Here’s How to Tap Into Your Home’s Not-So-Hidden Potential

Your most valuable asset is around you all the time. It’s above you, it’s below you and in many cases you don’t realize how much it can do for you.

According to the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., “Americans have a staggering amount of untapped equity in their homes.” How much? Altogether, $11,030,000,000,000. That’s 11 trillion, 30 billion dollars.

Yet despite this huge wealth possessed by homeowners, using it isn’t as simple as writing a check. You have to capitalize on your home’s equity.

What Is Home Equity?

Your home’s equity represents the difference between its current market value and the money that you owe on it.

Let’s say, for example, your home has a market value of $200,000, you made a down payment of $40,000 and you took out a $160,000 mortgage. At that point your equity is $40,000. You can always calculate this number by taking your home’s initial price and subtracting the amount you still owe.

Now, let’s say 10 years later you have paid off $60,000 of your $160,000 mortgage. At this point you still owe $100,000 on your home’s initial price of $200,000 so your equity is $100,000, assuming the home’s value has remained the same.

A little at a time

Each month when you make a mortgage payment, some of your money goes toward interest, some goes toward real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance (if the lender is collecting for these and making the payments on your behalf), and some goes toward paying off the mortgage itself. This last portion grows your equity because it subtracts from the amount you still owe.

Your home equity can also grow if your home increases in value because the amount you still owe has not changed. A rise in value may be due to increased home prices in your area and/or improvements you make to the home.

Market home prices may rise and fall from one year to the next but given enough time, most real estate tends to increase in value. For example, current economic forecasts from CoreLogic project a 4.8 percent increase in home prices year over year in 2017.

Gaining access to your equity

Now that you understand what equity is and how much equity you have, your next question may be “How do I use it?”

Your first step is to contact a knowledgeable mortgage professional. They will be able to answer your questions as well as show you loans that use your home as collateral. You’ll want to do your research to determine which type of loan is best for you. You should also take the time to compare interest rates, offers and loan features.

And if you are age 62 or older, you are also eligible for additional home equity options such as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), which is an FHA-insured Reverse Mortgage loan. This loan may be taken as a lump sum, a line of credit, through fixed monthly payments or a combination and the loan can never be frozen or reduced.

The equity in your home empowers you with several financing options and the specifics of each loan may vary from lender to lender, so ask questions and do your own research. Once you understand all your options you’ll be able to determine which loan offering allows you to make the most of your most valuable asset.

To learn about HECM Reverse Mortgage loans and other special home-equity options available to homeowners 62 and older, visit (BPT)

You’re Invited to the Peninsula at Rough Hollow Austin Parade

Legend Communities and Crescent Communities today announced The Peninsula at Rough Hollow will host the spring Spring 2017 Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Austin Parade of Homes™. 

The Spring 2017 HBA Parade of Homes™ will take place at The Peninsula at Rough Hollow May 12 through May 29. The annual event showcases the newest trends in construction, building design, interior décor and landscaping in one of the nation’s most vibrant real estate communities. This year will mark the third Parade of Homes tour to be held within Rough Hollow over the past 10 years and by far the most anticipated showing due to The Peninsula’s spectacular views of the Hill Country and Lake Travis. 

The tour will feature five custom-built homes by award-winning builders specifically chosen for the event—Arbogast Custom Homes, Jenkins Design + Build, Lake Travis Builders, Laurel Haven Homes and Triton Custom Homes Inc. During the tour, the homes will be open 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays and Memorial Day, May 29.

Insights from ‘The Prince of Luxury’ Noel Shu

By Merilee Kern, MBA

Noel Shu.  Photography courtesy of Noel Shu.

Noel Shu. Photography courtesy of Noel Shu.

With a moniker like “The Prince of Luxury,” it’s clear that Noel Shu is no ordinary entrepreneur. This 27-year-old self-made millionaire has accomplished more in business than many do in an entire lifetime, already boasting a client roster that includes billionaires, celebrities and royal families. So keen is his business acumen and venerable his reputation, Shu’s clout earned him a VIP invitation to the last U.S. visit of China’s president, Xi Jinping, alongside other revered titans of industry the likes of Bill Gates and Jack Ma.

Today, Shu brings his wealth of expertise and impeccable panache to the global luxury goods market where he spearheads ultra-super-premium products such as the finest champagne, wine and spirits as well as extraordinary multi-million dollar jewelry and timepieces of unparalleled quality—all targeted to discerning consumers on both sides of the Pacific, including China’s elite,who demand the absolute best in taste and quality.

Aside from having served as a managing partner at the extolled beverage agency Prodiguer Brands (perhaps best known for selling the most expensive single bottle of Champagne in the world, Goût de Diamants, for a staggering $1.8 million), Shu’s own company, Un Joyau Majestueux, recently launched its own new wine brand, Majestic Ruby. This exciting new expression made its world debut at the 2017 Oscars Celebrity Luxury Lounge at the Beverly Hilton Hotel Penthouse where it was reportedly celebrated by an array of Hollywood A-listers.

Further demonstrating his prowess in the world of fine wine, Shu is also a lauded sommelier and one of the world’s leading experts on Chinese wine culture. In fact, he authored the book, “China Through a Glass of Wine,” which offers a fascinating examination of China’s burgeoning wine industry from an insider’s perspective. From China’s rich cultural history to its political climate, this title takes readers on a captivating journey through the country’s viticultural victories and hopes for the future.

Another of Shu’s latest ventures is a film production company, 1768 Entertainment, which brings Shu’s love of luxury to the entertainment industry in the form of compelling documentaries, stories inspired by real events and suspense tales with an Asian influence.

Noel Shu

Noel Shu

Below is some enlightening Q&A with this millennial mastermind through which he offers insider perspectives and lifestyle advice of note for those who like to roll like royalty (or want to look like they do).

For the high end market, there are often many different brands of similar products and services vying for attention. What are some effective ways luxury consumers can stay abreast of the newest, highest quality products and services?

This can actually be the done the good ol’ fashioned way and that’s simply to read a lot. Everything that you can possibly be looking for, think you might be looking for or not even know you’re looking for is on the Internet. Every day when I wake up, I spend a good 30 minutes and go through literally everything while I’m drinking my coffee—from international news to gossip to anything I can find that’s different from what I read before. People are out there doing everything they can to appease the people.

You are a member of a network called, “The Billionaires Club.”  What are some of the luxury brands you and your inner circle are paying attention to and what draws these brands apart?

I would say these days quite a few people have moved away from just so called “big purchases.” Everything is now more about personal touches. For instance, many people own a Rolex, Audemars Piguet or Hublot. More often than not, some of these are one out of however many but how many people really have something that’s one of kind? Not too many. The other point is that the watch may suit you but it doesn’t reflect your own personality, likes and dislikes. So what’s actually becoming quite popular is engraving one’s watches. I’ve seen some crazy designs that really add some character to a person’s wrist such as koi fish, skull heads and zodiac signs.

So back to the main question and one particular brand that has stood out is Golden Concept. Again, it’s all about personal touches these days and being unique. Golden Concept specializes in luxury cases for your phone. They have gold, snakeskin and gator cases just to name a few. All done to the highest of quality and many are customizable. So if you’re looking to stand out, make sure to check them out.

Another brand which has seen quite a bit of press and accolades is JetSmarter, one of the more successful private aviation companies. For many entrepreneurs, meetings take place in different cities, different continents and in different time zones. JetSmarter offers these services in an easy-to-maneuver application that makes flying private relatively affordable and easy.

What are the top three luxury items or brands that have captivated your own attention right now?

Right now there are three top brands that are top-of-mind for me right now. These are Emperada Cigar Humidor by Imperiali Geneve; Astonomia Tourbillion by Jacob & Co; and Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept car.

Not everyone can afford luxury brands. What would you suggest for those who have the desire to appear high end but not necessarily the means?

There’s actually been a lot of hype surrounding brands that cater specifically to people who enjoy the “finer things” but are limited by what’s in their wallet. Many bloggers, for instance, are always writing about the newest gadget, accessory or clothing. I would recommend finding a few that fit your style and follow them on Instagram to see what it is that they’re rocking on a day to day basis. Many people have to understand that your average blogger is there to inform the public on some of the newest fashion do’s and don’ts, and these are all done with new brands or affordable pre-existing brands.

Second, which I have seen quite a bit, is on Kickstarter or similar sites that are always offering “perks” for those who invest early in their brands. Without naming names, a few brands offered a discounted handmade Italian leather, skeleton movement watches for a fraction of the cost to the first “so many” number of investors.

Just keep in mind for everything high-end there is always a cheaper counterpart. Don’t worry just about name brand or high end. All that matters is that it looks good and makes you feel great.

For those who focus on products that are affordable luxury, who are some of the brands doing the best and what are the keys to success?

One of the biggest and most successful brands that I have seen that caters more towards the everyday luxury is Tory Burch. Although TB is for women, I have on many occasions bought it for family, friends and clients so I can safely say I have quite a bit of exposure to this brand and can thus speak with some confidence. Obviously, price point for TB is well within the means of many. Besides that, what is it that has led TB to such success? I would say three main factors: relatability, professionalism and seamlessness. Relatability in that walking through the concrete jungle that is New York, TB products have always caught my eye in their simplicity but also how stylish it is, whether on a working woman running into Starbucks or that beautiful lady going to brunch. Second, professionalism – although many brands always stress the attentiveness of the staff, it pales in comparison to TB. People have to understand that often times upper tier luxury items are for a certain group and employees are naturally prejudiced to people who they perceive not to be at that level. There have been times where I would walk into a Rolex store unattended for 15 minutes and the instant my AP peaks out from under my shirt, someone is there to help. This just doesn’t happen at TB and for that I am quite appreciative. Seamlessness in TB’s product, in that it offers just the right amount “je ne sais quoi.” Most of their products can be matched with a variety of other brands. This has all led to the tremendous success that TB has experienced over these past few years.

What are the top three factors that truly set an ultra-premium wine, champagne or spirit brand apart from less costly luxury beverage counterparts, wine and otherwise?

Marketing wine for the luxury market is a really tough job to do. Quite frankly it’s because you’re trying to appease a group of people who have seen it all. People always say when you do something for long enough, whether you want to or not you will become a bit of a connoisseur. That’s especially true for those in the wine industry. Most are well educated, well informed and have a true passion towards exploring the finer points of what’s in a wine bottle. If we were to say that all wines in the luxury market were of the same caliber, there would still be so many factors in play, the first being accessibility and quantity. Many luxury wines are such because there is a limited supply. You can’t expect a brand to sell at the same price point when there are only 10,000 bottles as compared to 100,000 bottles. However, although there are still 10,000 bottles that were produced, that doesn’t mean your everyday Joe would be able to get his hands on them even if he’s willing to dish out the necessary cash. Thus, there’s another added premium to an already sky high price.

Another example is time and care. For those who are only there to turn a quick profit, the longer time they spend on making a wine, the more money that needs to be invested. That in itself increases cost and decreases profit. This is why sometimes you have wineries that will actually keep the wine in their cellars for years after bottling to ensure that the wine has at least matured to a passable level. By care, I mean winemakers are very passionate about their craft and thus hate having their name associated with subpar wine. Thus, you have some years where there is little to no wine produced by a certain grower because only a small amount of the grapes harvested passed the standard or none at all.

Never one to rest on his laurels and even amid a diversity of endeavors, Shu continues to raise the bar for himself professionally and personally.  Whether it be as an active investor looking for the latest innovation in the luxury and tech space or, despite his jam-packed schedule, his current pursuit of an Ivy League Master’s degree at Columbia University.  Clearly this good life connoisseur turned luxe market mogul will continue making an impact on the numerous high-end industries for many years to come.

Merilee Kern

Merilee Kern

Branding, business and entrepreneurship success pundit, Merilee Kern, MBA, is an influential media voice and lauded communications strategist. As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List International News Syndicate,” she’s a revered consumer product trends expert and travel industry voice of authority who spotlights noteworthy marketplace change makers, movers and shakers. Merilee may be reached online at Follow her on Twitter here: and Facebook here:

Inspiring Home Interiors

Colorful interior of  home office.

Colorful interior of home office.

Sometimes you go into someone else’s home and the interiors simply seem to come together beautifully and seamlessly. Of course, that’s not likely to be the case, as a lot of thought will have been given to every aspect of the décor and the furnishings. Still, these experiences can be inspiring when it comes to creating your own home interiors, so here are five things to remember when you want to be inspired at home.

Colour Me Creative 

Certain shades can aid creativity, simply by allowing us to feel calm and at rest so we are better prepared for deep thinking and original ideas. Among these, pale blues and greens, and colours such as aquamarine are among the most popular. You can use these soothing tones on accessories and features you love or on an accent wall in your favourite creative space, if you prefer. If you feel your creative juices need to be jump-started, opt for more energetic hues, such as yellows, oranges and reds, instead.

Let in the Light

Basking in glorious sunlight is enough to inspire even the hardest of hearts, and it’s well known that sensible exposure to natural light is good for your health as well as your sense of wellbeing. Plantation window shutters are ideal home features as they allow you to control the amount of daylight in each room, according to the time of day and the season. They also provide privacy and protection against noise and are a useful security measure.

Work is Work

You probably know all about not using your bedroom as a workstation, however, this is so important that it bears repeating. If you have a designated work area, separate from where you like to relax or sleep, you are more likely to feel energised and ready for fresh enterprises and new ways of working.  Whether you work from home some or part of the time, you need to keep your leisure time and your workload apart, and that includes the spaces where you need to focus and those where you need to unwind. 

Close up of a bedroom with pattern bedding, floor lamp and modern picture on a black wall

Close up of a bedroom with pattern bedding, floor lamp and modern picture on a black wall

Inspirational Artworks 

When you are moved to buy something that really makes you feel good, such as a picture or sculpture, keep it at the centre of the place where you want to be most inspired. The same applies when a friend has given you a gift that you know brings you motivation. It doesn’t matter whether this is in your home office or on a wall above your dining room table – wherever you do your most creative thinking is the right place.

Exercise for an Inspirational Life 

Finally, healthy body, healthy mind is not an empty saying but an important ingredient in being and staying inspired. You may not want to add gym equipment to your home, especially if you’re short of space. Instead, make sure you keep your bicycle clips or your outdoor shoes at the ready, and a framed map on the wall of the best routes in your local area, the better to inspire you regularly to look after your physical health as well as your inspirational wellbeing.


As Long as You’re Authentic, It Doesn’t Really Matter ~ The Christopher Korey Story

Christopher Korey

Christopher Korey

One of the first things people notice about Christopher Korey in person is his graciousness, what many call his “virtuous manners”; the way a simple act like assisting a lady with her coat, or opening a door becomes a sophisticated gesture, a throwback to another era. Small things, possibly, but small things matter in the realm of Christopher Korey, a man of influence, experience, talent and tremendous style; always dressed impeccably as if he’s about to attend a lavish red carpet gala.

Christopher Korey

Christopher Korey

We’re pleased to feature this well-read superstar in our January / February 2017 Issue and we invite you to read all about what makes Christopher such an InFluential Gentleman.

As Long As You’re Authentic, It Doesn’t Really Matter ~ The Christopher Korey Story.

5 Tips for Safe Space Heater Use

During the coldest days of the year, space heaters are one of the easiest, most efficient ways to get warm fast. However, when not used correctly, they may also be one of the most dangerous.

Space heaters accounted for 40 percent of all home heating fires and a staggering 84 percent of home heating fire deaths, according to research from the National Fire Protection Association. And, as you might expect, these tragic accidents most often occur during the year’s coldest months. The same research finds nearly half of all home heating fires occurred in December, January and February.

While these facts are sobering, it doesn’t mean you need to avoid using your space heater to find the comfort you need during the year’s coldest days. You just need to be careful when doing so. To help you keep yourself and your family safe while enjoying comfortable space heater use, Peter Duncanson, of ServiceMaster Restore, offers these five space heater safety tips.

Stay warm and safe this winter by:

* Reading the labels. When you’re out purchasing a new space heater, it’s important to know what to look for. Review each model thoroughly and look for a label from a recognized testing laboratory. This label should tell you if the heater’s construction and performance meets voluntary U.S. safety standards.

* Choosing a model with a safety sensor. Before purchasing a space heater, make sure the unit has a safety sensor. This sensor will monitor the heater, shutting it off automatically if it overheats, reducing the risk of a fire.

* Ensuring cords are in good working order. Whether you’re buying a new unit or monitoring your existing one, always check the condition of the cords as damage here increases the risk of fire. Once you’re sure the cords are in satisfactory condition, be sure to use them properly. Never plug a cord into a surge protector. Many surge protectors cannot handle the wattage, which could result in a fire.

* Keeping drapes and flammable items away from your space heater. A draped linen can quickly catch fire, so protect against this by selecting a location for your space heater with at least three feet of clearance on all sides. The more room you provide your space heater, the safer you’ll be.

* Unplugging it when not in use. Always remember to unplug your space heater when you’re not actively using it. This includes when you go to bed and even when you simply leave the room.

A space heater is an effective way to stay warm and comfortable during the winter months, and if you use it correctly, it can also be safe. Follow the tips presented here and your space heater will make this winter your most comfortable yet. (BPT)

Diamonds Direct in The Domain Celebrates with Weeklong Event

Highlights Include a Special Appearance by Designer Simon G and No-Interest Financing for Five Years 

Global diamond powerhouse Diamonds Direct on Monday announced a weeklong celebration of Valentine’s Day at its Austin store Feb. 7-14 featuring the retailer’s best financing offer of the year – 0% interest for five years – and a special event on Saturday, Feb. 11 featuring renowned designer Simon G. The store is located at 11104 Domain Drive in The Domain shopping center.

“We are proud to be one of the carefully selected jewelers to sell Simon G’s inspirational hand-crafted designs, and we are thrilled to have him in our store,” said Diamonds Direct Vice President Anat Adi-Atias.

Although Diamonds Direct regularly carries Simon G pieces, the designer will bring with him additional inventory for his appearance, including bridal pieces, limited edition pieces and signature favorites. He will also offer customization according to buyers’ unique needs and vision.

Founded in 1995 by former diamond wholesalers, Diamonds Direct offers one of the nation’s largest selections of fine jewelry and diamonds in the United States. Because it has a buying office within the world diamond exchange in Tel Aviv, Diamonds Direct is able to eliminate all middlemen and stay involved throughout the full life cycle of every diamond it sells. This vertical integration strategy creates tremendous value for end customers and ensures an unquestionably first-quality product.

Diamonds Direct offers a huge selection of loose and mounted diamonds ranging in size from under a half-carat to over 20 carats. The company also features a multitude of engagement ring mountings by America’s top designers, wedding bands, pendants, earrings, bracelets, pearls, colored gemstones and fine fashion jewelry. The Diamonds Direct team includes skilled diamond experts who assist customers with choosing the right diamond for their budget and occasion – a personalized and fresh approach to diamond and fine jewelry selection for shoppers in the Austin area.

Diamonds Direct is adheres to the highest industry standards and ethics, and is committed to providing a transparent, educational experience to each customer. The company offers outstanding customer service, including a 30-day money-back guarantee, 110 percent lifetime upgrades on all classic diamond pendants and stud earrings, price protection, complimentary jewelry maintenance, cleanings, appraisals and multiple financing options.

“With this special guest on hand and this incredible offer of no-interest financing for five years, our Valentine’s Day celebration is the perfect time to purchase that diamond you have had your eye on, whether it is a Valentine’s Day gift, an engagement or wedding ring, or a special remembrance for an anniversary, birthday, or other occasion,” said Adi-Atias.


Love Is in the Air – Every Day!

Brownie Image

Chocolates? Roses? Been there, done that. Everyone wants to make sure the special someone in their lives knows how much they care. Here are some easy and fun ways to prove that he or she is number one in your book.

Make a Playlist of “Your Songs”

Whether it was playing when you first met or is the soundtrack to your favorite movie, every couple has songs that mean something special to them. In the car, leave a CD or MP3 player stocked with your most memorable tunes as a special surprise and a suddenly-better commute.

Do the house chores. Seriously.

Fix that item you’ve been saying you would fix forever. Empty the dishwasher and clean the bathroom. When they get home, have all the chores done, that way the only thing left to do is enjoy each other’s company.

Put Pen to Paper

Hide little notes with heartfelt sentiments on the refrigerator, on the nightstand, taped to the computer screen – any place they might stumble upon it throughout a typical day. Your note might be found after a long meeting or last-minute deadline, providing a moment of reprieve and happiness during a hectic day.

Raise a Glass and Indulge – Together

Toast each other with some tasty treats. Pop some bubbly, then enjoy mixing these recipes together.

For more romantic wines and recipes, visit

Sweetheart Dark Chocolate Brownies

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 25 minutes

Makes: 10+ servings

For the brownies:

  • 1/2       cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 4          ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2          eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4       cup white sugar
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2       cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4       cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2       teaspoon kosher salt

For the glaze:

  • 2          ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1          tablespoon unsalted butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In small pot over low heat, melt 1/2 cup of butter and 4 ounces of dark chocolate together until smooth.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, and whisk to combine after each addition.
  4. Add sugar and vanilla and stir to combine.
  5. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt and stir until smooth.
  6. Transfer batter into a 9 x 9 aluminum foil lined baking pan and place it into the oven for 25 minutes and bake until done.
  7. While brownies are baking, melt together semisweet chocolate and 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter for the glaze. Once melted, set aside.
  8. When brownies are done, let them cool.
  9. Once cooled, drizzle glaze over brownies, and spread it on top using an offset spatula.

Barefoot Bubbly Ruby Red Bliss

Makes: 2 servings

  • 3          ounces cranberry juice
  • 1/2       ounce lime juice
  • 6          ounces Barefoot Red Moscato Champagne
  • 2          skewer cranberries for garnish
  1. Place chilled juices in flutes. Top with Barefoot Bubbly Red Moscato. Garnish with cranberries.

Cheers! (Family Features)

5 Easy Ways to Say “I Love You”

If gift-giving isn’t your strong suit, occasions like Valentine’s Day are likely to bring on stress and worry, but procrastinating will only serve to elevate your unease.

Follow these steps to simplify your shopping, and while you may not come to love the task of finding the perfect gift, your loved one will undoubtedly appreciate your effort.

  1. Browse for ideas online. Many retailers offer special promotions and gift idea sections on their websites, so finding inspiration can be as easy as visiting the sites of your loved one’s favorite stores. There are also dozens of articles online to help get the ideas flowing. Searches such as “gifts for horse lovers” or “Valentine’s gifts for a new boyfriend” will reveal a long list of ideas to peruse.
  1. Keep it simple. Although the advertising industry works hard to convince consumers otherwise, Valentine’s Day isn’t really all about the bling. Sure, a pretty bauble is a welcome gift, but there are plenty of ways to show your affection that don’t require spending a month’s salary. A heartfelt card paired with a memento of a meaningful event or place in your relationship sends the same loving sentiment.
  1. Make it a (different) date. For many couples, navigating the demands of work, kids and life make spending time together a luxury. Instead of fighting crowds at busy restaurants on the official date, celebrate your love on a day of your own choosing, when you can relax and enjoy the time together without the pressure to rush through dessert so your table can be flipped for the next waiting couple.
  1. Give blooms a boost. A dozen long-stem red roses is a beautiful gesture, but unless your intended rose receiver is a strictly traditional type, try adding a little spice to your floral arrangement. Go for a bouquet in her favorite color, or have the flowers arranged in a practical vessel she can reuse to remember the occasion, such as a cocktail shaker or a watering can.
  1. Go ahead, gift yourself. It may seem counter-intuitive, but finding a gift you’ll enjoy may inspire an idea for your loved one. The trick is finding something you can share together, whether it’s tickets to a show or his and hers mugs for enjoying your favorite brew. Just be sure the item is something your intended will share your enthusiasm for, or you may as well go buy a blender.

Find more ideas to simplify every occasion at (Family Features)

Sackman Enterprises Inc. Reveals 70 Rainey Landscape Design

Lush Landscaping Will Give Luxury Residential Condominiums in Rainey Street District the Feel of Home

Sackman Enterprises revealed recently details of the landscape architecture design for 70 Rainey, the 34-story luxury high-rise condominium development the company is building in the heart of Austin’s historic Rainey Street Historic District.

“70 Rainey is inspired by the character of its surroundings,” said C.J. Sackman, managing director for 70 Rainey. “Set at the front door of the Waller Creek redevelopment, steps away from the hike-and-bike trail, with breathtaking views down Lady Bird Lake, our amenity deck is the urban reflection of the outdoor lifestyle Austinites hold dear. This will truly be a park in the sky.”

With 20,000 square feet of outdoor amenity space, Sackman knew the project demanded an ambitious, leading-edge design. To accomplish their vision, they hired the internationally renowned landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm Design Workshop, whose global operations include offices in Houston and Austin.

“Designing landscape space in the air is complicated, logistically, especially when you’re addressing such a large area,” said Philip Koske, Design Workshop associate. “We went through a lot of iterations. C.J. wants the space to feel garden-like and immersive, and he is committed to an astounding array of amenities. That means the gardens and plant materials have to change as you walk through the space, based on varying wind and sun conditions. Our goal is to make 70 Rainey’s outdoor spaces a pleasurable journey, rather than merely a destination.”

Sackman has curated numerous experiences into the approximately 20,000 square feet of outdoor amenity space. One hundred feet above ground level, atop the building’s landscaped garage podium, 70 Rainey’s expansive outdoor amenity deck will feature a vanishing-edge infinity pool, secluded plunge pool and waterfall; experiential sundeck; yoga deck; fire pit; outdoor lounge with kitchen; spacious herb garden; 600 square-foot dog park with washing/grooming station; meandering walkways; and multiple seating areas.

The design and varied scale of the amenities and landscaping will give the space a feeling of privacy and breathing room. All of the amenities are thoughtfully embedded in the design, which includes garden alcoves, private nooks and meandering walkways nestled among the lush greenery. Design Workshop’s intricate, variable design calls for real landscaping, not just potted plants, giving owners and their guests the feel of a backyard in which to relax and recharge. It incorporates evergreens, flowering areas, perennial spaces, cactus and other xeriscape plants, a bamboo run on the east side of the building, an herb garden, and the opulence of many climbing vines.

Koske said the outdoor spaces will be reminiscent of New Orleans, constantly growing and changing with the seasons and blending the building’s architecture with its gardens.

“We were not interested in haphazardly packing the deck with as many amenities as possible,” said Sackman. “This deck was not designed simply to check boxes. We sought to create settings that inspired unique experiences.”

Developed by Sackman Enterprises, 70 Rainey was designed by Page Architects, with interior design by renowned architect Mark Zeff. Sackman Enterprises is currently accepting reservations for the 164 residences at 70 Rainey. For more information, visit

As originally published by Claire Cavendar, The PR Boutique.