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Vegas couple remodels retirement home into mini-mansion— VIDEO

Robert Allen Rae is absorbing the exterior sounds of his Red Rock Country Club home. The raised infinity pool stretching 69 feet across the backyard creates a minimalist serenity, augmented by the hypnotic bubbling of its fountains.

A curvilinear planter set into the ground follows the pool all the way around. It is paradise enough to most anyone, but what sold Rae and his wife, Doralee, on the home was a complete view of the Las Vegas Strip in the distance.

Although they decided to trade their mansion for a smaller home in Sun City Summerlin they kept the views. The mini-mansion they have re-created from their dream home has the same sweeping views of the Strip they first fell in love with.

The couple’s son, Byron, is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Nevada Properties. He held a broker’s event for the Red Rock Country Club home on Aug. 8. Before he could list it on the Multiple Listing Service, he said he had an offer for the list price of $2.2 million on Aug. 14 by the William H. Houston and Susan N. Houston Revocable Trust. The deal is expected to close Aug. 27. Byron Rae said the house was officially listed on the MLS for about five minutes.

“Strip views are not easy to find,” says Doralee Rae, while stepping into the backyard from the living room of the Red Rock Country Club home. “We wanted the Strip and the golf club view.”

In addition to the views, an open floor plan they could customize to fit their style, was important. This is, after all, an inspired and creative couple whose purchase of the Red Rock Country Club home meant stripping it to its two-by-fours and rebuilding it to their aesthetic.

They installed glass walls, enlarged interior doorways, added arches, built new ceilings and installed a climate-controlled wine room with 600 bottles in stock. They added stonework that repeated indoors and out, and lit it all with layered indirect lighting. The oversized, custom-built, raised pool replaced the previous tiny ground pool.

The transformation was thorough and included turning one of the three bedrooms into an aquarium/theater room with a 350-gallon freshwater fish tank built into the bookcase and wall, a secret door, theater lighting, book cases and illuminated shelves to the ceiling. The darkened aquarium room (sans live fish in the aquarium because saying goodbye when they died was hard) with its coral fluorescent fish sculptures and two glass walls looks to be an elegant aquarium, decked with aquatic life. Even the pots and pans hanging above the island in the kitchen were customized to match the woodwork in the home.

This is what they do. Robert Rae had been president of Meyer Corp., famous for its cookware. For five of his years with the company he lived in Las Vegas and commuted to the Bay Area. As retirement neared, the real estate market crashed and he began buying and overseeing the renovation of homes in Las Vegas, investing quite a bit of energy, money and materials, and then renting and/or selling them: 47 homes over the past decade.

But their more than 4,000-square-foot home, which includes a furnished casita just off a front private pathway, is their dream home — their personal passion project. Neither is a professional designer, but could compete with the best.

They’re naturals, who have absorbed styles, trends, tastes and quality after decades in the home furnishings industry that had them globe-trotting. Robert Rae was a lifer in the industry, beginning in the 1960s at Macy’s selling carpet on commission, which paid his way through college. He moved up the ladder, eventually becoming a manager in San Francisco, overseeing lamps, living ware, glassware, pots and pans, “anything that goes in the home,” he says. “We went all over the world buying this stuff.”

The blend of colors, textures and natural materials repeated throughout their home creates an uninterrupted flow from one room to the next — outside and in. Molding, trim, doors and cabinetry throughout the home were hand-painted by an artist to appear as warm mahogany with a tinge of red. It is perfectly balanced.

After more than 10 years, the Raes are moving again. This time, to a home half the size in Sun City, Summerlin, that they’ve already customized, decorated and outfitted with the finest accouterments.

“It’s a lot of a home. We just want a smaller home. It’s just my wife and I and the home is bigger than what we need,” Robert Rae says.

The couple is leaving everything in the house.

“Everything stays,” Doralee Rae says, looking around the stylishly furnished desert contemporary home, aesthetically cohesive and warm. “What you see right now. You can buy the house today and have cocktails with your friends tomorrow. Literally.”

That includes all of the furniture including the circular sofa in the living room, the linens, the plants, the appliances, sculpture collection, painting collection, decorative items, throw pillows and statuary and furniture in the tidy garden patio off the kitchen.

“All of the artwork that’s here is going to stay here,” she adds. “I have taken out the memories and the collections and our special artwork, and put it into our other home.”

They are even leaving commissioned pieces in ornately sculptural Italian frames and a celadon collection from Hong Kong and China. A classical painting of Waterloo painted by an artist in Thailand, which the Rae’s commissioned, hangs amid the bookcases.

“We just can’t put it in the new home,” Doralee Rae says. “I’m not one to want to just put it into a container.”

She is originally from Napa. He grew up in Southern California. They met in San Francisco, moved to New York, then to Chicago, then to San Francisco again, then to Hong Kong where they lived for 10 years. Having moved multiple times and collected plenty over the years, they don’t want to haul everything when they have no space for it in their new home, which will be their 16th in 42 years and is intended to be their last.

“We don’t want to strip this home,” she says, looking around the three-bedroom dream home where their son was married. “We feel that it will appeal to someone who is busy.”

Should the new owners refuse the decor and furnishing, the Raes say they will have an estate sale. The design elements, including the Murphy beds that drop from paneled walls in two of the bedrooms (one the aquarium/theater with privacy curtains, another an office), stay with the home.

At the Summerlin home, the glass walls facing east overlook a golf course and the Strip. Orange is a dominant accent color and a smaller wine room, 18-inches deep, is right off the dining room. With its furnishings, customized accents, molding and woodwork, the home is almost a “mini-me” of the Red Rock Country Club estate.

Instead of a circular couch anchoring the main living room in the new home, there is a stunning tubular chandelier in the shape of a ring.

The theater room with glass walls, one off the entry and the other, facing the living room, has a television set into the wall playing a recording of colorful exotic fish swimming.

Designing spaces is something they truly enjoy together.

“We’ve tried things,” Doralee Rae says. “And we’re not afraid of trying things. I think Bob and I have a style.”

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