Collect This

Nick Churton, of Harry Norman Realtors’ London office in the UK, goes all arty in a fabulous penthouse in Atlanta’s amazing Arts District.

The Property: 1301 Peachtree Street NE # 5L

The Broker: Harry Norman Realtors

The Agent: Andy Philhower

You don’t have to be an art collector to buy an apartment at One Museum Place in Atlanta’s fabulous Arts District, but it would be ideal if you were. The current decor displays how perfect this condominium is for art.

But if you haven’t an art collection don’t worry, because a dramatic floor-to-ceiling corner window overlooks the superb Richard Meier-designed High Museum of Art – considered one of the best galleries in the USA. The gallery is a fabulous and iconic piece of architecture which makes for a sensational exterior installation. It’s almost as if this property is an extension of the magnificent gallery.

One could call it a condominium, apartment or flat, but, actually, it’s a floor and a penthouse floor to boot. But whatever you call it, I loved it. The property is lofty, spacious and beautifully laid out and appointed. I enjoyed the play of natural light on walls and floors and the surprise outdoor spaces, including an extensive roof area just waiting for landscaping.

# 5, One Museum Place is a serious property treated in a beguilingly playful but far from childish manner. And if, like me, you love the pristine furniture, it can all be negotiated into the sale price. Take a look. I’d be surprised if, like me, you are not delighted.

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Nick Churton of Harry Norman Realtors’ London office in the UK, learns about comfortable living – Danish style – in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Property: 2950 Slaton Drive NW, Atlanta, Georgia

The Broker: Harry Norman Realtors

The Agent: Gitte Claud

There is a word in Danish – with which the current owners of this beautiful home will no doubt be very familiar – called hygge – pronounced hue-gah. Hygge is difficult to translate into English. But to Danes the word means a cosiness and comfortable conviviality that brings on a deep feeling of contentment. You can have hygge with family, out with friends or just enjoying an evening in. I mention this because this Atlanta home has hygge by the bucketful.

Hygge is everywhere in this six-bedroom, six-bathroom home: it is to be found in the cinema, around the pool and hot tub, surrounding the island unit in the kitchen, in the choice of principal bedroom suites and it is even keeping warm by the fire pit in the front garden.

Slaton Drive is in the popular and exclusive Buckhead district of Atlanta. The gated home is situated within easy reach of excellent restaurants, shops clubs and top city schools. So, if you are seeking a convenient, spacious, beautifully appointed home offering plenty of hygge in Atlanta, this must be on your to view list.

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Soul of Discretion

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Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London office visits a beautiful home in the Greenwich Back Country where the less said is always, the better.

The House: 4 Ashfields Lane, Armonk, New York

The Agent: Angela Kessel

The Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

You don’t have to play polo to enjoy living at Conyers Farm, a gated community between Greenwich and Armonk. And as far as polo ponies are concerned, you don’t even have to know which end the hay goes in. But the meticulously manicured polo field at the entrance to the estate gives a clue to how well things run around here.

And the people who live at Conyers Farm appreciate things run correctly. After all, many residents manage or have managed important organisations like Fortune 500 companies, investment banks, major sports franchises and sections of the US government. To mention more about the residents would be indiscreet, and if there is one thing you get at Conyers Farm, it is discretion – that and a highly comforting degree of security.

Wrapped within this haven is the home I visited. It is the last word in efficient and expansive living. But here’s the thing, this home may be a beautiful Greenwich villa, but first and foremost, it is a home. It is comfortable without being pretentious, welcoming instead of intimidating, unstuffy and relaxed rather than formal. It is a kick-your-shoes-off sort of place, but in a matter of moments can be dressed for dinner.

The property, wrapped in ten beautifully landscaped acres, includes a lovely pool, pool house, tennis court and garaging for seven cars. The house contains eight bedrooms, eight batrooms, spacious reception rooms, an eleven-seater theatre, gym, library and office.

The Conyers Farm Association provides 24/7 security and maintains roads and and roadside grounds to an astonishing degree. For those who still run important things in New York City, the rail service from Greenwich takes only an hour. And for the weekends, from Westchester airport, just fifteen minutes away, you can jet to Palm Beach in 3 hours and Nantucket in one.

If you like polo on your doorstep, you will love it here. But, if stick and ball isn’t your thing, don’t worry; you will still feel right at home. Now, I should finish; to say more wouldn’t be done in this circle.

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Blank Canvas

Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London office visits Buckhorn in Pound Ridge where versatile doesn’t come close as a description.

The House: Buckhorn, 60-66 Pound Ridge Road, Pound Ridge, New York

The Agents: Mary H Palmerton and Jody Rosen

The Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Some people will look at this property and see a traditional home in a magnificent setting and, with the advantage of a contemporary barn to house a collection such as art or wine, they would not be wrong. But as with contemporary art, others will see beyond what’s in front of their eyes and observe something different.

I see the traditional home as a beautiful guest house for my nearest and dearest, its adjoining lake house for fabulous parties and then convert the barn into a magnificent, modern, open-plan duplex residence for me. I’m thinking city loft in the country. The opportunity is fantastic, and an architect would flip. But that’s only my take: yours will be different.

The setting for Buckhorn is spectacular. The 15 acres easily accommodate a large lake, woodland, main house with a connected lake house, studio over a 2-car garage, a staff house, a guest house, cottage and pool with pool house. And then of course there’s the barn. I think a great deal about the property comes back to the barn and the unique and exciting home or collection space it could become.

Buckhorn isn’t one property; it is a series of properties awaiting a buyer who can understand how the components would work best for them. In that way, dear reader, whatever you think you are looking for in a home, hold that thought. Go and see Buckhorn: it may not have been what you thought you were looking for but it may well be just what you need. Also, you are only 40 miles from New York City and the property borders the Morgenthau Nature Preserve – thus ensuring your near neighbours are of the wildlife variety.

This property is the vision of a couple with extraordinary creativity. But the masterpiece isn’t yet finished. It is like an abstract painting. Many will be unaware which way up it should be hung. But you will.

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The House: Grahampton, 100 Clapboard Ridge, Greenwich, Connecticut

The Agent: Julie Church

The Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London office wanders the halls of a great Greenwich house, picking up the vibes and sensing a sleeping beauty.

By 1900 Greenwich, Connecticut had become a glittering place to live – whilst elsewhere in America the shine had started to wear off the Gilded Age. Greenwich’s good fortune was in no small part thanks to its early resort quality and speedy commute to New York City by train. Greenwich to Wall Street was and still is an oft-used path. One by one, stately houses were built in Greenwich for the well-to-do.

So, it was with immense pleasure that I visited Grahampton, one of the great Greenwich houses. Did I hear echoes of the past as I wandered through the hallways and living rooms? Did I see in my mind’s eye a magnificent society wedding for a beloved daughter? I imagined both. But I also saw a house that has defied age. Through thoughtful design Grahampton has stayed in vogue through the decades.

Built in 1917 as a summer house for a wealthy Pittsburgh family, the estate initially had three-hundred acres: now it is a more manageable five acres. But the grandeur persists, the pedigree shows, and Grahampton remains one of Greenwich’s finest homes.

Within Grahampton’s twelve-thousand gracious square feet are seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms. On the ground floor the living rooms are well-proportioned and finely appointed. This house was built to enjoy and to impress, and over a hundred years later it still effortlessly manages to do both in equal measure.

Everyone has to catch their breath now and again and I believe over time houses do the same. I should say that here is a sleeping beauty, and all that’s needed to awaken her is a kiss.

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The Stuff of Fiction

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The House: 22 Round Hill Club Road, Greenwich, CT

The Agent: Maria Crowley

The Broker: Houlihan Lawrence 

Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London office finds an extraordinary family home in Greenwich, Connecticut with a top golf course at the end of the road.

Fiction has notable houses that nurture their family occupants; homes that are loved by generations. There is Barton Cottage in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, P G Wodehouse’s Blandings Castle, and, more recently, Julian Fellowes’ Downton Abbey.

In real life there are many more, but it is good to be reminded sometimes of the power a house has to provide stability and protection. When I visited this house in Greenwich, before I knew it the house had wrapped its arms around me. I felt comfortable, safe and at home.

Parents, your children will be in good hands here. One secret of the property is the spacious adult-and-child-friendly party barn. If you want to be at least within earshot of the kids this couldn’t be better. Teenagers will never want to be anywhere else. It’s akin to an adult being imprisoned in a Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental hotel. Why on earth would you ever want to escape?

Between the party barn and the house is a tennis court, space for lacrosse practice, a large pool with changing room, and a tiled-roof, open-sided pavilion with TV connections for watching a game between dips in the pool. How Mandarin Oriental is that? The difference is that you don’t have to share it with anyone else outside family and friends.

And so, to the house which has a genteel Arts & Crafts style and feel: tell you what, checkout the images on the website – it will show you a family home at the top of its game. And what about local amenities? As the address suggests, one of Connecticut’s top ten golf courses is just a stone’s throw away.

I loved this house and still do. It would be a privilege to have been brought up there. I might even have featured it in a book. But for now, this blog must suffice.

Party Barn
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Mighty House

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The House: Terry Manor, 27 Hampshire Road, Bronxville, New York 

The Agent: Kathleen Collins 

The Broker: Houlihan Lawrence 

Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London office gets the show business feeling in a charming house in Bronxville, New York

Recently I visited Terry Manor, a Tudor-style home near Bronxville, New York. It was once the home of Paul Terry, co-founder of Terrytoons, the animation studio that created cartoon characters such as Mighty Mouse and Deputy Dawg. The house was built in 1935 when th studio was only in its sixth year. 

Today the word cartoon is associated with humorous or satirical caricature, and in a way Terry Manor uses parody to draw on English 16th century architectural themes. But in the Italian Renaissance, cartone, meant a large and very detailed drawing. In this way I imagine the house as a detailed work expressing the serious ideas of both the original owner and the current ones.

With a fabulous team of tradespeople, the present owners have achieved a stunning refurbishment. It’s like Mighty Mouse has returned as a decorator. Take a look at the video. The attention to detail in this house is astonishing. If I had only one word to describe the home it would be romantic. The house is a love story awaiting new owners on whom to sprinkle stardust.

On a practical level, just look at a map. Is there anywhere that can offer a park-like feel, wraparound terrace, pool and romance just 20 minutes from New York City? I very much doubt it.

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Clean Floors

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The House: 190 Associates Road, West Falmouth, Massachusetts

The Agents: The O’Neill Group

The Broker: Robert Paul Properties

Nick Churton of Robert Paul’s London office indulges in some mental landscaping while visiting a frontline house on Cape Cod.

Some people like to live directly on the beach, and others want to live with at least a strand of separation. It is a matter of taste, but to some a palette of green and blue seems better than all blue.

I visited a home on Cape Cod with a beautiful colour palette. If I were an artist, I would name the hues. But as I haven’t quite that eye I can only describe the picture those shades paint from the windows of the house.

The property is in a private enclave with about forty other homes that enjoy the vernacular style of the Cape. They also all benefit from seclusion without isolation. The small community has gated security, two private beaches, a tennis court and a community boat barn.

All that is great. But I liked the view towards the sea beyond the spacious bedrooms, the airy open-plan living/entertaining area, the gourmet kitchen and generous decks. Between the house and the beach is a strip of land that is included in the estate. The low vegetation provides terrific verdant shades, while the surface of a large pond picks up the ever-changing mood of the sky overhead. Many people will love this space just the way it is with the birdlife lending this unique private reserve activity, movement and interest. But others might like to bring in the human touch and create a natural garden. It would be an excellent project. 

The salt marsh strand gives the well-appointed, shingle-hung house perspective and context, and I think the picture created from the windows is the better for it. Besides, each time your family and friends walk the few minutes back from the beach, they won’t tread sand into the house.

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The house: 193 Mead Street, Waccabuc, New York

The agent: Susan Stillman.

The broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Nick Churton of Houlihan Lawrence’s London office visits a heavenly retreat in Waccabuc, New York and lets his imagination soar.

Are you looking for a beautiful and peaceful retreat, dear reader? I didn’t know I was until I arrived here. Here, by the way, is a cottage high above picturesque Lake Waccabuc – only about an hour’s drive from frenetic New York City. A long pine-scented driveway leads to a woodland clearing with a stone-built house seemingly hewn from the hillside. The interior of the home is innocent of any pretence in a highly comfortable, mountain sort of way. Instead, the beguiling view and the people who enjoy the view are the essential components of this drama. It is like a theatre set where the players and the backdrop, not the stage props, hold the essential interest. Still, the rooms flow like great dialogue. Nothing jars; nothing upsets the rhythm of the place. All is quiet save for birdsong.

The home is set within thirteen acres and abuts preserved land – thus ensuring its seclusion and peace in perpetuity. The main house includes three bedrooms, a high vaulted open plan living area, and a magnificent floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. There is a sophisticated modern kitchen with a view-to-die-for breakfast banquette and large open-air decks with eyrie vistas.

The detached two-car garage has additional accommodation, including an exercise room/office/studio with a bathroom.  Down by the lake are 300 ft of private shoreline and a large, rare and grandfathered-in dock. 

I learned that Waccabuc is a popular area for creatives. Actors, writers and artists like to live hereabouts and I can understand why. In 1956 Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller were married in the home of Miller’s literary agent just across the lake. 

Could you do with a place like this? Trust me, there is a chair outside in the clean, aromatic air overlooking the lake, with your name on it. 

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Blown Away

The House: 186 Windswept Way, Osterville, Massachusetts 

The Agent: Robert B. Kinlin

The Broker: Robert Paul Properties

Nick Churton from The Robert Paul London office checks out an iconic waterside home in Oyster Harbors and is delighted to see the wood for the trees.

I was blown away by Windswept Way. This leafy Cape Cod thoroughfare runs roughly north to south in Oyster Harbors: it cradles two holes on the highly-regarded Osterville golf course to the east and gives access to the properties that hug the beautiful shoreline to the west.

Arguably the most notable house on Oyster Harbors sits along this wooded way. When built in 1932 the French-inspired home in four acres of grounds promised to be a showpiece on the Cape. Ninety years later it is still a showpiece. Number 186 is certainly the house to have if you are into golf. It is also the house to have if you are into boats as it has an enviable deep-water mooring dock. But even if you aren’t into golf or boats, it is still the house to have because it is beautiful and iconic and is blessed by a dream location. The house has a short line of accomplished previous owners – the first was a Harrow-educated, English businessman from Tunbridge Wells, another was the Olympic figure skating champion, Tenley Albright, who later became a noted Harvard-trained surgeon.

The immediate past owner of number 186 valued his privacy to the extent that he enclosed the house in a thick curtain of trees so that nobody on the golf course or sailing out in Cotuit Bay could ever see through the leafy shroud. This lack of vision was for long a loss to many local people and visitors, as even a quick glimpse of the house is enchanting. But now a master gardener, the man who has orchestrated all things horticultural and arboreal at the property for the past twenty-five years, has gradually let the light shine in. The result is a beautiful view into the property but also from the house. On a clear day you can see the hazy outline of Martha’s Vineyard 35 miles away. And, of course, by taking a fast boat from the end of your pier you could be drinking cocktails with friends on the Vineyard in only a few hours.

Cape Cod has many sensational houses. I have been fortunate to visit one or two of them, but if I were in the market for one today I would look no further than this wonderful home.  I already like boats. I might even take up golf again. But most of all I can’t think of a nicer place to live.

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