Once upon a time, a home with a pop-up outdoor movie screen, an extravagant resort-style spa, or a private nightclub with a dance floor would be reserved for the splashiest celebrities. These days, lesser-known homeowners are adding Hollywood-level glamour and extravagant, playful amenities to their properties to share with friends and family.
As if the 32-acre oceanside Seasmoke Farm in St . George, Maine, wasn’t dreamy enough, with its orchard, gardens, pastures for alpacas, and endless water views, it also has two structures built just for fun.
“Our first project was to build a swimming pool with a hot tub and pool house for entertaining next to the particular ocean, ” says Courtney Amos, 45, who owns a pearl-importing business and Seasmoke Farm with her husband, Paul Amos, 47, who is in private equity. “The pool house is next to the ocean and has a coastal shingle-style architecture with antique beams overhead. The cupola lights up at night and looks almost like a lighthouse. ”
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The sophisticated pool house includes a billiard table that their four children and their own cousins and friends loved, Ms. Amos says.
“We were always telling the kids to be careful, and finally one of them asked us, ‘Why don’t we have a place to play with our friends like the grown ups do? ’ ” Ms. Amos says. “That’s when we brought in an architect and designed the ‘Rec House’ in a modern style that’s all glass, wood, and metal with indestructible concrete floors. ”
Videogames, ping-pong, and board games are available for rainy days. Adjacent to the Rec House is a basketball court next to the ocean, a foursquare court and a prime field for football. In addition to the main house and two guest cottages, Seasmoke Farm has multiple firepits, an outdoor kitchen, a pizza oven, plus two barns. The property is listed for sale at $10. 9 million.
“Every decision we made to build this house over the years since we bought the land in 2007 has been centered on creating a legacy of experiences and quality for our family and friends, ” Ms. Amos says.
For homeowners like Ms. Amos, an extravagant level of personalization is part of the joy of building a custom home.
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“Building a house with all the amenities in place takes lots of money, lots of time, and lots of decisions, ” says Denise Albanese, a real estate agent with Christie’s International Real Estate in Northern New Jersey. “Some people want to do all that, but for some buyers, it’s a great opportunity that someone else has made all the decisions and every amenity they can think of is already in place. ”
Entertaining in a Castle
Models strutting across the stage built over a swimming pool surrounded by seating with regard to 300 guests on the grounds of a castle may be a sight taken for granted in Hollywood or Palm Beach, but it’s unexpected in Houston. The event, the fundraiser for a local charity, was hosted by Deana Blackburn, 50, and her husband Lawrence M. Blackburn, 65, executive vice president and chief financial officer of AFG Holdings, a technology and manufacturing company in the offshore drilling industry, at their home in Houston’s River Oaks neighborhood.
“We worked with our architect to design this house as a lifestyle home built for entertaining and our charitable work, ” Ms. Blackburn says. “For another fundraiser, we had a seated dinner regarding 150 people inside, along with well-known chefs including Daniel Boulud. ”
The loggia at their home was initially planned as an outdoor summer kitchen area but morphed into an elaborate indoor-outdoor entertaining space with limestone floors, a cathedral beamed ceiling, and walls of glass overlooking the particular pool, fountains, and gardens, says Jay Monroe, the couple’s real estate agent with Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty in Houston. The air-conditioned space can be used even on Houston’s hottest summer times or with the glass wall space open as a sheltered outside party room.
The Blackburns’ house, which resembles the centuries-old castle, took three years to build and is listed for sale at $17. 9 million.
“Sometimes homes with specialty items such as a 30-car garage or an indoor basketball court can be harder to sell, ” Mr. Monroe says. “In other cases, an over-the-top amenity can bring in buyers. ”
The couple’s 800-bottle wine room has a dramatic 10-foot-high brick barrel-vault ceiling, limestone art niches, a stained-glass window, slate flooring imported from a cathedral in England, and custom-made iron gates. Nearby are a billiards room, a full bar with a glazed-tile counter, a home theater along with surround sound and paneled walls for soundproofing, and a two-level game room with French doors that open onto the grounds by the loggia.
“The entertaining spaces of the primary house open out on to the landscaped area with fountains that lead to the particular loggia, for great flow, ” Ms. Blackburn says. “We have a speaker system permanently installed that plays all over the home, in the landscape and in the loggia. ”
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Bringing the Resort Home
From the theater to the pub to the spa to the wine cellar, the original owners of Chateau de la Roche in Alpine, New Jersey, carefully chose every detail of their custom home, says Ms. Albanese, the interior designer for the house and now the listing agent for the $25 million property.
“The house is inspired by a traditional People from france chateau, but the amenities are more like a full-scale resort hotel, ” Ms. Albanese states. “The basement level includes a 15-seat theater, and a family room with an Adirondack-style two-sided stone fireplace shared by the bar area and a sitting area. The bar has beer taps and is adjacent to the 2, 000-bottle wine cellar. ”
The spa region on the lower level goes far beyond a simple area with gym equipment to include a yoga studio, a sauna, a steam room, plus both hot and cold plunge pools in a high-ceilinged room with stacked rock walls.
“The outdoor swimming pool is a saltwater pool having a swim current, fountains, and a hot tub, ” Ms. Albanese says. “There’s also a full outdoor kitchen with a fireplace and a covered dining area, a cabana with changing rooms and a bar, the gazebo, fire pits, a three-tiered fountain and a walking trail that leads through the landscapes around the perimeter of the property. ”
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Hollywood-Style Splash in Bel Air
Some buyers want a blank canvas to personalize, says Adam Rosenfeld, a real estate agent with The Agency in Los Angeles, but others are happy to have luxurious amenities already in place.
“Buyers like to see a bespoke product that emotionally touches them, ” Mr. Rosenfeld says. “If a house has some whimsical elements, it can bring out their particular inner child. It’s like taking a kid to Disneyland to show them a house along with things they wouldn’t think of themselves. ”
La Fin, a property completed in 2021 in the hills of Bel Air overlooking Los Angeles, has elements of decadence and playfulness that fit in with the image of Hollywood style. It has a Hollywood price to match: $139 mil.
“I was fortunate to attend a Super Bowl party there this year, and it was the most amazing thing to see this 23-foot movie screen rise up from the swimming pool, ” Mr. Rosenfeld says. “It has a high-quality sound system like an Imax movie theater but with the backdrop of L. A. and the city lights behind it. ”
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The house, which also has a concrete soundproof theater indoors, has a sub-zero vodka-tasting room, and a rotating, glass-enclosed auto elevator intended for six cars that is visible from the 6, 000-square-foot nightclub.
“The rotating glass garage area looks like an art installation, but it works like one of those glass showcases for watches, ” Mr. Rosenfeld says. “The vodka-tasting room is always set at 32 degrees, and the developer added some fake-fur coats to the room for fun. ”
A private wine room features a floor-to-ceiling Murano cup art installation in the shape of a dress worn by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, states Mr. Rosenfeld, and there’s a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton in the basement near the fitness room with a rock-climbing wall.
“The nightclub includes a full bar and catering facilities and is designed so you can pull out all the furniture to create one huge dance floor, ” says Mr. Rosenfeld. “Outside the nightclub is a smoking room for cigars, using a built-in humidor and a special ventilation system so the smoky air doesn’t go back into the nightclub or the rest of the house. ”
Indoor plunge pools and spas, separate adults-and-kids fun houses, and houses built to entertain crowds aren’t reserved for celebrities—anyone with deep pockets and imagination can create their own customized paradise to enjoy with their friends and families.
This article first appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.