Category Archives: Luxury

The Big Move-Nick & Michelle’s Big Canadian Adventure

Have you ever wondered what are the steps to building a home?  One of our customer couples have been keeping track through a blog entitled, “The Big Move”. We are going to share some of the blog with you, and then direct you to a link where you’ll be able to follow them. They purchased Archival Designs’ luxury home plan, Longleat.

Welcome to Nick and Michelle’s big Canadian adventure. This is the tale of our “Big Move” from Chippenham in the UK to Tatamagouche Nova Scotia. Follow this blog to see how we survive the culture shock of moving from the hectic UK to a rural Nova Scotian village.

While their blog shares many events in their lives, following the “House Build” link will target only those blogs. There are plenty of photos and slide shows showing the work performed.  Here is an excerpt from Days 138-142:

This week it was painting, painting and more painting.  There was still some undercoating to do on the second floor but the main floor was ready to take the top coat.  The main colour went on in the great room first as the fireplace needed to go in.  Our choice for the main colour in the house was ‘vanilla ice cream’  And no – it isn’t magnolia…..

The fireplace, which looks amazing, went in over 3 days.  We chose a light coloured natural stone to help keep the room looking light and modern.  We think that it has worked out really well.  The fireplace team did a great job.

In between the coats of paint going on the walls, our builders also managed to lay the tiles in the bathroom upstairs.

In the gallery you will see a couple of pictures of the ice coming from the drainpipes.  It warmed up slightly and so all of the snow melted and was running off the roof, but then the temperature dropped and we were left with ice…..

So, follow the link, sign into their guestbook and watch the build! I have posted the first, second and basement floor plans for Longleat below.

Choose From More Than 400 House Designs and House Plans We offer house designs in a wide range of styles and sizes. Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English Manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and Colonial house plans. Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 13,600 sf. Our Newport Classics house designs are gentrified New England-style cottages that range from 1500 to 5000 square feet. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world. Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer. Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one plan could be just for you!

World’s Most Desirable Luxury Brands

No. 1:  Gucci-A Little History . . .

Guccio Gucci founded the House of Gucci as a saddlery shop in Florence in 1906. A century later, the company’s horse bit and stirrup motif is an enduring symbol of luxury. He started out selling leather bags to horsemen in the 1920s and progressed to luxury luggage as his clients graduated from equine transportation to horseless carriages. Today, with Frida Giannini at the creative helm, handbags with the interlocking double-G logo are among the company’s biggest money makers

Ask a friend what he would buy if he had a bigger bank account and he might rattle off a list that includes a limited-edition sports car, a round-the-world trip or a million-dollar beachfront home.

Goods by Gucci, however, top the lists of luxury brand lovers. That’s according to an online survey conducted late last year by The Nielsen Company, a market research firm. It asked 25,000 consumers in 48 countries which luxury brand they would buy if money were no object. Besides Gucci, respondents chose Chanel, Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior (other-otc: CHDRF – news – people ).

It’s easy to see why Gucci reigns. Worldwide sales, though recently tapered, have jumped since Mark Lee became president of the company in 2004, then CEO the following year. In 2007, sales increased 11%; that’s on top of a 17% increase in 2006 and a rise of 18.4% in 2005. Gucci is a part of the Gucci Group, which has a number of fashion brands in its portfolio, including Yves Saint Laurent and Sergio Rossi. PPR, a French holding company publicly traded on the Euronext exchange in Paris, owns the Gucci Group.

  • CEO Spotlight: Gucci

“Gucci manages to offer high fashion and very commercial items,” says Michael Macko, fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue (nyse: SKS – news – people ). “That red and green stripe is some of the most iconic luxury branding ever created, and people want a piece of it.”

  • Behind The Brands

Born as a leather goods company, Gucci is now most well known for its logo-ed handbags. When the company opened a new 46,000-square-foot store, the largest of its 233 worldwide, on the ground level of the Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue last month, they also launched a “Gucci Loves New York” handbag collection which sold out within two days of opening. Proceeds from the bags went to Playground Partners Central Park Improvement Program.

  • Related Stories-Bespoke For Every Budget

What’s Your Office Style?

Chanel and Calvin Klein tied for second. The privately held Chanel, famous for the little black dress, tweed suit and quilted handbag, was founded by Coco Chanel in 1909 and is currently helmed by Karl Lagerfeld. It stays relevant thanks to a slew of consistently classic yet stylish products. The label’s current must-haves include a quilted leather envelope clutch and a sleeveless embroidered cashmere dress with pink trim; its current pitch woman is Keira Knightley.

Calvin Klein’s global retail sales surged to $4.5 billion in 2006–that’s an increase of 50% since Phillips Van Heusen acquired the company in 2003. It manages such reach thanks to its three labels: Calvin Klein Collection (designer apparel and accessories), ck Calvin Klein, (bridge apparel and accessories) and Calvin Klein (better apparel and accessories). Top looks for spring include slim trousers cut on the bias for men and a high-waisted white skirt suit for women.

  • Shopper Stats

When looking at who actually buys designer brands today, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong come out on top. Almost one-third of survey respondents living in these areas claimed to buy the brand with the iconic interlocking-G logo. Only 7% of North American shoppers polled buy Gucci products.

While designer goods are certainly desirable in emerging markets, North America was the least interested in luxury brands, with 35% of respondents claiming they would not be tempted to buy even if money was not an issue. When quality comes into play, 34% of respondents in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America believe designer goods have the highest quality vs. non-designer; that figure falls to 20% for both Europe and North America.

What would you buy if money were no object? Weigh in. Add your thoughts on our facebook page. “In emerging markets such as Latin America and the Asian Pacific, designer brands are probably more of a proclamation,” says David Boyd, vice president of Nielsen Global Research, “a way to set themselves apart or feel that they’ve arrived as part of the new economy.”

Regional differences also emerge over counterfeit goods peddled at market stalls globally. Over a quarter of North Americans questioned believe that fakes are just as good as the real thing, but in Asia, where most of the fakes are produced, consumers hold them in low regard, with only 8% putting them on par with the genuine article.

“People in Asia can pick out a fake bag like no one I’ve seen,” says Boyd, “But in the U.S., people are less aware and less concerned, because in the U.S. luxury brands are considered more mainstream.”

No. 1: Gucci-A Little History . . .

Guccio Gucci founded the House of Gucci as a saddlery shop in Florence in 1906. A century later, the company’s horse bit and stirrup motif is an enduring symbol of luxury. He started out selling leather bags to horsemen in the 1920s and progressed to luxury luggage as his clients graduated from equine transportation to horseless carriages. Today, with Frida Giannini at the creative helm, handbags with the interlocking double-G logo are among the company’s biggest money makers.

Next week we will be introducing you to a couple in Canada who purchased one of Archival Designs’ luxury house plans and has been keeping a blog on the progress of their home build.  I’ll be sharing their story and blog, and hope you’ll be back here on Monday, April 16th.

Follow the link to view more photos of today’s Archival Designs’ luxury house plan, Chateaubriand, pictured below.

Choose From More Than 400 House Designs and House Plans We offer house designs in a wide range of styles and sizes. Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English Manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and Colonial house plans. Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 13,600 sf. Our Newport Classics house designs are gentrified New England-style cottages that range from 1500 to 5000 square feet. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world. Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer. Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one plan could be just for you!

New-Home Sales Decline 1.6 Percent in February

March 23, 2012 – Sales of newly built, single-family homes slowed 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313,000 units in February, according to data jointly released by HUD and the U.S. Commerce Department today.

“While many builders are seeing more traffic through their model homes as the spring buying season gets underway, tight lending conditions and appraisal issues continue to pose significant obstacles to prospective purchasers,” noted Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. “These hurdles are definitely slowing the momentum of the housing and economic recovery.”

“To some extent, we believe that exceptionally good weather conditions in December helped pull some home sales forward that would otherwise have occurred in January and February, which partially accounts for the declines we’ve seen at the beginning of this year,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “However, the February sales rate is still 11.4 percent above its year-ago level, and the quarterly average sales pace is at a two-year high. Meanwhile, the inventory of new homes for sale remains at an all-time record low, in part because of the lack of available financing for new-home production.”

Crowe also noted that the sales report indicated greater buying activity in the above-$200,000 range in February. This suggests that those who have higher incomes and can more easily qualify for a mortgage are the ones who are moving forward with a home purchase, while first-timers who are looking in the lower price ranges may be having a tougher time getting qualified, he said.

Regionally, new-home sales increased 14.3 percent in the Northeast and 8.0 percent in the West, but declined 2.4 percent in the Midwest and 7.2 percent in the South in February. Meanwhile, the inventory of new homes for sale held unchanged at a record low of 150,000 units in February. This is a 5.8-month supply at the current sales pace.

NAHB Identifies Top Counties for Residential Remodeling

March 22, 2012 – Los Angeles County, Calif., leads the nation in total county remodeling expenditures per year at $8.4 billion, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Meanwhile, regarding remodeling dollars spent per household, Nantucket County, Mass., ranks highest with a yearly average of $8,520.

“Residential remodeling is one of the housing industry’s bright spots, and in some parts of the country this is more true now than ever,” said NAHB Remodelers Chairman George “Geep” Moore Jr., GMB, CAPS, GMR and owner/president of Moore-Built Construction & Restoration Inc. in Elm Grove, La. “The level of remodeling activity varies by region and town, but home owners throughout the country are increasingly choosing to renovate their homes or build additions to meet their changing lifestyles.”

While the average value across all counties nationwide for total remodeling expenditures per year is $66 million, the following is a breakdown of top counties by region:

• West: Los Angeles County, Calif., $8.4 billion
• Midwest: Cook County, Ill., $4 billion
• Northeast: Nassau County, N.Y., $1.9 billion
• South: Miami-Dade County, Fla., $1.7 billion

The average amount spent on remodeling projects per household nationwide is $1,907. The top counties by region for remodeling spending per home are as follows:

• Northeast: Nantucket County, Mass., $8,520
• West: Marin County, Calif., $7,782
• South: Falls Church City, Va., $6,099
• Midwest: Cook County, Ill., $3,466

“Nationally, we’re forecasting a continued increase in the demand for residential repairs and improvements,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Based on our analysis of the remodeling spending numbers, we are able to identify areas of the country where our members can take advantage of this growing opportunity. The county estimates also include useful information on the local conditions that influence remodeling spending—particularly the number, age and value of owner-occupied homes.”

The NAHB model uses data from the American Housing Survey—which is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau—to estimate local remodeling based on home and home owner characteristics. It is then applied to the information on every county’s homes and home owners that the Census Bureau released late last year from its American Community Survey.

A list of the top five counties for remodeling spending and average remodeling spending per home in the Northeast, Midwest, South and West regions is available www.nahb.org/topremodelingcounties. To search all counties, visit www.nahb.org/countydata.

Today’s photos are those of Archival Designs‘ Luxury Award Winning Best Selling House Plan, Sussex House.

Choose From More Than 400 House Designs and House Plans We offer house designs in a wide range of styles and sizes. Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English Manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and Colonial house plans. Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 13,600 sf. Our Newport Classics house designs are gentrified New England-style cottages that range from 1500 to 5000 square feet. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world from Canada to Dubai. Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer.

VASSE FELIX AWARDED

VASSE FELIX AWARDED ‘BEST SHOW WINE’ AT THE MACQUARIE GROUP SYDNEY ROYAL WINE SHOW.

  • THE FINE WINE PARTNERS PERPETUAL TROPHY Best Show Wine Exhibited at Major State Wine Shows within the 12 Months Preceding Judging
  • THE FOUR SEASONS HOTEL SYDNEY PERPETUAL TROPHY Best Premium White Wine, Two Years and Older
  • THE ALBERT CHAN MEMORIAL PRIZE Best White Wine of the Show

The 2010 Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay has been awarded three trophies at the 2012 Macquarie Group Sydney Royal Wine Show last night, including ‘The Fine Wine Partners Perpetual Trophy for Best Show Wine at Major State Wine Shows within the 12 Months Preceding Judging.’

These awards follow a string of show success for the 2010 Heytesbury Chardonnay which began at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show in October 2011, where it was awarded ‘Most Outstanding Red or White Wine of Show.’ The wine has received a total of 11 trophies from 5 shows, to become Vasse Felix’s most consistently awarded wine in the winery’s 45 year history.

Vasse Felix Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock and her team are currently amidst vintage, but took a moment to express their excitement, saying the trophies for the 2010 Heytesbury Chardonnay reflect both an outstanding vintage in Margaret River, and the evolution of this variety at Vasse Felix.

All of the Vasse Felix team are thrilled to have received such amazing accolades for this wine in the State wine shows over the past few months, culminating in ‘The Fine Wine Partners Perpetual Trophy.’ Our region may be relatively young, but every vintage we have focused, and will continue to focus, on discovering and realising the magnificent potential of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc and semillon blends in our home, Margaret River, Willcock said.

At Vasse Felix our approach for chardonnay lies in picking the fruit earlier to achieve lower alcohol and better acidity, then fermenting only with natural yeast from our vineyards and cloudy juice, for a more complex wine. We feel our resulting 2010 Heytesbury Chardonnay speaks for itself of the world-class calibre of this variety in Margaret River and has a bright future ahead.

2010 chardonnays from Margaret River are expressing outstanding finesse, balance and structure.

The 2010 Heytesbury Chardonnay and 2009 Heytesbury (which also won gold at the Show) are Vasse Felix’s flagship wines and are available from 1 May, 2012 throughout the world.

2010 Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay Heytesbury Chardonnay is the flagship white wine of Vasse Felix. It is crafted from a selection of individual barrels from the finest sections and clones of our vineyards. The wine is fermented entirely with wild yeasts and matured in new and 1-2 year old French oak barriques with battonage for nine months. The style has developed significantly over recent years with complex vineyard character coming from less clarified juice and natural yeast.

2009 Vasse Felix Heytesbury Heytesbury is a barrel selection from the very finest sections in our vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Cabernet Sauvignon is dominant and its restrained power is lifted by the distinctly perfumed and structured Petit Verdot and Malbec. The finest Cabernet parcels undergo extended maceration and all batches are matured in carefully selected new and older French oak barriques for 18 months.

Summary of Trophies for the 2010 Heytesbury Chardonnay

2012 Macquarie Group Sydney Royal Wine Show

  • The Fine Wine Partners Perpetual Trophy for Best Show Wine Exhibited at Major State Wine Shows within the 12 Months Preceding Judging
  • The Four Seasons Hotel Sydney Perpetual Trophy for Best Premium White Wine, Two Years and Older
  • The Albert Chan Memorial Prize for Best White Wine of the Show

2011 Dan Murphy’s National Wine Show of Australia

  • The Oakton Trophy for the Best Chardonnay
  • The Dan Murphy’s Trophy for Best Dry White Wine

2011 Royal Adelaide Wine Show

  • Most Outstanding Red or White Wine in Show
  • Best White Wine in Show
  • Best Chardonnay in Show

2011 Royal Melbourne Wine Show

  • The Francois De Castella Trophy for the Best Young White Wine 2011 Margaret River Wine Show
  • Best Chardonnay
  • Best White Wine of Show

Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock Winemaking at Vasse Felix has been led by Chief Winemaker Virginia Willcock since October 2006. Willcock has over two decades experience of Margaret River vintages and her passion, philosophy and experience has been the key driver of the winery’s refined focus.

Choose From More Than 400 House Designs and House Plans We offer house designs in a wide range of styles and sizes. Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English Manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and Colonial house plans. Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 13,600 sf. Our Newport Classics house designs are gentrified New England-style cottages that range from 1500 to 5000 square feet. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world. Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer.

What’s Behind Toronto’s Luxury Hotel Boom

While hotel development slumps in some parts of the globe, one cosmopolitan location is set to add a slew of luxury lodgings in 2012: Canada’s financial capital, Toronto. Long a favorite location for film crews and financial institutions, Canada’s largest city has five new luxury hotels by brands such as Four Seasons, Shangri-La and Ritz-Carlton to add to its roster of full-service offerings. What’s behind the recent building boom? A lack of upscale rooms for a city of Toronto’s size and its importance in the business world.

The Shangri-La Toronto. Photo courtesy Shangri-La International Hotel Management Ltd.

“Toronto used to be a cross-border destination—there was more drive traffic, and now visitors are predominantly arriving by air,” says Andrew Weir, vice president of communications for Toronto Tourism. “This gives a sense of demand for sophisticated urban travelers, and it’s important that you have a hotel product that can supply the demand.”

Answering that need is the just-opened Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto, which claims the title of the country’s tallest residential building at 65 stories and with room sizes (of at least 550 square feet) that rival the area of most downtown apartments. The hotel’s 31st-floor, 12,000 square foot Quartz Crystal Spa and its salt-water infinity lap pool offer the city’s most incredible views; a fine-dining restaurant, Stock, is set to open this spring and offer the same million-dollar vistas.

Also opening is the new location for Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, which moves from its current location this summer to a freshly constructed 55-story tower in Toronto’s trendy Yorkville neighborhood. With Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts headquartered in the city, the sleek, contemporary structure, with a signature restaurant by star chef Daniel Boulud, is set to be the new flagship for the international brand.

Inside the new Toronto hotel by Trump. Photo courtesy Trump International Hotel & Tower.

Later this summer, the second Canadian outpost for China-based Shangri-La Hotels opens in another newly constructed downtown tower, bringing the brand’s formal, traditional service and 153 oversized guest rooms and 49 suites to Toronto. A restaurant by celebrity chef David Chang (of New York City’s Momofuku) is rumored to be in the works.

These properties join the building boom front-runner, the Four-Star Ritz-Carlton, Toronto, which opened in February 2011 in a newly constructed tower in downtown Toronto. With its 326 oversized rooms and Four-Star spa, the hotel was a favorite for celebs visiting the Toronto International Film Festival in September (George Clooney was spied holding court in the hotel’s Deq lounge).

Toronto’s new Ritz-Carlton. Photo courtesy The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

The one common denominator among all of these hotels—aside from their luxury status—is the inclusion of residences within each building, where owners have full access to the dining, amenities and services of their upscale hotel counterparts, with penthouses in some of the buildings carrying asking prices of up to $30 million. A companion boom in new tourist attractions in the city adds another reason for investors to snap up real estate in Toronto’s downtown.

“There is a significant investment in cultural development in Toronto,” says Weir. “We have a new opera house, a new aquarium coming next summer, and the TIFF [Toronto International Film Festival] has a new permanent home, dedicated entirely to film. All these things speak to the changing demand in our tourists, and we’re seeing a development cycle now speaking to that demand.”

Choose From More Than 400 House Designs and House Plans We offer house designs in a wide range of styles and sizes. Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English Manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and Colonial house plans. Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 13,600 sf. Our Newport Classics house designs are gentrified New England-style cottages that range from 1500 to 5000 square feet. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world. Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer.