Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty visits a home of architectural importance and cultural significence in the Somerset hills of New Jersey.
Broker: Turpin Realtors
Agent: Ashley Christus
Some people look at art. Some people collect art. But some – a lucky few – dwell in art. This is the point where it becomes true installation art – the art of great architecture – the art of living. The Teiger House in Somerset County, New Jersey is such an installation. Most art needs a space to show it off to its best. Here this space is provided by the vast rural landscape which stretches for miles westerly to the far horizon. A hillside provides the pedestal for this piece. But as Frank Lloyd Wright, the great American modernist architect, said, “No house should be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other”.
And so it is here. The architecture does not blend in but acts as a vivid counterpoint to the topography in the most modernist of ways. The exterior tests us as an abstract painting or sculpture can do. Some will find it a challenge. But the connoisseur will not. Here the exterior is formed of stone, timber, iron and glass – at one point it is ordered, at another there is a quality of randomness. But inside the space there is harmony built of just one special element – light. Shafts of brilliance illuminate the interconnected rooms in a way that lifts the spirit. Great architecture does this. This is not just a ‘machine for living’, as La Corbusier put it, but also a sculpture for living.
So the setting and building dominate. Location is always important when buying a home but here is a building that has become a destination in itself – so few are the opportunities like this only 42 miles from New York City. But you could be a thousand miles always for all is seems – or matters.
Featured in Architectural Digest, American House Now, Architectural Record and The Wall Street Journal this house is certainly celebrated. I could go on about the contrast of light and shade, the pinpoints of colour and of the movement of water. I could enthuse about the living spaces with spectacular angled walls and ceilings, of the perfectly placed windows and skylights, the use of stone and tile in the bathrooms, or of the master dressing room – a triumph of cabinetry. I could try and describe the sheer joy of being there. But like any great art it is always better to see it for oneself rather than read about it on the page.
I love this house. Its architects, Los Angeles based Michael Rotondi and Clark Stevens, clearly loved designing it and its patron, the late David Teiger, management consultant, art benefactor and serious collector famously loved living in it.
Against such wonderful art it seems almost too tawdry to mention but on a more prosaic note I must point out the price. Compared to other similar sized properties in the area this to me seems fabulous value. I would move quickly before another connoisseur wakes up and starts bidding.