The All-Black Kitchen Makes A Statement In Luxury Homes

2015 design trends move away from the all-white kitchen

Luxury Kitchen - Modern Rustic


In addition to being a hub of family and social life within the home, kitchens are an important way for homeowners to make a statement about their property, identity, and taste. As a result of their place at the heart of a home, kitchens are the second most frequently remodeled room in the house—second only to bathrooms. This year, the pendulum has swung away from the popular all-white kitchen and toward the opposite extreme: the black kitchen.

Kitchen Design Goes Over To The Dark Side

In 2015, bright-red cabinets and white tile are being eclipsed by darker colors. The beginning of this trend can be seen in the stunning 2014 Kitchen of the Year, designed by designer Steven Miller for the San Francisco Decorator Showcase, which featured all-black cabinetry, dark tile backsplashes, and a steely grey ceiling. But why the turn toward darker hues? Black kitchens—or ones dominated by other dark shades—make a statement about the home and its owners: bold, strong, sleek, and luxurious. This design idea is particularly fitting for the luxury homeowner who craves a high-end kitchen that leaves a lasting impression.

Here are a few tips for incorporating darker tones into luxury kitchen design:

  • Cabinetry or countertops are perhaps the easiest way to introduce dark tones into the luxury kitchen. If all-black cabinets seem overwhelming, why not balance them out with a white marble countertop or soften the look with distressed or textured wood?
  • To darken the kitchen further, consider bringing in black or dark-colored appliances.
  • Dark wood flooring. If you want to go black but worry that the look will be too overwhelming, dark wood floors are a fantastic way to give the space a warm, rustic feel.
  • Black and green. Perhaps the only look more luscious than an all-black kitchen is a black-and-green kitchen. Apartment Therapy suggests this color combination as a way to make the black kitchen warm, earthy, and even more unique.
  • Look books. The internet is brimming with image-rich resources. Use these to show your clients just how stunning their high-end, on-trend black kitchen could be. (For example, check out this Pinterest board.)

The Institute gathers the best and the brightest for Leaders in Luxury in Puerto Rico!


The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing hosted its annual Leaders in Luxury event, an invitation-only education and networking event for real estate professionals who are true experts in the luxury residential market - those who work from $1,000,000 to $1000,000,000 price point. 

Our premier event gathered the profession’s best and brightest for three information-packed days of learning and networking. Attendees shared ideas, heard from industry experts, created new relationships and connected with old friends. The sharing of marketing techniques and best practices weren’t limited to the classroom either! Attendees took the opportunity to mix business with pleasure by coming in early or staying late to enjoy mini-mastermind sessions on the beach.

This ultra-exclusive event kicked off with a welcome reception and annual Marketing Awards Dinner recognizing the winners of this year’s luxury marketing competition. The event’s agenda included insights from keynote speakers like Krista Neher, Author and International Digital Media Consultant; Laurie Moore-Moore, Founder of The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing; Christopher Kai, Speaker Consultant and Author of “Big Game Hunting: Networking with Billionaires, Executives and Celebrities.” The agenda also included numerous top agent presentations, expert panels and ample networking opportunities.

This year’s event was a memorable one! Laurie Moore-Moore was honored by this year’s Advisory Board and attendees for her contributions to the real estate industry over the last 40 years. Laurie was not only awarded the Leaders in Luxury Lifetime Achievement award, but was also presented with a travel bag filled with handwritten notes to take on her retirement travels.

What attendees had to say:

Michael Morrison – “The most powerful, thoughtful, and propelling three days you will spend on your business”

Jennifer Fuller – “Leaders in Luxury consistently delivers with fantastic content. The thought leaders of the luxury home market are all here, sharing the fruits of knowledge and developing lasting business and personal relationships.

J Andrew Arlegui – “An invigorating event, and I am honored to be part of this group of talented real estate professionals”

Jim Walberg – “Leaders in Luxury is the one conference we commit to each year because of the rich content and the extraordinary relationships that unfold”

Joyce Tawes – “I’ve attended all but one of the LIL events. For some reason this was very best networking I have had and I’m looking forward to next year, and staying in touch with everyone throughout the year.”

Karen Abrams – “It was a great meeting with top agents in the business, all sharing best practices and learning from each other and guest speakers.”

Sharon Arnett – “Best of the best in luxury real estate in a culture of sharing ideas and business practices. Leaders in Luxury is the conference you can’t afford to miss.”

Nancy Rondeau – “Excellent key note speakers, informative panelists and breakout sessions. Great opportunity for networking, building on exclusive contacts focused on serving the upscale residential industry. A leader in Luxury delivers maximum value in just a couple of days, and assisting attendees to achieve great success in their business.”

Jon Barnwell – “Attending Leaders in Luxury was truly a pleasure. The level of experience, both on and off stage, is absolutely amazing. I’ve never seen so much class at a real estate conference.”

Nadine Deason – “Leaders in Luxury truly allows each of us to learn new skills to improve our knowledge, build on our self-confidence, and aspire to the level of the greatest luxury agents nationwide. Thank for this opportunity!”

Leigh Hayes – “Fast paced and exciting conference with great minds willing, ready and able to share.”

Mary Smith – “I feel honored to be an attendee of this fabulous event! I’m ready and excited about next year’s event.”

Christine Battista – “Leaders in Luxury is the luxury industry’s best-in-class education and networking event. LIL is a not to be missed event for anyone serious about luxury real estate!”

Erik Brown – “I always attend a conference look for a few good take away and I was blown away by the amount of quality concepts I can implement in my business. Excited to begin!”

A big "thank you" to our sponsors, speakers and all the remarkable luxury professionals from around the U.S. and Canada who joined us in Puerto Rico for this year’s event.

We’ll be announcing the location for Leaders in Luxury 2016 soon.  

Stay tuned.

Why & How Event Marketing Works In Luxury Real Estate

As illustrated in the 2014 Wealth-X Luxury Sentiment Survey Report, luxury brands are turning away from more traditional marketing methods and using event marketing to cater to ultra-high-net-worth consumers. High-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals are drawn to the VIP, invite-only aspect of the events, as well as the opportunity to expand their peer group and possibly learn about other high-end products and services offered by partners or sponsors.

Event marketing has the potential to make a big impact on a professional’s bottom line.

Wealth-X data shows that 84% of luxury marketers host events targeted at UHNW consumers, and that these events are centrally focused on making connections. For those who calculate the return on investment of event marketing, 58% experienced an ROI of greater than 50%. Of these highly successful event organizers, 72% said that event marketing had the highest ROI of all of their marketing initiatives.

For real estate professionals in the luxury market, VIP-only events are an effective way to connect with clients and prospects, build brand awareness, and win contracts. “My goal with VIP real estate events is to build top-of-mind awareness,” said Michael Morrison, owner of Sotheby’s International Realty affiliate Morrison House. “I want people to tell others what a great event they attended. I want them to talk about us, our listings and our marketing efforts, and to think of me when they want to buy or sell.”

  • Highlight Lifestyle. Luxury real estate events are designed to highlight the unique and attractive lifestyle of a luxury home or high-end residential area. Morrison, an Institute of Luxury Home Marketing member, recently invited VIP clients and prospects on a “floating home tour.” “It generated leads and pushed listing prospects over the edge,” Morrison said of the event. “I would say about 4 listings totaling over $7million are being taken because of it.”
  • Partner With Other Luxury Brands. Partner luxury brands add their key clients to the invitation list, and might also act as sponsors, covering the financial cost of the event in exchange for getting face-to-face time with their key clients and any new UHNW clients met at the event. These brands offer guests the chance to learn about luxury products, such as wine, watches, yachts, and high-end cars.
  • Partner With Charity. Many event organizers also partner with a local charity organization, so that the wealthy guests can give to a worthy cause.
  • Cast A Deep Net, Not A Wide One. If everyone on your mailing list is invited, then you’re not giving your UHNW clients, prospects, and referrals the VIP treatment that they expect. Luxury event marketing is successful when it retains its exclusivity and high-end appeal. These VIP guests are often invited via custom direct mail, personal email, or phone call.
  • Organize You Event Well In Advance. One of the most important factors determining the success of a luxury marketing event is planning. An event that is planned well in advance can be advertised over a longer period of time, enabling the host to secure the most important clients, prospects, and referrals, as well as the most ideal strategic partners or sponsors.

2015 Leaders in Luxury Marketing Awards Winners

Thank you to all those who submitted entries for this year's Leaders in Luxury Marketing Awards. We were blown away by the amount of entries submitted, and what our members have accomplished. Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Leaders in Luxury Marketing Awards.


Jennifer Egbert, Dawn Thomas, Christine Battista, Carl Battista, Norka Parodi, Patrick Ryan

2015 Best Agent Market Report

Winner: Dawn Thomas, Dreyfus Sotheby’s International Realty, Palo Alto, CA

2015 Overall Excellence in Personal Marketing

Winner: Jennifer Egbert, JP Egbert Associates, Modern Luxury Real Estate, RE/MAX Alliance; Boulder, CO

2015 Best Marketing Campaign for a Property

Winner: Norka Parodi The Norka Group, Boca Raton, FL

2015 Outstanding Personal Achievement

Winner: Patrick Ryan, Ryan Residential, Related Realty Chicago, IL

2015 Best Marketing Video

Winner: Carl Battista & Christine Battista, The Battista Team, Keller Williams Denver Tech, Denver, CO

Watch for more on these winning entries in upcoming blog posts. Also watch for a webinar in the next few months featuring the marketing award winners’ entries.

China’s UHNWIs Invest In Top-Tier Homes & Higher Education

For luxury real estate professionals in certain markets, international buyers are a growing source of opportunity. According to the Knight Frank 2015 Wealth Report, there are 172,850 individuals globally who have a net worth of $30 million or more. An estimated 32% of an UHNW individual’s assets are invested in real estate, and that 81% of UHNWIs are most interested in the residential market. Amidst the growing pool of wealthy international investors, Chinese clients stand above the rest.

The NAR’s 2015 Profile of Home Buying Activity of International Clients showed that, for the first time ever, international buyers from China exceeded all other foreign buyers in both units and dollar volume, spending $28.6 billion on United States residential real estate last year. While Chinese buyers are undoubtedly attempting to shelter their wealth from a chaotic domestic market, reports show that they are dually motivated by an interest in the United States’ prestigious universities.

Chinese students account for approximately one third of all international students in America, and an estimated 10% of Chinese UHNWIs send their children to college in the United States. It is becoming increasingly popular for wealthy Chinese parents to invest in residential property near their child’s university, constituting a simultaneous investment in real estate and education. Chinese buyers show a strong preference for American cities on the west coast, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle, which boast a wealth of educational and business opportunities, as well as relative proximity to China.

Learning To Work Effectively With Chinese Clients

Shake Bow Book Series

Chinese buyers have a unique set of customs and perspectives concerning social and business transactions. Luckily, there are many resources available to luxury real estate professionals who want the tools to attract Chinese buyers and exceed their expectations.

The Ultra High Net Worth Individual's Alma Mater

Trivia Quiz Question

True or False:  Twenty percent or one in five of the world’s Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNIs) graduated from just ten major U.S. Universities.

Although the very successful are generally university graduates, the one in five statistic is a bit high, so the correct answer to the question is “false.”  Five percent of the world’s UHNWI’s did graduate from just ten of the U.S.’s major educational institutions with Harvard garnering honors for the highest number of UHNWI grads.  See the list below. 




UHNW Alumni Population


Harvard University



University of Pennsylvania



Stanford University



Columbia University



New York University



Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)



University of Chicago



Northwestern University



Yale University



Cornell University


Source: Wealth-X and UBS World Ultra Wealth Report, 2014

  Harvard Grads

Harvard University Graduation photo

What Kind of Wine Cellar Does Your Luxury Client Need?

Wine Cellar - Up Close

As wine collection and appreciation grow in popularity, expansive and elegant wine cellars are becoming a common feature in high-end luxury homes. Luxury homeowners want a wine storage and display space that reflects who they are—an avid wine lover with expensive tastes, an elite collector with thousands of bottles worth millions of dollars, and everyone in between.

How much wine does the client have?

The average luxury homeowner will require a wine room that can accommodate hundreds of bottles, as well as roughly a dozen cases. A wine room of this size could be built within an existing room on the home’s main floor or added to a large open-floor-plan kitchen.

 If your client is a serious wine collector, however, they will need a wine cellar that can potentially store thousands of bottles and many dozens of cases, as well as display the individual’s most rare and prized bottles. Your wine-collecting client will certainly need a lot of square footage, although collections of this magnitude do not necessarily need to be easily accessible from the kitchen or primary entertaining space. The extra-large wine cellar can be built underground, where the earth and shade can naturally cool the bottles, and an additional wine storage area can be built in or off of the kitchen for easy access.

What is the wine room for?

The design of a client’s wine room will partly depend on what they want to use the room for.

  • Displaying prized bottles
  • Tasting and socializing with guests
  • Storing bottles with easy access for cooking and entertaining
  • Storage only; easy access not required

A room for displaying prized bottles will likely have LED lights and a storage solution that prominently features the bottles’ labels. A wine room for tasting will have a seating area and a bar around which guests can gather.

What look suits their personality and taste?

Today’s luxury wine rooms vary widely in their aesthetic. Your client might want a dark stone cave to reflect their love of old world wines, or an all-glass, LED-lit room to suit their ultra-modern tastes. A collector with a vast underground storage space might want their wine cellar to have a glass ceiling, enabling guests on the main floor to peer down at the treasures below. The possibilities are endless and, fortunately, luxury wine cellars have proven to be a sound investment, as their cost is typically captured in the resale value of the home.

Bookmark these sources to give your luxury client some fantastic ideas:

Millionaires Living in Barns?

It’s more common that you might think! High-net-worth individuals have long sought spacious hideaways in the countryside. Rather than going for red-brick estates or whitewashed ranch houses, however, more and more wealthy homeowners have been spending their summers and long weekends in barns. Not dirty, smelly, hay-filled barns, of course: spacious, historic, modern, converted barns.


The Luxury Converted Barn Phenomenon

For wealthy individuals seeking primary or secondary residences with plenty of character and space, converted barns can provide a perfect solution. Here are some of the main selling points for converted barns:

  • History – For centuries before they became mansions, these barns were used on working American farms and ranches.
  • Space – Because barns are meant to fit as much hay or as many horses as possible, they are spacious and perfect for open floor plans.
  • Uniqueness – Not many people can say they live in a converted Dutch barn from the 1800s.
  • Character – The planks of wood have been worn by weather and use over decades, so your home feels authentic and broken-in from the beginning.
  • Exposed beams – Sigh. Who doesn’t love exposed beams?
  • Luxury – Life in a converted barn is a far cry from “roughing it.” These barns may be rustic on the outside, but they are modern, bright, clean, and airy on the inside. Ladders, lofts, lap pools. The possibilities are endless.
  • Eco-friendly – By moving into a salvaged and restored barn, homeowners are using recycled wood and saving trees.  Salvaged wood floors and doors are also growing in popularity.

How It’s Done

Restoring and renovating a barn is a process that varies widely in expense and complexity. Some buyers will purchase a barn on a large swath of land and do a top-to-bottom renovation. Increasingly, however, people are buying their ideal piece of property and then purchasing a disassembled historic barn separately, to be delivered to their land. While some people find and buy the barns themselves, there are a growing number of businesses that buy the country’s most beautiful barns and allow customers to pick their favorite from a large catalog.

One such specialty company is Heritage Restorations, based in Waco, Texas, which manages every aspect of the transformation from horse barn to one-of-a-kind country estate. Their restoration projects can cost anywhere from $200,000 to $5 million depending on the size of the barn and the scale of the renovation. In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Heritage Restorations founder Kevin Durkin noted that his business has steadily increased over the last 15 years—even during the housing crash. "People looking for a barn home, they're not looking to save money,” the founder said. “It's character. You're living in a piece of history." (Feast your eyes on the Heritage Restorations showroom.)

A Haven for Peace & Quiet

On the one hand, a converted barn makes for a truly unique and peaceful retreat, whether its standing in a vast green field or nestled in the mountains. On the other hand, luxury converted barns aren't for everyone. They are usually found in remote areas or on large plots of land, which means plenty of peace and solitude, but also a property that might be more difficult to access. Because of the unique layout of most barns, converted homes often require unconventional floor plans and room arrangements.  Their high ceilings and enormous volume can make these barns costly to heat and cool, too. However, for the very successful homebuyer who is looking for something apart from the ordinary, the converted barn may have terrific appeal.

Check a prospect’s financial credibility or create targeted prospect lists with up-dated WealthEngine benefit

If you’re an Institute member, here’s good news. The Institute’s updated strategic partnership with WealthEngine (WE) continues to offer you unique “wealth Intelligence” benefits. 

“Members can do immediate financial credibility checks on over 210 million US adults with the click of a mouse. In addition, WealthEngine’s extensive database allows members to create targeted marketing lists using wealth scores and lifestyle attributes,” said Institute Director Amanda Hammer.  “These two free member benefits are powerful differentiators.”

Institute member Michael Morrison of South Puget Sound Market, Sotheby's International Realty agrees.  “The insight we gain from WealthEngine has allowed us to segment and engage with high-potential buyers with less effort and much more precision.  By understanding our client’s needs better than anyone else, we stand out from the competition.”

Tune in to a special webinar to learn more

WealthEngine and The Institute will host a special webinar for Institute members

“How to find the perfect client using WealthEngine”

Thursday, October 29th at 3pm CST

Watch your email for details

“We are excited to move our partnership with The Institute to new heights,” said Mark Logan, CEO of WealthEngine. “We have already seen many Institute members achieving great success with our tools. Through the exclusive free access, deeper discounts on our portfolio of solutions, and access to our educational content, we expect even more success within this community.” 

Institute members; keep your WealthEngine success stories coming.  Send us your story

The Institute is growing, so we can serve members better than ever!

NEW website with a “luxury look”

Hopefully you’ve seen the new website.  We are pleased with our new look and now that the new site is up and running we are making a few tweaks to ensure that it functions smoothly and you can find what you are looking for. Let us know what you think!  Be sure to check out Member Benefits & Resources when you log in next time.  Don’t leave money on the table by not using the resources available to you.

NEW staff to expand our member services

If you think you have heard new voices on the phone, you are right.  We’ve added some great new people with a variety of skills and plugged into some new outside resources through our investment partner -- McKissock -- who came on board last year.  Amanda Hammer is still with us, but has new, expanded responsibilities. In short, we are growing a team, just like many of you are.  Here’s a quick look at our staff and a short list of their responsibilities.

Amanda Hammer has a NEW title –Director of Products & Member Services

After seven + years with The Institute, is an expert on our business and is wholly committed to our mission, which is helping you maximize your success.  Her responsibilities include acting account executive for our brand partners, making sure we have a toolbox full of member benefits, and overall Institute strategy.  How she juggles complete dedication to the Institute and a husband and active two-year old, we are not sure.  But she does!

Debbie Linzenmeyer is our NEW Training & Operations Manager

Debbie is an experienced operations and project manager with key strengths in areas such as integrated marketing, brand management, writing/editing, and events management. Debbie came to The Institute after four years at Fossil Group, where she served in a Global PR and Events Marketing role. Her responsibilities include the management of the Member Services and Fulfillment teams as well as LIVE course management and host relationships. Debbie is usually a marathon runner, but has traded running for pregnancy and her little girl is due in December.  Appropriately, the baby will be named Lil just like our LIL – Leaders in Luxury!

We have two NEW Member Service Coordinators

Regena Bradley came to The Institute with many years of experience in New Home Construction and Real Estate as well as having owned her own business. Having herself been involved in all phases of Real Estate, she understands the importance of competency, communication, and outstanding customer service and has an unparalleled empathy to meet the personal needs of our members.

Jill Duncan came to the Institute with experience in the hotel and hospitality industry as well as having run her own massage business on the side. Jill is tirelessly diligent in all areas of her life and work and brings enthusiasm and spunk to every interaction with our Members. She is a serious cyclist, a massage therapist in her free time and has exciting wedding plans for next year. 

We have a NEW team in our Fulfillment Department, too.

John Logan Oakley is an accomplished artistand has been with us for over a year.  John Housewright is a musicianwho began with us earlier this year.  Both Johns are responsible for assembling and shipping training course materials, fulfilling product orders, and coordinating and mailing member communications – including the popular “quote cards”.

We also have NEW trainers

Tami Simms will remain lead trainer and has trained for us for more than eight years.  Many of you have attended Tami’s classes and know she is knowledgeable, dynamic and fun!  Her course evaluations are always terrific and hosts want her again and again. We are so fortunate to have her.

Watch for an upcoming blog post introducing Bill Hensley and Kofi Nartey the new trainers who are coming onboard and joining Tami, so we can meet the growing demand for classes.

We also have some NEW people and departmental resources, thanks to our new investors at McKissock.

Mike Duran, CEO of McKissock brings a new level of strategy and vision to the business.

Charlene Barnard, CMO of McKissock and brainchild behind our lovely new rebranding and relaunch of our website brings not only her extensive marketing expertise but also a marketing department to support Institute initiatives.

Julie Nelson, a content and training expert with McKissock has been integral in bringing our fabulous new trainers on board.

You also may have noticed by now that we are missing a familiar face – Waco Moore, our Vice President

Waco’s daughter turned 10 this summer and Waco and his wife decided that is the right age to make the world their daughter’s classroom. They have taken off for a year of travel and home schooling, starting with cycling and camping along the Rhine River from Switzerland to Holland.  They are not sure what will come next, but plan to squeeze as much economical travel into the time as possible.  We all wish we could fold up our tents, pack our bike paniers, and go with them.  Check out their travel blog at

And the biggest news of all, founder, Laurie Moore-Moore is retiring this month

However, she still has a stake in the Institute’s success and is excited about what is ahead and hopes you…our members…are too.  Laurie plans to take the rest of the year and travel with her family. If you haven’t already viewed it, please take a moment to watch this short video message from Laurie.