An IMAX home theatre, personal Candy Bar and olive grove are just some of the latest trends that take luxury amenities to the next level.
The very rich, F. Scott Fitzgerald, famously observed, are different than you and me. That extends to their homes. Just how different can be summed up in four words: “It’s not enough to….”
For example, it’s not enough to have a lavish home theatre, observes Lisa Johnson Mandell, the founder and editor-in-chief of the website At Home in Hollywood. “Everybody has a home theatre; it’s no big deal. The big thing luxury right now is the IMAX home theatre. Seth McFarlane got the very first one. Not only do you need the 12-foot floor-to-ceiling curved screen, you have to have the stadium seating and the (custom-designed) sound system, plus a subscription for the feed (that provides sporting events, first-run movies and other programs)."
At Home in Hollywood is a celebrity real estate, fashion and lifestyle website refreshingly free of snark that features the latest news and inside views of celebrity homes. The site also contains movie and television reviews as well as the hottest and most exclusive celebrity swag. Johnson is a veteran Hollywood observer, a prolific author, critic and reporter who still serves as Los Angeles correspondent for the HGTV cable network. She has been featured on all the major broadcast and cable networks as well as publications such as The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
She shares her readers’ fascination with celebrity homes. “It’s total aspiration,” she told Millionaire Corner in a phone interview. “People like to compare; we love to dream about living in a house like that. But we also like to see when celebrities live in homes that are a little bit more humble, or see pictures of homes that are not in particularly great taste. It makes us feel better about ourselves.”
The celebrity homes currently featured on At Home in Hollywood deliver the aspirational goods. There’s Don Johnson’s 11,229-foot beach estate in Montecito. There’s Faye Dunaway’s quaint Hollywood duplex that was built in 1925. And there’s Jennifer Lopez’s 17,129 square foot home in Hidden Hills, recently put on the market for $17 million. It comes complete with a recording studio, 20-seat theatre, massage salon, eight fireplaces and other extreme niceties.
As spectacular as these celebrity homes may be with their exclusive addresses, spectacular views or palatial square footage, you ain’t seen nothing yet, Mandell said. Here are more of the latest trends that take luxury amenities to the next level.
It’s not enough, Mandell said, to be the owner of your own vineyard. “The bigger cooler thing is having your own olive grove with pressing facilities. You grow your olives and then press them to create your own signature organic olive oil.”
Nor is it enough to have an outdoor kitchen, Mandell said. “You also have to have a wood-burning pizza oven that requires a week-long class on how to use it.”
Tasting rooms and wine cellars have been big for a long time, but now the trend is toward bars and tasting rooms for specific alcohols. Inside the $70 million bachelor pad of Minecraft founder Marcus Persson is a vodka tasting bar and a tequila tasting bar, not to mention a Candy Bar that dispenses more than $200,000 worth of candy.
A multi-car garage? “That’s old hat,” Mandell laughed. “Now your garage has to be a showcase garage with display carousels that allow for optimum viewing of the owner’s luxury autos from every angle.”
And it’s not enough to have a spa room. “One more fun trend raising eyebrows,” Mandell said, “Himalayan pink salt spa rooms. I heard about this from this super upscale architect. These salt crystals put out negative ions and are supposed to have restorative properties.”
One can get more of an authentic sense of the celebrity through their homes. There is a classic line spoken by Albert Brooks in the film, “I’ll Do Anything.” Brooks’ character, a producer of so-called “popcorn movies,” tells actor Nick Nolte, “You want to know what I like? Come to my house, look at my lamps... you won't find it in my movies.”
Mandell gets it. “You can learn so much about celebrities from their houses; even looking at the different rooms they have and the size of the different rooms. Neil Patrick Harris just sold his home in Sherman Oaks. The backyard had the traditional swingset and slide for this twins, but inside, Harris (a noted magic buff) had a secret (private) room for his magic paraphernalia and memorabilia.”
Many are fascinated by celebrity homes, while others may be outraged by the extravagance and ostentatiousness. Mandell is in the former camp. “Some people ask, ‘Does anyone really need a 50,000 square-foot home?’’ she reflected. But when you think of the number of people it takes to run (such a home) and the number of people they employ over many years to build and maintain it, it’s sort of like an industry onto itself. (Wealthy homeowners) have provided a lot of jobs for people and purchased many things for their home and property which have added to the economy. I do not judge people by the size of their homes considering the contribution that are making in their own ways.”
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.