Can condominium homes be more than a ‘stamped-out-of-a-box’ cookie-cutter structure where ‘personalization’ goes beyond 11 color choices of carpet and 7 countertop selections?
Is it possible to create a luxury condo home which is an extension of you? A place which is a composition of extraordinary spaces and unique products. A place which not only ‘documents’ your past, but creates memories for your future? A place close to a vibrant city – but far enough away you’re not fighting crazy-traffic every day?
Does this vision sound nirvana-esque (not actually a word, but I’m going with it), utopian and idealistically impossible? If you think so – think again.
Not when you combine the minds of architect/developer/home builder (that’s a lot of slashes right there) Jerry Sarno of Deer Path Farms in Hudson Massachusetts with Larry Koltys, a homeowner with a photographer-inspired eye for detail, artistry and technical flair. In this home you’ll see a uniqueness which looks NOTHING like the cookie-cutter-empty-nester condos pumped out by “ABC Production Builders Inc” (not an actual company, but you know what I’m talking about).”
In the 5 tips below, we’ll take a journey through the home of Larry Koltys and Dottie Lewis, which was built by Jerry Sarno of Deer Path Farms. We’ll look at some thought-provoking luxury home building tips which highlight fun and inventive products.
At the end of this article I’m going to ask you to ‘cast your ballot.’ No, I’m not asking you ANYTHING about your political affiliation. I would like to get your ‘vote’ on which product or feature in Larry and Dottie’s home you find the coolest.
I wish I could tell you Larry would turn over his home to the winner of this contest his new home – but I already asked him. He told me no. Bummer! I do have my favorite feature which I’ll unveil at the end.
OK – let’s check out 5 tips for an imaginative and expressive luxury condo.
Luxury Condo Tip #1 – Start with a focal point
When someone enters your home is there a feature so eye-catching, interesting and imaginative it takes their breath away? Perhaps a sculpture, an art piece, a sparkling chandelier or a well-honed marble floor.
In Larry’s home the focal point is a lofted studio. It’s not just any lofted studio, however. It’s an industrial-looking, I-beam suspended, clear glass enclosed area you arrive at by traveling over an inspired glass bridge! This space not only creates a fun and functional home office, it allows light to flow seamlessly from the first to second floors capturing western sun in the evening.
To make this area more dramatic there is a “Romeo and Juliet” inspired cantilevered porch with glass siderails, sliding glass doors and full-length clear glass window offering uninhibited views to the woods beyond. These glass enclosed spaces visually connect the indoors to the outdoors. How cool.
Luxury Condo Tip #2 – Don’t let your local geo limit your creativity and selections
Buying local sounds wonderful, in concept. However, only locally will limit your options.
When I asked Larry how he packed so many cool elements in his home he told me, “Mike, I literally bought this home on the Internet. For example, I found my 7-coat lacquered enamel, contemporary high gloss finish kitchen cabinets from a Pedini from Italy. I sourced cool, green recycled leather floors from Ecodomo in Gaithersburg, Maryland. They also make leather drawer fronts, feature walls and door fronts as well. I even sourced specialty art cables rom AS Hanging Display Systems from West Chazy, New York to solve a mounting problem for a large art piece over the fireplace mantel.”
While Larry used talented local craftsman to install these elements, he didn’t limit his choices to what local suppliers had in stock. Sometimes you need to expand your search to kick up the cool factor.
Luxury Condo Tip # 3 – Good design ensures form compliments function
Unique features (like this curved staircase and complimenting curved granite countertops with a flawlessly matched seam) are beautiful. However, if they don’t live well for you and your family, what good are they? Form needs to compliment function.
On the kitchen island countertop, for example, Larry did not want cords stretching all over the surface. This can be dangerous when you have 2 and 5-year-old grandsons like Larry and Dottie. Larry found an industrial-grade pop up electrical outlet to stamp-out this problem.
Another ‘form and function’ detail Larry nailed was the design of the curved red oak wooden staircase. It was built narrower, so he and Dottie could hold onto both railings to reach the loft safely. This is a forward-thinking design feature should their mobility be less than ideal in years to come. Safe design = smart design.
This home shows form can compliment function.
Luxury Condo Tip #4 – Express your personality. Add whimsical touches. Build a home which creates memories.
When you’re empty-nesters, like Dottie and Larry, you’ve earned the right for your home to express you. Your home can be an extension of your career, the places you’ve lived, the people you’ve touched, the passions you have.
Since Larry and Dottie are just a couple of years over 39 (I’m stretching it a bit, but age is just a number, right?), they shouldn’t settle for a generic box-like, built on ‘spec’ house constructed for no one in particular. Their home should be an extension of their past, made to enjoy their present and built to create memories for their future.
As Larry told me, “Mike, I had two goals in life. One was to build my dream home (much like my Dad did when we lived in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Check out the picture from the article about Larry’s Dad, Henry, below. Cool custom homes and studio dens are in the Koltys blood!).
The second is to live on a sailboat. With this custom condominium – I’ve achieved goal #1. Goal #2 – the boat – will have to wait.”
This home certainly is an extension of Larry and Dottie’s lives, dreams and interests. In the family room you’ll see furniture, rugs and art pieces reminiscent of the 6 years they lived in the Middle East. On one wall in the living room is a collage of 12 of Larry’s favorite pics. You see Larry had several career positions in the photography field (note – all the beautiful pictures in this post were taken by Larry).
On another wall there is even a ‘hidden pivoting CD shelf. Some call this feature a Murphy door.’ It leads to an equipment room which can double as a safe room. Whimsical, cool and functional.
The uniqueness of this home has already been a catalyst to create family memories. Larry wishes he had his camera in tow the moment his 2-year-old grandson got up the courage to step onto the glass floor bridge. His laughter. His joy jumping up and down after he realized he wouldn’t fall through the glass (or at least I don’t think he fell through- ha! ha!).
Also, when I asked Larry why he left an open space in the bridge area he said it was so his 5-year-old grandson could drop water balloons on his 2-year-old brother. Now that’s a memory any guy with a brother can relate to (on a side note my older, even-uglier-than-me, brother Frank used to pour cold-water on me when I was in the shower. Now that’s little brother abuse. Fortunately, with a multitude of sessions with my counselor, I have gotten over the pain!).
Luxury Condo Tip #5 – If you don’t come up with enough good (or crazy) ideas, steal some. Then give thanks!
Larry has never been at a loss for ideas. Some of them Dottie let him roll with. Others, she gave him an eye-ball rolling look and said, “Have you lost your mind?” While Larry’s ideas kept flowing, he’s not above ‘stealing’ (‘er borrowing) a good idea – or two – from others.
When his step-daughter Tucker (a multi-talented coffee shop owner and carpenter) talked about doing a glass bridge in one of her projects, Larry thought it was the coolest thing he’d ever heard!
Larry took Tucker’s idea and ran with it. This product – and loft area – became the focal point of the home. He SO appreciated Tucker’s idea he had a ‘secret unveiling’ with a plaque to honor her at the end of the glass bridge.
Larry is proof-positive some of the best ideas we get are stolen (don’t say that too loud) from others.
Cast your ballot. What’s your favorite feature of Larry’s home? Mine is….
So now it’s time to vote. What’s your favorite feature in Larry and Dottie’s home? Is it the green leather floors, the lacquered kitchen cabinets, the cool art wall, the floating glass shelves, or maybe the lofted studio home office and glass bridge?
My vote is cast for the glass bridge floor. I will come clean and admit I’m waaaaay more than a bit biased. You see Larry chose my company (Innovate Building Solutions) to supply the structural glass flooring. With Larry’s keen eye he really made the glass floor shine (yes – I know, bad pun, but I resemble that)! Seriously though – thanks Larry for including our product.
Add into the comments below your ballot for the best feature. I wish it could earn you a free week’s stay at Larry and Dottie’s home. You know I already asked to free-load but got shot down. However, there’s nothing to stop me from continuing to try.
I hope you see from this project a condominium DOES NOT have to be stamped out of a box. It does take an out-of-the-box builder/developer/architect. It does take owners who will use will their imaginations and a dash of daring to express, “This is who we are – – take it or leave it.”
Don’t be afraid to let your home be an expression of you.
How can I (or my team) be of value to you?
If I (or any member of my team) can assist you with structural glass flooring, decking, bridge or stair design call Innovate Building Solutions at 877-668-5888. If you’re interested in glass products – like glass block walls, windows or even glass counters we’d be excited to help.
Tags: AS Hanging Display Systems, condominium homes, contemporary cabinets, contemporary kitchen cabinets, curved staircase, Ecodomo, empty nester home, glass bridge, glass bridges, glass floor, glass floor panels, home office, leather floor, leather flooring, luxury condo, luxury condo home, luxury condominium, Murphy Door, Pedini, recycled leather floor, safe room, studio, studio home office
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