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Great Escapes

February 11, 2001|BARBARA THORNBURG

Steven Spielberg and Martha Stewart have three, Oprah Winfrey has at least four. The most visible reflection of the economic boom of recent years--owning a second home, or even a third and fourth--is still on the rise. Thirteen percent of home sales in the United States in 1999 were second home purchases, up from 8% four years earlier, according to analysis by DataQuick Information Systems. Spokesman John Karevoll says DataQuick expects last year's sales in the second home market to have been even stronger. "We haven't seen an economic slowdown yet, but as people tire of the turbulence on Wall Street, they may migrate money from volatile investments into something they can touch, feel and use."

Here, Southern Californians who took the second-home plunge share their private retreats and tell us just what their homes-away-from-home mean to them. They include mountain houses such as architect Thomas Blurock's 21st century cabin near the ultimate Montana fishing hole, and styling agency owner Angelika Schubert and producer David Tate's redwood aerie filled with flea market finds in the pines of Lake Arrowhead. For landscape architect Pamela Burton and arts educator Richard Hertz, an old stone house set amid a citrus orchard in Ojai is Arcadia. Designer April Greiman and architect Michael Rotondi consider their miracle manor a mid-century motel room in the desert, while interior designer Natasha Esch and dot-com founder Matt Coffin's apartment on Dog Beach in Malibu epitomizes for both "a vacation without the jet lag." For all, the second home is a great escape, a place to de-stress, indulge the senses and, in the words of April Greiman, have "time to think about what they are thinking about."

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