A star property itself, this private estate offers incredible attention to detail and elegant interiors that exude sophistication.
Patrick Fogarty of Hilton & Hyland represented the buyers, German national Ekkehart Hassels-Weiler and his new husband Omar Romero, who were eager to acquire this unique home. Fogarty says the home was on the market for less than a month and bought in under four.
Externally, the home is almost mysterious at first glance, as the long driveway affords complete privacy from the street. That mystery transitions into pure awe once the house is in full view, as Fogarty says the home’s proportions and classic design give it a grand feel that enhances with every meticulous detail. “The style is timeless rather than of the moment,” he says, adding that the overall aesthetic is tasteful yet opulent.
Built and developed by the seller, British property developers Ian and Richard Livingston, the estate greets visitors with a graceful motor court that features both trees and fountains. The front doors open to a striking grand entry with 30-foot ceilings and walls of marble, all opening up to a grand staircase and detailed floor plan. A strong yet beautiful harmony is felt in every room, from the dramatic kitchen to the tasteful master bedroom and baths. Interestingly, Fogarty notes that though “the home is grand in scale, [it] still manages to feel like a home.” Other features of this estate include a master wing, gym, theater, guesthouse, staff quarters and bocce court. The expansive backyard also boasts an ozone pool that highlights the perfect California indoor-outdoor lifestyle.
Only approximately five minutes from Rodeo Drive, the 8-bedroom, 11-bath home remarkably reflects a sense of tranquility and serenity, allowing the new owners to relax with complete privacy. The blend of rich landscaping and natural materials, such as stones, wood, steel, and brass, also enrich its character and depth, making it a true sanctuary.
Photos by Berlyn Photography 2019.
Maroon Bells ASPEN / COLORADO
Photo: Vkoulampet / wikimedia commons
Originally named for the abundance of aspen trees in the area, Aspen’s abundance has grown exponentially in terms of luxury, from fine restaurants and world-renowned ski resorts to some of the most artistic and culturally stimulating experiences. These aspects and more are appealing to buyers and continue to shape Aspen’s diverse, high-end lifestyle.
Though the market is plentiful with a large inventory of luxury property options, the Aspen market is finite due to local and state development rules that restrict building in certain areas of the town, according to Craig Morris of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty. “Supply and demand are always in favor of our sellers,” he says, but adds that what people want is nearly always achievable. These demands result in an interesting balance of both classic, historic homes with original architecture, and newer construction primarily built on “teardown” properties.
This interweaving of old and new structures is special to Aspen, says Carrie Wells of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate, as it further adds to the character of the town and continues to bring in affluent buyers seeking luxury amenities. She notes that particularly in downtown Aspen, the “core,” new residential developments are not permitted and current properties have become more valuable. Wells, and other agents like Robert Ritchie of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty, say buyers have grown to cultivate lifestyles in Aspen to fit their own needs. Bespoke estates are either renovated internally, increasing their worth, or new homes are being built more beautiful and upscale than the last. Though Aspen seems to be constantly changing, Ritchie says changes help “shine it up” and ultimately makes the town look good.
And truly, “looking good” is an understatement when considering the luxury and culture that exist in every corner of the city. From an exclusive G650 club and top-rated restaurants to a variety of world-class ski resorts and outdoor amenities, Aspen’s elite can find their true home in a place like this. Whether you hit the slopes or visit the Aspen Music Festival every year, Aspen is a place that can fit any lifestyle, which to buyers is often a priority. “We live in our own little fantasy world and people often suggest that living here is not ‘the real world,’” Morris says. “It’s the ‘real world’ to those that decide to put living and lifestyle at the top of their list, and when they do, they never look back.”
Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate
Page 54 & H&E 161
©istockphoto.com / ClaudioVentrella
While the pace of wealth creation may be slowing, the story now is how it’s spreading around the globe.
“The increasingly footloose nature of wealth.” That’s how global consultancy Knight Frank characterizes today’s trend in affluence. When it comes to real estate, all it takes is a quick look at the worldwide activity of major brands to see a clear illustration of this concept.
The locations of new affiliates of Sotheby’s International Realty in recent months include Oklahoma City, Arkansas and Kansas, along with Cyprus, Slovakia and Qatar. Qatar is the second location in the Middle East for Sotheby’s. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has extended its reach to global hubs, partnering with major firms in Europe and the Middle East. Now, they count Berlin, London, Milan, Madrid, Barcelona, Dubai and Frankfort in their network. Coldwell Banker has offices in 49 countries. Luxury Portfolio International, the luxury arm of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, has affiliates in more than 70 countries.
“The fact that the world is becoming smaller and smaller, the speed of information flow, and travel contribute to people’s interest in owning properties elsewhere, both for Americans and foreign nationals,” explains Joyce Rey, executive director, Coldwell Banker Global Luxury.
Markets may go through cycles and new partnerships emerge, but the foundation of global real estate hasn’t changed. “The luxury buyer understands that one of the best, if not the best, investments they can make is property,” explains Michael Jalbert, executive vice president, Global Field Operations for HSF Affiliates, the parent company of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.
Chatter regarding a potential recession might form a smokescreen, but wealth creation will continue to be a constant, according to Knight Frank’s annual Wealth Report, which forecasts a rise, over the next five years, of 22 percent in the number of individuals whose net worth exceeds $30 million, a group often classified as Ultra High Net Worth, UHNW. Over the next year, existing UHNW, especially in the U.S., expect their wealth to increase.
When Rey began her career in the 1970s, foreign buyers were a rarity, especially in Southern California. Today, she says, the percentage of foreign buyers purchasing ultra-luxury properties, those priced above $20 million, has remained pretty steady. “Usually it waffles between about 20 percent to 25 percent. And that hasn’t changed over the years.” For the first nine months of 2019, foreign buyers accounted for 31 percent of purchases of $20-million plus residences in Los Angeles’ tony west side.
Rey was one of the first to reach outside U.S. borders to forge connections. After the increase of Japanese buyers in 1980s, she traveled to Japan to meet one-on-one with agents and potential buyers. “I feel if a quarter of your buying population is foreign, you should be reaching out to the foreign market,” she says.
Bob Hurwitz, founder and president of the Hurwitz James Company (HJC), was also on the leading edge of the global outreach. “In the early 90s, I recognized that the buyers for my highest-priced properties were more and more often originating from overseas. This was actually before the Internet was even a reality for marketing purposes. As a result, I started focusing a significant percentage of my marketing to exposing my listings here in the states to affluent foreign buyers.” He also created a network of HJC representatives to promote his listings overseas. Currently, Hurwitz represents nearly $3 billion in luxury properties and developments worldwide.
Even those who work in the global arena today are occasionally surprised by the geographic diversity of investors and buyers. “One stat that recently jumped out at me is Aruba is home to 90-plus nationalities and ethnic groups, which I thought was fascinating,” shares Stephanie Anton, president of Luxury Portfolio International. “One of our affiliates there also pointed out that many of their buyers are coming from India.”
And this isn’t an isolated instance. Indian buyers are cropping up in many other primary and second-home locations, including Portugal. Among foreign buyers in the U.S., India ranks third after China and Canada. India is expected to lead the five-year growth in Asia’s ultra-high net worth population with a 39 percent increase, followed by the Philippines (38 percent) and China (35 percent).
Increasingly, the ultra-wealthy are not necessarily tied to one country or one region. Approximately, 26 percent plan to emigrate in the next year. Already, more than a third hold a second passport and 22 percent plan to buy outside their country of residence, according to Knight Frank.
However, 2018 saw only a marginal increase (0.8 percent) in the size of the ultra-wealthy population, which Wealth X describes as a “marked slowdown” from the year earlier. The combined net worth of the ultra-wealthy declined 1.7 percent, the first annual fall in three years, according to Wealth X. However, it’s important to view these changes in context, because 2017 saw dynamic wealth creation with double-digit growth in the number of ultra-wealthy and impressive gains in asset markets.
The global outlook this year is nuanced. Rising interest rates and the end of quantitative easing means we are reaching the end of super-charged returns on everything from classic cars to art and property, according to Knight Frank. Government policies continue to transition as some countries seek to attract wealth, with a record number offering citizenship and residency through policies regarding investment, while others restrict outflows of capital. Others, including Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK will continue to make it more difficult for wealthy non-residents to purchase properties.
Looking ahead, expectations are for slower price growth in key markets. But, as with any correction, a shift in values is an opportunity to which buyers respond, something that is already happening in London, where agents see a potential turnaround, particularly for higher-priced properties, underway.
“London’s general property market has experienced a slowdown and fall in housing prices. That said, the luxury property market is certainly bottoming out and we are experiencing buyers returning to the market, which is demonstrated by our revenues being up 146 percent year on year,” says Martin Bikhit, managing director at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kay & Co.
“Given all the uncertainty of Brexit, values in London have come down significantly. It’s a buyers’ market,” says Jalbert.
The exchange rate of the U.S. dollar to sterling makes the value equation even more appealing. “American buyers have been able to take advantage of savings up to 45 percent compared to the 2014 peak of the market. U.S. buyers believe that the market is going to spike post-Brexit and there is now an opportunity to buy competitively. Indeed, this is illustrated by the fact that American hedge funder Ken Griffin was the buyer behind two of London’s most expensive property transactions within the past year,” according to Bikhit, who calls this surge a “pre-Brexit boom.”
Hurwitz sees luxury penthouses in many traditional hot markets, including London, as good opportunities for buyers, since those prices have seen a big decline. Other recommendations in Europe include France as well as Tuscany, which, he says, has an appeal that transcends the strictly financial. “Finding something totally renovated in an authentic manner is key.”
A flat or pied-à-terre in Paris has become a rite of passage for Americans, says Anton, noting reports of particular interest coming from Silicon Valley. Paris is one of the bright spots in Europe, placing third on Knight Frank’s list of the
fastest-growing luxury markets.
“France and Italy are still two of our top locations and our offices are expanding in numbers and experiencing a very solid claim in the market,” says Craig Hogan, vice president, Coldwell Banker Global Luxury.
Berlin is Europe’s rising star. It has topped Urban Land Institute’s list of markets to watch in Europe for four years in a row, and currently ranks second after Madrid on rankings of the fastest-growing luxury real estate markets. Luxury residential here is a small but vibrant niche, with the number of privately owned apartments selling above 1 million euros growing by 17.5 percent from 2017 to 2018.
Stefan Schulze, COO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Rubina Real Estate, says, “If Berlin succeeds in further expanding its potential in scientific and culture fields and remains one of the influential centers in Europe, it can be deemed certain that not only the number of premium new development projects but also the quality of luxury real estate will continue to grow sharply.”
Global Buyers in the U.S.
From the perspective of foreign buyers in the U.S., Hurwitz says, the market has changed multiple times over the last few years, fueled by factors as diverse as the attitude and oversight of a foreign buyer’s own government regarding money leaving their country, to crushing economic changes in their country of origin, to U.S. government restrictions on shell companies buying, to various others. Hurwitz says, “I still believe the U.S. is a safe bet and I am telling my clients to buy here.”
During the 12 months from April 2018 to March 2019, global purchases of U.S. properties fell sharply, with purchases declining by 36 percent. The dollar volume as well as the average price also declined. Rather than lack of interest from potential buyers, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, cites what he calls “a confluence of factors — slower economic growth abroad, tighter capital controls in China, a stronger U.S. dollar and a low inventory of homes for sale.”
John Smaby, NAR president, adds, “There is still significant interest in U.S. properties across the globe, and the U.S. is still seen as a safe, secure place to invest.”
©istockphoto.com / _ultraforma_
©istockphoto.com / mammuth
©istockphoto.com / Givaga
©istockphoto.com / SeanPavonePhoto
Global Bright Spots
Along with real estate professionals from over 27 countries, Stephanie Anton recently returned from her company’s international conference in Athens. “It was thrilling to hear and see firsthand about so many bright spots in the market,” she says, including places where property markets were hard hit by political and financial turmoil during the recession. “One that was particularly obvious was our host city itself. The optimism of the Greek people was palpable.”
Both Spain and Portugal are seeing an influx of buyers and a surge in sales. Both suffered during the recession and are experiencing a strong turnaround.
“I think there is a sentiment of Europeans kind of holding their breath and waiting to see what happens with Brexit. But yet, there are also bright spots and the bright spots are more of those second-home markets because they’re lifestyle purchases. And so people are less concerned about the economic impact of Brexit because of making decisions on purchasing second or third homes,” Anton observes.
Some of the strongest luxury markets this year have been in resort locales. San Miguel de Allende continues to rank at the top of best cities and second-home destinations. “Our typical luxury buyers are investors looking for properties to take advantage of the lucrative vacation rental market, or shopping for their second or third vacation homes,” says Nancy Howze, with CDR San Miguel.
“Upscale consumers tend to have a broad world view,” says Jalbert. “They understand markets and are attracted to a range of places. Buyers in different parts of Europe are looking for a weather change, so it’s no surprise to see the resurgences of locations along Costa Del Sol and Portugal.” Jalbert adds that almost 100 percent of the luxury transactions in their eight offices in Portugal are from buyers outside the country. “It’s just an incredibly enchanted place where they have beautiful properties, but where there has also been significant investment in infrastructure,” he says.
One thing that has remained constant across the globe is the attitude of the elite regarding buying. Some of the highest sales in the last year can be tracked to global buyers, according to Hogan. “They will spend the money but need to know it’s a wise decision.”
On tablescapes, in kitchens and baths, garden and great rooms, green seems to be having a moment.
Photo courtesy of marvin Windows and Doors
Extensive windows and doors link to greenery outside and bring nature inside.
©istockphoto.com / martinwimmer
Photo JORDAN STEAD / Amazon
Not too long ago, it was difficult to spy even a vestige of green in a room. Today, it’s almost impossible to find new interior scheme without a spark of green. “We’re seeing emerald green used on everything from walls to cabinetry to tile and even lighting,” observes Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams.
Green hues, especially deep vibrant shades, seem to be everywhere along with living greenery and plants. But rather than a fleeting color preference, the passion for green might also be the first sprouts, indications of a more transformative movement — biophilic design — edging into residential design and architecture.
Biophilia, according to consultants Terrapin Bright Green, refers to humankind’s innate biological connection with nature. Although social psychologist Eric Fromm first coined the phrase “biophilia,” the concept wasn’t popularized until the 1980s when biologist Edward O. Wilson took up the mantle. Biophilic design introduces natural elements, organic forms, light and water into the built environment. Research shows integrating natural elements increases productivity, enhances creativity and improves mental health. “We’re getting evidence-based design, especially in the healthcare industry, that just by having a view of the outside a patient recovers quicker and requires less medication and attention after surgery,” observes Miami designer B. Pila.
“The use of green in home interiors is picking up steam,” explains Stephanie Pierce, director of design for MasterBrand Cabinets. “There are a variety of shades cropping up today, particularly in the kitchen and bath from deep emeralds to soft sages and dark ivies. Deep, moody hues are making a bold impact on these spaces. The effect is as cozy as a warm blanket.”
“Touches of rich, verdant green can make it feel as though you’ve escaped to the outdoors and are soaking up the invigorating effects of nature — without even leaving your home,” shares Wadden.
“With the growing interest in wellbeing in all aspects of our lives, including the home, people are using nature-inspired lush greens to bring comfort into spaces,” explains Christine Marvin, director of corporate strategy and design at Marvin Windows and Doors. “Emerald green is a bold color that perfectly balances glamour with calmness, evoking a sense of relaxation and inspiration.”
Three spherical conservatories forested with more than 40,000 plants and trees allow Amazon employees to work while surrounded by nature.
Photo courtesy of sherwin-williams
Green, whether an accent or main course, is a mainstay on design menus.
Until recently, biophilic principles were utilized primarily in commercial structures, and the inclusion of nature — living plants, park-like oases, organic forms, natural materials including wood and stone, water and light — is revamping corporate settings including Amazon, Apple and Google. Last year, Amazon’s long-awaited biophilic project, The Spheres, opened on the site of its original headquarters. The three glass and steel domes are forested with more than 40,000 plants. Along with plants and a four-story-tall green wall, there are waterfalls, a river, walkways and meeting spaces. Hotels and other commercial spaces are implementing biophilic design practices but with more modest expressions.
For residential buildings, the addition of natural elements and connections with the outside has been an ongoing evolution, partially in response to consumer attitudes rather than a dedication to biophilia. Designers are just catching on. “Consumers are more educated in wanting healthier lifestyle choices,” says Angela Harris, creative director and principal of TRIO, an award-winning interior design firm in Denver.
Current residential design merges indoors and out, organic and humanmade, using visual and real connections. The integration of outdoor spaces is a response to consumer lifestyle demands, but the end result potentially delivers the cognitive, psychological and physiological benefits biophilia advocates tout.
“We’ve noticed an increase in demand for bigger windows over the past five years, as more people want to feel connected to the world around us while we’re indoors,” comments Marvin. “In a world that’s become fast paced and where our living and workspaces are merging, letting light in allows us to feel alive and connected to space outside our homes. Incorporating large windows into the home plays a significant role in achieving this ‘outdoors in’ feel and connecting to nature. We’re also seeing a pull towards large window walls, or many windows that are mulled together to create a wall of light that heightens the experience of light in a home.”
It may seem biophilia is just another quick moving fad, but more than one organization is promoting the concept and actively formulating certifications for buildings under the auspices of groups such as the International Living Future Institute, a Seattle-based nonprofit that encourages sustainable practices and wellness. In 2016, a cadre of architects, builders and researchers formed the Biophilic Design Initiative to further the movement. Biophilia is also part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s WELL Building Standard.
Whether or not biophilia will exert a long-term influence on design remains to be seen, but there is a good chance wellness and nature will be an important aspect of design’s new normal.
A modern traditional masterpiece of privacy and perfection. An exquisite Mediterranean work of art and appeal. An elegant estate designed with soaring ceilings and refined finishes. Their common denominator? All located in the Lone Star state, and sold through Supreme Auctions, known for accelerating marketing for luxury real estate. See these exclusive sales below.
Piney Woods Edge – Houston Texas
Piney Woods Edge is a modern traditional masterpiece of privacy and perfection showcasing pristine lines of modern architecture, and the impeccable mastery of Houston’s premier homebuilder, Randy Ratcliff. Each corner of this home is filled with exquisite detail and opulent features. Located in Piney Point Village within the prominent Houston suburbs of the highly desirable Memorial Villages communities, just minutes from the heart of Houston for both business and pleasure.
Even though the property was located in a highly sought-after community called Piney Point Village in Houston, it lingered on the market for over two years with the listing agent doing all that was available to market the property to potential buyers with little to no activity. Supreme Auctions implemented our 45-day Accelerated Marketing Program which drove prospective buyers to take action.
Catina Hollow – Dallas Texas
Catina Hollow is an exquisite Mediterranean work of art that will dazzle you with its serene setting and abundant appeal. Designed with distinguished architectural elements and refined finishes throughout, this outstanding property is positioned in one of the premier estate neighborhoods in Dallas within the highly sought after Preston Hollow Community. Located a brief 15 minutes from Dallas Love Field Airport and downtown Dallas with all that the city has to offer.
The property was on the market for about a year and not stimulating any new buyer activity. With summer fast approaching, which is not the best time of year to sell in Dallas, plus the fact that the seller had already purchased another home, they chose an expedited sale with Supreme Auctions.
Starwood Creek Manor – Frisco Texas
Privately nestled on over an acre, Starwood Creek Manor is an impeccable Traditional estate designed with soaring ceilings and refined finishes throughout. Located within the gated Starwood Community, this exquisite home is positioned overlooking the creek and walking paths with access to the Community amenities. Situated within 25-minutes away from DFW International Airport.
The property was on the market for a little under a year, during which it received only seven viewings. The listing agent conducted three months of research as to which auction company to select, she contacted Supreme Auctions.
All photos courtesy Supreme Auctions.
©istockphoto.com / Arita Cimermane
“The seasons in the landscape, much like the seasons of one’s life, are to be embraced, appreciated and weathered.” — Robin Kramer
When it comes to the seasons, an adaptable landscape is always a challenge. In northern climates, the focus is too often on the fleeting warmer months where blossoms are abundant and beautiful. Into late fall, the vibrant leaves have fallen and a bare winter — and landscape — sets in. In warmer areas, the challenge is less about the seasons and more about weather extremes such as droughts or rain.
We talked to luxury landscape designers about how they work through the challenges of the changing seasons and find beauty in the landscape all year long.
A Strong Framework
“I consider structure to be the most critical component in any garden. A successful garden design will look good in any season if the bones of the garden are well designed,” says New York City-based Landscape Designer Robin Kramer. “Paths, walls, edging, hedges, pergolas and water features are the permanent features that make a garden strong and confident. The flowering plant material is the dressing of the landscape and can easily be modified based on the desires of the gardener.”
“Ideally, a landscape is something that transitions throughout the year and it has its glory days throughout every season,” says Vermont-based Landscape Designer Ashley J. Robinson. “They are rarely looking for a one-shot wonder with a full-on explosion of bloom in the spring.”
Robinson seeks out materials such as wood, metal or other elements that are not herbaceous in order to craft a composition that is visually intriguing despite the blooms, or lack of blooms. “Natural stone, boulders, outcropping in the garden. A well-intentioned feature is important for a winter garden.”
Similarly, Teresa Watkins, a Master Gardener and specialized horticulturist for over 20 years in Florida, relies on hardscape and garden art to design spaces that truly fit a client’s personality, while at the same time ensuring the health and sustainability of the landscape. “I have an ongoing two-year project designing a formal estate landscape with a rose garden with walls, a faux stone bridge, butterfly garden, water features, orchard, meandering pathways and poolscaping.”
An architectural framework is key to high-end landscape, and Pennsylvania-based Landscape Designer Donald Pell is an expert at finding a balance of this within a range of vernaculars — from English-style to modern. “Our work always includes thoughtfully designed architectural spaces. These can be simple and they can be very substantial,” he says. “Right now, I am building a very large promenade through a woodland
A beautiful wild garden crafted by Vermont Landscape Designer Ashley J. Robinson. Photo courtesy of Ashley J. Robinson.
Donald Pell Gardens gave this 1700s Colonial Farmhouse garden an update with native and cosmopolitan plants used to evoke the regional landscape. Photo courtesy of Donald Pell.
that I would describe as very classical, and the plantings are very much impressionistic woodland. I specified hand-cut fieldstone curbing with paths that has a Pennsylvania Colonial feel, and I really like bond pattern paving details angled from the home, which tend to be very modernist.”
When it comes to warmer climates, such as those of the Sun Belt, structure has less to do with looking good throughout bare seasons, but more to do with a landscape that can sustain year-round outdoor living. “For contemporary homes in Southern California, the indoors rolls right outside,” says landscape architect Scott Zucker. “You’ve got enormous sliding doors with pocket entry, kitchen and family rooms that pour right out onto the terrace.” In designing these homes, materials that can withstand the outdoors, but also look just as beautiful indoors is the challenge. A huge trend, Zucker points out, is utilizing porcelain or ceramic pavers that not only keep a stunning transitional look, but also require very little maintenance.
Above, an outdoor portico crafted from stone at a Southern California residence designed by Scott Zucker of Zucker Design Associates, Inc. Below, an arbor for a Laguna Beach residence offers an eye-catching landscaping feature.
Top photo courtesy of Jeri Koegal. Bottom photo courtesy of Scott Zucker.
The Four Seasons
“The seasons themselves aren’t a challenge, but an exciting opportunity,” says Pell. “Even thinking about texture and emotion of the dead tissue of herbaceous plants can be an opportunity to compose something beautiful. It’s the same as working anywhere in the world — there are opportunities and constraints.”
While spring and summer’s spotlight is on the flower, that shifts completely when fall arrives. “I never focus on just the flower,” advises Pell. “They are just too ephemeral. They are, of course, an important component, but the structures of the plantings at their worst is where I start. I am looking for plants that look very beautiful in a given composition, and I want the composition to be able to hold up in extremes of weather.”
“Designing through the seasons takes careful planning and a thorough understanding horticulturally on the attributes of trees and plants,” says Kramer. “Floral succession bloom is created by selecting perennials that will create a parade of flowers from spring through to the first frost. This is supported by spring bulbs and flowering trees.”
“In fall, we plant thousands of spring bulbs. It is a late task in season, but such an important one,” continues Kramer. “In the spring, I want the ground to be punctured with green shoots pushing their way forward, poising for their bloom. After months of frigid temperatures and inches, even feet, of snow, New England begins to warm. Those rather odd-looking bulbs we planted are now a sure sign of spring and a reminder that we too, have survived another winter.”
“There’s a lot to be said for winter in the garden,” says Robinson. “It requires you to not do a lot of cut back or maintenance. Generally speaking, you should wait out the things you don’t want there, such as foliage debris and leaf litter — these things are good for increasing organic matter in the soil. You shouldn’t scrape landscape bare — it’s all about layering and allowing that to happen naturally.”
While places with warmer climates, such as Southern California or Florida, don’t have the challenges of designing through autumn and winter, they do have seasons of their own: dry season, fire season, and wet season.
“The water use in California really drives what we can and can’t do,” says Zucker, who mentions WELO (Modern Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance) and fire departments regulations, as well as restrictions on paving and the amount of non-permeable landscape a property is allowed to have. “One of the trends that is big in California these days — necessitated by lack of water — is drought-tolerant plants.” These include plants such as succulents or agaves that also offer stunning structural plant material that really create a powerful look for a landscape.
“When I’m working on my designs, I take into account not necessarily annuals or perennials, but the permanent flowers that clients especially desire so that at any time of the year it will be blooming,” says Zucker. “I tend to group plant material together to give a bigger impact. Instead of giving too many species, I pare it down so that aesthetically, from the front yard to the backyard, the whole landscape ties together.”
While Zucker is looking for colorful plantings that can withstand the lack of water, places like Florida experience the opposite — with a wet season that lasts at least half of the year. “Florida winter season can be dramatic. We can go from 85 degrees one day to 28 degrees the next, which is not enough time for tropical plants to acclimate to cooler temperatures,” says Watkins. “The other issues are temperatures averaging 85 degrees for six to seven months out of the year, where our plants can be growing all year, and over 50 inches of rain.”
It’s in these areas where irrigation designers are needed most fevertly along with specialized consideration of the amount of sunlight, soil moisture, soil pH — all extremes associated with the tropics. Without seasonal change, there is also a shortage of compost, plant material and nutrients, which is easily received each fall with the turning of the seasons in other parts of the country.
“I often say, all of life’s lessons are learned in the garden,” says Kramer. “Each season delivers reminders and rituals. It is the moments on which lives are built and cherished.”
Organic non-toxic mattresses and bedding offer a luxury that will help you rest a little easier.
We spend approximately one-third of our lives sleeping. Why not choose the very best surfaces on which to sleep?
We take special care of the food we consume and the products we use but our mattresses and bedding are often overlooked. In reality, they can largely affect our overall wellbeing. Based on the tips, tricks, and articles scattering the internet, we are desperate for a good night’s sleep, and with good reason. As we overload our schedules and take on more responsibilities, the need for a solid night of rest continues to grow, just as the importance to rejuvenate and reset does.
According to Jack Dell’Accio, CEO and founder of Essentia, synthetic mattresses and bedding introduce low-level toxins into our environment, which our central nervous systems continuously need to fight while we rest. The chronic exposure to the harmful chemicals found in synthetic mattresses and bedding can interfere with our sleep, which can affect everything from productivity and mood to weight loss and eating habits.
Mark Abrials, co-founder and CMO of Avocado Green Mattress says, “Countless studies show that the chemically treated materials commonly used in our manufacturing and building processes negatively impact human health.” The toxins slowly release over time, all the while contaminating our environment “through the processes of volatilization (off-gassing),
abrasion, leaching, and oxidation,” according to Abrials.
Unfortunately, most people “tend to not realize the hidden dangers hiding in synthetic mattresses that can cause health issues over time,” says Dell’Accio. Essentia and other companies are handcrafting mattresses, pillows, bedding and more with materials that are safer and environmentally responsible.
White Lotus Home offers mattresses and bedding that are handcrafted from organic cotton and other chemical-free materials. Essentia uses a natural memory foam that is made from hevea milk — the white sap from the Rubber tree — and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic wool. While Avocado and Happsy avoid polyurethane foams and harsh flame retardants. Dedicated to a good night’s sleep, these companies are improving the environment and sleeping habits.
White Lotus Home
White Lotus Home proves its dedication to healthy living by creating safe, chemical-free hand-crafted mattresses, duvets, pillows, toppers, and more. Wool latex, organic cotton, green cotton, and other materials make these products a healthier choice for consumers. Marlon Pando, the president of White Lotus Home — a company dedicated to creating sustainable and healthy products — says “our integrity and craftsmanship are the main reasons why we have been in business since 1981. We are experts in handcrafting mattresses, pillows, and bedding from the finest fibers on Earth.”
Photo courtesy of Lotos Homes
The Avocado Green Mattress is beaming with several certifications and standards, such as GREENGUARD Gold Certified, GOLS organic certified latex, and OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified latex that ensures its mattresses, bedding and more are reliable products. “We follow a farm-to-bedroom approach when manufacturing our organic mattresses,” says Abrials. “Ours is more sustainable and responsible than the conventional alternative and is truly
Photo courtesy of Avocado Green Mattress
Essentia products are making a difference even while we sleep. The company offers a variety of mattresses, pillows, and accessories that are healthier for the average person, but with options that also cater to athletes and children specifically. “Essentia is completely uncompromising. Our products don’t just focus on being natural, our biggest plus is performing for the sleeper. This means truly helping you rest and recover from your daily grind and waking up more refreshed,” according to Dell’Accio.
Phots courtesy of Essentia
Are you looking for a way to help out this new year? Rest easy with these new sheets.
The Good Sheet, a luxury bedding brand based in Tasmania, Australia partnered with non-profit organization, One Tree Planted, is planting five trees in its home state of Tasmania with every bedding set sold.
The ability to allow customers to make a positive environmental impact with their purchase is in harmony with a recent change in business direction towards sustainably produced bedding, which draws inspiration from the beauty of Tasmania’s nature.
Founder of The Good Sheet, Kamila Scholz said, “We are absolutely thrilled to have found a partner in One Tree Planted who shares our values and helps make our business a force for good. We’re very happy that beyond creating beautiful bedding, we can also do something positive for our local environment, right here in Tasmania. We want our customers to sleep even better knowing they helped plant a forest while they sleep.”
Over 80-percent of native species in Australia are not found anywhere else, and Tasmania is where many of the country’s threatened species can find refuge. Some, like the Tasmanian Devil, Eastern Quoll, Eastern Bettong and Eastern Barred Bandicoot are virtually extinct on the mainland so protecting their last remaining habitat in Tasmania is critical. The Good Sheet will work together with One Tree Planted to help restore vital wildlife corridors in the midlands region of Tasmania which has experienced significant habitat depletion.
This project will not only help protect and restore Tasmania’s biodiversity and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere but also revitalize local farming and create jobs. “When you think about tree restoration, it’s not only about fighting climate change it’s also about maintaining ecosystems,” says researcher Jean-Francois Bastin from the Institute of Integrative Biology in Zurich.
Trees planted through this project are chosen for their suitability and benefit to the local environment. They include several types of Eucalyptus and Acacia trees and sometimes others, depending on the specific needs of the local habitat.
Photos courtesy of The Good Sheet
©istockphoto.com / SL_Photography
From tropical escapes to spectacular biodiversity and marine life, Panama has great appeal to buyers interested in luxury real estate.
Stephanie Villarreal, President and Realtor of Your Panama Real Estate Connection, says that one of the most unique aspects of the country is in their very name — connection. “Panama is very connected … amongst others, Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport is known as the ‘Hub of the Americas,’ making Panama very easy to get to,” she says. The connection also extends into a selling point, especially for American buyers, as Panama uses the U.S. dollar as its currency, unlike other Central and South American countries.
Panama’s accessibility via air and sea helps to deepen its connections internationally. Because of this, according to Villarreal, the country’s diversity is far reaching, as many Americans, Canadians, Europeans and others have chosen Panama as their preferred retirement destination, or have purchased real estate and live either part-time or full-time in the country. A recent real estate trend in Panama also includes more international buyers, particularly from mainland China. “There are many well-known multinational corporations with regional headquarters in Panama City as well as embassies of many countries,” Villarreal notes.
Luckily for interested buyers, there is plenty of inventory in a range of property options. Villarreal and her brokerage work with listings in many regional areas with different unique characteristics, from highland properties and waterfront listings to island living options. Elegant Panama City apartments in luxury residential buildings are especially appealing, created by reputable architects and builders into “property masterpieces.”
These masterpieces continue to grow in number and variety. For example, the exclusive Santa Maria development in Panama City is being further developed — it boasts an 18-hole Nicklaus-design golf course, and the city’s historic district, Casco Viejo, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Villarreal also mentions that there are several unique private island options with modern conveniences, including state-of-the-art marinas.
It’s time to start thinking about resolutions. The new year is the perfect time to make changes and create a fresh perspective. Follow these 3 tips from Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture Choice, for more mindful living in the new year.
Everything is fast, easy and digital, yet natural instinct pushes us to disconnect and slow down to regain our sense and quality of life.
1. Start with a clean and calm neutral palette
Begin the year refreshed and rejuvenated with the help of a home environment that focuses on living well.
Start by introducing a quality of softness into the home, coupled with interior design that’s comforting and inviting. “Let the intention of creating a clean and soothing ambiance guide your design decisions,” advises Rebecca. “Ultimately, the goal is to create a personal haven you’ll love going home to relax in.”
Make it a priority to get plenty of good quality sleep. In the bedroom, an oatmeal fabric bed presents the perfect starting point in a space meant for restful slumber. Introduce neutrals in varying tones for interest and depth. Safe, perennial hues to try to include white, soft grey and the recently popular greige.
Select comfortable bedding with minimal prints to focus on creating an uncluttered, restful environment. Where possible, go with furniture that features curves and organic lines instead of sharp, straight edges.
2. Nature is nurturing
Nothing relaxes the mind more than being surrounded by nature; particularly, plants. Start the year on a green note by maximizing on the benefits of having indoor plants. Choose a mix of large and small greenery and varieties that help clean the air. Leafy, trailing plants also inject a little wildness to create a tropical-inspired ambiance.
Besides making the air fresher, their lush green color is soothing on the eyes after a long day of working with screens.
To continue the natural theme, pick furnishings made with materials like wood, rattan, or clay. “The warmth and rawness of their surfaces contribute to a design that has a soothing, back to nature vibe,” says Rebecca.
3. Dedicate a corner for conscious relaxation
As a reminder to make wellbeing a priority for the year ahead, allocate a corner that’s dedicated to relaxation. “A little nook will do; you’ll only need enough space to practice your preferred stretches,” says Rebecca. For meditation and stretching exercises, fit it out with a yoga mat or thick rug. “And if you have a work desk at home, it’s a good idea to carve out a zen zone within the same room for quick stretch breaks.”
Maintaining the same neutral palette, style the space in light hues, and include plenty of plants. Another factor to consider is the accessibility of natural daylight, as it can help reset a confused circadian rhythm. A wellness-inspired space that embraces disconnecting and being present will likely become a favorite spot in the home.
Photos courtesy of Furniture Choice Ltd