Jessica | Balsam Hill Designer

Modern Palaces: The World’s Most Beautiful Homes

The concept of the home has changed over the years. It’s no longer a simple place where people dine, rest and live. They have become personal sanctuaries, a delightful space that provides comfort from the stress-filled environment of the outside world.

There are those who have taken this idea further. Instead of creating simple retreats, they have constructed their own paradises, grand houses that not only personify their owners, but also exude luxury and sophistication. In celebration of Landscape Architecture Month, here are five estates that have redefined our notions of what a home can be.

1.) Updown Court in England


Photo by Lord Wishanger via Wikicommons. CC BY-SA 3.0.

Located in the village of Windlesham in Surrey, Updown Court is a 58-acre estate, which includes a 103-room mansion, landscaped gardens and manicured woodlands. Developed by Leslie Allen Vercoe, this property is reportedly worth 85 million British pounds. Constructed using 30 different types of Italian marble, this architectural wonder boasts five swimming pools, fully-automated bowling alleys, a tennis court, a wine cellar that can hold 30,000 bottles of the world’s finest liquor, its very own panic room and an underground garage that can hold eight automobiles. Lush trees and plant life surround the perimeter of the main house. Downton Abbey has nothing on this lavish and modern manor.

2.) Villa Leopolda in France


Photo by PMO via Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

The Villa Leopolda in Villefranche-sur-Mer on the French Riviera is a ten-acre compound that has captivated the world for decades. Previously owned by Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, this beautiful home is a rustic beauty fit for kings, with its stunning exteriors, ornate interior design, and its intricately designed gardens. A breathtaking view of the river and the perfect warm weather complement the appeal of this home.

3.) Antilla in Mumbai


Photo by Christopher Macsurak via Flickr. CC BY-2.0.

The Antilla is a 27-story building that serves as the home of Mukesh Ambani, the fifth richest man in the world. Inspired by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and influenced by the modern skyscrapers of New York, the cost of this edifice is an impressive $2 billion. The building is characterized by large glass windows facing the sea, stone columns and a jigsaw-like exterior made from a combination of different steel and earth materials. The building houses three helipads, a state-of-the-art theater, a grand ballroom, dozens of luxury rooms, several indoor hanging gardens and six parking lots. It takes a staff of 600 people to maintain the residence, bringing the term luxurious living to a completely new level.

4.) Hearst Mansion in Los Angeles

   from the blog

Photo by Stuck in Customs via Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Located in Beverly Hills, Hearst Castle was previously owned by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. This castle represents the glamorous and excessive lifestyle of the people of the City of Angels. Made of the finest stone and marble, the structure is a hodgepodge of aesthetic sensibilities. It features pillars inspired by Roman temples, towers that resemble gothic cathedrals, and 29 bedrooms which are based on classic European boudoirs. Hearst Castle even has a mock Greek temple in its backyard. On top of that, it has three swimming pools, a tennis court, a film theatre and its very own nightclub. Currently, Hearst Castle is a historical landmark owned by the city of California. It attracts millions of visitors each year.

5.) Versailles in Florida

Finally, the most recent addition to our collection of beautiful homes is the Versailles. Inspired by the French chateu-style mansions of previous centuries and named after the famed palace of the French monarchs, the Versailles remains under construction. Despite that, critics have already dubbed it as one of the most luxurious private homes in North America. Currently, the unfinished structure has 30 bedrooms, 23 bathrooms, a children’s theatre, three swimming pools, a boathouse, a large ballroom with a glass dome, a spa, and a grotto with an 80-foot waterfall. The house will be finished in 2014.


There you have it, five of the most beautiful homes in the world. We hope that learning about these houses has inspired you to create the palace you long to have.

About the Author
Inspired by my passion for the visual arts and my years of experience in the field of design, I enjoy a life of style and artistry. I am a devoted follower of minimalism and I believe in the marriage of form and function. I try to live by these principles, from my subtle but classic fashion sense when it comes to clothes and jewelry, to the various projects I manage and work on in my professional career Influenced by the refined grace of Coco Chanel, the timeless beauty of my favorite city, Stockholm, and the new ideas and trends I read from design books, I try to infuse my life with elegance and sophistication. Join me on Balsam Hill’s blog to get my tips and advice on home design and personal style.

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