Luxurious and Practical

Luxurious and Practical

Luxurious homes don’t have to be both lovely and inherently impractical. In fact, there is no reason why a home with style and sophistication can’t also be useful and livable.

“There’s no point having a beautiful room you can’t use,” says interior designer Francine Gardner, owner of the New York home store Interieurs. “Every room should be alive, and every object should be selected with care and love.

“Often, combining function and form is best. What I also like to do is add a simple luxury when needed,” Gardner says.

The Great Indoors

Bringing the outdoors in, and vice versa, has been a hot trend in home design for many years now.

Luxury home builder Mike McDonald of San Francisco-based Ryan Associates has built several houses that incorporate removable glass walls. He uses NanaWalls, which can open like French doors, slide out of the way on a track or fold over in sections. When the weather is nice, the interior and exterior are seamless. On cold or rainy days, simply put the wall back and enjoy the view.

“I use them in almost every project, especially out here in California where we have good weather pretty much year-round,” McDonald says. “Our clients often want a certain size home, but we can convince them to go with a slightly smaller great room or living room so they can have this wonderful indoor/outdoor living opportunity.”

If you’re trying to go green, though, this might not be the right choice. “A house [with glass walls] is more expensive to maintain and heat and cool,” he says.

On the other hand, heated floors are eco-friendly. If you aren’t fortunate enough to live in an area with a mild climate, radiant heating in the floors is a feature that not only will make you more comfortable but can help reduce heating bills, too, says Mishell Kneeland, a attorney and realtor with Moxie Realty Group in Austin, Texas.

Radiant heat needn’t be limited to the indoors, by the way. In regions with snowfall, some builders put it in driveways, patios and sidewalks.

“Imagine not having to shovel snow or ice,” Kneeland says.

Kid-Friendly Style

For a house with kids, function and safety are a must. The problem is, kid-proof furnishings aren't always the classiest.

To solve the problem of childproofing homes with rambunctious youngsters, Interieur’s Gardner suggests sturdy industrial furniture, which is usually made of metal, stain-resistant fabric and other durable materials, but still runs the gamut from rustic antiques to sleek and modern.

Consider “rounder, softer” pieces, Gardner says. “We enjoy Casalis poufs as seating arrangements for informal seating that both kids and adults can enjoy.”

Another consideration is keeping kids’ noise to a minimum. Gardner says, “A great rug can be used to soundproof walls or as a color accent, and serves as a focal point of any room by adding a certain whimsy that both children and their parents need.”


The latest in home technology isn't a fancy tech gadget – it’s the house itself. Home management systems are becoming more and more inclusive. They allow you to lock and unlock doors, turn lights on and off, monitor video cameras and adjust your thermostat remotely from a computer or mobile phone.

A programmable lock can be especially useful for setting individual passcodes that work at given times.

No more doubling back if you’re not sure you remembered to lock a door or set an alarm, she says. And if you’ve been gone on vacation, you can change the temperature from the airport to be certain you return to a warm or cool house.

None of these kinds of functional luxuries are cheap, of course. Do your homework before spending money on them if you’re hoping to get your investment back, Kneeland says.

“One thing that’s important for people to remember is while [these luxuries] absolutely add value to the home, you may not get back what you put into them at resale,” she says. “That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but just be realistic. A house with a pool is worth more than one without. Even if you don’t recoup the entire investment, you don’t put in a pool for the resale. You add one to have a place to swim.”

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