A Sorting Hat

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Nick Churton of Turpin Realtors’ London office finds a period piece in Summit City, New Jersey that liked him as much as he liked it.

The property: 1 Oakley Avenue, Summit City, New Jersey

The Broker: Turpin Realtors

The Agents: Victoria and Peter Fife

Often it takes a while to make a home. But sometimes one feels comfortable immediately. That’s what happened when the current owners of 1 Oakley Avenue, Summit City, New Jersey saw the house for the first time. It fitted them. It suited them. It was in the right place. But most of all it provided the perfect canvas for their art and furniture. It fitted their interest and love for the Arts and Crafts style.

The Arts and Crafts movement straddled the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. Leading lights of the movement were Frank Lloyd Wright in America and Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the UK. Another disciple was Gustav Stickley, a furniture designer and maker from Syracuse, New York. It was some of Stickley’s very fine pieces that were as perfectly suited to the house as the owners.

Sometimes, it seems to me, houses choose their buyers as much as buyers choose their houses. Houses can be rather like J K Rowling’s sorting hat in the Harry Potter books. They carefully select who is best suited to them.

I have little doubt that this very fine and beautifully designed home, full of wonderful period features, chose its current owners. Why not go and look for yourself. If you are very lucky it might choose you too.

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Atlanta Yearning

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Nick Churton of the Harry Norman, London office discovers the delights of a wonderful colonial house in one of Atlanta’s most exclusive neighbourhoods.

The Property: 175 Peachtree Circle NE

The Broker: Harry Norman

The Agent: Erin Yabroudy

Atlanta unveils its attractions slowly and beguilingly to the newcomer. It is a city of many parts. There is the cultural Atlanta, the sporting Atlanta, the historic Atlanta, the modern Atlanta and the commercial Atlanta – among many others. There are also lots of interesting, exciting, elegant and secluded residential communities that cluster around great schools and attractive public parks.

One of these communities is Ansley Park, a fashionable residential neighbourhood speculatively created between 1905 and1908 by railroad and real estate magnate, Edwin P. Ansley. There are many echoes of a genteel past at Ansley Park, a past memorably referred to in Margaret Mitchell’s famous novel, Gone With The Wind. The area still retains a quietly dignified Southern aura.

Who lives in Ansley Park? A cross section really. There are some big Atlanta law firms based close by. So lawyers like to live in Ansley Park. The Governor of Georgia lives there. So too do executives from some of Atlanta’s major businesses that include The Coca Cola Company and Delta Airlines. Then there are families with histories that stretch back before the American Civil War that ended just forty years before development at Ansley Park began.

Houses follow a great many architectural styles in Ansley Park, including eye-catching mid-century moderns. But perhaps the most iconic homes are those in the colonial mode with handsome columned porticos.

One such house is 175 Peachtree Circle NE, within walking distance of Piedmont Park, the Beltline, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, shops, restaurants and Atlanta’s superb art gallery, the High Museum of Art

But this house with its ground floor French windows opening onto the wide front terrace is not all that it seems from the outside. The interior has been transformed into a contemporary space packed with charm which certainly nods to the past but is decidedly up to date.

Another surprise is saved for the rear of the property where there is a terraced deck garden, motor court, garages and an enormous studio with kitchenette and cloakroom – or half-bath as they say in the US. This makes a great family room or guest accomodation.

I really liked this baby grand of a house with a fabulous location to match.It was a great introduction to Atlanta.

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First Stop – Green

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Nick Churton from the Houlihan Lawrence, London office reaches in towards the New York City, as far as the countryside will let him, and visits a colonial style home with remarkable grounds.

The property: Edgewood, 7 Edgewood Lane, Purchase, New York

The Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

The Agent: Chrissy Hazelton

Purchase must be the first place beyond the New York City urban sprawl where there is space to site a home in 15 acres of its own secluded and beautiful parkland; the first place where one forgets the city and remembers the country; the first place where the predominant colour of concrete gives way to the predominant colour of grass.

Edgewood is an expansive brick colonial-style house being offered for sale for the first time in 86 years. Why so long? Clearly no one has ever wanted to give it up. It is hardly surprising as this house ticks all the New York commuting boxes. It is only 35 minutes from Manhattan. It is a handsome, high status home that will royally reward tasteful and sympathetic treatment.

Not only is the exterior handsome but also there is a very stylish and elegant interior – I love the elliptical main staircase – that must be an absolute pleasure to live in.

I would say that the house has been kept pretty much up with the times. But sure, after all those years there are some things that could be done to enhance both lifestyle and – I have little doubt – value.

Someone will only take a New York minute to decide this is the place for them and become only the second to own the exclusive rights to this first stop in arcadia.


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Light Fantastic

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Nick Churton of Turpin Realtors’ London Office explores a beautiful farmhouse home set in the heart of its own rolling acres.

The Property: Meadowbrook Farm, 40 King Street, Tewksbury Township, New Jersey

The Broker: Turpin Realtors

The Agent: Ashley Christus

How do you describe perfection? Of course they say nothing is perfect. But I would like someone to tell me what’s not perfect about Meadowbrook Farm in Tewksbury Township, New Jersey because I couldn’t find it.

They also say that one instinctively knows when something is right. Well this home is right.

From the inside of the house each window acts as a landscape picture masterpiece that anyone would be happy and proud to hang on his or her walls. From the outside the windows let light flood into the spacious rooms, helping to create the airiest of spaces.

You see, it took three to tango here really. First, the Great Architect created this beautiful and peaceful location. Then one owner sculpted that natural topography even further into an astonishingly beautiful rolling grassland or prairie-style landscape bejeweled with trees, some in stands and some in splendid isolation. Finally another owner, working with a local architect, designed the perfect farmhouse style home that not only revels in its landscape but also enhances it still further.

Real estate agents are well known for eulogising about their properties. It’s their job. But believe me, at Meadowbrook Farm no eulogy is necessary. The property speaks for itself.

Do go and look. If you aren’t as enchanted, impressed and simply bowled over by this house and its 124 acres as I was I should be very surprised. In fact I should be shocked.

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The Other Bloomsbury Group

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Nick Churton of the Halstead office in London enjoys seeing a duplex penthouse apartment in one of Manhattan’s most historic and iconic neighborhoods.

The Property: 50 Gramercy Park North

The Broker: Halstead

The Agents: Anna Shagalov, Bo Poulsen and Kristin Herrera

Described as the Bloomsbury of America, Gramercy Park in Manhattan was developed in 1830 for the moneyed classes. Intellectuals and writers followed including Henry James, Edith Wharton and even Charles Dickens.

Today the park that is one of America’s earliest attempts at city planning continues to draw those with style and creativity. It also still attracts the wealthy as it is only a short distance from Wall Street.

Overlooking a park which is really a garden square – only accessible to those privileged residents who abut this oasis – is the most dramatic duplex penthouse. 50 Gramercy Park North has two floors of spacious, light flooded and sophisticated contemporary space enhanced by 1000 sq. ft. of dramatic city scape terraces.

With a strong architectural decorative flavour this magnificent penthouse is the epitome of stylish Manhattan living and is offered for sale at an intriguing price for this neighbourhood. You may need an expert in derivatives from Wall Street to explain how it will all work out but I am in little doubt that, for the right buyer, this is a great deal.

So follow the money and head for Gramercy Park. You will be following in some seriously talented footsteps.

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Rock Star

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Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London Office visits a home of  superb taste, appointment, location and provenance.

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Agent: Amanda J. Miller

Of the very many achievements of the Rockefeller family over the years, the gift of where to build a house and exactly what to build must be added to their remarkable talents.

This gift is borne out at 511 Lake Avenue, Greenwich, Connecticut, once the home of Avery Rockefeller, investment banker and keen conservationist.

Finding an ideal location, perfectly siting a building on it and then constructing a beautiful and functional house to exactly suit one’s needs is a real talent. And of course it helps to have the financial backing to pull off this alchemy.

So now this golden house in its beautiful 3.5 acre secluded setting is on the market. This is a sophisticated and elegant home – with such a provenance who would doubt it? But it is not at all stuffy. It is the perfect blend of traditional and modern. It is also a wonderful place to relax; offering a beautiful pool, spa, spacious entertaining spaces, airy bedrooms and even, for the very energetic, twin squash courts – the not-so-energetic can look on from the viewing gallery.

So live well here – and keep fit – in this top-executive kingdom, you’ve earned it.

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Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London office takes a look at an outstanding home with breathtaking view high up in the Kinderhook hills in New York.

There is an eyebrow window on the gallery landing of Folly Farm in Kinderhook, New York, that looks over the wide, wooded Hudson Valley and captures the length of the Catskill Mountains within its frame. How does the window come to be there? The only explanation is that someone thought about it in three dimensions before the constructors turned up, and perhaps even before the first line was drawn on the plan.

The ability to think three dimensionally is a gift. It gives those gifted the vision to see exactly how something will look simply by closing their eyes and imagining. But then what is needed is the means and passion to bring that vision into a magnificent reality.

And that is exactly what you get at this astonishing hilltop residence built by its current owners. It is a perfect marriage between concept and execution, ambition and fruition, and home and vista.

The owners took a parcel of land and created a haven that is both intimate enough for two but large enough for many.

This is an utterly rewarding home tastefully appointed and constructed using only the finest and most beautiful materials.

It also has secrets. I will not say here what they are. Go and discover them for yourself. Like the rest of this astonishing house and garden they will not disappoint.

Folly 1

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Moving In, Up, Down or On

Nick Churton of Smith & Associates’ London Office discovers some new homes in Tampa, Florida that will tick a lot of boxes for a lot of people.

Broker: Smith & Associates

Agents: The Wood Team

Luxury real estate isn’t always about the biggest and the best. It is more often about the most appropriate for size, location and budget. Sometimes that might be the biggest and the best. But more often than not it isn’t.

Were I to be looking in the Tampa Bay area, for a two bedroom home, with economic running costs, only a block away from the ever-so-smart waterfront, Bayshore Boulevard, and within easy walking distance of fine restaurants and shops – and all for under $400,000 – then I really don’t think I could do better than one of these brilliantly modernised single floor homes with private front doors. In the UK we call these maisonettes. They are very popular and have lots of advantages.

But whatever one calls them these Tampa Bay homes do the job in an excellent fashion. They provide affordable, upscale and stylish accommodation in a great part of town. Plus there is a garage, additional parking and even an outside area to relax and barbecue. What more could you want for the money – in increasingly expensive Tampa?

If I had a budget of just over $400,000 then I could afford one of the second floor, three bedroom, 2 bathroom units with a generous open-plan living/kitchen/dining area and front porch balcony – large enough for table and dining chairs and even a rocking chair. I went to the show home. It was great and looked out onto some lovely trees at the back. From the balcony I could wave to my new neighbours.

Setting up home for the first time or, later, moving by choice or circumstance is a big step. But these Bayshore Carriage Homes take away much of the angst associated with a change of lifestyle. They are stylish and convenient and are set within a ready-made, friendly community.

What’s there not to like?

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Sarasota Sunset


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Nick Churton of Michael Saunders & Company’s London office takes a look at the sunset from an outstanding Gulf-front penthouse on Longboat Key, Sarasota, Florida.

Broker: Michael Saunders & Company

Agent: Jenifer Schwell

Nothing does Sarasota quite like Longboat Key. And nothing does Longboat Key quite like The Aria. This spectacular love song of a building serenades Gulf of Mexico living in an extraordinary way.

Separated from the pelicans skimming in formation over the ocean is a beautiful sandy beach. Every evening it puts on a world class show as the sun sinks slowly below the western horizon. It is a show that can be caught more privately from the windows, balconies and roof terrace of the building’s penthouse.

As penthouses go this one is really up there. They call it coastal contemporary. That it is. But it is also so much more, for this is no ordinary coast and it is no ordinary contemporary.

The architects had at their disposal all the things that architects like to play with – space, light and vista. They also had the latitude to work these elements into what has become as much a celebration as an uber-luxury apartment. Then the current owner – who is really good at this sort of thing – went and improved the interior even further.

The penthouse has an expansive private roof terrace – 3000 sq ft of sun-drenched leisure and entertaining area with summer kitchen, fire table and spa tub.

Directly beneath the roof terrace is the apartment with three ocean view balconies. The kitchen is magnificent as are the three bedrooms and pampering bathrooms. Naturally the smart home technology is state of the art.

Cars are treated the same way. There is a three-car dehumidified garage and the estate provides a large salt-water pool and wellness centre for residents and guests.

Spacious, sophisticated, sublimely comfortable and very special, there is nothing like The Aria.

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Yin and Yang


25 S Washington Dr

Nick Churton of Michael Saunders & Company’s London Office is spoilt by choice over a couple of fabulous waterside homes in Sarasota.

The Broker: Michael Suanders & Company

The Properties:

1001 Tocobaga Ln – agents: Kim Ogilvie and Drew Russell

25 S Washington Dr – agent: Lenore Treiman

It wouldn’t be good if we were all the same. And it wouldn’t be good if we all wanted to live in the same style homes. Which is all very fortunate as two houses, both in Sarasota, and both in the same price range couldn’t be more unalike if they tried. Yet they happen to be instantly and equally likeable.

The first, 1001 Tocobaga Ln, is a minimalistic, white, waterside palace. It overlooks the Intracoastal, which reflects sparkling sunlight onto the icy cool and spacious interior surfaces. Here is a sophisticated modern, contemporary home with an unbeatable outlook over the Intracoastal to downtown Sarasota – by day it’s impressive and at night it is magical. This is 6,000 square foot, three-level, elevator-served living at its finest. It is a lifestyle that spills out onto the outdoor area having expansive sundeck and deep-water dock with double boat lifts. It was for a similar west-facing view that, just a mile or so away, John and Mable Ringling chose to build their celebrated home, Ca d’Zan, in the 1920s.

The second home is the Spanish inspired, Casa del Mar. It is just a few minutes’ walk away from the highly popular and engagingly friendly St. Armands Circle, next to Longboat Key. From here is a charming, private and privileged view of Sarasota Bay. To say this stylish home and enchanting garden were put together by owners who understand decoration would be a gross understatement. Here is a home furnished by experts in the art of interior design. This is a sumptuous, private and elegant house brimming with character, with beamed ceilings, graceful archways, intricate ironwork, wood burning fireplaces, large picture windows, period tile and original wood floors. There is also a two-bedroom guesthouse.

So the choice is yours: modern or traditional, out front or retiring, waterfront or backwater, cool or hot. If you love haut couture interiors this might be a problem you would like to have. I suggest you go and see both before you make up your mind.

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