The star's latest project is an 8,821-square-foot luxury compound she just completed in Kona, Hawaii, and plans to sell at auction Jan. 18.
"I had just a great time," Cher said of the Sotheby's-Julien's Auctions event, which raised about $3.5 million -- more than two times presale estimates. So when Concierge Auctions proposed selling her newly built resort home, she thought she'd give it a shot.
The 3/4 -acre property at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, on Hawaii's Big Island, overlooks the ocean and the Hualalai Golf Course. A traditional island front gate leads to a courtyard and the main residence, with its great room, dining room, kitchen, expansive master bedroom suite and infinity pool.
"You're into the house before you get to the house," she said of the configuration. Grass with travertine paving stones and palms, as well as the sounds of water, set a tranquil ambience.
"I tried to just build it to have a welcoming feeling," Cher said.
Off the garden courtyard are five bungalows: three one-bedroom, one-bathroom guest suites, a two-bedroom, two-bathroom guest suite and a detached media center with a bar. Together they have 6,600 square feet of space "under air," to use the local housing market terminology.
But it is the open-air living space and the access to the outdoors through pocket doors that captured Cher's imagination.
"Every single room gives you the free feeling of when you go to Hawaii -- a vibe," she said. "You want to be outside; you just really want a roof."
Walls of doors open to the courtyard, linking a living room, kitchen, dining room and bedroom to the outdoors. There's even an alfresco shower. "I tried to make at least some part of every room outside," Cher said.
The spaces mimic their inside counterparts, she explained, but are freer and "much more fun."
The swimming pool wraps around the master bedroom suite of the main house. A sunken ledge at the edge of the pool is large enough to hold chaises, so sun bathers can dip their toes in the water.
The actress, who by her own estimate has owned 18 homes, seems moonstruck by the design process.
"I'm a Taurus, and every place I've ever gone and set foot I've thought, 'Ooh, it would be nice to have a house here. I'd like to design a house here.' "
She involves herself in the details, "from finding the property to putting the last flower in the vase on the table," she said. "I like picking out the palm trees, going to the stone yard, figuring out which colors are going to go best."
In the Hawaii house, she expresses her recent penchant for light earth tones and Balinese and Moroccan influences. She first experimented with this design direction at her Sierra Towers condominium in West Hollywood and is using it to redo her Malibu home too.
The Oscar, Grammy and Emmy winner paid $2.9 million for the Hawaii site in 2009 and is selling it completely furnished without ever having lived in it.
"You basically take your luggage and move in," said George Graham, chief executive of Concierge Auctions. "Get someone to do the shopping for you, and you can be barbecuing that night."
Unlike in a traditional sale, in which the seller pays a commission to a real estate agent, the buyer will pay a 10% premium, which is the industry standard. There will be no minimum opening bid, and Cher's property is set to be auctioned along with two other houses and two home sites. Details of the auction and all the properties are available at www.CherHawaiiAuction.com.
Only registered bidders bringing $250,000 in certified or pre-wired funds can vie for the entertainer's house, which the auction house expects to go for between $8 million and $12 million.
The house next door sold in September for $1,584 per square foot of living space, and local luxury listings range from $5 million to $29 million.
The final bid on Cher's property must satisfy the confidential seller's reserve price, and escrow will close in 30 days.
In the meantime, the film star is working on Screen Gems' "Burlesque" with Stanley Tucci, Peter Gallagher and Christina Aguilera.
And she already is looking to Montana for her next potential home project. Cher, 63, used to own two places in Aspen, Colo. "Then it became a place I just can't go anymore because of the paparazzi," she said.
Now she's hoping to find or build a place with a "cabiny" feel.
"I want a little ranch with mountains and trees," Cher said, "and a little river running through it."