Luxury Lingo

Searching for luxury homes can require its own set of language, but a highly qualified Austin REALTOR® with extensive knowledge of the area housing market and the types of luxury homes available can help make the process easier.This list of luxury home terms consists of some of the words you may come across when conducting your home search.

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Definitions of Common Luxury Homes Features

  • Al Fresco Dining – Outdoor dining. In the context of luxury homes, this often means dining on an open-air veranda, courtyard, terrace, or balcony. With Austin luxury homes, this may also include dining alongside Lakes Austin and Travis or while enjoying hill country views.
  • Alcove – An architectural term for a recess in a room, usually screened off by pillars, balustrades, or drapery
  • Appliance Garage – Kitchen compartment or cabinet designed for housing frequently-used small electric appliances, such as coffee makers, juicers, and toaster ovens.
  • Backsplash – An upright surface or border in a kitchen, typically made of natural stone tile, that protects the wall behind a sink or stove. Also can be intricately designed in a mural-style.
  • Balustrada – A rail and the row of balusters or posts that support it, as along the front of a gallery
  • Bar Sink – A small sink located on a wet bar
  • Baseboards – A molding that conceals the joint between an interior wall and the floor, often increasing in size in luxury homes
  • Beveled Glass – Plate glass that has its perimeter ground and polished at an angle
  • Beverage Centers – Once tied down to a solitary refrigerator in the kitchen, beverage centers now make appearances all over the house: gamerooms, master bedrooms, family rooms. With espresso machines, wine chillers, and mini-refrigerators all a short walk away, drinking a beverage has never been so luxurious.
  • Boat Dock – A structure designed to secure a boat in the water. In Austin, this would be securing a boat in Lake Austin or Lake Travis. Some homes on the lakes may offer a boat dock for one boat, or up to several slips for multiple boats.
  • Boat Lift – A structure designed to secure a boat above water, for protection from corrosion and from winds or waves knocking it against its dock. An electric lift allows for quick lifting and lowering into the water for ease of use.
  • Brick Oven – A masonry oven, colloquially known as a brick oven or stone oven, is an oven consisting of a baking chamber made of fireproof brick and is most often used in homes to make pizza
  • Butler’s Pantry – Historically, a butler’s pantry was a small room between the formal dining room and the kitchen where the family silver and formal china were stored. The butler often slept here, as it was his job to guard the silver. Today, the space has evolved into a wet bar and prep area, as well as a display area for design elements and decorative items.
  • Cabana – A lightweight shelter typically with an open side facing a swimming pool, sometimes with a wet bar or small living space
  • Cantilever -A projecting structure, such as a beam, that is supported at one end and carries a load at the other end or along its length
  • Carriage House -Historically a building for housing a horse-drawn carriage, now typically a building that has been converted into a separate living or dwelling area or garage.
  • Catering Kitchen – Hosting large events on a regular basis requires ample space for food preparation and servers away from the eyesight of guests, yet still close to the action of the party. Catering kitchens provide that amenity for those elegant hosts who know how to throw the best parties.
  • Ceiling Mount Rain Head – A large shower head mounted to a ceiling with a downward-facing flow
  • Chalet – A wooden dwelling with a sloping roof and widely overhanging eaves, common in Switzerland and other Alpine regions
  • Circular Driveway – A driveway forming a large circle in front of a house
  • Classic – The artistic style of ancient Greece with an emphasis on proportion and harmony
  • Closets – What is luxury about closets? How about a two-story closet or his and hers closets with hundreds of square feet for each? Floor to ceiling mirrors, dressing areas, laundry facilities, staircases to less-utilized items, a built-in coffee bar, shoe boxes for hundreds of pairs … you name it, luxury closets are in an entirely different category from run-of-the-mill closet space.
  • Cobblestone Walkway – A sidewalk or path made up of round, flat stones held together with mortar
  • Coffee Bar – An alcove in a kitchen or living room with a coffee pot, a small sink, and storage for coffee utensils
  • Coffered Ceiling – A sunken panel in the shape of a square, rectangle, or octagon in a ceiling
  • Commercial Range – An oven adequate for use in a restaurant or other commercial facility
  • Concealed Hinges – A hinge that is attached to the door and the inside end panel or stile of a cabinet, making it invisible from the exterior
  • Contemporary – A design that features streamlined shapes, large unadorned windows, and industrial materials
  • Convection Oven – An oven having a fan that shortens cooking time by circulating hot air uniformly around the food
  • Country – A style typified by rural details, including a handmade quality with traditional, homestead architectural assets
  • Crown Mo(u)lding – A molding used on cornice or wherever an interior angle is to be covered, especially at the roof and wall corner.
  • Dental molding – A type of molding with a repeated, symmetrical pattern characterized by a flat rectangle shape similar to that of teeth
  • Double Oven -Two ovens available for baking and warming simultaneously
  • Double Pane Windows – Windows with two panes of glass to insure better insulation
  • Down Lighting – Lighting with adjustable brightness
  • Dual Climate Control – A thermostat with the ability to set different temperatures in different areas of the home, particularly helpful in large or multi-level homes
  • Dumbwaiter – A small elevator used to convey food (or other goods) from one floor of a building to another
  • Egg-and-dart molding – A type of molding with a repeated, symmetrical pattern characterized by an egg or rounded shape followed a dart or straight shape
  • Electronic Showers – What’s your ideal temperature setting? Programmable showers allow you to set temperatures, spray patterns, and more.
  • Energy Star – An international standard for energy efficient consumer products originated in the United States of America
  • En suite – Used to describe a bedroom that has a directly adjoining bathroom or is connected to a bathroom, or vice versa – a bathroom that is directly adjoined to a bedroom or connected to a bedroom
  • Ergonomic Hand Spray Faucet – A faucet designed to provide optimum comfort and to avoid stress or injury
  • Farm Sink – Single, large rectangular bowl with exposed apron front, popular for cottage-style and country-style kitchen designs
  • Fire Pit – A large space for building fires in outdoor living areas, typically an iron bowl or in-ground
  • Flagstone – Flat slap stone patio or walkway
  • Foyer – An entrance hall or other open area in a home, often considered a showpiece of the home, as it is in public view from the front door. Luxury homes often feature elaborate or well-appointed foyers. Public or semi-public rooms, such as the living room, dining room, or family room, typically attach to a home’s foyer.
  • Frameless Glass Doors -Glass doors, in a shower or in a room overlooking a view, that do not have a visible frame.
  • French Cottage Style – Inspired by the manors of Provence, this style marries rustic, country style with French elements like pitched roofs and gables.
  • French Doors – A set of double doors with glass panes throughout its length, designed to provide a broader view or increased ventilation
  • Frescoes – A painting done rapidly in watercolor on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling; can refer to any painting on a wall in a home
  • Full Extension Drawers – Drawers that pull completely out for full visibility
  • Gas Fireplace – A fireplace utilizing gas that does not require fuel such as wood to burn
  • Gatehouse – A lodge or small structure at the entrance to the driveway of an estate
  • Granite – A sturdy stone most often used in countertops
  • Guesthouses or casitas are more common than ever with luxury homebuyers. Whether it’s for the in-laws, older kids, or company, providing an extra space of privacy is an in-demand feature.
  • Hangar – A storage, typically for a plane or helicopter
  • Heated Floors – Floors heated by radiant heat surfaces beneath the tiles, stone, or wood
  • Heated Towel Rack – An electric towel rack that can be turned on to heat the towels hanging from them
  • Helipad – A landing pad for a helicopter, a hard surface away from potential obstacles so that a helicopter may land safely
  • Herringbone – A V-shaped pattern formed with rectangles and named for its resemblance to fish scales. Often found in flooring and fabrics.
  • High Efficiency – A description for appliances that are energy efficient and/or water efficient
  • High Style Faucet – A faucet with a gooseneck or set high on the wall to accommodate filling large vessels
  • Home Gym – An indoor room with cardio fitness equipment, weight machines, free weights, and any type of exercise equipment preferred by a home owner. Often includes technological features, such as television or wi-fi, for leisure or work.
  • Home Office – Take the home office up a notch by making it an office for two, adding a second level, adding a conference area or waiting area, or making space for secondary employees.
  • In-law Plan – A separate apartment or living quarters inside of a house, so named for its suitability for a mother-in-law who may come to live in the house
  • Indoor Sport Court – Play some hoops, work on your raquetball serve, or even play virtual golf in a contained environment usable all year, in all weather.
  • Induction Cooktop – Using copper wire and magnetic fields are quicker to heat, energy efficient, and best of all – only hot where the pan is, meaning no burning of fingertips or kitchen tools. And, even better? Today’s best models also come with touch screen areas for checking recipes, the weather, or even your favorite online sites.
  • Infrared sauna – Utilizes infrared heaters to emit infrared radiant heat, which is absorbed directly into the human body. Infrared saunas penetrate more deeply than traditional saunas.
  • Infinity pool – A swimming pool whose positioning gives the impression that it merges into the surrounding landscape. Often overlooking a body of water, such as a river or bay, or on a hillside or cliff.
  • Invisible Appliances – Appliances, such as a refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, or washer and dryer, with exteriors disguised to match the cabinetry, the idea being that it feels more welcoming.
  • Ipe – Ipe is one of the strongest woods in the world and is a durable, all natural, and chemical free option for decking, flooring, and home exteriors.
  • Island Cooktop – A kitchen island with a stovetop feature, designed so the stove is centrally located to food prep areas. Also frees up more cabinet and counter space around the kitchen.
  • Jetted Tub – Also called a Jacuzzi or hot tub, a jetted tub has air jets positioned around the basin
  • Koi Pond – A small pond with Japanese goldfish and lilypads. Or, how about a swan pond?
  • Landing – A platform between flights of stairs or at the termination of a flight of stairs. Often used when stairs change direction
  • Log Fireplace – A traditional wood-burning fireplace
  • Library – Let’s retire to the library, shall we? High-end wood paneling, second levels reached by winding staircases or movable ladders, an alcohol or coffee bar, chandeliers, and extra luxurious furniture for lounging transform a home library into a luxury home library.
  • Meditation Gardens – Meditation gardens are designed as peaceful spaces for meditation, yoga, and quiet time and may include labyrinths, water features, and mandala or Zen-inspired designs.
  • Meditation and Massage Rooms – Home is a sanctuary, and rooms dedicated to that purpose are more and more common, whether for a weekly massage appointment, daily meditation, or other peaceful activities.
  • Mediterranean – A style mimicking Greek and Spanish architecture found around the Mediterranean Sea
  • Moats – Yes, moats are making a comeback. Not just for castles, moats do provide a level of privacy unrivaled by a simple hedge of bushes or a small fence. While today’s moats are more beautiful – think streams flowing over well-crated rock features – their function works just the same.
  • Modern – Developed or advanced style, technique, or technology, typically with sleek, clean lines
  • Multi-Spray Shower – Also known as a spa shower, features water jets on the side walls in addition to overhead
  • Outdoor kitchen – A kitchen, typically featuring a grill and sink, found in an outdoor living space
  • Parquet – Derived from a French term, parquet flooring is a type of wood flooring that utilizes mosaic-shaped pieces to create a decorative effect
  • Pedestal Sink – A bathroom sink that sits on a column;the column is designed to hide the plumbing of the drain
  • Pedestal Tub – A tub sitting on a base instead of feet
  • Pied-à-terre – a part-time or temporary secondary living space generally in a separate city from the primary residence; often used for part of the year or part of each week for work purposes.
  • Pivot Doors – A shower door that rotates on two metal pivots on the top and bottom of the door
  • Platform Tub – A tub that is sunk into an exterior platform that typically matches the cabinetry
  • Playscape – A designed and integrated set of playground equipment
  • Porte-cochère – “Coach gate” or “carriage porch,” the architectural term for a porch- or portico-like structure at a building’s entrance through which a vehicle can pass in order for the occupants to alight under cover, protected from the weather
  • Portico – A structure consisting of a roof supported by columns at regular intervals, typically attached as a porch to a building
  • Pot Filler – A secondary sink in a kitchen with a faucet placed high on a wall to make filling large pots easy, typically found close to the cooktop
  • Putting Green – Often designed to match famous courses, putting greens with several holes are popular among golfers with luxury homes.
  • Radiant Heat Flooring – A floor that radiates heat from beneath the tiles
  • Recessed Lighting – Lighting that is sunk into the ceiling, for example, can lights
  • Recessed Medicine Cabinet – A medicine cabinet that is sunk into the wall so the door is flush with the wall
  • Resort-style – A property with all the amenities of a resort, which may include a pool, tennis courts, and waterfront access
  • Safe Rooms – For your “stuff” and for you, safe rooms are designed to provide safety for a limited amount of time, until help arrives or danger passes. With secure electronics and phone lines, leakproof air systems, gun safes, and short term food supplies, the security options are endless.
  • Saline pool – A swimming pool with salt water that does not require chemicals for sanitation
  • Septic System – A small scale sewage treatment system common in areas with no connection to main sewer lines
  • Smart Home Technology – Modern luxury homes will offer convenience through the use of technology. Adjust the thermstat, turn on/off the lights, adjust the blinds, lock the doors, and set the alarm – all from a smartphone.
  • Solarium – Intended to allow for additional sunlight and warmth, solariums are attached rooms constructed mainly of glass walls, glass roofs, and curved glass corners.
  • Southwest – A style that mimics homes found in the U.S. Southwest region
  • Steam Shower – A steam shower is a small cabin or enclosure designed to contain heated water vapor that has been created using a humidifying steam generator
  • Strip Lighting – Lighting arranged on a linear strip on the ceiling
  • Structured Wiring – Refers to various types of wiring installed in a home for audio, video, telephone, and data
  • Sub-Zero – Sub-Zero brand refrigerators, freezers, and wine storage are designed with advanced technologies and are popular in luxury homes due to their sealed systems, advanced temperature controls, and humidity systems
  • Sunken Tub – A bath tub that is flush with the floor rather and must be descended into rather than sitting on a pedestal or feet
  • Surround Sound – A system of stereophonic sound involving three or more speakers surrounding the listener so as to create a more realistic effect, often installed throughout rooms with televisions or theatre screens
  • Tankless Water Heater – A hot water heater that does not store water but instead heats it instantly as it is used
  • Terrace – A level paved area or platform next to a building, also known as a patio or veranda
  • Theatre Room – A room suitable for viewing films without light interruptions, usually by being built in a basement, a windowless room, or a room decorated with heavy, light blocking drapes. Can be quite elaborate in luxury homes, with theatre-style draperies, top-of-the-line acoustic systems, refreshment bars, etc.
  • Topiary – the art of clipping trees or shrubs into ornamental shapes
  • Traditional – A style that is simple in structure but often has ornate details
  • Trim – Additional decoration, typically along the edges of something and in contrasting color or material
  • Tuscan – A style mimicking Italian country villas, typically with stucco walls and tile roofs
  • Utility Sink – Deep fixed basin, supplied with hot and cold water, which is used for rinsing off mops and disposal of cleaning water
  • Vanity – A wide, counter-like shelf containing a wash basin
  • Vapor Proof Hi Hat – Helps disperse water vapor to keep humidity low; especially important in a bathroom with electronic equipment, such as a stereo or television
  • Vaulted Ceiling – An architectural term for an arched form used to provide a space with a ceiling or roof
  • Venetian Plaster – Plaster mixed with marble dust that is applied to wall and ceiling finishes in a variety of tints. Can create the look of marble on surfaces where marble panels cannot be installed easily, such as on columns.
  • Veranda – A roofed porch or balcony alongside a house or building that is often partially enclosed, such as with a railing. In some cases, a veranda will lead into a courtyard.
  • Vessel Sink – A sink set on top of a cabinet resembling a bowl
  • Wainscoting – A facing or paneling, usually of wood, applied to the walls of a room
  • Water Feature – A general term that can mean a lily pond, a fountain, or any decorative outdoor feature that includes water
  • Waterfront – Referring to property residing alongside a body of water
  • Wine Cellar – A dark cool cellar, where wine is stored. Sometimes the wine cellar option is changed into a wine room or closet or a wine wall for a more public display.
  • Wine Chiller – A small cooler resembling a mini-refrigerator where wine can be stored in a kitchen
  • Xeriscape – A style of landscape design requiring little or no irrigation or other maintenance, used in arid regions

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