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Affordable Alternatives for Luxury Must-Haves

Many successful features offered in high-end homes migrate to average homes—with modifications. A fabulous full pantry becomes a butler’s pantry. A celebrity’s walk-in closet that might take up a third of an average home becomes a smaller walk-in version. A separate mudroom with washer/dryer changes to a modest but fully equipped laundry room.

Today’s marketplace allows homeowners to enjoy more affordable options of luxury concepts.



This Memphis outdoor kitchen with brickwork features a Fogazzo wood-fired oven finished in stone, a gas grill, side burner, slate countertops and an outdoor fireplace. Photo <br />© Fogazzo Wood Fired Ovens and BBQs
This Memphis outdoor kitchen with brickwork features a Fogazzo wood-fired oven finished in stone, a gas grill, side burner, slate countertops and an outdoor fireplace. Photo
© Fogazzo Wood Fired Ovens and BBQs

Outdoor Ovens
Extending living spaces to the outdoors continues to be popular. One option is with an outdoor kitchen.

At luxury estates, custom-designed outdoor kitchens can be elaborate and include a wood-fired oven, finished with brick, tile or stone, which is often the focal point. Top-of-the-line appliances, mood lighting and comfortable seating add all the right touches.

With a bit of affordable creativity, homeowners can enjoy the same wood-fired oven as a focal point in an outdoor kitchen that reflects their style and site. Substitute one of today’s gas grills and a roll-away beverage cabinet with ice buckets for high-end appliances. A handsome wooden table or buffet could replace imported stone countertops.

Fogazzo manufactures wood-fired ovens, barbecues and fireplaces in easy-to-install kits. It has two oven sizes and each has become the centerpieces of lavish, as well as affordable, outdoor kitchens.

President Sergio de Palma says finishing materials and kitchen enhancements don’t affect oven performance. Those using high-end materials may spend $7,000 to $30,000 to provide an enviable finish, but de Palma suggests that those on a budget using a stucco finish can bring the project to about $3,500.

Though it’s a manufacturer, Fogazzo often assists homeowners in their designs for its wood-fired ovens. “Many people don’t relate to line drawings,” says de Palma. ”We bridge the gap, providing a more finished visualization." In addition, its web site offers many examples to get the ideas flowing.

Garages
For most people, garages are just a place to park the cars. For the luxury market, garages can be something else entirely. As Arizona businessman Michael Rhodig sees it, they can be “GarageMahals®.” That’s the name of his high-end turnkey service that caters to collectors with autos—and sometimes motorcycles, aircrafts or boats—worth at least $1 million. Rhodig sees the garage as the final frontier of home improvement, the new room of the house, the new hangout.



Thematic custom fixtures and facades create an environment around a particular theme. Photo © GarageMahals®
Thematic custom fixtures and facades create an environment around a particular theme. Photo © GarageMahals®

Among his clients’ must-haves are a larger garage, a showroom for their collection, entertainment facilities, unique custom themes, display cases for collectibles and an adjacent office space with a similar theme. Accomplishing the projects involves 3D computer modeling to define the concept, metallic floor coatings, upgraded electrical systems, architectural surfaces, custom trim, customized lighting and more.

For example, one 5,000-square-foot garage he is designing for a Chicago client will have a Las Vegas theme with all the “wow power” that entails. A GarageMahals® project is not inexpensive. Projects start at $60 per square foot.

Turnkey high-end service may not be in your budget, but you still can put some pizzazz in your garage. Consider these steps:


  1. Choose a color theme. Forget garage drab. Pick colors that highlight your vehicles or sports interests.
  2. Determine your storage needs and select a system. For example, Easy Track® offers a patented steel rod system that attaches to wall studs. Components such as shelves and drawers hang off the rail at a safe, dry level that leaves room for more storage and easy cleaning and is a particular benefit for garages with uneven floors.

    Marketing Manager Angela Smit says the garage system, in black and gray, is simple to install. Components—thermofused melamine over 100 percent recycled fiber content particle board—are moisture-resistant. Smit says the system can be added to or changed around as homeowner needs and budgets change. Retail price for a single tower is $330. Components are available on the company’s web site as well as a closet demonstration video to show how the system is assembled.

  3. Lay down a garage floor. Snap Lock Industries manufactures RaceDeck®, a modular garage flooring system that can customize your garage in a few hours. Tiles just snap together, and there’s nothing to glue down. Its tiles are made from high-impact copolymer, are UV stable and resist oil, grease, petroleum products, antifreeze and most household chemicals. Cleaning involves simply hosing them off.

    Its many color choices, two tile sizes, raised patterns and beveled-edge options help bring a unique look to a garage. Some customers, says Marketing Vice President Susan Hirai, have used color combinations to write their initials in the floor pattern.

    Hirai says the systems is available to do-it-yourselfers, starting at about $3 a square foot or can be installed through its nationwide dealer network.




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Vinotemp’s 46-Bottle Unit has a dual zone system to store red and whites at the same time. The front exhaust system allows for the unit to be built-in or freestanding. Photo © Vinotemp International

Wine Storage
Wine-related amenities are of growing importance in the luxury home market as wealthy homeowners look to enhance their lifestyle and entertainment options and to have proper wine storage. Custom wine storage can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Add individual cellars for red and white wines and tasting rooms and prices soar higher.

Vinotemp has been building premium wine cabinets for more than 20 years. At the luxury end, its customizable walk-in vault for a 5,000-bottle collection might cost $100,000 depending on such options as etched and carved doors, beveled and leaded glass, furniture trim, and rack and cabinet modifications. Its Vinotemp Walk-In Wine Vault offers technology originally engineered for the military that monitors temperature and humidity and calls the owner’s cell phone if the temperature is out of range. A touchscreen system allows customers to upload their inventory through their computer. Once information is uploaded, the owner can use the touchscreen to see what has been taken out or added, where a bottle is located as well as a bottle’s vintage, country, year and winery.


Don’t just try to copycat luxury lifestyles. Determine what you enjoy most, how it best works with your home before and investigate the options. Here are some ideas:

  • Outdoor kitchens are great in any part of the country but don’t let weather be a problem. Consider designing a roof or shelter over part of the entertainment area so the party can go on rain or shine.
  • Wood-fired ovens with some variations in design have been around for thousands of years. They can be used for cooking breads, pizzas, pies, meats and pastas.
  • Some luxury car collectors install elevator car lifts to expand garage capacity. An affordable alternative to consider is expanding your home garage space by using one of the lift platform products. It allows you to free space for your vehicle by lifting other typical garage items, usually to about 250 pounds, up and out of the way.
  • For wine, it is not only temperature but humidity that is important, according to Vinotemp’s Vladislav Ozerov. Wine is best kept at 55 to 65 percent humidity. If it’s too dry, the cork can dry out and allow oxygen into the wine, ruining it. Temperatures are typically 55 degrees for red wines, and 47 degrees for white.
  • When looking for wine storage, decide if you want wine aging or wine chilling. According to Vinotemp’s Ozerov, wood wine cabinets are best for aging, metal cabinets for chilling.
  • Buy your first wine storage unit with an eye to bigger capacities. Vinotemp’s Ozerov says the company often sees customers underestimate their needs. “Someone first buys a 12-bottle unit. Then they call six months later and say they need a bigger unit. About a year later, they find they need something larger.”

Luxury does not have the same definition for everyone, says Pam Danziger, author and president of Unity Marketing, which publishes the Luxury Consumption Index. “Americans really define luxury in square footage,” she says. “In Europe, it is not about size but amenities.” She believes American views of luxury will continue to evolve over time to appreciate smaller as better, less as more and with include more sensitivity to green concerns.

But Vinotemp also caters to wine lovers with more modest budgets. Vice President of Marketing Vladislav Ozerov says you can still have a walk-in vault for $3,000—with modifications. Homeowners can map out their wine room designs as Vinotemp now offers an online tool with "drag and drop" options and the ability to select dimensions.

For wine lovers on a tighter budget, there are other options. One product that is particularly popular in kitchen remodeling, according to Ozerov, is a stainless-steel unit to fit the space that was once occupied by trash compactors. The company designed a 15-inch-wide, stainless-steel unit to fit that space. With sliding wood shelves and a glass door, it holds 26 bottles and starts at $730.

Appreciate the Concepts
“Amenities for luxury homes are almost always driven by one thing: lifestyle,” says Waco Moore, president of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing in Dallas.

“At the top of the market, homes aren’t judged simply by the number of rooms they offer and the types of fixtures and finishes, they’re judged on their ability to facilitate a particular way of living and lifestyle,” he explains. “Thus, desired amenities vary greatly depending on the location of the residence and the interests of the homeowner, but they generally fall into four categories: security, convenience, entertaining and leisure. At the very top of the market, trends are less distinct as often key amenities are unique or exclusive and driven by individual whimsy or interest.”

Not among the very wealthy? You can still look to their amenities for ideas. Take the concepts that appeal to your lifestyle and, with help from today’s marketplace, incorporate your own affordable luxuries.

Credit: Renovate Your World