From the category archives:

Luxury Home Trends

The National Association has just released some statistics about how green home features are affecting buyers decisions when purchasing a home. While commuting costs are a big concern for younger buyers, energy heating and cooling costs are the number one concern as buyers get older. Even though the data paints a broad stroke over the entire nation, it is safe to say that commuting and energy costs rank high in Minnesota, too. Local builders are taking building “green” into account, some becoming GreenStar certified.



If you plan on building a new luxury home in the near future, you might have an extra expense to contend with if Governor Dayton gets his way.

Currently the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) is processing an update to Minnesota’s Building Code. Minnesota’s code is based upon the International Residential Code (IRC), which it amends to reflect local climate and building practices. The DLI’s ongoing process to update the code has featured an intense debate over the inclusion of a fire sprinkler system mandate in Minnesota’s code update. Since 2011, state lawmakers have passed two bills that would have prevented Minnesota from mandating home sprinkler systems. Both times Governor Mark Dayton has vetoed the bills.

In late October the draft building code was released with a home indoor sprinkler system mandate for all newly built homes 4,500 sq ft (including unfinished living space) and above. Notice it includes “unfinished living space”. That means your unfinished basement square footage is included in the numbers. While it is my opinion that it actually might be a good idea to install sprinkler systems in expensive luxury homes, it is NOT a good idea for the government to mandate it. The choice should be left up to the consumer because it’s their pocket book paying for the extra expense.

Don’t get too comfortable if you see a new home in your future under 4,500 square feet. Tom Brace, executive director of the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association, has said in a recent article that his ultimate goal is to mandate sprinkler systems in ALL new residential homes.

If you would like to learn more about the push to prevent the mandate, check out the website sponsored by the Twin Cities Builders Association.


If you haven’t had the chance yet to view the Parade of Homes, then today is your last chance to check out the newest trends in luxury new home construction. I was able to check out a few in my spare time this week, and I have to say that some of the homes are simply stunning. My favorite by far was the “Dream Home” located in Edina.

Luxury Home Edina Minnesota

Not only does it sit on a fantastic lot, the design inside and out is classic. Designed by Charles Cudd De Novo, one of the premier luxury home builders in the Twin Cities, the home boasts 8700 square feet.

From this home and others on the market, here are some of the newest trends found in luxury homes in the Twin Cities:

  • Deep, rich, and dark hardwood floors. Some almost look black giving a great contrast to the lighter colors of the home
  • Built-in cabinets and bookcases everywhere. Many are made to look like furniture, placed in nooks and along walls. These features are not only classic, but very functional on eliminating clutter and keeping a grand home organized.
  • Marble. For high end homes, granite is no longer the staple. The use of marble for counters and floors is being seen more and more, especially for tiled bathroom floors, tiled luxury showers, and kitchen/bathroom countertops.
  • White cabinetry and trim has made a dramatic comeback with a high end twist. Many of the most expensive homes available today feature white everywhere, which mixes well with dark furniture or colorful accessories.
  • Huge, organized closets worthy of Rachel Zoe.
  • Informal office space open to the home. For instance, in the home above, informal space is part of the huge mudroom off the garage giving easy access to computers and such to family and children.

There are tons of additional features highlighted in the newest luxury homes found in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Edina, and Lake Minnetonka, but if you want a first hand glimpse, take a free day and visit some of the local open houses on weekends throughout the area.

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One of the benefits for those who build distinctive luxury homes is the financial ability to include fantastic designs into their home. Some relatively easy accessories to add are unique lighting features that set a home apart from the normal metal fixtures available in today’s market.
Unique Lighting Fixtures from Elk Lighting
Bi-Plane Fighter Pendant Light from Elk Lighting

Take for instance the above light from Elk Lighting. Their novelty lighting fixtures range from airplanes, sports, space ships, and of course my husband’s favorite, the hockey rink with nets and scoreboard included. Elk Lighting is based out of Pennsylvania and has been in business since 1983. They offer a huge variety of lighting fixtures that pay attention to design and value, striving to provide anything but ordinary. If you get a chance, look through their website at the variety of lighting option available for your project.



Color Trends in Lux LivingWe all love color. Just some of us trend towards specific hues over others. For instance, I’m a blue gal, but red catches my eye too. I just painted one of my bathrooms a grayish blue, giving it seashell accessories, but my bedroom has red bedding and linens, with large floral accents. But many of us like to stay trendy, and seeing as trends are constantly changing, what is going on in the world of color today?

  • Turquoise and Blue– Forget bold and neon blues, a touch of gray is coming into the tone, with more relaxing shades taking center stage. I am seeing a soft turquoise color in custom window treatments and in furniture upholstery, not to mention accessories.
  • Embroidery– looks like embroidered pillows and linens are a new trend, adding a touch of lux to solid colored bedding and furniture, some having beading as well.
  • Shine – to add an extra touch of sparkle, some fabrics have a sheen to them or metallic highlights
  • Browns – while I am not a big fan of brown, the chocolate browns are still hanging around, some with a touch of copper.
  • Grays – we’re talking pale gray colors on walls and furniture which give a calming effect. This let’s you add bright colored accessories for a dramatic look.

What ever the trends are, don’t let it hinder you from picking the colors you love. It’s your home, so enjoy the trends that fit your lifestyle!


Walking through new home construction will give any buyer a good idea of the different things which can be designed in a master bathroom. After all, isn’t that one of the most popular rooms (besides the kitchen) people gravitate to in a high end home.

“ohhh, what does the master bath look like?” …is a common question I hear buyers ask when walking through a model home. Either people are amazed by the style, or they are confused and wonder “who uses that?”

A few trends that I am seeing pop up in this year’s Parade of Homes are:

  • Vanities – I’m talking of the kind my mother and grandmother used to have. A counter area set aside as a makeup/style station, with a nice cushiony seat.
  • Art Mirrors – this is my description of the mirrors that hang above vanities, placed in largely decorated frames that usually hold expensive works of art.
  • Heated Floors – in Minnesota, these are soooo nice during the winter!
  • Antique Dressers – antiques are now being converted into vanities, giving the bathroom a really unique feel. Furniture styled cabinets really help elevate the bathroom up so it feels more like a part of the master bedroom, and not just the ugly stepchild of the home.
  • Multiple Shower Heads – when I say multiple, I mean at least three, sometimes four or five. These are the showers where buyers wonder if Hugh Hefner is living there with a few playmates.
  • Old World Tubs – now women just love to take a relaxing bath, so what better way to do so then in a high end tub that can submerge two people
  • Lots of Wood – bathrooms no longer have to be just tile. Floors are being constructed of bamboo, giving the room an oriental aura, and some home owners are putting reclaimed beams on the ceiling. Wood is no longer taboo in a steamy bathroom.
  • Lots of Light – windows, windows, windows. Gone are the tiny windows that no one could see out of, as well as the glass blocks of the 1980’s. Who cares if the neighbors can see in…they are envious after all, right?

If you really want to get a good idea of luxury trends in bathrooms around Minneapolis and Saint Paul, then check out the multi-million dollar homes on the Parade of Homes tour, or the Remodeler Showcase. You will see many of these ideas put to use, as well as some over the top ones which can only be thought up by a home owner who really wants to see his fantasy come to life.

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I have to say, if you get a chance to view any of the Parade of Homes this upcoming weekend, you simply have to visit home #310 in Plymouth. It is truly one of the best luxury homes on the entire tour. I visited the home last week, and I just have to apologize for the the cars in the photo…even on a Friday, the street was lined with 20 vehicles of other curious parties wanting the chance to view this amazing home.

Built by Hendel Homes, the home is located in Executive Woodlands at 14625 4th Ave N. The price tag on this home is listed at $3,850,000 Million. Just walking up to the front door alone is an experience, as homes in the French Provencal style are seldom built today (most easily identified by the Mansard roof).

With about 11,000 square feet, it feels like the home never ends. Some fantastic architectural features of the home include the gallery with its multiple groin vaults, the four foot gas torches, antique wood floors, custom iron railings, and a wonderful old world looking bar/wine room in the lower level.

The home is simply inspiring. At times it feels like you are in a castle, others in a fine hotel, and still in other parts of the home, walking through an old French estate not in America. Hats off to Hendel Homes for creating something special for the rest of us to dream about.


There seems to be a growing trend in the Minnesota. Home builders are beginning to market their building techniques as “green” and some buyers are jumping on the trend. While prices for such efforts might cost more than a “traditional” home, buyers know that in the long run, the higher price will pay off with energy savings and low maintenance.

One way to market your home as green comes from the Minnesota GreenStar program which certifies both new construction and home remodels by applying five key concepts of “green”building. These categories are: Resource Efficiency, Water Conservation, Indoor Environmental Quality, Site and Community Impact, and Energy Efficiency. You can find a checklist and guidelines on their website to see if your project will qualify.

Around town, there are a few projects which are working toward reuse and applying some green building techniques, like Ripley Gardens.

Here are some ways that luxury home owners are trying to go green:

  • “Green” roofs
  • Low Emissivity Windows
  • Low VOC Paints
  • Geothermal high efficiency heating and cooling
  • Solar Lighting
  • Icynene Insulation
  • Rain Gardens (a fairly new concept in Minnesota)
  • Rainwater catch systems
  • Native landscaping
  • Sustainable / repurposed materials

If you have designed your luxury home around “green” techniques, take full advantage of marketing the home as such when it comes time to sell. Buyers in today’s market are looking for every benefit they can, and energy savings is high on their list of “must haves”. If you want to get some good ideas, the Parade of Homes Tour will be coming up in the next two months. There are usually a few green homes featured on the tour, so take the time to check them out!


It’s no secret that the affluent have money to spend on shiny items. Some of those shiny items come with hefty price tags, too. If you have a special lady friend who happens to be having a birthday soon, or if you want to start saving up for the big Christmas gift, then I am sure she would be happy with an Agresti Armoire.

Handcrafted from elm trees indigenous to Italy, these beautiful standing armoires have safes inside to lock valuables away, and better yet, are anchorable to the wall. Thieves will have a hard time trying to walk away with your shiny jewelry.

At a price tag of $8,000-10,000, you will definitely be getting a luxuries item with some great peace of mind.


Storage, Storage, Storage!

Another great trend in the luxury kitchen is utilizing as much space as possible in your cabinetry. Design has come a long way when it comes to storage options, and cooking is once again a cool thing to do every evening.

I like the perforated boards on some pullouts. Much like what you would find in an organized garage, these boards allow you to peg and hang your utensils for easy access. Say bye-bye to cluttered drawers!

You also can’t deny the pleasure of throwing away trash and recycles. Instead of bending over to open the door under the sink, now you can slide out a drawer of trash bins, saving you from needless back pain. I think this is my favorite “invention” in my new kitchen, besides the knife drawer with pull out cutting board I had specially installed.

Drawers have also come along way. Now they can hold plates, thanks to handy pegs keeping them in place, as well as pots and pans. It helps that many of these items can be camouflaged into the cabinetry, with many people not even knowing they exist.

The key to good kitchen design is making the cabinetry as functional as possible. Many times, a smaller kitchen can hold just as much as a large kitchen, if as much space is utilized as possible. Some cabinet makers are putting drawers at the very base of the cabinets, behind the toe kick area, which is good for linen storage. But when it comes to a luxury kitchen, buyers are expecting to see invention added to your kitchen design.
Must Haves for the Luxury Kitchen – Sinks

Must Haves for the Luxury Kitchen – Drawers

Must Haves for the Luxury Kitchen – Counters