American Theme

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The House:179 Forest Avenue, Rye, New York

The Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

The Agent: Joan O’Meara

Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London Office discovers a very beautiful home in Rye, New York with wonderful provenance and presence.

Born in 1861, Charles Adam Platt was a talented man. He was a landscape artist, garden designer and architect. As the latter he found notoriety through American Renaissance style buildings that attracted not just public patronage but also clients from families such as the Roosevelts, the Rockefellers and the Astors.

The American Renaissance was a period of American architecture from the end of the mid 1870s to the early 1900s. It was a time of national self-confidence and a notion that the young nation was the modern heir to Greek democracy and Roman law. It was an era that coincided with the Gilded Age.

Platt’s canon of civic buildings is extensive, but so to is his inventory of private houses. A great example is 179 Forest Avenue, Rye, New York. Built in 1904, the Charles Platt House is one of Platt’s notable domestic designs. Departing from the American Renaissance style, Platt returns here to Georgian themes that look as good today as they did over a century ago.

From a neighborhood point of view it is a commanding house. It’s elegance and presence makes it familiar and admired in an area of established and pleasing homes.

From the imposing portico entrance to the glorious formal garden set round the excellent pool, this is a very fine example not just of the architect’s art but also of how to transition a significant and precious traditional American home into a thoroughly up-to-date and exciting place to live.

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The Long House

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The house: 117 West Patent Road, Bedford Hills, New York

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Agent: Cecilia Heller

Nick Churton from the Houlihan Lawrence London office takes a good, long look at a a very fine house in Bedford Hills, New York.

The world over, and for thousands of years, the long house has been a domestic architectural fixture across the Americas, Europe and Asia. The Vikings lived in them, so too did the British and the Iroquois people.

So what made long houses so popular? Form follows function in great design and the design of the long house made it ideal for large family living. And all those features and benefits that made them so functional years ago are just as apt today.

An excellent example is 117 West Patent Road, Bedford Hills, New York. This is a handsome, cupola-topped home that sits long on the ample property. It packs a powerful punch in the way of accommodation.

Being long means that one doesn’t have to delve into the basement for all the fun. Here the games room, the media room and the amazing wine cellar aren’t detached in the cellar but very much attached on the first floor. They are easy to reach and connect seamlessly and socially with the more formal reception rooms and kitchen.

It also means that one doesn’t have to go up two flights of stairs to reach second floor bedrooms – because they are all on the first floor.

117 West Patent Road looks long. It looks big. But it doesn’t really live big. That’s because it works for families as perfectly today as long houses have worked for thousands of years.

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Let’s Get Serious

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Nich Churton of Turpin Realtors’ London office gets a big surprise when he opens up this handsome family home in Far Hills, New Jersey.

The Property: 20 Lake Road, Far Hills, New Jersey

The Broker: Turpin Realtors

The Agents: Pippy Alexandre and Leigh Fenwick

Zestful is the best way I can describe 20 Lake Road, Far Hills, New Jersey. This is a jack-in-the-box of a house. Open it up and out pops a zingy interior full of colour, warmth and wit.

But behind the dazzling array of fabrics and wall dressings are seriously elegant rooms with lovely and original architectural features.

Built of fieldstone and clapboard, the elegant house sits in ten beautiful wooded acres with a charming lake. It is a sylvan setting for a home that also offers a wonderful outside lifestyle with pool, terrace, and glass-enclosed sunroom with wet bar.

A lot of fun this timeless colonial house may be, but it also offers seriously good family living.

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Atlanta’s Got Talent

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Nick Churton of the Harry Norman London office is lost for words – almost! – when visiting a spectacular home on one of Atlanta’s most exclusive areas.

The Property: 3005 Nancy Creek Road, Atlanta

The Broker: Harry Norman Realtors

The Agent: Studie Young

Oh yes! Yes, yes, yes (pause for fist pump)!

It is rare to find a house that doesn’t, even in a small way, disappoint for one reason or another – but there’s no disappointment in 3005 Nancy Creek Road, Atlanta. Not at this house, close to the very highly regarded and popular Westminster School. From the moment you walk under the barrel vaulted ceiling in the entrance hall this house is a series of highly agreeable experiences. Each room is a master class in interior design.

Of course the current owner’s style, taste and superb furnishings have a great deal to do with it. But these wouldn’t work as well if the bones of the house, the proportions, the size, the scale and the orientation were not all in perfect balance in the first place.

Atlanta’s denizens have the talent to create wonderful houses and this is a great example of how to live well at home and how to live well in Atlanta. Every ground floor room, including the wonderful kitchen and master bedroom suite, leads in a way to one of the best rooms in the house – the garden. This is a fabulous space, tastefully planned and set round a beautiful swimming pool that you can almost reach with a running jump from the house. It all suggests a healthy and heavenly lifestyle.

Upstairs are more delightful rooms with bedroom suites for family and/or guests.

So this house got a big Atlanta yes from me. In fact, for America’s Got Talent fans, I would hit the big red button that sets all that gold, glittery, fluttery stuff down from the ceiling. It’s as good as that.

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New York New York

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Nick Churton of Halstead’s London office feels right at home in this Manhattan apartment with an iconic view.

The Property: 106 Central Park South 22H

The Broker: Halstead

The Agents: Nora Ariffin and Christopher Kromer

I love Central Park South in Manhattan. I think it’s really my ‘hood in New York City. Within a block or two there is a great deli, a friendly diner, a lovely tea shop (essential for Brits in New York), a very helpful and reasonable dry cleaners, the amazing Carnegie Hall and a truly, truly great steak house. Where better to live then than a really splendid two-bedroom apartment full of light and space right in the heart of this bustling area.

But perhaps the finest feature of this apartment, and enjoyed from a charming terrace, is the view. It is an iconic New York vista, arrow straight, down 6th Avenue all the way to the Freedom Tower over four miles away. Only in New York!

There is also a very swanky and marble-clad common entrance hall off Central Park South with 24-hour staff eager to serve and protect.

I think that this would make a superb New York base. It is only a short stroll away from the subway and of course Central Park is just across the road for walks, the zoo, the Met and so much more. Perhaps best of all, the Frick museum is only a few blocks away

Size, position, view, security, prestige, opportunity and New York; this is some of the best of America captured in an apartment.

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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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