By Carolyn Weber.

Wealthy homeowners, used to their fair share of pampering at resorts and salons around the globe, want a taste of that atmosphere at home. Our focus-group members remarked that trainers, masseurs, and manicurists/pedicurists regularly visited their homes. But finding a convenient place to get their nails done or a massage was not easy.

A wellness center, complete with a work-out space and a sauna, provides a logical spot for pampering and for exercise in this house. French doors lead to a Zen garden and outdoor patio, making the space feel even more like a resort.

Another special, resort-like getaway is the sky room, a treetop tower that serves as a serene spot to relax and survey the neighborhood and golf course below.

Spa Treatment: Perched on a platform, the massage table is the focal point of the wellness center. "It's a very resort-like application in a private home," says Chris Johnson of Design Tec Interiors. "When you walk in, it's calming, refreshing, uncluttered, and fosters good health and peace of mind." Woven linen wallcovering gives the room texture and subtle warmth to contrast cool whites.

Photo: James Wilson

Set in Stone

Custom tile inlays and an intricate mosaic called for careful experimentation--with long-lasting results.

By Matthew Power

It's one thing to dream up a great design detail. It's quite another, as Gordy Sarret knows, to execute it. "We needed to do an inset of iron in the floor at one point," recalls Sarret, general manager of Granite World, who knew from experience that thinset mortar does not adhere well to iron. His solution? "We had nails welded at an angle onto the iron. Those nails would stick into our mortar bed to give more grip."

This is also the kind of detail that could lead to callbacks, so Sarret took precautions. "Iron also tends to rust very easily, so we used a two-part epoxy thinset--not a water-based product. We also didn't want to use grout around the iron. We used a colored silicone caulk instead--we got lucky and found a color that actually matched the metal very well. We made a mockup board and caulked the inlay with different colors and let the builder choose."

Sarret, who shared the massive tile job in the house with Mike Albright, vice president of Albright's Flooring Center, says the wellness center presented some tough, though not-insurmountable challenges. "It has a Walker Zanger mosaic made with 1-inch tiles," he explains. Worried the surface might appear rough, Sarret decided "to float the whole room with concrete to get it perfectly smooth."

Another unusual detail was the use of a soundproofing barrier beneath the tile in the master suite. "The system is called NobleSeal," Sarret says. "You put down glue, then a sort of fabric, before you tile."