A Modern California Home Built to Beat the Desert Heat | Kanebridge News
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A Modern California Home Built to Beat the Desert Heat

The weekend house, which cost $5.2 million with the land, is used for entertaining, with six sitting areas, and matching indoor and outdoor kitchens that cost a total of $400,000

By J.S. MARCUS
Thu, Nov 3, 2022 8:48amGrey Clock 3 min

Autumn has arrived in Palm Desert, Calif., and residents are rejoicing, as the season brings more-amenable temperatures after the scorching summer. For local homeowner Daniel Simon, 54, leaving behind the heat means he can resume making the most of his modern, 5,000-square-foot house, where his weekends are often spent entertaining.

Mr. Simon, an elevator contractor and native of Southern California, divides his time between Orange County, where his primary residence has views of Newport Bay; a horse ranch in the mountains above Coachella Valley; and Palm Desert, where the home’s four bedrooms, five bathrooms and six distinct sitting areas welcome his guests on a grand but comfortable scale.

In early 2018, he paid $1.3 million for an empty 1/3-acre lot at Bighorn Golf Club, where he has clubhouse privileges that he says required an initiation fee of $100,000. He went on to spend $3.875 million to build, furnish and landscape the single-story house. The home’s key decorative touches include a fountain-enhanced courtyard pond just inside the main entrance and the great room’s $7,500 hand-carved basalt table, which sets the tone for the airy living space.

In the infernal summers, the 14-foot-high great room shuts out the heat and keeps in the cool, while glazing on all sides lets in the views of the mountains and the desert that drew Mr. Simon to the area in the first place. He spent $155,000 on his heating, cooling and ventilation system, which includes seven air-conditioning units. Underfloor heating for the bathrooms comes in handy in the winter, when nighttime temperatures can drop into the 40s.

In mild weather, Mr. Simon uses an iPad to open up the interiors with retracting doors. The great room and the patio become a single indoor-outdoor space, where he can sip his morning coffee made in his indoor kitchen’s built-in Miele machine.

Morning habits are key, says Mr. Simon, who describes himself as “an early guy.” His choice of an east-facing lot means he can enjoy desert sunrises and be spared the harsh afternoon sun. “A lot of people want to face south or southeast,” he adds, but he says that choice is desirable only a few months of the year.

Mr. Simon worked with Marc Whipple of Whipple Russell Architects, a Southern California studio, to design the home. The house features two gas fireplaces—one in the living room and another in the main bedroom, costing a total of $30,000—and a large fire pit on the patio. A $125,000 saltwater infinity pool in the back corresponds to the pond and fountains near the front, which cost $50,000.

Yoav Weiss, Whipple Russell’s project architect on the Simon property, says his client wanted to encounter natural elements from every vantage point. Fireplaces, mountains, or water features can be seen from the remotest corners of the home and patio.

It was a structural challenge to keep the views completely horizontal. The goal was to make the property as level as possible, says Mr. Weiss, by blending the great room with the outdoor space. The same porcelain-tile flooring was used inside and out, but to allow for drainage outside—essential in a climate where rare but strong downpours are an annual occurrence—the patio area was dug out and then built up again.

Inside, the porcelain tiles have grouting, but outside, lack of grouting between the same tiles allows for runoffs “without any thresholds, steps, or undulating sloping surfaces,” he says. Mr. Simon spent $75,000 on the indoor porcelain flooring and $50,000 on the outdoor version.

The indoor and outdoor kitchens also mirror each other with similar stone backsplashes and white islands. They cost a total of $400,000. Mr. Simon turned both into so-called entertainment kitchens, equipped with bar areas that can become audience seating for when a hired chef prepares a meal.

Back inside, Mr. Simon has richly patterned wallpaper, hardwood floors and area rugs to create textural contrasts in the bedrooms. For his $85,000 media room, which can be wide-open for TV viewing or isolated for a movie, he contrasts the high-tech sleekness of the screen with a backing of rough-hewed cowhide.

A glass-walled, climate-controlled wine room, with display space for nearly 200 bottles plus a stone table for tastings, is a cooling visual contrast to the desert views outside.

Mr. Simon had a previous Coachella Valley home in nearby Rancho Mirage. A big change in his new property is the landscaping—away from what he calls a lush country-club vibe with grass, flowers and palm trees. Now, more conscious of water usage and deferring to the requirements of the golf course’s development company, he has desert plantings, including cactuses, agaves and yuccas. Forgoing grass entirely, he opted for a small area of artificial turf between the main bedroom and the outdoor Jacuzzi.

Anne Attinger, the local landscape architect who worked with Mr. Simon, says the lot takes advantage of mature tree canopies that technically belong to the golf course but merge seamlessly into Mr. Simon’s yard, filling up the view with yellow flowers in the spring. “He got lucky,” she says.

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The Australian capital setting a new record for property value falls

Property values have fallen hard and fast in this popular city, but it’s done little to dent pandemic rises

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Mon, Jan 30, 2023 2 min

Highest property values, biggest dip the next. That’s the outcome for Australia’s northernmost capital on the east coast, with Brisbane property values recording their largest and fastest decline, data from Corelogic reveals.

The fall comes just seven months after values hit their peak after a population surge driven by the pandemic saw an increase of 43 percent. Home values hit a record high on June 19, 2022 but have since declined 10.9 percent, in parallel with eight consecutive interest rate rises since April last year.

Historically, peak-to-trough declines in Brisbane have lasted 14 months and have ranged from value drops of -2.9 percent to -10.8 percent. While the new record is just -0.1 percent compared with previous figures, that fall came over 21 months between April 2010 and January 2012. The latest decline was a much swifter seven month drop.

CoreLogic head of research Eliza Owen said it is worth putting the Brisbane figures into context with the rest of Australia’s capital cities, as well as considering the significant rise in property values in the Queensland capital over the pandemic.

“Brisbane now stands out as one of two capital city markets with record declines, the other being Hobart,” Ms Owen said. “Sydney continues to have the largest peak-to-trough falls of the capital city markets (currently at -13.8 percent), while peak-to-tough falls remain mild in some cities (such as Perth, where values are down just -1.0 percent from a recent peak in August 2022).” 

“The record fall in Brisbane home values has not made much of a dent in the gains made during the upswing. The fall in the Brisbane daily HVI follows an upswing of 43.5 percent between August 2020 and 19 June 2022, which was the fastest trajectory of rising values on record. This leaves home values across Brisbane 27.9 percent higher than at the previous trough in August 2020.” 

The median dwelling value in Brisbane jumped from $506,553 at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to $707,658 by the end of last year, Ms Owen said.

“Despite the large decline from peak, Brisbane maintains the third highest gain in value of the capital cities since the start of the pandemic,” she said. 

“Only Adelaide and Darwin, which are 42.8 percent and 29.6 percent higher respectively than at the onset of the pandemic, have performed stronger. 

“For this reason, there is marginal risk of negative equity for Brisbane homeowners, with the exception of very recent buyers, who purchased around the peak in June 2022 with less than a 20 percent deposit.” 

However, there are signs of resilience in the market. Brisbane remains a more affordable option compared with the other east coast capitals, Ms Owen said.

Although housing values remain higher than pre-COVID levels, Brisbane retains a lower price point than Sydney, with a $435,170 difference in median house values and $280,749 difference in median unit values,” she said. 

“The gap between Brisbane and Melbourne housing values is also significant, with a $119,697 gap between median house values and $97,692 difference in median unit values.

“This could encourage ongoing housing demand from those willing to migrate to the state, or own an interstate investment.” 

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