Crystal

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Nick Churton of the Chase International, London office, dips his toes in the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe. He soon becomes crystal clear about the charms of a beautiful lakeside family compound.

The Property: The Pines, 1820 Highway 50 Glenbrook, NV

The Broker: Chase International Real Estate

The Agent: Trinkie Watson

There is nothing quite like Lake Tahoe. Snow-capped mountains surround a sparkling lake of unimaginable beauty. In the summer the lake attracts all sorts of water sport enthusiasts while in the winter the mountain slopes offer world-class skiing and snowboarding at Heavenly Valley. It is all a bit heavenly.

But what sets Lake Tahoe apart are the fabulous homes – often screened by lofty pine trees – that discretely stud the lakeshore. Like their owners, these home don’t make a noise. Lake Tahoe is like that: if you want bling and brash and open display, you will choose somewhere else.

Landmark homes around the lake are highly sought after and then become famously hard to wrestle away from their owners. When they do come available, it is best to strike while the iron is hot.

Such a prize is now on the market. The Pines is a family compound comprising principal residence, guesthouse and second guest or caretaker’s house. In front are a white sand beach, a great jetty and an excellent boathouse. Behind is a three-hole golf course with practise green, swimming pool and spa, waterfalls, covered bridge and trout ponds.

So it is clear as crystal that there really is no reason to ever stay at a Lake Tahoe resort again. This is a Lake Tahoe resort – but the ultimate, private one.

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An Eagle of a House

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Nick Churton of the Carmel Realty Company, London office, explores the slopes above Pebble Beach, California, and discovers a home that leaves his head in the clouds.

The Property: 3381 Laureles Lane, Pebble Beach, CA

The Broker: Carmel Realty Company

The Agent: Judie Profeta

It is a mark of disdain that one says of another that the lift – or elevator – doesn’t quite go all the way up to the top floor. Well here is a highly intelligent home where the elevator most certainly does: it stops at each of the wonderfully appointed three levels of this remarkable house.

Perched high on the slopes above Pebble Beach and overlooking the beach at Carmel and down to the point near Big Sur, Lodged Away is a unique home in an exceptional location.

Over 6000 sq ft of superb accommodation offers the highest standard of living. Included, are a living level, upper level and separate guest house/suite. Media room, 600-bottle wine cellar and fabulous outside decks are star attractions of the house. But the real show stoppers are – what I shall call – the landscape rooms. The vast windows of the living room and adjacent dining room stretch the eye over the ocean towards Big Sur and upwards to the big sky. The galleried living room is incredibly impressive but manages to be hugely comfortable at the same time. Lodged Away is a very intelligently designed house that makes full use of its situation.

But a great Pebble Beach address is not all about the house. Beneath Lodged Away, are the four major Pebble Beach golf courses – five if you include the nine-hole, Peter Hay course. Among these is the Pebble Beach Golf Links, voted the number one public course in America by Golf Digest magazine. They’ve all played there over the years – Woods and Nicklaus, Palmer and Player, Hagen and Hogan. And you can too from only a golf cart ride away.

Lodged Away soars above Pebble Beach like a mighty bird. Indeed if the house were a championship course golf hole, it would be an eagle.

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Succour Punch

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Nick Churton of Village Properties Realtors’ London office is floored by a Montecito house that packs a very powerful punch.

The Property: 808 San Ysidro Lane, Montecito, California

The Broker: Village Properties Realtors

The Team: Riskin Partners Estate Group

You could visit a hundred houses in Montecito – all much larger and certainly more expensive than 808 San Ysidro Lane – but I doubt you will find, among them, a more agreeable one.

It is the relationship between the charming house, the delightful garden and the sensational mountain views that make this home so special.

The interior is full of architectural interest. The walls are painted in lovely earthy tones that suit the house perfectly – although I am sure the interior would be just as well dressed in the correct shade of white.

There is a strong feel of an Arts and Crafts house from the English Cotswolds about the interior rooms and the exterior elevations. But that is where any similarity ends, as the view with its dramatic mountain backdrop could only be Santa Barbara.

It’s always difficult to put into words the feeling one gets when everything about a house feels right somehow; when the sense of belonging is palpable, and the soothing embrace provides instant comfort, support, shelter and even succour. However you choose to describe it, this home fosters all those feelings.

You could find bigger and more expensive homes in Montecito, but I am confident you could never find anything that packs a bigger or better succour punch.

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Big is Beautiful

Screen Shot 2019-08-12 at 23.24.24Nick Churton of Ebby Halliday Realtors’ London office gets the measure of a newly constructed lakeside home between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.

The Property: Bella Luce Manor, Quail Hollow, Westlake, Texas

The Broker: Ebby Halliday Realtors

The Agents: Marcontell & Gilchrest Group

Texas is great at many things, but one thing it is especially good at is constructing new communities. Of course, they have space. This is a big state – the biggest. But they also have big ideas.

One big idea is Bella Luce Manor at Quail Hollow, Westlake, between Fort Worth and Dallas. It is big in vision and big in execution. In fact, it’s huge. Weighing in at an impressive 15,390 sq ft, this astonishing home is now in the latter stages of construction.

There is a guard on the gate of this exclusive new community – hardly surprising as the residents here put great store in their privacy. 92 houses will share this 188-acre haven with a beautiful lake at its centre. Only a few houses will enjoy direct lake frontage. Bella Luce Manor is one of them.

I won’t run through the exhaustive list of rooms and features. It is best to look at the website. But I feel I must mention two things. First, the closet in the master bedroom suite: I have seen whole houses fitted into less space. Second, the garaging: a four-car garage caters for day-to-day runabouts – perhaps a Jeep, sports car, Bentley and SUV: but for the Ferrari collection, or similar, there is a six-car showroom. The developers thought big for this one – catering for the buyer who lives big.

Even in Texas, this is a big house. But for the rest of the world, it’s a palace.

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Technicolor Dream

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Nick Churton of Village Properties Realtors’ London office gets all dreamy-eyed at an A-list house on the ocean-view slopes above Montecito, California.

The Property: 818 Hot Springs Road, Montecito, California

The Broker: Village Properties Realtors

The Agent: Patricia Griffin

I half expected Cary Grant or Grace Kelly to meet me at the door of 818 Hot Springs Road, Montecito. In my mind, I was easily transported to the set of To Catch a Thief or any number of rich, Technicolor 1960s movies set in the South of France. By the time I reached the ocean-view rear terrace, I was a little disappointed that David Niven wasn’t lounging elegantly in a deep-cushioned recliner, sipping a Martini.

But the house did not disappoint me – far from it. Here is a French-inspired home designed in the 1930s by celebrated local architect, Lutah Maria Riggs. It oozes style and class. But, better still, it has received the sort of attention in the last year a buyer could only dream of.

Seemingly, without compromising the integrity of Riggs’ original design, the layout has been reimagined for a different age. This new, modern interior answers all the requirements of a modern family while retaining the effortless style of the original home.

Outside is a masterpiece of garden design. If it hasn’t featured in the pages of House & Garden, then it should have done. The French influence continues with the striking boxwood partier and beautifully tended rose beds. The terrace and pool area could not be more Cote d’Azure if it tried. Except this is not the Mediterranean. It is the Pacific, and it is Montecito, and this home is all the better for it.

This is a grand house of mature design and serious specification. But it is also light of touch with delightful moments of levity. I particularly enjoyed the octagonal anteroom that has become a black and white marble bar area. Here my imagination intruded once again as I fancied I saw CoCo Chanel mixing cocktails.

Reverie aside, this house is a dream.

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Generous to a Vault

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Nick Churton of the Ebby Halliday Realtors’ London office learns what it takes to entertain guests the Texas way at this grand home in Dallas.

The Property: 10121 Weller Drive, Dallas, Texas

The Broker: Ebby Halliday Realtors

The Agent: Mary Poss

To understand 1012 Waller Drive in Dallas, Texas, first, you should look at the wine rack. Now this is no ordinary wine rack: it is a Texas-sized, temperature controlled, 2400-bottle wine rack. This vault acts as one entire glass-fronted wall of the entertaining space.

The wine rack sets the tone. – like all the other dimensions of this impressive property, it is more than generous. Everything is ambassadorial in size and feel. It is a statement of intent – the intent to live and entertain or be entertained in the most sumptuous style. This 10,751 sq ft house was made for entertaining. The hall, stairs and landing could, alone, swallow up a massive party and still leave space for a large band or small orchestra. But this is to ignore the magnificent drawing room and gigantic brick-vaulted kitchen and dining space.

This theme continues outside with a spacious collonaded summer kitchen and seating/dining area opening to a pool within a fabulous terrace.

Certainly, guests are well catered for, but the owners and family will not miss out. We have become used to the best deluxe hotels from around the world, inspiring our taste in bathrooms. Here the master bathroom would inspire the most excellent deluxe hotel. It is an enormous and palatial retreat.

Of course, ambassadorial residences are not much good without an ambassadorial location. This home is set in the heart of Preston Hollow, Dallas, and it doesn’t get better than that.

So book the caterers, organise the band, fill that wine rack and get ready to send out one of Dallas’s most coveted invitations.

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A Great Vintage

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Nick Churton of Village Properties Realtors’ London office gets a taste for a great Montecito vintage property.

The Property: La Manzanita, 705 Riven Rock Road, Montecito, CA

The Broker: Village Properties Realtors

The Team: Riskin Partners Estate Group

The label says Spanish. But I picked up base notes of the Western Cape in South Africa when I had my first taste of the La Manzanita Estate in Montecito.

Houses are like wines. They pick up influences from their surroundings but also from their makers. Here, even the name of the house sounds like a grand vineyard.

The Cape Dutch style is no more evident to me than in the sensational lancet-vaulted great room and the soft-cornered architectural detail surrounding the windows and doors. Parts of the house could have been plucked straight from Franschhoek or Stellenbosch.

Like any great estate house, there should be a partnership between the interior and the exterior. I think the two get on famously at La Manzanita.

The outside is a triumph of planting and landscape design. By the main door, a mostly-still lily pond – only ruffled now and then by carp breaking its surface – acts as a delightful introduction to the house. At the rear, terraces, pool area, and more wonderful planting ease the eye to the sensational ocean view. It is no accident that houses built over 100 years ago in Montecito have the best views – their original owners bagged all the best sites!

Not that this house shows its age. But it does show its pedigree. It could have been built yesterday; such is the quality of the recent renovation, layout and specification.

Like most great wines, this home has improved with age. But also, like wines, there is a perfect time to savour them. I would say that at La Manzanita that time is now.

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A-Lister

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Nick Churton of Village Properties Realtors’ London office searches for the true meaning of Californian luxury and is sure he has found it in Montecito.

The Property: 691 Picacho Lane, Montecito, CA

The Broker: Village Properties Realtors

The Team: Riskin Partners Estate Group

What is a Californian luxury style when it comes to great houses? Is it the Spanish look or the Mediterranean influenced home? Is it the pool? Or is it the way of life that such a home engenders? I would say the answer is not specifically any of those things. The closest I can get to explaining it would be Gloria – one of, if not the most outstanding and elite estate homes within the celebrated Golden Quadrangle of historic Montecito near Santa Barbara.

Another way of putting it is that to be a really great Californian luxury home, it should feel better than having the Beverly Hills Hotel to yourself. Gloria is better even than that.

Set in five acres of lush palm-studded gardens, with a pool and umbrella-shaded terrace to rival anyone’s, Gloria is a remarkable property with a four-bedroom main house and three-bedroom guesthouse.

The accommodation offers a haven of calm and luxury. It is spectacular – show biz spectacular. And it is cool – cool, sophisticated and white. If I had met a smiling Diane Keaton in the kitchen, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised – pleased, but not surprised. Now that is Californian luxury style.

Of course, the great Californian home should overlook the ocean. Gloria does. And ideally, it should have a sensational mountain backdrop for added drama. It has this too.

If you were shopping for the ultimate Californian luxury super-home slightly away from the hustle and bustle of LA, then I would put Gloria right at the top of your A-list.

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East Meets West

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Nick Churton of Village Properties Realtors, London Office, feels relaxed and lucky after visiting a contemporary home just seconds away from the beach at Montecito.

The Property: 1147 Hill Road, Montecito, California

The Broker: Village Properties Realtors

The Agents: Natalie Grubb Cambell, Brian Cambell and Easton Konn

There is something about wind chimes. Their melodies and broken chords reflect calm. In Feng Shui they are used to bring good luck. So wind chimes are the perfect accompaniment to living at 1147 Hill Road in Montecito, as they must remind the owner of the good fortune he or she has to live there.

There is a distinct Asian feel to the home. All is simple, straightforward and serene. Yet it’s only 30 seconds from the beach. The accommodation has been reversed so that the living room is upstairs and opens to a generous ocean view deck. This is open plan living at its very best with a fabulously fitted kitchen, breakfast bar and dining area.

Downstairs the accommodation borders, on two sides, an outdoor pool with beautiful hardwood deck and fire pit. Here the bedrooms are decorated in whites, creams and other natural colours. The bathrooms are marble, tile and pebble. This is a barefoot home where one is in touch with the elements.

As a gentle sea breeze flows easily through the house and stirs the chimes to music, the air is filled with ozone and the smell of the sea. A feeling of tranquillity prevails. There is a sense of inner peace that can’t be found everywhere.

So take off your shoes and listen to the chimes. They are telling you what enormous luck has brought you to this unique home in one of the most wonderful of locations.

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Royal Approval

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Nick Churton of the Perry-Miller Streiff Group’s London office finds a home away from home in Highland Park, one of the premier residential areas of Dallas, Texas.

The Property: 3509 Crescent Avenue, Highland Park, Dallas, Texas

The Broker: The Perry-Miller Streiff Group

The Agent: Ryan Streiff

Great architects don’t die; those that follow in their footsteps and truly appreciate their legacies keep their flames burning. Architect, Scott Merrill, has done just this at 3509 Crescent Avenue in Highland Park, Dallas.

Designing in the Arts and Crafts style of the great British master architect, C F A Voysey, Merrill has created a home that, on one hand, can be seen as a tribute to the great man, but on the other hand, should also be very much admired as a wonderful and handsome home in its own rite.

If you ignore the neighbouring properties – and the Dallas warmth – this house could easily be one of Voysey’s masterpieces in the leafy suburbs of outer-London. Voysey designed a number of standout homes in the area during the early 1900s.

But Voysey never had to figure out the relationship between a pool, and the main house and separate guest apartment. In 1920s London, there were no pools. But landscape architect, Warren Hill Johnson of the Dallas Arboretum, working closely with Scott Merrill, has created a modern leisure space and garden that works perfectly with Voysey’s Arts and Crafts influence. I think the old architect would be very pleased.

Inside the home are many more period features that reflect the age but also put that style in a very modern context. It all works perfectly.

One person who certainly likes this home is none other than Prince Charles, heir to the British throne and no mean architectural connoisseur and critic. In a letter to Scott Merrill he commented, “I have rarely come across something so utterly appealing and I do congratulate you on your ability to design such crisp, white, eminently satisfying buildings that represent, above all, a living tradition, but which are nevertheless contemporary”. Now that’s not something said about everyone’s home!

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