Kohler’s hydrotherapy baths are one way to make the new home a staycation destination. Photo by Kohler
Summer is near, and that brings out prospective homebuyers. The National Association of Realtors recently released the latest housing market index, which increased for the month of March. This indicates stronger home sales in the next few months, according to Scott Anderson, chief economist at the Bank of the West in his May 16 U.S. Outlook.
The former Wells Fargo economist forecasts a 2.5 percent increase in existing home sales for April from the prior month and a 12.5 percent jump in new home sales—and he expects the trend to continue during the summer. “We expect the combination of a stronger economy, pent-up housing demand and low interest rates to rekindle some positive momentum to the housing market in the months ahead,” Anderson states in the report.
The market is also looking up for Karen Mayfield, senior vice president and mortgage banking division national sales manager for Bank of the West. “Weather issues in many parts of the country delayed the start of spring buying season, so these numbers may indicate the buying season is finally picking up,” she says.
With an uptick in new home sales on the horizon, some prospective buyers might be skipping the family vacation in order to afford the perfect house. One way to make your home stand apart from others is to make them believe that they are getting a vacation by purchasing a home with all the makings of a great summer. Here are some oh-so-pleasing ideas to turn a home into a destination paradise.
Soothing Spa Massage
Time to soak that sore back or nuzzle a groaning joint up to a soothing jet of pulsating water? Homeowners don’t need to venture to a spa for a soothing experience. Outdoor spas in homes are awesome add-ons. Decent four-person hot tubs start around $2,300. And with the iAquaLink system by Jandy, users can turn on the spa, adjust the water temperature and turn the pump on and off from a web-enabled device. iAquaLink can be connected using an Ethernet cable or wirelessly with virtually any Wi-Fi network. Installations require an electrician or qualified pool professional due to the high voltage involved. Prices start at around $300.
Or Take a Real Bubble Bath
If there’s a hot tub or spa outside, do you really need whirlpool jets in the master bath as well? How about a simple bubble bath instead, with the help of Kohler’s BubbleMassage Air Bath Hydrotherapy that uses staggered air jets in a 360-degree array to fill the bath with thousands of bubbles.
This creates a balanced, all-encompassing body massage, Kohler says. A surge feature can increase or decrease intensity, and Zones of Control can focus just on the lumbar, legs or feet. Bored with bubbles? Add LED chromatherapy mood lighting and VibrAcoustic sound and vibration therapy so the beats and tones of your music can soothe via underwater speakers. Starts at $2,100 for BubbleMassage and up to $8,100 for the works.
Place Your Voice-Activated Grill Order
Good food is an integral part of a feel-good time anywhere. Now imagine placing your order at home. Coming in 2015 is the voice-activate Lynx Concept Grill that automatically cooks foods based on user commands. The electronic system drives primary functions of the grill such as ignition and burners via an automated system that cooks pre-programmed recipes.
First the grill asks a couple of simple questions about your cooking plans. It then connects to an online database to determine the optimal grilling time and technique, and tells the chef where on the grill to place each item to ensure the best result. The Lynx Smart Grill can send notifications via audio, visual alerts and mobile platforms. For additional security and peace of mind, the Smart Grill shuts off if it does not hear instructions for 30 minutes.
The Kitchen Wine Cellar
Don’t forget the drinks! Nothing says ‘relax’ like a nice glass of wine. Liebherr’s WS 17800 multi-temperature wine storage cabinet can fit up to 178 bottles in three zones of 41 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures. It has an interior light, fan, charcoal filter and Euro-style hinges that help push out the doors so you have to work less. They also auto-shut for those among us who can’t seem to handle that task. The unvarnished racks and filters are accessible from the front. The same company makes an outdoor version, perfect for those patio wine and cheese parties.
Can’t Beat that Sauna Heat
Good old sweat therapy. Saunas can help detoxify the body through perspiration, provide pain relief, work out the heart and make you relax. Saunas may even help those with depression. Infrared saunas use infrared heaters that raise body temps by operating at 120 to 150 degrees F, yet requiring 1.6 kw of power.
HealthMate offers infrared saunas with a full sound system complete with an AM/FM radio, CD player, auxiliary input for personal music players, and a remote control. LED Chromotherapy can be included to stimulate skin cells and promote cellular regeneration. Users can even change the color with a remote. The sauna will shut down after 60 minutes to prevent overheating, and a ceiling ventilation panel allows the flow of fresh air to enter and circulate the unit to ease breathing. A digital touch-sensitive control panel allows users to adjust the temperature, preheat the sauna for a desired time of day and lock it up when not in use.
One to two-person saunas by HealthMate start at about $1,000.
Steam Shower Chi
While the sauna’s heater is inside the enclosure, a steam shower has a steam generator located outside the room and infuses steam inside. Steam showers are also less hot, running between 105 and 115 degrees F with roughly 100 percent steamy humidity goodness.
Chromatherapy is used in this application as well—and get ready for some serious chi talk. The Steam Sauna Bath website explains that light is the language by which our body communicates through its chakras, or primary energy centers, that resonate to the frequency of a specific color. Violet is said to help relax muscles, while yellow can aid in metabolism.
Steam rooms can also come with speakers, towel warmers, fog-free mirrors and even aroma pumps that draft off 1-gallon bottles of eucalyptus oil to make a luxury steam complete.
Enjoying IMAX at Home
There’s nothing like taking an afternoon off for the high-value sloth of a movie, blanket and popcorn in a rockin’ home theater or family room surround-sound space. But why not go all the way and enjoy the kind of movie you’re more likely to see on your vacation: an IMAX feature with a huge screen and steeply sloped seating to immerse you in the action—right in your home. Yes, you can now add an IMAX Private Theatre to a home—for about $2.25 million, plus the cost of acoustic design, room build-out, and seating, according to Eric Thies of Via, an ultra-high-end custom technology firm that is selling IMAX theaters to the good-lifers.
The minimum size for the curved projection screen is 21 feet wide by 12 feet high, and you’ll need a minimum core shell for the room of about 15.5 feet high, 26.5 feet wide, and 36.5 feet deep. Two 4K (Ultra HD) projectors each 4 by 4 by 2 feet in size and weighing 1,200 pounds can produce 2D and 3D images from an 8-by-14-by-10 foot projection booth space in the back. An IMAX theater can accommodate 50 or more seats and is scalable.
Cuddle with a Smart Bed
Nothing whispers comfort and luxury like collapsing into the most comfortable bed possible. This isn’t just fluffy pillow talk. SleepIQ is a smart bed that can track and optimize sleep satisfaction. Sensors work directly with Sleep Number DualAir technology to measure average breathing rate, heart rate and movement to track how users are sleeping. It can also identify how diet, exercise, alcohol and caffeine affect sleep. Firmness, elevation and temperature of each side of the bed can be adjusted, which can help put a stop to a partner’s snoring, tossing and turning.
The X12 bed combines all of the aforementioned features and can even respond to a few simple voice commands requesting Sleep Number changes and even a massage. A massage! Another reason to skip that spa, folks.
Price ranges from $7,800 to $11,100.
Outdoor Pool Areas
Of course your Staycation Resort needs an outdoor pool area, possibly with multiple pools and levels, waterslides, patio and cabana areas galore. Check out the three heavenly home hydro parks in our 3 Cool Pools feature to gain some ideas for multi-level water action with zones of audio and video control, an indoor-outdoor pool area and a wilderness water slide with a hot tub and underwater speakers. We like it. A lot. Can we come over to enjoy your Staycation as well? Shown: SAVE Electronics multi-level pool.
Staycation With You?
The New American Home shown at the 2014 Builder’s Show in Las Vegas has a lot of very cool and high-tech features, but one thing we love the most is a full-service, 650-square-foot carriage suite or casita for guests, in-laws, boomerang babies or friends and family who overstay their welcomes. It’s separated from the main house by a pool bridge and also accessed via a walk-through elevator for privacy. It’s outfitted with a living room, bedroom, small kitchen and bath. It’s even equipped with a Velux motorized skylight and Kohler Moxie showerhead for music. Best of all? It has its own laundry closet with a stackable washer/dryer. Wash your own duds, cousin Fitzroy!