Yin and Yang

Nick Churton of Houlihan Lawrence’s London office heads up the Hudson River from New York City to find a wonderful river-view home with exceptional entertaining space inside and out.

Property: Croton-on-Hudson, New York

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Agent: Sharon Bodnar Briskman

Sometimes architecture needs a counterpoint. This is especially useful when combining the traditional with the contemporary.

At 30 Quaker Ridge Road in Westchester County – only 45 minutes to Manhattan by train – this has been beautifully achieved through the addition of an extraordinary centimetre-perfect decagonal pool house – but more of that later.

The main event is really the house, securely accessed through electric gates and a long drive which slowly reveals the reason the house was built here in the first place – the Hudson River. Serving as an elegant and dramatic backdrop the mighty river slips by changing colour by, the hour and by the season. It provides a restless but permanent feature to a home whose various owners have enjoyed the view since it was built in the 1920s.

The house is built of stone and is charmingly arranged internally. The big statement is a double height, sky lit grand salon that is perfect for entertaining or just relaxing in style – especially in the summer months. But next door to it is a delightful, fire-warmed, winter-cosy withdrawing room/library.

One doesn’t just arrive at this property, one makes the grandest of entrances. A master-craftsman laid out the vast carriage courtyard, around a central fountain, with granite sets in a traditional Florentine pattern.

But more craftsmanship and geometric precision is to come. The ten-sided pool house provides another wonderful focus for relaxation and entertainment. A mathematician with a great eye for design commissioned it, and it works beautifully bringing a spectacular amenity to this fabulous location.

Surrounded by a magnificent collection of mature trees that give additional seasonal interest and screen the estate of almost 10 acres, this is a home in the great tradition of important Hudson River houses.

 

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Just Mix with Water

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Nick Churton of Houlihan Lawrence’s London office takes a walk in the New York woods and finds the perfect lakeside home.

Property: 134 Pine Brook Road Bedford, NY

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

 Agent: David Turner

What image does a lake house awaken in you? Whatever style of home you can think of it will probably be a romantic and nurturing one. Man has chosen to live by lakes since the beginning of time – although the great view may not have been the first reason for chosing those locations.

Today it most certainly is. The only decision to make, having found that difficult-to-obtain and popular location, is what to build. There are cabins and all sorts of house styles that mix well with water. In fact a lakeside position suits almost any style.

So how about the Modernist style? Does that work? Well take a look for yourself. Swallow Lake near Bedford in Westchester County, New York is a picturesque and intimate stretch of water surrounded by lovely trees that change in the fall, from breathtakingly pretty to indescribably breathtakingly pretty. Set discreetly amongst these trees, are several homes that share this private world. One of them is a large white stone, and glass, contemporary house. But it couldn’t be more at home with the water and trees. Great architecture does that. It balances random nature with a pleasing formality.

Floor to ceiling windows flood the interior space with light and make the most of the lake views. In fact everything is oriented towards the water, including the 85 ft terrace and the infinity pool. This is a spacious home that is as agreeable to look at, as it is to look from.

Lakeside living is elemental and this house invites the elements indoors to be shared and enjoyed by its occupants in the most spectacular way. Does Modernist suit lakeside? You bet your boots it does.

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You Couldn’t Make It Up

Broker: Robert Paul Properties

Agent: Bob Malcolm

Nick Churton of Robert Paul Properties’ London office visits a wonderful home in Cataumet, Massachusetts and weighs up living in a cluster of other homes or in glorious and splendid isolation.

Some people love living surrounded by other people – people who have similar incomes, who vote much the same way, and who have similar aspirations and take on life. Some people like to hail their near neighbours in the morning as they leave for work or come home in the evening – and then, spontaneously, have those neighbours round for drinks.

But other people don’t. Some people would rather flog themselves with a cat o’nine tails than live like that.

Well if you are of the latter persuasion then have I got a home for you!

You couldn’t make this up. More importantly you couldn’t make it at all now. This house was built at a time when they allowed properties like this to be built in locations like this: locations that, from a wrap-around veranda, look over the water, locations that have a deep-water dock and a boathouse that matches the main house, locations that are surrounded by trees and nature rather than houses and people, and locations that provide peace, sanctuary, and seclusion.

For the first time in forty years this amazing Cape Cod home, looking due west over Red Brook Harbour and Bassett’s Island, is on the market. It was built in 1900 and stands on 2.2 acres. There are elegant lawns. There is a tennis court and there are miles and miles of creeks and inlets to explore in boats. You may think you wouldn’t want to relax like a Victorian but I’m sure you’d soon find that, actually, you would. But one thing is certain about this house – living here will be very different from living in a cluster.

And then there are the sunsets. You can’t make them up either.

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Jeep and Cheerful

Nick Churton of Lee Real Estate’s London office visits a charming town house in Nantucket and learns that in this popular destination all is not the same on the inside as it appears on the outside.

Broker: Lee Real Estate

The sea passage from Hyannis on Cape Cod to Nantucket, 30 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean, only takes an hour by Hy-line ferry. But for the uninitiated it also serves as a rite of passage, as reaching the harbour of Nantucket for the first time will become a life-long memory while subsequent arrivals will always be filled with pleasure and departures with sorrow.

Nantucket is like that. Once you have been you leave a little of your heart behind whenever you depart. Which is why people prefer not to leave at all – or at least they put it off for as long as possible. They prefer to stay and so they buy charming houses, often in or close to the town where they can tend their cottage gardens and Nantucket’s famous window boxes and be only a short walk from dozens of great restaurants and wine bars serving delicious food.

There are lots of these delightful houses and a ready market for them. Each would be at home adorning an expensive and glamorous box of chocolates. But they won’t be because Nantucket isn’t like that. Pretention and ostentation are not how things are done here.

The entry level for a small cottage in Nantucket is between one and two million dollars. But it really gets interesting between four and five.

Take 3 Traders Lane for example. On the outside this is just another exquisitely charming example of an 18th century whaling settlement cottage with shingle elevations and pretty shutters. But don’t be deceived. Inside is a revelation. Here is a bang up to date interior in ultra cool Nantucket/coastal style. On the first floor there is an amazing family kitchen and one-floor master living for a relaxed stay. Out of earshot, on the third floor, is a haven for kids and their friends, and in between are elegant guest rooms with beautiful bathrooms.

All this is only a short walk from the busy little town with a traditional look and a trendy feel all of its own. Most of the shopping and facilities you need for a trouble free stay are there. A car is not required much really – apart from a Jeep to get you all to the beach. Why a Jeep? That’s another thing you will learn the first time you visit Nantucket – a Jeep is de rigeur.

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Follow The Hollow Brook Road

Nick Churton of Turpin Realtors’ London office visits a house in New Jersey and imediately fell in love with the idea of mixing Mid Century Modern with a natural wooded and river environment – something Frank Lloyd Wright did rather successfully at Falling Water eighty years before.

The House: 63 Hollow Brook Rd, Tewksbury Township, New Jersey

The Broker: Turpin Realtors

The Agent: Sylvia Kissel

The strong resurgence in interest in Mid Century Modern architecture in America over the past decade has suprised many. Of course since the beginning of the 1930s there have been US centres of this high art such as Palm Springs. But it doesn’t take much to see plenty of houses elsewhere in the US that bear the distinctive signs of the International and Bauhaus design movements. These had their roots in Germany early in the twentieth century but were taken to heart at lightning speed by architects in the US. Leading the New World charge in this new order was Frank Lloyd Wright who in 1935 designed the outstanding Falling Water in Pennsylvania.

Why has Falling Water become such an architectural icon? Perhaps it is the way the crisp linear and vertical lines created by man work so well with the rock, water and forest created by God. It is a marriage made with heaven. But whichever way you cut it, it worked then and it works just as well today – evidence the thousands of pilgrims who visit Falling Water every year to bathe in the influence and spirit of the master.

So imagine how pleased and delighted I was to visit Falling Water’s smaller and younger brother. No, Frank Lloyd Wright didn’t design it and it’s not in Pennsylvania but I think it acts as quite a homage – whether intended or not. Here in leafy New Jersey, spanning a woodland river that gurgles and chuckles companionably beneath, is a marvelous house of Mid Century Modern design with strong echoes of Falling Water. The similarities in mood if not in scale are inescapable.

Living the Mid Century Modern dream may not be for everyone. But for those who thrill at clean lines, the blending of nature and design nurture, and who seek a perfect antidote to working in the city then this home is the perfect answer.

So pull up an Eames chair, take a look at the great video, imagine life in the steps of Frank Lloyd Wright and follow the Hollow Brook Road.

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Opportunity Knocks?

Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London office visits a wonderful home in a delightful wooded setting and discovers that there is much, much more there than meets the eye.

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Agent: David Turner

Far be it for me to comment on planning – or zoning – matters in the US. They are difficult enough in the UK. But sometimes a home nudges one. It seems to say, look deeper into this for there may be an unseen or unexpected opportunity lying just under the surface.

Sleepy Hill in Briarcliff Manor, New York already has a wonderful surface. It is situated minutes away from the renowned and exclusive Sleepy Hollow Country Club and from the Rockefeller Preserve. It’s les than an hour’s drive from midtown Manhattan.

Here, bordering pretty Pocantico Lake, is almost 6000 sq. ft. of six-bedroom, shingle style home that is being offered in beautiful condition. Outside there is a pool with cabana and tennis court.

So, on the face of it, a great house. But there’s more. It stands on 42 acres of semi-wooded grounds giving plenty of seclusion without isolation.

I can’t really spell out the potential opportunity. It is not my place to do so. David Turner at Houlihan Lawrence is the person to speak to. But I will say this: if you wanted, say, only twenty acres – which, let’s face it, is enough for most people nowadays – I wonder what you could do with the other twenty-two acres, which incidentally front onto a public road. See what I mean? Has this nudged you yet? If you like potential then I think this is definitely worth a look. Give David a call – he will be happy to show you around and run through the numbers.

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All-American

Nick Churton of Houlihan Lawrence’s London office visits a home in Briarcliff Manor, New York that couldn’t be more gloriously American if it tried.

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Agent: Marilynn Sternschuss

It doesn’t get more American than apple pie – or Scarborough Hill. This three-storey hipped roof Victorian home, only 45 minutes from Manhattan and built in 1874, has it all. A demilune porch with fine columns and sunburst fanlights leads to an elegant house of substantial presence. Then there is the view of the Hudson River and its wooded western banks from the porch, front facing rooms and garden. It doesn’t get more American than that.

All-American features stud the house and its five-acre grounds – a widow walk on the roof, a breezeway connecting the house with a guest/recreation/garage/studio wing. Above the house in a commanding, elevated position with more amazing river views is a pool and magnificent pool house with expansive terrace.

In the world of the New York commuter the Hudson Valley is one of the best ways to get from home to desk. After a healthy, tree-lined walk to Ossining or Scarborough stations the rail service sweeps one alongside the mighty Hudson to Grand Central Station in style.

I can’t think of many nicer houses to come home to. But then I really wouldn’t want to leave it in the first place. But real estate is like that. It is full of little compromises. But the good thing about Briarcliff Manor itself is that it is uncompromising about its spacious accommodation, fabulous view, impressive position and handsome look.

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The Other New Jersey

Nick Churton of Turpin Realtors‘ London office heads deep into the New Jersey countryside to find a home which brings new meaning to the term, house proud.

Broker: Turpin Realtors

Agent: John Schott

Away from the New Jersey of Bruce Springsteen and the New Jersey Turnpike of Simon and Garfunkel; and away from the built up New Jersey that faces Manhattan across the Hudson River and then runs in a ribbon of coastal enclaves down to the Boardwalk and bright lights of Atlantic City, there is another place entirely. This is the area that most outsiders don’t hear about very much – or often get to see. But they should. New Jersey is a huge area of land – about a sixth of the landmass of England. The first impression one gets of this other New Jersey, once away from the industrial engine of the state, the trunk roads, airports and dense commuter areas, is the greenness of it all – wave after wave of hills for as far as the eye can see and well beyond are completely clothed in trees. This is what England must have looked like before man invented the axe. New Jersey is called the Garden State, although if you’re standing in Jersey City or Hoboken it might not seem like it.

This other New Jersey is a verdant world that contains some of the most beautiful houses in the United States. Many were built for Wall Street financiers or corporate lawyers who wanted a quiet retreat from the frenzy of the big city. One such home is Hidden Pond Farm in Harding Township. It was built in 1927 as a summer home for a noted attorney and private counsel to John D Rockefeller Jn.

Since the day it was built this home, set in over 43 acres of meticulously maintained grounds, has never been anything than perfectly and particularly looked after. The investment in care and expense has seen no limits. If you seek a home where you know everything is just as good below the surface as it is on the surface then look no further.

Take a look at the details here if you want further information, but take it from me that if you are the type of house buyer who never accepts second best then you won’t be disappointed. But you won’t be surprised either, for the current owners truly understand what no compromise and total attention to detail really mean. If you want everything perfect in your house then take a look here. You will be right at home.

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Me Tarzan You Brevoort Lane

F4B44bD21c304ca-4706106Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London office explores deepest Greenhaven, Rye, New York and finds three trophy houses well worth bagging.

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Agents:

14 Lake Road: Joan O’Meara

14 Shore RoadMarianna Glennon

508 Brevoort Lane: Pollena Forsman

When not swinging through the African (Hollywood) jungle, Tarzan – or rather, the actor Johnny Wiesmuller – lived at his Greenhaven home near Rye, New York. And when not leaving on a jet plane Mary Travers from the 1960s folk trio, Peter, Paul & Mary also resided in this leafy and tranquil waterside enclave just thirty minutes by train from Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Greenhaven was to become known as the East Coast Hollywood and became home to movie moguls and a playground to the stars. Some of the 1954 classic film, Sabrina, starring Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart was filmed in Greenhaven.

The land was originally purchased for farming from the Siwanoy Native Americans in 1601. Then when the railway was finished in 1849 Greenhaven became a prime commuting community for New York City workers who craved some peace and quiet at the end of a hectic day. It still provides that. Indeed not too much has changed in this neck of the woods in a century and a half. The rail service remains excellent and the houses that were later built in a delightful Tudor Revival style still charm with their lovely feel, exquisite craftsmanship and proximity to Long Island Sound and the Van Amringe Pond.

Three of these beautiful houses are currently available through Houlihan Lawrence, Private Brokerage department. 14 Lake Road, 14 Shore Road and 508 Brevoort Lane offer a variety of sizes and aspects. You could choose your favourite view over sound or pond (this pond would be called a lake in the UK). You could also pick your favourite layout and size. Each house has its own distinctive style, but each is ideal for a growing family who likes to be near a beach with sailing and tennis on tap. Most importantly too, Greenhaven is in the highly regarded and sought after Rye school district.

So grab a jet plane or a vine and swing down to Greenhaven. It won’t disappoint.

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Please Don’t Make Me Leave

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Nick Churton of Village Properties’ London office discovers no better place to spend a day or a lifetime.

Broker: Village Properties

Agent: Gregg Leach

Montecito always thrills. It is the combination of ocean, mountains, light, air, wine and sophistication. It is also a reflection of the Mediterranean – to a point. But one might as well say that the Mediterranean is a reflection of Montecito, as the town by the side of Santa Barbara in California stands on its own as a destination with a great climate, lifestyle and domestic architecture.

So given that this is an ideal location to live, where would one rest one’s head? I have the perfect answer. Set high on the Montecito slopes with the Pacific Ocean stretching west to the horizon and the Santa Ynez Mountains creating a gorgeous backdrop is a house of Provencal or Tuscan appearance and feel. But that is where the similarities stop because this is an American house, with American comfort and American ideas about modern living. And in America they do this as well as, if not better than, anywhere.

It is all done beautifully behind the mask of a rustic farmhouse, but it is all here. The elegant living spaces under rough-hewn ceiling beams, the beautiful timber and marble floors so tactile under bare feet, the media room, the wine cellar and the simple but fabulous bedrooms all thrill. But for me it was outside that perhaps created the strongest pull. After all in this climate much of one’s time is spent outdoors. I loved the ocean views, the sitting and dining areas, the olive trees against a perfectly blue sky and the fabulous infinity pool. In the evening there is a fire pit from where to watch the sunset and then the stars while perhaps sipping a Santa Ynez, Au Bon Climat, Pinot Noir.

This is single storey living at its very best. It is hard to think what would drag anyone away from this Shangri-La. Indeed one would never want to leave, as every minute of every day in this house and garden would be a blessing. If it were up to me I would still be there.

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