Douglas Burdge and his team of designers have built more than 300 homes in the Malibu, California, area, many of them for celebrities, entertainment execs, and Fortune 500 CEOs.
Over the years, their projects have varied in style from hacienda-style to contemporary, with lots of modern, clean lines.
These days, regardless of the home’s overall style, Burdge says, it seems that many of his clients are looking to add the same amenity, one that would make their new house more like a five-star hotel: a spa and health club.
“The reasoning is that a lot of people can’t go to gyms because of their celebrity status, or maybe there isn’t one close by,” Burdge recently said to Business Insider. The architect has also worked on homes in the similarly ritzy enclaves of Sun Valley, Idaho, and Los Cabos, Mexico.
When it comes to building out a home spa, Burdge’s clients are looking for the full slate of perks, from indoor pools, saunas, and steamrooms to massage rooms and hair wash sinks. The firm partnered with an Italian design group and toured boutique spas in Italy to achieve its signature look.
“We have a mentality of not just building a spa or a steam room, but creating the whole environment,” Burdge said. “We design our houses so that you feel like you’re staying in a hotel.”
The best place for these ritzy home spas is often the basement, where square footage usually isn’t as heavily regulated in local building codes.
“It’s even better if you have geology that allows you to build really deep,” Burdge said.
His team of architects will often incorporate design elements that mimic natural lighting, like an LED fixture that looks like a skylight in the ceiling.
Even for those wealthy clients who don’t have spas at the top of their list of priorities, the basement is a place where homeowners can build more creatively. Some people will add an extensive wine cellar, extra bedroom, or a game room.
Or, they might use it for something a bit more over-the-top. Burdge mentioned a 12,000-square-foot home that his firm is working on in the Palisades.
“We’re building a car lift that will take you down to a car collection in the garage below.”