Updated: Oct 31, 2022
By Kate Gawi
The word “mega”, what does it mean? In dictionaries, mega refers to “something of excellence, large, of the highest level of rank and greatly surpassing others of its kind”. During the Depp vs Heard trials, we learned that wine could be consumed from mega pints. In the world of the rich and famous, mega mansions are where they live.
Social media is inundated with accounts hash tagged mega mansion; the real estate shows of LA equally so. Australia with its fabulous coast lines and leafy suburbs, has seen an increasing number of high-net-worth individuals, who seek both privacy and luxury and as a result, an emerging number of large homes with no expenses spared are taking their place on the housing scenes of Melbourne and Sydney.
When 2020 brought the lockdowns and isolation requirements to Australia, the need of homes that would include more than the ordinary comforts, increased.
In the past, a media room and a wine cellar used to be luxuries, today our clients are wanting flight simulators, safe rooms, and indoor sports facilities. State of the art garages with car turntables have replaced the rotating watch stand. We are talking space, we are talking big, and we are most definitely talking expensive.
Lately, we at Architeria Architects have been designing more so-called mega mansions than ever. We have seen more acreage properties being developed than ever and the square meter per house is indeed increasing.
To get a perspective on this outside the world of architecture and interior design, I chatted with Australia’s top real estate agent and dynamo, Zed Nasheet, founder of Zed Real Estate. Zed is a force to be reckoned with and has over the years been breaking records selling luxury homes in Melbourne.
Zed believes that despite interest rate hikes and a market that is currently correcting itself that the luxury home market will hold itself. “You just have to look at the land value and the build cost”, he says. According to Zed, established homes will not be affected negatively as the build cost has been going up significantly with rising timber and steel cost to mention a few. The luxury real estate market will not drop as the typical 4 million dollar plus buyer will have a different mindset. The typical buyer of luxury properties is a business owner. They are market leaders, entrepreneurs, people who make their passion a pay check, he says.
After further chatting with Zed, we quickly established that clients and buyers of luxury real estate are looking for quality. My take on it as an interior designer is a given. Great homes are built with great care and great quality. For a real estate agent, it comes down to educating the buyer, to highlight the herringbone floors, the curved marble bench top, and the built-in high-tech sound systems. Zed compares adding quality fixtures and finishes to a house with the experience of buying a Mercedes. “When you go to buy a Mercedes, it has a staring price, however after test driving it and feeling the seat warmer, the 21-inch wheels and so on, the driveaway price increases as you add more luxuries to it.”
While the media can, to some extent, be held responsible for highlighting bad news such as a descending market or increasing interest rates, the other side of it is that it can also promote high-end living. Particularly through TV shows such as Million Dollar Listing and other property shows and reality shows, we do live in a world where we are exposed to the taste of luxury. What is it that adds to a house value though?
Seeing the true value of a house through the eyes of an architect is to look where your client points you to look. What is personally important and valuable for one client differs from the next, however, adding value to a property in general comes down to more than just square meters. While a bank valuation will come back as a more conservative figure compared to asking or selling price as it is mainly based on factors such as location, square meters and number of rooms, a selling price will depend not only on an emotional attachment to the property but on the added value that architects, and designers give it.
The quality of the finishes, both externally as well as internally is never overrated. A space with lot of daylight, high ceilings and carefully selected colour schemes, a timeless design that radiates “quality” are all things that add top dollars. A thoroughly landscaped garden will please the pickiest of buyers, the feel and the vibe of the outdoor areas are immensely important, particularly in Australia where entertaining often takes place outdoors. When we scan a space, do we know what it is that makes it so appealing? Ask us how many hours it takes to put together each detail, moulding, architrave, designer tap and niches when designing the interior. The hidden value in the hours of thinking, creating, perfecting a symmetrical and easy flowing living space will add to an often overlooked value. Yes, there is a price tag to architectural services, but the returns can be so much greater.
There could be a fine line between big and tacky, between bling and classy. Opulence does not necessarily mean glitter and gold. Mega-mansions do not have to be overpowering and proportion must be managed and maintained. As many of our high-profile clients are looking for privacy, that is also considered when designing. We find that many of the affluent, inner-city suburbs no longer meet the requirements of privacy and space and so we have seen outer suburbs with acreage fetching high prices and these parcels of land serving as blank canvases for creating beautiful architecture. Some of the estates that we have designed lately are classic and utmost care has been taken in preserving the classical principles in architecture and still incorporating modern day needs.
We have seen that the farmhouse style mansions have been increasing in popularity as well as the Hamptons style homes. Australia has in general been adapting to a bigger design variety than in the past. Designing around the lifestyle of our clients comes first. Whether catching the beach views of the seafront properties "Zold" by Zed or revealing your home driving through the alley with established oak trees, Mel and Kate Gawi from Architeria Architects have made it their world to follow their passion- to create lifestyle properties. They develop their own projects, from designing Melbourne’s most sought-after homes to building them.
Being the preferred architects and designers for large homes in Melbourne and Sydney, they live and breath properties and architecture, a couple truly passionate about what they do. In the hands of dedicated professionals who not only love what they do, but live what they do, such as Zed Nasheet and the Gawi’s, the property journey from buying that site, seeing the dream and then, living the dream, is not only a safe one but a joyful one. Mega-fun and mega-joyful.
Creative Director & Co-Founder