Stop Dreaming, Start Living


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Nick Churton of Robert Paul Properties’ London ofice visits a home in Orleans, Massachusetts that represents the pinnacle of  Cape Cod living and lifestyle.

Broker: Robert Paul Properties

Agents: Robert Kinlin and Fran Schofield

Say you have long yearned for a perfect Cape Cod lifestyle. You’ve made some enquiries about the best broker in the area to help make your dream come true. This, by common consent, is Robert Paul Properties. It turns out that they might have just the thing for you. But you are sceptical because you know that you will be a very demanding buyer. This purchase is very important for you and your family. You are in search of the almost impossible.

The location would have to be breathtaking. You don’t want to be on show but you don’t want to be isolated either. And you want direct ocean access but from a sheltered position. A private beach would be a must for the family – two would be better – but the house would have to be set in an elevated position to enjoy sensational year-round views. Of course the house would need to be bang up to date in the glorious Cape Cod style – no point in having the dream without living it. But then you dont want to have all this done. It takes far too much time. You have enough to do. You want it now.

A pool would be an essential part of the package of course, with a great outdoor kitchen and beautifully landscaped gardens.

You’d want to be able to reach Cape Cod’s most exclusive resort in less than five minutes in a fast boat and a blur of spray. When this rocket ship was not in use it would need to have its own boathouse along with a deep-water mooring.

When you had a look inside the house you’d want to know – just know for certain – that the interior had been put together by people who had miraculously anticipated your every Cape Cod desire and produced it, not only in the most beautiful and complete manner, but better than even you had ever imagined possible.

Yes, this is a tough set of demands. But I’ll tell you what, this house spits in the eye of those wishes. It fulfils all of them with ease and still offers more.

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The Future Now


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Nick Churton of Turpin Realtors’ London marketing office peeks into the future at a beautiful new development in Bernards Township, New Jersey.

Broker: Turpin Realtors

Agents: Molly Tonero and Nadine Coffey

I have seen the future. I have walked through it. It was okay. In fact it was more than okay: it was superb.

Property buyers in New Jersey might be surprised when their agents urge them to go and see the homes at Mine Brook Farm at Bernards Township. It might not be quite what they imagine themselves living in. But this is not just any run of the mill new development. It is an agriculturally and ecologically inspired community development – so it is doubtful many would think to ask for it in the first place. But what does this term mean? Well it means lots of excellent eco stuff that all sounds very cool, and green and now. It involves meadows and bees, farm-to-table living and other virtuous natural benefits that all of us should like and applaud. Who doesn’t want to be greener nowadays? But it is the design for living which so impressed me.

These houses are not just in touch with nature they are in touch with the zeitgeist.

Potential buyers may well be unprepared for what they discover here. Before they go through the doors they may be sceptical, as they will be faced with strikingly contemporary looking farmhouses or barns. These are not the norm. Inside are interiors that will confound their preconceptions about living. But slowly they might realise something they didn’t know before, that these interiors are how they really want to live today.

Old-fashioned multi-zone living has been swept away here. New concepts in how families live today have been recognised. Things will never be the same again. When these viewers go back to their own homes they will realise how dated things look and feel. Like trading in a ten-year-old car for a brand new one. Living at Mine Brook Farm is like living in an Audi. All is sleek, incredibly well thought out, beautifully designed and exquisitely finished. An Audi is a finely engineered and brilliantly designed machine for driving. Mine Brook Farm is a finely engineered and brilliant machine for living.

There are no gyms in these houses. There is a community gym in the community barn. Why pay for the equipment and extra space that you don’t use all the time when you can share it? Same with the tennis court. There are no dining rooms. Do you really need a room that you probably only use twice a year? Why waste that space when you can use it for every day of the year living. Want more space for big family and friends get-togethers every now and then? Then use the community barn party room with adjacent catering kitchen. Invite everyone and don’t mess up your own place.

At Mine Brook Farm the developers figured out how people want to live today and then created it. It is courageous speculation but it is right. Buying one of these twelve all-different homes might seem a bold step today, but believe me it really isn’t because tomorrow when you move in you will find it’s perfect for living in the here and now. Welcome to the future.

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Living it Large


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Nick Churton of Lila Delman Real Estate’s London, UK office tastes the Gilded life at a home built for sumptuous living and memorable entertaining in Newport, Rhode Island.

Broker: Lila Delman Real Estate

Agent: Melanie Delman

For the past 150 years or so Newport, Rhode Island has been the summer home of families with wealth beyond normal imagination. Also it has been and still is the epicenter of US sailing. And this Gilded Age haven has lost none of its luster. Today it is drawing another generation of uber-affluent people who enjoy large houses and yachts.

Large is a relative term in Newport. What is very big to most people is more modest to some of this town’s mega-rich. A merely large yacht can seem small against some of the sleek leviathans that annually arrive in Newport’s sheltered, deep-water harbor. And grand and spacious homes seem mere cottages when sized up against one or two of the Vanderbilts’ Newport mansions.

But times and styles change, even for the super-wealthy. Fewer staff, more desire to reside and interact closely with family, greater lock-and-leave capabilities are all important factors in a Newport mansion today. But one thing never changes in Newport: location. And still, without doubt, the most highly regarded place to live is along the legendary Cliff Walk with views to the Atlantic Ocean. Think Philadelphia Story or High Society. Think Great Gatsby. Think the Kennedys. That’s the Cliff Walk.

Every now and then one of these prized historic homes comes to the market. Most have both sound pedigree and good provenance. The latest to come available is Ocean Lawn, once owned by Harvey S Firestone Jn and his wife, Bette. The Firestones lived it large in Newport. Harvey Jn. (1898 –1973) was the son of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company founder. Bette was one of America’s best-dressed women and perfected the art of living very well indeed. Her cedar lined ball gown closet is enormous. It is still there waiting now for a modern couture enthused fashionista to fill its yards and yards of rails.

Bette also had a great eye for decoration and much of her grand but tasteful influence is still to be seen in the English style library, the fabulous antique fireplaces and the elegant paneling. The yellow guest bedroom was a favorite of actor and entertainer, Bob Hope, who frequently visited the mansion.

Securely and privately situated behind a high-gated entrance, the house, built in about 1889, sits in 6.5 acres of magnificent grounds with 515 ft. of spectacular ocean frontage.

In any one year just a handful of truly landmark trophy homes come onto the market in the US. This is one of those homes.

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Crow’s Nest


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Nick Churton of Lila Delman Real Estate’s London, UK office looks out over Newport Harbour from mast-top height and finds lots to look at and lots to like.

Broker: Lila Delman Real Estate

Agent: Alyce Wright

Newport, Rhode Island is full of spectacular properties to suit all tastes. If you want grand then Newport does that. If you want period/historic then it does that too. But many home buyers want waterside. After all Newport and its harbour is at the heart of sailing in the USA. And if it is waterside you are after how cool would it be to own a two-bedroom duplex apartment in the heart of downtown Newport with a 37 ft. marina slip. Boat enthusiasts the world over will recognise the significance of this and the attraction. Welcome to Coddington Wharf.

All day long in the season Newport Harbour teems with boats of all sizes and types. There are modern ones and classic ones, working ones and leisure ones, racing ones and cruising ones. But most owners of boats of any description, having moored up for the day, will jump in their cars to head off home. Not here. The only transportation needed at Coddington Wharf is the elevator that whisks one up to the apartment. It is so close it is almost like an extension of the boat. The top floor acts as an owner’s or captain’s cabin with state room, marbled bathroom and outside deck. The floor below offers a beautifully fitted kitchen, living room, guest bedroom, bathroom and deck.

From here all the great land-based attractions of Newport are only a stroll away.

One could sit on one of the three decks in the sunshine all day watching life going on in the harbour. In fact sometimes it might well seem more appealing than getting wet on a boat. Up in that luxury eyrie one can spy all that is going on on the water without ever getting queasy. Call it a crow’s nest. And a very fine nest it is too.

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Messing about in Boats


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Nick Churton of Lila Delman Real Estate’s London, UK office arrives home and dry above the waves in Newport, Rhode Island.

Broker: Lila Delman Real Estate

Agent: Cynthia Moretti

“There is nothing – absolutely nothing,” said the Rat in Wind in the Willows – “half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” If that is how you feel then there is nowhere quite like Newport, Rhode Island to feed this passion. Newport is all about boats. It is the centre of operations. It is the start line.

But most don’t want to live on board their boats. For the most part they enjoy sleeping on terra firma. So without doubt the best place to be is in a property that has a boat’s view but never rocks – no matter how high the waves get.

I asked people who would know if another property existed in Newport that had as good an aspect as 19 Defenders Row, a duplex condominium overlooking the harbour from every window east, south and west. I was assured that there was not.

While I was looking round the property two sleek ex-America’s Cup boats passed by and a faithful replica of a 17th century naval frigate, plus several two- and three-masted schooners, not to mention a plethora of other craft large and small, wind-driven and motorised, old and new, wooden or otherwise.

This condo is in a brilliant position. The agent, Cynthia Moretti, describes this property as a ‘land yacht’ and she is not wrong. A cantilevered deck hangs out over the water and a beach provides a soundtrack to the property with water lapping on the sand as it would on a hull.

All this is situated on the 20-acre Goat Island accessed by bridge just a short walk from downtown Newport – or you could call the water taxi.

Special, rare, and lovely, this home offers the best of both land and sea. It is about as close to amphibious as you can get without ever being afloat.

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Pavillion of Splendor


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Nick Churton of Lila Delman’s London, UK office delights in a Newport, Rhode Island house that took him completely by surprise.

Broker: Lila Delman

Agent: Kristin Parella

I was dumbfounded. What had begun as a visit to a pleasant enough looking single storey pavillion called South Wind – in one of the even-better parts of Newport, Rhode Island – became a fantastic voyage through someone else’s sophisticated imagination. It was another world. Inside was a Gustavian interior – or a neat dacha – with painted floors, enchanting enfilade and beautifully proportioned rooms set round a grand garden-facing hall.

I would love to have met the cultivated, urbane man who envisioned and then executed this polished interior. His name was Robert Hill. He was from Boston, a gentleman designer and protégé of Billy Baldwin. Baldwin, otherwise known as the dean of interior decorators and America’s best dressed man, designed for John F Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Barbara Hutton, Cole Porter and Paul Mellon among many noted others. It was from this tradition and creative lineage that Hill produced his little piece of interior heaven in Newport. Goodness knows what it would have looked like when tastefully filled with wonderful and appropriate antique furniture, exquisite pictures and delightful and interesting objet d’art. It must have been breathtaking. Mr Hill had the eye.

I hope that whoever buys this treasure also has the eye – or at least knows someone who does. For this is a rare opportunity to re-create an architectural gem in a town of architectural gems. It is not large. But that is its charm. Here is the chance to re-awaken one of Newport’s secret delights, situated as it is behind a disarming facade. That is its secret. We all love to go through doors that take us to some unexpected and enchanting place. It is sleight of hand. It is surprise. It is theatre.

One is in good company in this part of town. Over the years some of America’s leading families have made their homes here or have at least been frequent visitors. Long before The Hamptons attracted a new set the old money came here to be close to their ilk, the highly-exclusive Bailey’s Beach and the New York Yacht Club.

Of course no house is quite complete without its garden. Otherwise it would be like a jewel without its setting or a fine painting without a frame. Here a series of garden ‘rooms’ complement each of the house’s elevations.

What a house. What an opportunity. I envy the buyer. But he, she or they will have to get this house twice over. They will have to understand it and they will have to purchase it. Only then will the full magic of this house again be truly realised.

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Time Travel


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Nick Churton of Lila Delman Real Estate’s London, UK office revisits The Point district in Newport, Rhode Island to see a perfect example of imaginative modernisation within a sensitive and beautiful conservation area.


Broker: Lila Delman Real Estate


Agent: Annie Becker


You might not have heard of Doris Duke but in 1925 when she was only twelve she was left eighty million dollars – that’s almost one billion dollars in today’s money. Fortunately for Newport, Rhode Island she grew up to be a sensible and enlightened woman and found plenty of wise ways to spend her money well.


One of her many philanthropic activities was to save from the wrecking ball almost single-handedly over eighty 18th century and early 19th century houses in Newport’s Point and Hill districts.  This was a piece of extraordinary civic vision, for without Miss Duke much of Newport’s precious early architectural heritage could have been lost forever, and by now be just a dusty memory concreted over by cookie cutter condos.


In saving these houses and neighbourhoods Miss Duke, through her formidable resources and foresight, saved the town’s architectural soul through a scale of preservation that few have attempted before or since.


So it is thanks to Miss Duke all those years ago and to the agent, Annie Becker, now that I was privileged to see 35 Second Street. This is a corner-located clapboard home that once was half the size. Originally built in 1760, it was added to later when a house of similar vintage was moved from another location and then joined to it.


This is certainly the house time has not forgotten and has just emerged from its latest programme of modernisation. It is now a master class in careful reincarnation within the strictures of the conservation rules and guidelines of this neighbourhood.


The exterior, painted according to a period palette, is unaffected. It is the interior which has been addressed. This is now an astonishing contemporary space which has lost nothing of its architectural integrity. How was that done? It seems to me by alchemy. It is very clever, very attractive, very practical and very comfortable. It is a modern interior in a historic skin. The two work perfectly together.


So it is thanks to Miss Duke and her later disciples that we are able to delight in visiting such houses today. But imagine how much better it would be to actually live there. If you think you may like to, give Annie a call.

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Going Dutch


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Nick Churton of Halstead Property’s London, UK office discovers a real jewel when he visits a fabulous waterside home at 133 Rowayton Avenue, Rowayton, Connecticut.

Broker: Halstead Property

Agents: Bettina Hegel, Susan O’Rourke and Nancy Dauk

A Dutch ensign flies at the stern of the sleek, craftsman-built, 27 ft. launch or Kapiteinssloep riding easily and rather proudly at its mooring in Rowayton, Connecticut. The craft was lovingly and expertly built by Wajer Yachts in Holland where they know a thing or two about constructing boats. Quality boatbuilding has been part of the culture of the Netherlands since the 16th century. The very word yacht comes from the Dutch word, jacht.

So one might expect that a homeowner from Holland, and with such an eye for high quality craftsmanship, would be just as discerning about where they live on land. And so it is here in Rowayton, the affluent coastal village just 40 miles from New York City. From the cobbled forecourt, past the two-car garage, through the impeccable open plan first floor, over the beautifully paved patio garden, down the companionway, along the jetty and onto the launch this is top quality all the way – an impeccably well presented home maintained to an extremely high standard. Like the launch, which is included in the sale, this house will not let you down practically or socially. It whispers style – for this is not a brash, loud property. It is rather understated and classy. Like the Dutch.

Designed by Beinfield Architecture of North Norwalk, CT – with 80 design awards to its name – the stone and shingle townhouse with deep water dock on Five Mile River and direct access to Long Island Sound offers the buyer an extremely sophisticated and rewarding lifestyle.

Alongside boatbuilding, another Dutch specialty is diamonds. Have no doubt this is a subtly and beautifully cut, diamond of a house.

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Bird of Paradise


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Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty spots a rare bird on the market in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Broker: Smith & Associates

Agent: Malowany Group

If 2600 Driftwood Road South, St Petersburg, Florida was a bird, and not a house, it would surely be an elusive bird of paradise – its bright plumage attracting admiring glances by all those lucky enough to glimpse it. Painting a house bright yellow doesn’t work everywhere. In fact it would be a huge design error along most streets in the world. But here in lush and leafy, semi-tropical St Petersburg and on this wonderful Spanish inspired waterside home it is perfect. It works. It belongs.

The architect and artist, Mark Dixon Dodd, designed this and eighteen other delightful homes in the Bayou Oaks area of St Petersburg in the late 1930s. They are all still there, following the natural line of the Big Bayou, drawing those admiring glances and providing an inspiring and rewarding place to live for their enthusiastic residents – residents so enthusiastic they are famously reluctant to move, making these homes of paradise rare visitors to the real estate market.

More recently, local architect, Tim Clemmons, well known for his arts and urban projects, has cleverly and unobtrusively added to No 2600 – itself called Driftwood. He has been careful not to strike a discordant note with the original vision of his illustrious predecessor.

Driftwood is securely located in a gated estate. Many of the original architect’s signature features still exist including the wooden ceilings and tiled floors. But it has been sympathetically and successfully updated. The house sits in almost an acre of beautiful gardens with 150 ft. of private beach/water front. There is also berthing for a 70 ft. yacht.

I think Dixon Dodd would like what has been done to the place – including the colour. It would have pleased his artist’s eye.

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Lofty Ideals


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Nick Churton from Mayfair International Realty hits the heights of conservation vision and artistry when he visits a converted stable block in Mamaroneck, New York.

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Agent: Cini Palmer

The trouble with lofts is that they are often at the top of buildings in densely populated towns and cities. But what if you long for the loft look but want to be nearer the ground, out of town and in a great family neighbourhood – perhaps on a sophisticated and historic estate? What if you want to be a few blocks from the beach and not the docks?

Well, 1010 Constable Drive, Mamaroneck must be the perfect answer – loft-style living in the form of a fabulous converted carriage house and stable block. This was originally part of the Constable estate. The Constable family owned, what was once, the oldest department store in America. The company operated from 1825 to 1975. At its peak the Broadway store handled the bulk of the carriage trade of New York – with customers such as Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and Morgan – mirroring Harrods in London that was founded just a year earlier.

The influential Olmsted Brothers landscaped the original estate on Orienta Point. Not much of that survives now. But the stables and carriage house does. Originally built in 1893 the attractive block, set in 0.58 acres, enjoys a sensational position with views over Long Island Sound. When the leaves are off the trees in winter this view stretches to the Manhattan skyline. This emphasises the closeness the city is to Mamaroneck – the local Metro North station is just minutes away from the property and Grand Central station about 35 minutes beyond that.

The history of the building has been creatively captured and featured in this recent restoration. Exposed and white-painted brick walls soar to lofty timber slatted ceilings. Windows and doors have Gothic accents. Stripped oak floors stretch as far as the eye can see. And in this building the eye can see a long way – the great room is 49′ x 34′. The marble island unit in the kitchen seems about as big as a small flat.

Outside, the original brick courtyard provides an impressive and charming introduction to this airy, light filled home which offers magnificent family living. There is also plenty of room for a pool and tennis court in the grounds.

It would be hard not to let your imagination soar here. So if you have some lofty ideals about what you want in a home this may well fit the bill.

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