellness and wellness tourism — while other sectors will also grow as they support the integration of wellness into all aspects of daily life,” says Ophelia Yeung, senior research fellow, GWI.

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Luxury on the Golf Course

Golf has always been considered an elitist sport, but when precious metals and exotic leathers are introduced, it’s a whole new game.

With its expensive equipment and country club heritage, golf has always been considered a luxury pursuit, even though aggressive youth programs and some hip touring professionals have begun eroding the sport’s buttoned-down image. Nonetheless, players with unlimited resources or a penchant for fantasy are fueling demand for some over-the-top golf equipment and accessories.

The venerable luxury brand of Tiffany & Co. creates some of golf’s most coveted trophies, including those of the PGA Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational. It also produces an elegant sterling silver putter ($2,500), which is an ideal gift for any golfing enthusiast who likes to flash some bling on the greens. A more discreet way to glamorously accessorize one’s game is with the company’s sterling silver tee, which at $175 is a relatively inexpensive way to give a loved one a little blue box from Tiffany. Hopefully, it will not be lost on the course!

The Garia “Golf Car”

The most expensive regular-production golf clubs are the platinum-and-24-karat gold-accented Beres 5-Star series from Japanese manufacturer Honma. Veteran golf retailer Bill Stauff er of Las Vegas Golf & Tennis Superstore reports that a 14-club set with bag sells for about $65,000 and is popular with status-conscious Asian tourists who would pay more for these products back home. “There’s no question the quality is there,” states Stauffer, who insists Honma products are not simply for bragging rights. He explains the clubs are all made-to-order by seasoned craftsmen, which results in an eight-week wait for delivery. While the brand has traditionally been more popular with billionaire duff ers than PGA pros, superstar Justin Rose just inked a 10-year endorsement deal with Honma.

Transforming the clunky electric golf cart into a sophisticated driving machine is Garia, a Danish manufacturer whose top-of-the-line vehicle begins at $73,000. The Garia “Golf Car,” inspired by Mercedes-Benz, combines luxury, state-of-the-art technology and the true spirit of the game. For functionality, it features a scoreboard displayed on a touchscreen and handy tray for balls and tees, while comfort is ensured by the inclusion of that essential amenity on the golf course — a built-in refrigerator. And with an attainable speed of 43 miles per hour, albeit not recommended at stuffier country clubs, Garia has not overlooked performance. This aerodynamic Mercedes Benz-styled ride puts an end to the plastic buggy age and allows luxury golf enthusiasts to express themselves on the links.

Anders Lynge, designer and co-founder of Garia, explains the inspiration for the product was to take Mercedes-Benz design values onto the golf course, noting the iconic automotive brand has previously applied its sense of style to yachts and helicopters. All Garia golf cars are more than just your average golf cart,” insists Lynge, citing features like sports car-inspired double-wishbone suspension with disc brakes and an integrated instrument cluster. While it offers the functionality and simplicity of a golf cart, the designer maintains it drives more like an automobile.

“Buyers are wealthy individuals who need the car for golf and street usage inside their communities or on their properties,” says Lynge, who reports the car is street legal in both the EU and U.S. “Some are Mercedes collectors, some avid golfers who want the very best, others are athletes or entrepreneurs who have made it and now live in a golf community and want the best possible vehicle for driving and golfing,” says Lynge of his globally diverse clientele.

Par West Custom Golf Shoes is another brand that has gained traction among discriminating golfers. Paul Raddatz founded the business after making his first pair of shoes for PGA pro Payne Stewart — the game’s most flamboyant dresser in the ’80s and ’90s — from NFL football leather.

Currently, three of the top 10 ranked players on the Tour are wearing Par West shoes. The Wisconsin-based company custom-makes all shoes from a foot mold kit, taking into consideration clients’ sock preferences and habits on the course.

Honma Beres S-06 Driver

Sterling in Tangerine Ostrich

Reporting he has sold shoes with more than 5,000 distinct color and style combinations, Raddatz says many of his customers are simply unable to find shoes that fit in any pro shop. “Others are people who really want to look their best and care about quality,” he explains. Traditional styles are offered for conservative dressers, but for those more daring in their golf fashion, perhaps influenced by the PGA’s Rickie Fowler, Par West has plenty of eye-popping options to choose from.

Raddatz, a leather industry veteran, utilizes sharkskin, ostrich, American bison, crocodile, African elephant, and stingray for golf shoes, among other exotic leathers. He reports bold color choices like fuchsia, canary yellow or tangerine are surprisingly popular, and a pair of royal purple American alligator shoes is priced at $5,200. An avid golfer himself, Raddatz states, “I don’t care how much you spend on clubs or lessons. Stability on the ground is the basis for a good swing.” A large part of Par West’s business is corporate gifts, ideal for the Fortune 500 executive who fancies himself as the best dressed golfer at his club.

Some fashionable duffers may opt for a vintage Louis Vuitton golf bag, but among the most expensive currently available are ostrich, crocodile or carbon fiber bags from Barchi, handcrafted by Italian artisans. Customers should be prepared to spend more than $40,000 for these luxury bags, available in vibrant colors and accented with palladium hardware.

Considerably more modest but with plenty of cachet is Louis Vuitton’s golf kit clad in the design house’s signature Monogram canvas. The $850 item, which can be clipped to one’s golf bag or Garia cart, neatly holds three balls and four tees. Players with fancy accessories should probably consider membership at a country club that is equally selective, and the most expensive in America is Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey, where the initiation fee is reportedly $500,000.

Riviera in Cognac Calf & Chocolate American Alligator

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Exotic Getaways Closer to Home

Many travelers want to experience adventure while discovering a remote, exotic destination. But the hassle of long flights and extensive travel can often be a deterrent. For those who want to explore the world without wasting a huge chunk of time on travel, here are some exotic getaways closer to the U.S.

Want Bali?
Try Belize.

For those who want Bali’s ancient ruins, pristine jungles, tranquil seascapes and laid-back lifestyle, try Belize. Located along the tranquil Caribbean Sea, travelers will be able to experience preserved Mayan Temples, lush jungles, rainforest canopies, archaeological sites including the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, and the second largest barrier reef in the world and ultimate world-class destination – The Great Blue Hole. 

Photos courtesy of Belize Tourism Board

Want Ibiza?
Try Cancún.

For those who want Ibiza’s ultimate party scene and beach retreat with world-class DJs, try Cancún. Cancún has long been considered one of the top beach quick getaway vacation destinations in the world with sparkling, turquoise blue water, Ancient Mayan sites, mouthwatering cuisine and a pulsing nightlife. 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Melody Maker Cancun

Want Barcelona?
Try Mexico City.

For those who want Barcelona’s historic streets, world-class museums and mouth-watering culinary offerings, try Mexico City. Cosmopolitan and cultured, Mexico’s largest city boasts a flourishing culinary scene and a cultural renaissance with similar vibes to the Catalan capital. Explore the mysterious Teotihuacan pyramids, become immersed in Mexico city’s vibrant culture, taste local bites and visit Michoacán’s craft workshops.

 

Photos courtesy of Original Travel

Want the Galapagos Islands?
Try Kauai Island.

Known as Hawaii’s “Garden Island,” Kauai Island is filled with tropical rainforests, emerald valleys, and unbelievable mountains. Perfect for adventurists and foodies, Kauai has all the activities and restaurants that guests can ask for. Go ziplining through Kauai’s lush valleys, surf along the heavenly Hanalei Bay, or hike Waimea Canyon aka The Grand Canyon of the Pacific. 

Photo courtesy of Aqua-Aston Hospitality

Want Siquijor, Philippines?
Try Miches, Dominican Republic.

Those seeking a vacation destination with stunning waterfalls, lush palm groves, secluded beaches and Insta-famous swing sets without 24 hours of travel time can head to Miches, Dominican Republic instead of Siquijor, Philippines. 

Photos courtesy of Club Med

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Striking Out in Italian Design

Photo by Giacomo Maestri. 

New design brand LATOxLATO, founded by the young architects Francesco Breganze de Capnist and Virginia Valentini, presents its first collection of furnishings and objects that strives to tell a story of true passion for Italian design. Exclusively made in Italy, LATOxLATO uses the finest materials and refined techniques, all built on a search for the best artisans and craftspeople. 

“LATOxLATO comes from the wish of bringing the artisans’ knowledge passed down across generations to the public,” say designers Breganza de Capnist and Valentini, “and make people realize that in Italy we still have a great tradition of true masters of the art that mold one piece at a time with their hands … Our mission is to show the consumer everyday objects in a different way from the one they are used to seeing them, freed from the constraints of the usual trends through the constant dialogue between art, aesthetics and functionality.”

The duo is usually inspired by day to day life, taking their personal memories as well as the architecture of Italy and transposing generalized design concepts into household pieces. For those looking to outfit their home, both designers say that these pieces help to “tell a story about [the] owner.”  

“Each product has a unique and recognizable identity and is meant to embellish its new home and also bring value to its new owner. The goal is to give the consumer the chance to own a very unique piece that tells a story about him, what he likes and what are his dreams.”

There are several pieces in the collection, varying in look and purpose. The Fourmosa storage chest draws on the clean formal lines of classic Italian design from the 1950s, updated for the modern age.

The piece is in varnished oak, with masterfully carved sharp edges bringing a sense of continuity to the surface. Designed to fit together in infinite combinations, these pieces create a dynamic, personalized piece that can even be expanded over time.

The trapezoidal modules easily lend themselves to various free combinations, without the use of joints. 

Photo by Matteo Imbriani.

1950s design also provided inspiration for Aracne, an unconventional coffee table with an unexpected eight-legged silhouette. Its round glass top seems to float atop the elegant zoomorphic structure, solid and airy at the same time.

Its eight wooden supports, with rounded edges that allow the top to nestle into place with a natural elegance, create an evocative visual rhythm, interacting with its surroundings by projecting delicate threads of shadow into the light.

Precise woodworking and organic design make Aracne an elegant presence full of personality. 

Photo by Giacomo Maestri. 

Candleholders, vases and a centerpiece are a tribute to the Italian art and architecture that inspires their form and character.

The Vestalia candleholder boasts the natural elegance of the most precious marbles, from Carrara White to Carnico Gray and Imperial Green. 

A complex process of water-jet carving, entrusted to historic Venetian ateliers, brings out the stone’s edges and veining.

Their design, rich in tactile emotions and interactive possibilities, makes them objects of compelling sculptural presence. 

Photo by Matteo Imbriani.

The arched ceramic vases Marcello, Massimo and Vittorio offer a subtle allusion to Italy’s Palladian villas and palaces and to the perspectives of Metaphysical art.

The detailing in precious 24k gold or platinum creates reflections of light and motion in perspective.

The pure white of the surface showcases the precious glaze finish and the imperceptible differences in intensity that come from handmade artistry. 

Left photo: Marcello; Right photo: Massimo

Both photos by Giacomo Maestri. 

The beauties of artisanal ceramic return in the Sophia table centerpiece, inspired by the great piazzas of the città d’arte, Italy’s “Cities of Art.”

A meticulous study in proportion, Sophia presents itself as a scale model of the arches and porticoes of Renaissance architecture.

The result is an abstract geometric form, rich in sensory character and vibrant with luminous details that enrich the pure white of the ceramic. 

Photo by Matteo Imbriani.

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Engineers of Emotions

Running completely on electricity, the Mirage Air is elevating the standard of eco-friendly yachts.

 For those with a heart for being eco-friendly, renowned yacht builder Frauscher Shipyard has launched a sleek, silent, electric version of its 740 Mirage Air powered by Torqeedo’s Deep Blue 100i. 

Owners can cruise silently at 10 km/h for more than 10 hours, appreciating both the natural world and the yacht’s spacious, centre-console layout, distinctive design and extraordinary quality. 

The fully electric 740 Mirage Air further enhances tradition with innovation, high-tech features and eco-friendliness. Installed with a Deep Blue 100 kW electric inboard motor and two lithium batteries with BMW technology (i3-type), the 740 Mirage Air is the ideal day cruiser.

“At Frauscher Shipyard, we see ourselves as ‘Engineers of Emotions,’ and we always want the owners of our boats to have a great time on the water. With the powerful 100 kW drive system, we are entering an entirely new dimension of electric mobility on the water,” says Frauscher Shipyard’s managing partner Stefan Frauscher.

The 7.47-meter yacht was designed by studio KISKA and Thomas Gerzer, alongside hydrodynamic expert Harry Miesbauer. Although the dynamic lines are suggestive of luxury car design, inside you’ll find all the comforts one could desire: a silent, environmentally friendly electric drive, refrigerated compartment, high-tech yet easy-to-use controls and displays, large sunbathing area, electric windlass, and a bow thruster for foolproof docking.

 

 

 

The whisper-quiet engine used in the Frauscher 740 Mirage Air is specifically designed and constructed to power planing motorboats. The system’s reliable and easy-to-maintain design delivers extraordinary performance at its full power range, with up to 2,400 rpm and incredible torque delivered at low rpm.

 

The 40 kWh Deep Blue batteries installed in the 740 Mirage Air bring the latest in automotive-grade lithium-ion technology from the famed motor works of BMW. The batteries feature industry-leading energy density and a comprehensive safety system. Torqeedo has tailored the characteristics of the Deep Blue battery to make it suitable for the marine environment and is offering up to a nine-year limited battery capacity warranty.

 

 

“The Frauscher 740 Mirage Air provides a quiet and powerful luxury yachting experience for boats that operate in sensitive areas and those with a heart for nature,” says Torqeedo CEO Christoph Ballin. “With an industrially engineered, fully integrated electric drive system and the extraordinary craftsmanship of the Frauscher Shipyard, this electric yacht will attract the eye of discerning owners worldwide.”

 

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Christian Brecheis

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Creating the Ultimate Audio Experience

These high-end, luxe speakers and audio consoles specifically for music lovers and audiophiles will make you feel like you’re listening to your favorite band rockin’ out at an ampitheater live, or let you experience your classic vinyls with authentic, high-performance sound. It’s time to hear what exceptionally engineered design and and audio quality can do for your home music listening experience. 

Renaissance ESL 15A by MartinLogan, $25,000 a pair

The flagship model in MartinLogan’s Masterpiece Series of high-end electrostatic (ESL) speakers, the Renaissance ESL 15A, is a revolutionary step forward in terms of performance, technology and design. Since 1983, MartinLogan has handcrafted speakers featuring electrostatic and thin-film technologies, achieving the ultimate in audio realism. Renaissance’s 15-inch-wide and 46-inch-tall electrostatic panel reproduces sound with unfl inching accuracy and is married to a pair of amplified high performance 1,000-Watt powered woofers which can deliver powerful bass sound. “The experience of listening to an electrostatic speaker for the first time is often described as transformative,” says Devin Zell, Martin Logan Marketing Manager. “If you set aside all of the evocative technology, close your eyes, and listen, these speakers disappear and transport a listener deep into the heart of music — accessing a shockingly intimate and emotional connection to the music and performers.”

Sonos Edition Console by Wrensilva, $5,000

“We wanted to design something specifically for smaller urban spaces,” says Debra Sayler, Chief Design Officer of Wrensilva of the Sonos Edition Stereo Console. “Something that combined natural elements, such as gnarled wood grain, and the clean, urban lines in the welded steel legs and crisp white outer finish.” Based in San Diego, California, Wrensilva was founded in 2016 by Sayler and her husband Scott. Together, they create modern stereo consoles dedicated to “reawakening the spirit of hifi.” Their mission of time-honored design combined with advanced audio technologies materialized in their collaboration with Sonos for this custom piece. In this console, Sonos speakers are incorporated into curved walnut enclosures. “We wanted to highlight the speakers’ curves, not disguise them. On the technology side, we incorporated a wirelessly synced volume knob that communicates directly with the Sonos app. This is a neat feature for Sonos users that are craving a more traditional analog experience.”

Persona 9H by Paradigm, $35,000 a pair

Persona 9H, Paradigm’s most ambitious design to date, leverages the company’s 34 years of acoustical development and innovative design. The speakers were developed out of research to explore the limits of audio engineering, and the results were staggering — an entire line of high-end loudspeakers utilizing cutting-edge concepts. The flagship line showcases vanguard materials such as the utilization of Truextent® Pure Beryllium, a rare chemical element, in the drivers to deliver high-resolution detail, depth and dynamics. While the use of Beryllium in the construction of the tweeters is not unheard (it has a “cult” status for the most expensive of audio equipment), the use of it in both the tweeters and mid-range divers is unique to Persona. The Persona 9H is not only the perfect speaker for audiophiles craving exceptional performance, but also for those seeking luxurious levels of fit and finish — available in 23 premium automotive finishes.

Modern Record Console by Symbol Audio

The Modern Record Console by Symbol Audio pays homage to the “all-in-one” HiFi consoles of the 1950s, integrating “old school” electronics with modern wireless capabilities. Since 2012, the company has been creating products for music lovers who value thoughtful craftsmanship in their audio home furnishings. With a mission to enrich the connection between the listener and their music, the Modern Record Console combines technology with traditional analog electrics into a beautiful piece of handmade furniture crafted from solid American Walnut wood. The sleek design makes this piece a focal point of any space. Lift the lid to expose a hand-built tube amplifier and turntable set into patinated steel plates that delivers a warm, pure signal to two 6.5” full-range speakers. Tucked out of view in the metal base is a second amplifier and subwoofer made to extend low-end frequency and add richness to any sound. Switch the selector from turntable to WiFi to stream from any digital source to control music selections.

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