Inside the modern bachelor pads tailor-made for new breed of tech-savvy millionaires
Property agents say they’ve seen a shift in the tastes of wealthy single clients, who increasingly seek elegant and distinctive homes that are sure to impress at their next party – though there are some who still like theirs brash too
When you think of a bachelor pad, there are two stereotypes that probably come to mind: a messy studio with dirty dishes piled high in the sink, or a Hugh Hefner-esque lair with shag carpet and a mirrored ceiling. However, the modern bachelor pad couldn’t be more different.
Developers, architects and property agents know there is money to be made from changing tastes, and as a result are focusing their attention on wealthy single male buyers and tailoring spaces just for them.
“There are many people in their early thirties who have already made a beautiful amount of money,” says Tyler Whitman, an agent with New York-based real estate agency Triplemint. “They don’t have families. They’re not coming in with kids. They want to have these luxurious spaces designed just for them.”
Hong Kong interior designer Natasha Usher, of Nude Design, says she’s coincidentally found herself catering to the single male market; there was the newly divorced banker who enlisted her help on his Castle Peak Road home, and the recently completed flat near Hong Kong’s SoHo district that will inevitably appeal to single men.
“It’s a party pad,’’ says Usher of the 600 square foot duplex flat with 300 sq ft terrace. “It’s kitted out for some guy to walk in with his briefcase and settle in.”
Usher says that it’s partly her “masculine” design aesthetic that makes the SoHo-adjacent flat a good fit for a single man. It’s also close to many bars and restaurants, the space is hi-tech, and it has an outdoor entertaining area.
“Men enjoy the idea of dining outdoors,” Usher says. “Guys think it’s a cool place to lounge and have a drink.”
Certainly, the perception of the “single guy lifestyle” is driving activity globally in the bachelor pad category, coupled with the fact that men today are hitting it big while they’re still relatively young.
According to the Forbes 2018 world’s rich list, 63 of the world’s billionaires are under the age of 40, up from 56 last year. More than half – all of them men – made their fortunes in tech.
“They’re not like bachelors of a bygone era,” says Ron Woodson, co-owner of Los Angeles interior design firm Woodson & Rummerfield’s House of Design. “[These billionaires] are younger than in previous years, and they’ve got to have the right boots, the right car, the right everything. It’s a new phenomenon. They want a place that is their domain.”
It’s a trend that developers are banking on. In Beverly Hills, a 2,000 sq ft, US$27.5 million home – also available to rent for US$130,000 a month – is being pitched towards the affluent single man.
The home is entered through a towering door of black glass fitted with biometric technology – which grants access via fingerprint. There is a putting green on site, a wine room, and a “gallery” that is essentially a very fancy garage for six cars.
Patrick Fogarty, agent at Hilton and Hyland in Los Angeles, developed a 7,000 sq ft, US$15.9 million house overlooking Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. The Origami House is minutes away from the nightlife hotspots “so you’re near all the action and [can] host the after-party back at your house”, he says.
“The level of sophistication has increased. Just like how men’s grooming and fashion have become more prevalent, these buyers want to see a higher standard in the homes they purchase to complete the modern bachelor lifestyle.”
Indeed, it’s the idea of a modern bachelor lifestyle, and all that it entails, that developers are centring these properties on. Materials for many of these homes are steel, glass, stone and concrete, and they come with infinity pools, fully equipped gyms and wine cellars. One billionaire bachelor is building a home in Orange County, California, that will have a fully stocked bar inside the garage being constructed to house his Ferrari collection.
“The aesthetic is something that has got to be easy and not fussy,” says John Lum, principal architect and founder of San Francisco-based John Lum Architecture. “There has to be the appearance of having the latest and greatest in technology. They can put nice things out and not worry about kids messing about with them.”
Lum recently completed a 1,900 sq ft San Francisco home for a single male in his early 40s who owned a successful beauty brand and who wanted “to create a sanctuary for himself”. The 1920s era house – previously a warren of little rooms – had to be completely gutted; a staircase now runs through the centre of the house, while the master bedroom opens into the garden.
“He’s a collector, and mature enough to be able to curate things,” says Lum. “He understood quality. Younger bachelors are a bit more all over the map.”
George Jordan, developer of a West Hollywood home under his ANR Signature Collection brand, says an almost 7,000 sq ft, US$15.89 million house he completed is bound to appeal to bachelors because it was designed for parties.
“Bachelors desire a home suitable for entertaining, whether they are courting the object of their affections or want to throw a party for a large group of friends,” says Jordan. The home has an infinity pool that spills over to a lower-level outdoor terrace, an outdoor bar, a barbecue, and a fire pit.
“In the past, bachelors have had a reputation for desiring features in a home that scream [out] for attention, [including] things like crystal-encrusted champagne bottles and skulls, and neon-lit home discos. We have [now] found that successful single men buying homes really do have an appreciation of well-designed interiors … that both impress others but, more importantly, are comfortable for them.”
Elliot March, co-founder of London- and New York-based interior design firm March and White, knows the demographic well; his company’s project, 125 Greenwich, is a New York apartment building designed to appeal to the unmarried man.
The building has three floors of amenities at the top, with a feel of a private club. Residents have access to facilities like a penthouse bar, a shared wine cellar, a gym, a games room, a spa, and a theatre.
“Bachelors want to be centrally located and have immediate access to great restaurants and bars but don’t necessarily want to entertain in their own flats, and therefore don’t need excessive space,” says March. “We all want to feel part of a community, and more so for a bachelor. That’s why we are seeing developers focusing heavily on buildings with strong, well-designed amenity spaces that take it up a notch.”
But like the old stereotypes, designers hint that not all bachelors need to be acquisitive and tech-obsessed; some may need to put the brakes on buying “all the bells and whistles”, says Lum. He says there is a clear difference between old money and new, with some young millionaires who’ve amassed a fortune in the tech world gravitating towards flashy and over-the-top decor, and collecting art and antiques “without understanding the cultural references”.
“They want to show that they won the house over everyone else,” says Lum. “Sometimes I wonder, ‘Why are you buying this huge house with a wine cellar you’ll never use?’ There is this feeling that it’s a little unreal.”