You just can’t compete with LA spec developers/builders. I mean, they have those damned hills that offer uninterrupted, private views, and a population dripping in money, vanity and FOMO.
Enter the most whimsical property that I’ve seen for a while. The 18,000 square foot “Elementi” created by Michael Chen, in association with SAOTA Architects, for the Luxford Group.
The price tag being flagged as $USD65m, seems pretty worth it to these old eyes, considering the invlusions such as the Olive tree imported from Tuscany and craned (they are reported to have needed a 110-ton crane and a crew of 15 ) into the heart of the home.
What a superb and quite brilliant idea to feature this gnarled and ragged specimen against a sharp, gleaming geometrically precise background.
It offers a depth in design that has yet to be equalled in the cut throat spec home world of LA.
There are seven bedrooms, fourteen bathrooms and a measly two kitchens, despite the unlikely event of anyone actually cooking here beside the catering company. Such a waste of a well hidden gaggle of Gaggenau appliances.
The pictures tell the story; from the floating marble footway over the hard edge moat that delivers vistiors to an architectural wonderland.
But for me, it’s about the tree. It’s about the living heart of this truly inspired design
Perhaps it’s frustration with my old favourite TV show, The Block, which this season is so bad, I don’t even record it anymore. There’s nothing innovative; no plans afoot that make me so curious I have to see how it turns out … just bullshit and drama, and no product information beyond endless sponsor plugs.
I know ‘out there’ ideas that need to be seen. Decorating, interior design, is an art form, it’s a gigantic palette waiting for daubs of character and passion. Some people are Kandinsky, or Warhol, or Banksy, or Monet or Manet or whatever. Not everyone likes everything, but art causes a reaction. Has an impact. Wakes you up. Makes you think.
Extreme developers, which are mostly found in Melbourne it seems to me, are not afraid to venture into into the wild lands of being non-bland.
Turtle Bay; for those of us who live far away from the USA, it sounds very Hampton-esque, Boston-esque … rich-est kind of place.
One out of three ain’t bad with Turtle Bay being in, of all places, Manhattan. Still a bit lost? – well the neighbourhood encompasses the Chrysler Building (a little thrill just went through me) and the United Nations building.
Turtle Bay has long been a cog in the mighty wheel of NYC – dating back to when the Dutch ran the place, and celebrities such as Edgar Allen Poe, were to be found on its streets.
However, it entered a very untidy period after the Civil War, taking on a rather industrial shabbiness and the beautiful historic homes were all but deserted. A fall from grace, until….
In 1919 Mrs Charlotte Martin, a visionary with money (and aren’t they always the best visionaries to have?) decided it would be super fun to buy 20 properties, renovate them and create a Medici inspired common garden. She must have spent a bomb renovating all the homes, and in the end, she remained holding only 226-228 East 49th St., selling off the rest to ‘arty types’ as they were called.
Kathryn Hepburn, Bob Dylan, Stephen Sondheim, the brilliant screen play writer Garson Kanin (just love Kanin’s stories of life in early Hollywood) and earlier the writer E.B White, have all been attracted to living here over the years, with the glorious hidden courtyard gardens, an almost secret escape from the cheek by jowl life in Manhattan.
In the post war period, around 1949 E.B. White wrote what some have called a ‘love letter’ to New York in his book Here Is New York, in which he uses a willow tree in Turtle Bay garden as a metaphor for his beloved city.
“A block or two west of the new City of Man in Turtle Bay is an old willow tree that presides over an interior garden. It is a battered tree, long suffering and much climbed, held together by strands of wire but beloved of those who know it. In a way, it symbolises the city: life under difficulties, growth against odds, sap-rise in the midst of concrete and the steady reaching for the sun” *
Ah, the inspiring history of this town is too often overshadowed by its boisterous and boastful reputation of bright lights and booze.
This week a part of that marvellous Mrs Martin dream has come back to the market, in a state of, well, undress.
Olivier Sarkozy (yes, of those Sarkozys) bought the property (is 8,700 square feet, over five floors) seven or so years ago, just before he wed the diminutive Mary-Kate Olsen.
It was supposed to be a huge renovation, the house not the marriage – but in the end neither came to a happy ending and the now divorced millionaire has put the home on the market through Sotheby’s.
He is reported to have paid, via a limited liability company) $USD13.5m, but due to the ‘mid reno’ condition of the mansion, is now asking a mere $USD11.5m
My elder son has been living in the states for years now, the last couple in NYC – not far from this address. It has energised me to find out more about this rather mythic metropolis.
*The famous willow tree came to a natural end in 2009, but not before professionals took cuttings which have been successfully grown. The trees are planned to be planted, appropriately, across the parks New York City .
Prue Miller is a property journalist who loves spending a freezing Christmas in New York ..and hopes to again one day soon.
The signature of Kings Cross, the El Alamein fountain was water sculptor Robert Woodward’s first commission; his last can be found here, in the courtyard garden of Peter and Angela Keel’s home in peaceful McMahons Point.
“It’s called Piper’s Rill,” Peter told me as we stood on the threshold shared by both the calming courtyard and the generous dining room, separated by giant pivot, glass doors.
The Keels lived at No. 33 Bank Street, and were looking for a larger home in 1997 when they approached their neighbour about buying No.31. Problem solved.
Sandstone, glorious sandstone is the heartbeat of what has become an exciting, almost sprawling home designed by acclaimed Architect Jon Johannsen. And the delight of winding one’s way through the rooms, the levels and the era’s is one of it’s greatest charms.
As Peter leads me through the home he brings me to the central stair way, lined by walls of sandstone, perfectly lit by the afternoon sun pouring through the skylights.
“This is how Jon resolved the two properties, these were the outside walls of 31 and 33,” said Peter just as we reached the top step, and I turned to see the perfect walls had formed an exquisite two story void and view into the home’s core.
Did I mention the pool and towering Morton bay figs? At times the light reflects off the pool and into the deep green foliage of the towering trees. Divine.
The Keels are well read, articulate art lovers and included space for both passions here. A rare occurrence, and an aspect that will be enjoyed by buyers who have trouble finding wall space on which to place beloved pieces.
One absolutely charming aspect is how the original rooflines, an almost whimsical A-line peak of sandstone, has been retained and revealed in the bedrooms. The combination of that, and wide openings to the street-side verandas, lined in blue petals, well, who wouldn’t want to lie back and relax?
“When you sand back here,” says Peter in one of the rooms, “you feel like you are floating in Jacarandas.” And he’s spot on.
What’s the showstopper? It’s very hard to decide, there is so much to be experienced here. For me it was the dining room; sandstone, (perfectly lit), timber, glass and plenty of room to enjoy an atmosphere of bonhomie, where fine wine and finer conversation would fill this fabulous home.
This story was published in part by NewsCorp’s Mosman Daily.
For those is the snow know, The Remarkables is a breathtaking mountain range and well respected (and very possibly feared by dreadful skiers like me) ski field in New Zealand – not Europe. Europe dreams of having The Remarkables. The Swiss lie awake at night, with silent tears pooling on their kissenbezugs* cos they don’t have The Remarkables. Yep, it’s that amazing.
So where better to build a lake house than right here, at Jack’s Point? Where from glass enclosed bedrooms you can become one with the oh-my-god-it’s-unbelievable views, while snuggled under a doona.
Mind you, there are SO many fireplaces in this place, you wouldn’t even need to unpack your ski socks. Cosy baby.
It’s (rather unimaginatively you’d have to say) called the Lake House. It’s only a drive from posh and pricey Queenstown, but you could be anywhere as you gaze across That Lake. This can be achieved from a number of outside spaces (I love that NZ isn’t afraid to go outside even though it can get so bleeding cold the hairs on the inside of your nose get frosty) in lounge chairs, or neck deep in the steaming spa.
The agent stats include the fact it is a big two acres plus land parcel, and is part of a golf course? I don’t get that part. You’ll have to sort that out with Terry. So it’s kind of like a luxury resort, with a warm clubhouse and cold beers just a op skip and a jump away. Nice.
It’s only ten k’s to the airport and one imagines the holiday rental potential is mind blowing.
At just $NZ5.95m ($AUD5.42m, $USD4.3 or so), it’s a steal … with a one in a gazillon view.
And finally, why are they called The Remarkables? Named by Alexander Garvie in the mid 1800s for the fact that they are one of only two magnificent mountain ranges that run North South. Or maybe that’s a myth. Ok, well, you’re not reading this for a school assignment, so just enjoy the story and forget the facts.
*You had to look right? That’s Swiss German for pillowcase
Call them dams if it helps, but what we’re missing from the laid-back, luxury property market down under is that chilled out, ever so still, LAKE.
Because what follows is the lake house. The Golden Pond potential (and if you haven’t even taken the time to see this movie, then frankly you don’t DESERVE a lake house) of a Scrabble led family retreat, and rediscovery. (As an aside, I have to say I think Jane Fonda is even better in Grace and Frankie than she was in Golden Pond. But I digress…)
Ocean view homes, the ones right on the water – are also majestic – but there’s so much going on. And worse still, people in all their Lycra loudness surge like a coconut scented tide for at least half the year. No, give me serenity with a glass-like finish and the security of a tree lined fiefdom.
Sothebys have a beautiful one for sale in Nashville at the moment.
A Main House, and a Guest House (it’s my blog so I can use upper case at random), plus the de rigueur Boat House can be found on the aptly named Kentucky Lane – overlooking Kentucky Lake. God, I’d buy it just for the address.
The house is aimed squarely at the lake; the great room a centre piece with what could only be called a glass altar, where the lake is praised, and cocktails (one hopes) partaken.
Four beds, four baths and lots of lovely land for the very reasonable price of $USD2.35m.
Yep, let’s get some of them thar lakes for down under. I need a Golden Pond moment or two.
I made a big call this week on my regular real estate wrap up online for News Corp; and it was that 6 Benson Ave, Toorak is the best house on the market in Australia this week – and I dare say for a lot longer than that.
There is room (and a room) for every conceivable folly – from the cigar room to the pool room – and the cellar? Good lord.
But where some designers go off script and drift from divine to dreadful, this opulent property says ‘bling’, without passing that tipping point in bawdy.
The glass floors are breathtaking – and seeing it repeated on the walls in some of the bathrooms is a delight. Fireplaces, chandeliers, mammoth (though not gaping) voids that make your heart stop. The mosaics are a surprise and a delight, as is the automated tallboy in the dressing room.
But is it more amazing than the in-pool cinema? I don’t know. My senses had it overload by the time I came across it.
I talked with Anton Wongtrakun, the agent at Dingle Partners in Melbourne and he too was found wanting for adjectives tat captured the essence. A two to three year build, Gaggenau 400 appliances, Bohemian crystal chandeliers… you have to see this one to believe.
Check out my spot online, and if you have the dough – go buy this one. You’ll never see another like it.