This article was originally published on sothebysrealty.com

Article By | Iyna Bort Caruso

The kitchen may be the heart of the home, but outdoor space is the lung, the place to breathe. Life on the front porch is making a comeback, design in the backyard is breaking the rules. Homeowners are cozying up under pergolas and out on balconies overlooking skylines. This is life without walls.

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home,” wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder. A 16th-century villa in Florence, Italy, embodies the point of view. The eight-bedroom estate is set on ancient hills and counts members of the powerful House of Medici among its former owners. This perfectly preserved residence, a rarity on the property market, features a swimming pool and tennis courts on more than 45 acres of private gardens, parklands, and olive groves. A loggia serves as a kind of jardin d’hiver, or winter garden. It is protected from rough winter winds and extreme summer heat, making it welcoming year-round. Diletta Giorgolo of Italy Sotheby’s International Realty calls it the “most amazing” spot on the estate. “It faces south so you see the sun all day long.” The reaction of visitors to the historic property is one of astonishment, says Giorgolo. “It is almost impossible to find such a vast park in the city.”

Sumptuous outdoor space has skyrocketed to the top of homeowners’ priority lists, where it’s seen as having tremendous value, both as a financial investment and an investment in one’s well-being. Studies show that time spent outdoors has a restorative impact. Even in dense urban areas, microspaces are emerging anywhere there’s some available square footage.

It’s not just about what kind of outdoor space, but how many spaces: entertaining, fitness, pools, mediation, kitchens, outdoor movie theaters, outdoor offices, each as thoughtfully planned as any room inside the home.

The most successful landscape projects are based on context, architecture, and lifestyle, says Mike Albert, principal and landscape architect at Aspen, Colo.-based Design Workshop, a global landscape architecture and land planning firm. His approach is always a holistic one, one that strengthens the ties to the home’s architecture and elevates the experience of the homeowner. “The natural environment is paramount. We spend a great deal of time on site to understand the obvious and subtle factors that would become the drivers of an extraordinary design,” he says. For Albert and his team, that means observing the property at different times of the day and, sometimes, throughout the seasons to determine the best ways of “celebrating what’s there.”

Celebrating what’s there has not always been the preference of homeowners. “Historically it would be common for a client to come in and want to bring a different aesthetic, a little bit of where they come from,” Albert says. “Now they have a much deeper appreciation for the native landscapes.” It’s less about imposing upon and more about restoring the landscape. By reinforcing a sense of place, homeowners are taking on the role of stewardship.

“More than ever, people want to connect with the outdoors physically and visually. It gives them a sense of rejuvenation,” Albert says. “Residential landscapes possess the ability to deepen one’s connection to the land, and that can be a very rewarding feeling to have right now.”

Rancho Santa Fe
California

Private, luxurious, and unlike any other residence in the region, this phenomenal warm-contemporary architectural masterpiece successfully blends the ambiance of a fine modern art gallery with the intimate atmosphere of a genuinely welcoming home. The custom estate occupies a prime hilltop setting at the end of a cul-de-sac in Rancho Santa Fe’s exclusive, guard-gated Fairbanks Ranch and features five bedrooms, five full and five half bathrooms, a casita, a game room, an office/library, a fitness center, a futuristic kitchen, a 14-seat theater, arcade/wine cellar, and an indoor pool. Terraced grounds in concert with a vanishing-edge pool and spa capture magnificent dawn-to-dusk views where seamless grand-scale indoor/outdoor entertaining is enjoyed year-round.

 

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$12,700,000 | Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty | K. Ann Brizolis 858-756-4328 and Jennifer Janzen-Botts 760-845-3303 | Go to property

New York
New York

This “journey into bespoke craftsmanship” from the master design studios of Matthew Hoey and Soren Rose encompasses the entire top floor and rooftop of the 240 Park Avenue South condominium. A team of master craftsmen, designers, and artisans were chosen to design, curate, mill, forge, and build this breathtaking home over a six-year period. The duplex penthouse boasts the most stunning private pool in Manhattan, 30-feet long with infinity glass wall and constructed of custom blue Mosaic Bisazza Tile. The panoramic northern view to the Empire State and Chrysler buildings is as spectacular during the day as it is during sunset and all night.

 

$30,000,000 | Sotheby’s International Realty – East Side Manhattan Brokerage | Nikki Field and Benjamin Pofcher 212-606-7669 | Go to property

 

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Key Largo
Florida

A stunning new oceanfront estate in the exclusive Sunrise Cay neighborhood of the Ocean Reef Club. Exquisitely designed by award-winning Affiniti Architects and constructed by luxury home builder Tri-Tech Construction. The estate boasts six bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, two additional half bathrooms, an office, a media room, and a club room. Extensive outdoor living includes an infinity pool and spa, a summer kitchen, a bar, an outdoor shower, a cabana bath, and firepit offering magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean. Living is easy in the fully automated smart house. Entrance is via a private courtyard that offers a two-car garage and a four-cart garage. Other features include an elevator, a generator, a scullery, and two new dock slips in the Sunrise Cay Marina.

 

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$19,975,000 | Sotheby’s International Realty – Ocean Reef Club Brokerage | Rick Haney, Denise Haney 305-367-8972 | Go to property

Lafayette
California

A residential and recreational mecca, this multi-parcel compound outside of San Francisco is a complete resort getaway. The signature estate has an astonishing 22,451 square feet of living space on 6.88 acres. The “Recreation Villa” is a standalone 8,064-square-foot custom contemporary with a villa feel tailored for high-end entertaining. With vanishing NanaWalls and poolside lounges, this entertainer’s dream boasts a lavish pool complex with waterfalls, two spas, a romantic grotto with rooftop firepit, and a lanai lounge. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy tennis, basketball, bocce, a batting cage, a putting green, and a deluxe gym. The sprawling orchard lot includes a cottage, creekside trails, and extensive lawns.

 

$25,000,000 | Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty | Anton Danilovich 925-818-5749 and Herman Chan 415-787-3450 | Go to property

 

 

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Florence
Tuscany

This majestic 16th-century villa, with classic and elegant lines, is nestled in lush woods on the hills around Florence. Still perfectly preserved, this beautiful villa was ordered by the Pazzi family, from which it was seized after the conspiracy against Lorenzo and Giuliano de Medici. The main residence covers an interior area of 1,500 square meters that spreads onto three floors with attics, lodges, and mezzanines, and currently has five bedrooms and seven bathrooms. It offers inviting salons with scenic stone fireplaces, antique terracotta floors, and coffered ceilings. This fabulous estate, whose grounds cover approximately 19 hectares, also features a 120-square- meter “Limonaia” (lemon house) caretaker’s apartment, a swimming pool, a tennis court, and a private chapel.

 

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Price Upon Request | Italy Sotheby’s International Realty | Sara Castriota Scanderbeg +39 055 0751888 | Go to property

Westport
Connecticut

This private compound, professionally manicured grounds, on 2.65 acres in Westport is a dream come true. Accessed by beautiful iron gates, a winding drive, and room for a pool! There are four or five bedrooms, one with en-suite bath. The fifth bedroom is a possible primary bedroom/guest suite with a full bath located in its own wing of the home. Also featured is a state-of-the-art chef’s kitchen, a private gym, and gracious yet comfortable entertaining spaces. An expansive lower level has barrel-vaulted ceilings with temperature-controlled wine cellar/room and a potential indoor golf simulator or spa space. The kitchen floor and master bath are radiantly heated. And outside? Paradise! Features include a 54-yard golf tee box and Par 3 green, waterfall wall, and majestic stone archway leading down to the Saugatuck River. After a long day, spend a casual evening in the modernist glass house/lounge with a wood-burning fireplace. Whether relaxing, entertaining on a large or intimate scale, or simply putting on your green, this spectacular property has it all—exquisitely designed, solidly built and meticulously maintained. Private, scheduled showings available.

 

$2,550,000 | William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty | LM Homes 917-903-6275

 

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Dorado Beach
Puerto Rico

Sited on the coveted Dorado Beach Drive, no expense has been spared in this custom-designed oceanfront East Beach mansion at the Ritz Carlton Reserve. Distinctly original, this newly built nine-bedroom, 12-bathroom warmly modern property boasts two acres of prime beach views rivaling the amenities of the world class resort brand it sits gated within. The five-bedroom, seven-bathroom 10,538-square-foot main house is complemented by a three-bedroom, four-bathroom 2,750-square-foot guest house with separate maids bedroom suite. The main garage houses four cars inside, with another four-car parking exterior, as well as the guesthouse’s two-car garage.

 

 

Price Upon Request | Puerto Rico Sotheby’s International Realty | Oriana Juvelier 787-523-6503

Dolores
Colorado

Slippery Rock River Ranch, a luxurious Dolores River mountain getaway near Telluride, Colo. Every single aspect of this 36-plus acre property has been meticulously rebuilt and restored to a level unlike any other fishing compound you have ever seen. Multiple indoor/outdoor living spaces include three distinctive bunkhouses, two riverside glamping tents, and a main lodge with a gourmet kitchen, a dining room, a game room, and a dedicated yoga studio/workout room. The property also includes a barn with a separate apartment and fly-tying room. Home to world-class fly-fishing on a private 1,100-plus foot stretch of the river, with scenic hiking, mountain biking, and skiing nearby. A private pond and beach can also be found on site. This multi-generational property allows for the opportunity to create a true legacy.

 

$6,200,000 | LIV Sotheby’s International Realty | Teddy Errico +1 970.708.5959 | Go to property

 

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Playa del Carmen
Quintana Roo, Mexico

This majestic beachfront villa is an authentic representation of a Mexican Caribbean-style property, harmoniously combining nature and luxury in a privileged location. The house was designed by the renowned architect Miguel Quintana Pali, built with wide walls, open spaces, and materials of the best quality and high durability—ideal for the area. The architectural project was created to enjoy the climate and nature, with open spaces, which facilitate enjoying the beauty of the location without compromising the privacy of those who inhabit it.

 

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$10,500,000 | Riviera Maya Sotheby’s International Realty | Rosa Calderón +52 984 803 3036 | Go to property