Strolling, just Strolling

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Nick Churton, from the Diane Turton Realtors’ London office, takes a short walk from the New Jersey Boardwalk to discover a charming home. 

The Property: 15 St Clair Avenue, Spring Lake, New Jersey

The Broker: Diane Turton Realtors

The Agents: Susan Millar and Patricia Hamilton

Saint Clair Avenue is one of several broad, elegant thoroughfares that stretch back from the New Jersey shore at Spring Lake. High-end homes in this high-end town invariably come in two types – desirable and even more desirable.

But that doesn’t mean anything will do. Oh no; when house-hunting, one must always choose wisely – even if one is spoilt for choice. Not every home in Spring Lake will suit the requirements of the exacting buyer. There are important personal decisions to be made concerning size, proportions, condition, specification, orientation and nearness to the pretty village centre. But one common consideration will overarch everything. It is why most people house-hunt in Spring Lake in the first place: it’s what they want for their families – it’s the beach.

The beach is what makes this community tick. It is why it is a great place to live and a great place in which to invest in your family and real estate.

15 Saint Clair Avenue is in the ‘even more desirable’ category of houses in this town. One big reason is that it has ocean views. Yet it is peacefully set back from all the hectic summer season activity. This home is an all-year or weekend and vacation sanctuary combining exterior elegance with interior sophistication. Recently renovated to the point one only has to move in, it is the ultimate plug, play and enjoy Spring Lake home.

But best of all, the house is only a couple of minute’s stroll from the beach – just far enough for the kids to walk the sand from their feet – so the house self-cleans as well! Now that is something in which it is well worth investing.

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Once

Waterside, East Portlemouth - house, slipway and beach

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Nick Churton from the Luscombe Maye, London office, gets all watery-eyed over an iconic beach house at Salcombe, Devon.

The Property: Waterside, East Portlemouth, Salcombe, Devon, UK

The Estate Agent: Luscombe Maye

The Office: Salcombe

Is this the most longed-for house in Salcombe, Devon, England, or indeed the world?

There can’t be anyone gazing across the estuary from oh-so-fashionable Salcombe – one of England’s most prized and pretty coastal towns for living, visiting and sailing – who hasn’t cast an envious eye towards the enormously attractive pink house opposite, sitting next to its own beach.

The house tempts the viewer to dream of carefree days with family and friends, enjoying simple pleasures, and doing what all great seaside houses should do – making cherished memories.

Now comes a once in a lifetime opportunity, as the house with a delightful garden, boathouse and two private moorings is on the market. It probably won’t come available again for decades.

For someone, the dreaming will come to an end when he or she buys this unique and celebrated house. They will wake up owning a prize beyond price. For what is the value of a dream come true? What is the value of slipping your mooring in your Salcombe Yawl and going racing, or jumping in the RIB with the kids and heading off around dramatic Bolt Head or up the enchanting creek to South Pool? What is the value of owning a grandchildren playground and magnet? These things, dear reader, are priceless. Take it from one who knows.

And spare a thought for the people over the other side of the estuary, glancing in your direction and dreaming. You were in their shoes once. Fortune has also turned her gaze on you.

Some houses seem beyond price or value. This is one of them.

Waterside, East Portlemouth - house and lawn

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A Yen For Zen

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Nick Churton of the Michael Saunders and Company, London office, meditates on the qualities of a uniquely serene waterside home in Florida.

The Property: 8017 Marina Isles Ln, Holmes Beach, FL.

The Broker: Michael Saunders & Company

The Agents: Kate Enis and Stacy Haas

Well, I wasn’t expecting that. I was up in Anna Maria Island, the last pearl in an exquisite string of barrier islands that stretch north from Sarasota to Bradenton on the west coast of Florida.

There are many great homes to choose from in these delightful neighbourhoods – grand oceanfront mansions, condos – large and small – and chic chalet homes. But there is only one 8017 Marina Isles Lane.

I was entirely unprepared to open the front door and step over a carp canal by way of a polished wooden surfboard to enter what I can only describe, as a cool, marble-floored Balinese style pavilion. One may quickly think of this house as an indulgence or one man’s flight of fancy. But after only a few minutes, one realises that it is neither. In those few minutes, a calm has overwhelmed one. So too has a level of deeper understanding that this is how one should like to live. This building is not a folly, in the architectural sense of the word, but a meaningful home for mind and soul. It is a retreat that touches all the senses. It is a way of life away from a busy world – but not isolated from that world. Forget possessions: pyjamas, for modesty, and a toothbrush will just about do it here.

Of course, this is a high specification building that uses only the finest and most beautiful materials. But it goes much deeper than that. The layout flows, like the carp canal, offering a pared-down, but sophisticated lifestyle. The kitchen is fantastic, and you should see the master suite with a to-die-for bath and shower room. There is a second-floor guest suite that would make a rod for your own back because you would have to prise your guests away, kicking and screaming.

Outside there is an extensive deck flanking an infinity pool with views over the Intracoastal inlet – think osprey, dolphin, and manatee. There is a dock. The water isn’t deep, so no yacht space. But I doubt that is what you want if you desire this home. A paddleboard, kayak or shallow-draught dory will do the trick for fishing, picnics and just messing about in boats. But then they would also get you to a yacht moored in the marina opposite if that is your thing.

I love this house. I love its look. I love how it made me feel. I love the promise of peace it silently made me. I was not expecting that.

Excuse me while I fetch my pyjamas and toothbrush.

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Peachy Beachy

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Nick Churton of the Waterfront Properties and Club Communities’ London office, joins Managing Partner, Rob Thomson, on a visit to a single story Palm Beach villa with the unmistakable Palm Beach look.

 

The Property: 1020 North Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach, Florida

 

The Broker: Waterfront Properties and Club Communities

 

The Managing Partner: Rob Thomson

 

The Agent: Trina Lane

 

I have been thinking about 1020 North Ocean Boulevard since I visited the property. There is a distinct Palm Beach style, and this home certainly has it. But there is more to this Greek revival villa than meets the eye. If you are going to live in Palm Beach, then North or South Ocean Boulevard is the address to be. President Donald Trump lives here. So too does Rod Stewart. John Lennon had a house here. I could go on and on and on.

 

But what I love about this house is that it is such a useful size. A single, couple or small family can come to resent rooms that they don’t use but for which they pay. There is no need for such resentment here. This home has to be the ideal full-use residential villa that offers elegance with square foot restraint.

 

I also loved the back yard – or back garden, as we say in the UK. It is exclusively made over to the terrace and swimming pool. But it is not just any pool; this is a movie star rated pool, flanked by a magical dining loggia to one side and the kitchen wing to the other – if George Clooney had appeared in swimsuit or tuxedo, I wouldn’t have been surprised. The loggia and pool are bounded at the back by a high hedge backdrop providing complete privacy for alfresco dining and skinny-dipping – if skinny-dipping is your thing.

 

Wander around the rooms here, and it is not hard to imagine spending a relaxed day, week, month or even year in this lovely space. Nor is it hard thinking of the grand parties or smaller soirees with friends from the neighbourhood. They will be a well-heeled bunch and many will have larger houses. But few will have grander homes. The Ancient Greeks had real style, and now that look is alive and well in Palm Beach. Other architectural looks come and go. But this style is always in fashion. As they say, form is temporary, but class is permanent.

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Lucky You

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Nick Churton of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices EWM Realty London office, visits a waterside property that, he thinks, offers a fabulous investment opportunity, as well as a magnificent home.

The Property: 9540 W Broadview Dr, Bay Harbor Islands, Florida

The Broker: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices EWM Realty

The Agent: Nelson Gonzalez

All of us like the idea of an ahead-of-the-curve real estate deal: but, take it from me, these are hard to find. You have to get everything right. The location, style, size and specification all have to anticipate, rather than follow, the zeitgeist. Plus you have to have a bit of luck.

So I was amazed to come face-to-face with opportunity at a home in Bay Harbor Islands, just north of Miami Beach. It seemed to tick all the boxes. No one can, or should, promise or guarantee success in real estate – it is not an exact science – but this does look a very good bet.

First, the location is cool and fast up-and-coming. The view is over Biscayne Bay. It is just across the water from the celebrated Indian Creek Country Club and only a few minutes drive from the uber-luxury shops at Bal Harbor – think Gucci, Valentino, Dior and Bvlgari. To eat, choose from Makoto, Carpaccio or Flanigans Seafood Bar and Grill, to name but three. Bay Harbor Islands is a location that is just about to pop. Now is the time to get there before everyone else wants to.

Second, the style is smooth, contemporary-modern. Say no more.

Third, the specification is the highest quality with a smooth look and sleek finishes to marble and hardwood floors, and concrete spine walls which reflect the amazing Miami natural light. Outside, beyond the south-facing pool is a great dock.

Forth, the size is perfect for all year round or vacation living with plenty of space for spacious closets and bathrooms besides the fabulous open plan living areas and kitchen.

So that leaves you with luck. I think this is your lucky day – not only reading about the house, but the agent is Nelson Gonzalez, and what he doesn’t know about being ahead-of-the-curve in luxury Miami homes isn’t worth knowing.

Take it from Nelson, the smart money is on locating here before everyone else catches on. Lucky you.

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Do It Yourself Anyway

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Nick Churton from Residential Properties’ London office, loses his heart to a Providence home offering its next owner enviable potential.

The Property: 75 Prospect Street, Providence, Rhode Island

The Broker: Residential Properties

The Agent: James DeRentis

Nowadays, there is a trend for buyers to shy away from homes that need some work undertaken. It is understandable. In this day and age, we all seem to have less time – or not the sort of time to spend on property renovations.

This reluctance turns out to be a silver lining for those who are prepared to do the work, as they have less competition for some great homes at lower prices. With care not to get into money pit renovations, the savvy buyer can pick up a great deal that will turn out to be a spectacular home.

I have found a perfect example. It is in Providence, Rhode Island. Behind the beautiful buildings of Ivy League, Brown University, in an area called College Hill, are charming tree-lined streets of fascinating and handsome period homes. One such home is 75 Prospect Street. It was built c1859 to an Italianate design by celebrated local architect, Thomas Tefft. It is all still all there: high ceilings, fine architectural features, good proportions and elegance. They have been left unsullied for 160 years.

One only has to stand in the grand entrance hall to understand the outstanding opportunity that presents itself. The dated decoration will put off the daunted. But the undaunted will quickly understand that several large buckets of good quality paint in the right colour and shade, a roller, and a few weekends spent rolling will transform this into a fantastic, sophisticated space of Architectural Digest quality. The same goes for the rest of the rooms.

Over time I would go a bit further and update the services and remove a wall to create a fabulous kitchen with breakfast room that will open out onto a secluded terrace looking over the charming, city-proportioned English garden.

So, go on, be brave – and creative. Unleash the interior designer in you. It may take some work. But revival is ultimately satisfying and well worth it. You can ask the broker, James DeRentis, who happens to be extremely talented at this sort of thing. I am sure he will be happy to advise. Or you can pay much more money for a house someone else has already renovated – one you may very well end up altering anyway. That’s what people usually end up doing.

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Slow Track To Success

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Nick Churton from the Residential Properties, London office, discovers a quaint and tranquil cottage in a charming coastal location only 24 miles from bustling Providence. As he says, “What’s there not to like”?

The Property: 31 Gould Way, North Kingstown, Rhode Island

The Broker: Residential Properties

The Agents: Dana Zangari

Some of the most attractive features of New England are the charming communities that hug the coastline. They can be found all the way up the seaboard including islands such as Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Some neighbourhoods are now so popular they have become prohibitively expensive and, in summer months, impossibly congested. But some remain quiet, tucked away and only familiar to those in the know. I discovered one of these in North Kingstown, Rhode Island recently. Rhode Island, nicknamed the Ocean State, may be the smallest state in the union, but it boasts over 400 miles of beautiful coastline – enough to hide some perfect gems.

North Kingstown has the look and character of a small and quaint artists’ enclave. It is the sort of place where bees hum in the summer and fires crackle in the winter – and even where one may feel it unnecessary to lock the front door. It is a hamlet of charming gardens and picturesque shingle-clad houses with views to the water. In summer kids can adventure as their parents did when they were children. It is a rare thing nowadays and a priceless gift.

Close-by are the yacht and tennis club, library, church and post office. This is a friendly and welcoming community that is alive throughout the year.

31 Gould Way was built in 1900 for local ferryboat captain, J. Lester Eaton. The house still bears the name of its original owner who would, I am sure, still recognise the layout of his house – but not the décor or the facilities. Today this cottage is a chic and comfortable coastal home. Top marks for the first floor bedroom. Outside there is a studio for creativity, fitness or extra accommodation. The garden is a haven and a delight.

So let the stress of modern living slip away. Take a step back from the 24-hour news cycle. Get back in touch with your inner harmony, smell the flowers, be on first name terms with your neighbours – all of them – and join the slow track.

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Windmills of my Mind

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Nick Churton from Residential Properties’ London office finds a chic Providence city home that takes him back to the movies.

The Property: 26 Benefit Street, Providence, Rhode Island

The Broker: Residential Properties

The Agent: James DeRentis

I hope that Rhode Islanders won’t mind if I suggest that, in parts, their beautiful state capital, Providence, has a look of Boston about it. But I suppose it is hardly surprising, Boston was established in 1630 and Providence only 6 years later, the two cities are only 50 miles apart and share an elegant architecture imported by European settlers before and after the war of independence. College Hill in Providence, particularly, has echoes of Beacon Hill in Boston with charming Federal-style terraced and detached houses in tree-lined streets with brick pavements.

I first came across Beacon Hill in the1968 movie, The Thomas Crown Affair. Steve McQueen’s eponymous character had a very cool town house there. I was reminded of it when visiting 26 Benefit Street in Provincetown. It may have been smaller but, for me, somehow it had the essential Thomas Crown vibe – classy.

26 Benefit Street, Providence, is a comfortable home with a great deal of style and originality behind a handsome brick exterior. Internally it features part exposed-brick internal walls spread out on several half floors – creating an interior that is beautifully inter-connected. It makes for perfect and sophisticated solo, couple or small family living and intimate entertaining – with or without a chessboard!

Outside there is off-street parking for two cars. But there is hardly a need for cars as this lovely home is within walking distance of all the educational, arts and cultural amenities of this highly creative city.

So, whether you are a super-rich, super-bored bachelor planning an audacious bank heist or, far more probably, a highly law-abiding buyer looking for a perfect city home close to all amenities, including state governance, this could well be for you. I’ve made the introduction, now it’s your move.

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Elementary my dear Buyer

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Nick Churton from Residential Properties’ London office, heads off to Rhode Island’s rocky shores to find a ready-made waterside home in one of the loveliest settings imaginable.

The Property: 450 Poppasquash Road, Bristol, Rhode Island

The Broker: Residential Properties

The Agent: Kris Gladding Chwalk

If I were going to live on a peninsular, then I think I would like to live on Poppasquash Point, Bristol, Rhode Island. Poppasquash is such a lovely American Indian name. The very sound of it makes me want to live there. Originally, the word could have meant partridges or broken rocks or, perhaps, both. But it doesn’t matter which now, because for those in the know, Poppasquash has now surely come to define where earth meets water – more particularly, a spectacular, jagged and dramatic point jutting out into the expansive and beautiful Narragansett Bay.

Water is as vital as earth to Rhode Island. Both elements play an essential part in the state’s history, culture and economy. Poppasquash, situated about halfway between pretty and bustling yachting-super-city, Newport, and the elegant state capital, Providence, emphasises this elemental co-dependence and offers a quiet retreat from both urban centres.

The house I visited would suit not just those seeking peace, but also those who like messing around in boats, as the property has private mooring with the possibility of a dock.

From the broken rock shore, a delightful three-acre, wild-garden walk or golf buggy ride takes one to the house. And what a house! Every room seems to be designed to make the most of the sensational bay views – often with breath-taking, over-water sunsets. Generous living rooms grace the ground floor while upstairs four bedroom suites each offer spacious and comfortable privacy. This house has the lot – or as much, if not more than most would demand. Just look at the details and please note, it is green constructed for low-maintenance and no-conscience living with geothermal heating and lots of other bells and whistles to make living easy – including an elevator.

Should you make Poppasquash your address? I think you should. It’s elementary.

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Sand

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Nick Churton from the Diane Turton Realtors’ London office gets all watery eyed at a breathtaking beach house on the New Jersey shore.

The Property: 712 Morven Terrace, Sea Girt, New Jersey

The Broker: Diane Turton Realtors

The Agent: Colleen Tobin

I checked out the definition of seagirt and found it means surrounded by sea. This was one of the questions I had when I reached Oceanfront, Sea Girt, on the New Jersey shore. Next, I wondered how this house would look like on the inside because it seemed pretty amazing to me on the outside?

If you follow my footsteps, I challenge you not to shout, “Wow”, and then dive for your beach clothes, because when you go through the front door of this home, you realise that the house is not on the beach, it is the beach.

At this magnificent contemporary home with an industrial vibe interior, you sleep on the beach, shower on the beach, eat on the beach and relax on the beach – or so it seems. All there is separating the house from the strand is a giant wall of glass. It is fabulous in the summer, but also cosy warm in the winter – giving the home a year-round life.

The beach is what living in this part of the world is all about. It is an antidote to the urban frenzy of New York City only sixty-odd miles to the north.

There is a strong chance that buyers will want to balance both beach and city lifestyles – city to make their living and beach to enjoy their living. Commuting is made easy at Oceanfront by only a two-hour rail journey between Manasquan station (only five minutes from the house) and Penn Station in Manhattan.

Oceanfront blurs the lines between city and beach living with a loft look that offers a sophisticated modern design with a carefree sand-between-the-toes lifestyle. So, go on, kick off your shoes and join the beach set.

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