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Nick Churton from the Diane Turton Realtors’ London office gets all watery eyed at a breathtaking beach house on the New Jersey shore.

The Property: 712 Morven Terrace, Sea Girt, New Jersey

The Broker: Diane Turton Realtors

The Agent: Colleen Tobin

I checked out the definition of seagirt and found it means surrounded by sea. This was one of the questions I had when I reached Oceanfront, Sea Girt, on the New Jersey shore. Next, I wondered how this house would look like on the inside because it seemed pretty amazing to me on the outside?

If you follow my footsteps, I challenge you not to shout, “Wow”, and then dive for your beach clothes, because when you go through the front door of this home, you realise that the house is not on the beach, it is the beach.

At this magnificent contemporary home with an industrial vibe interior, you sleep on the beach, shower on the beach, eat on the beach and relax on the beach – or so it seems. All there is separating the house from the strand is a giant wall of glass. It is fabulous in the summer, but also cosy warm in the winter – giving the home a year-round life.

The beach is what living in this part of the world is all about. It is an antidote to the urban frenzy of New York City only sixty-odd miles to the north.

There is a strong chance that buyers will want to balance both beach and city lifestyles – city to make their living and beach to enjoy their living. Commuting is made easy at Oceanfront by only a two-hour rail journey between Manasquan station (only five minutes from the house) and Penn Station in Manhattan.

Oceanfront blurs the lines between city and beach living with a loft look that offers a sophisticated modern design with a carefree sand-between-the-toes lifestyle. So, go on, kick off your shoes and join the beach set.

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Looking Good – In All Directions

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Nick Churton from the Diane Turton Realtors’ London office, sits back and admires the view from a waterside super-home.

The Property: 119 Curtis Point Drive, Mantoloking, New Jersey

The Broker: Diane Turton Realtors

The Agents: Suzie Van Schoick

I like the water, so let’s start on the dock at the rear of 119 Curtis Point Drive in Mantoloking, New Jersey. Behind is the beautiful Barnegat Bay.  In a fast boat from the dock, it is only a few moments to the Mantoloking Yacht Club.

In front of us is the pretty house with a charming chalet look, sitting beyond a spacious deck, pool and veranda. It is now that we begin to notice the quality. Everything looks crisp, well maintained and beautifully thought out. This is usually an excellent sign. A home that looks good on the outside can signify a house that looks good on the inside.

We will not be disappointed. We will be thrilled. The house on the inside is even better than the outside – if that is possible. But there is a bit of an optical illusion going on because, although the house looks compact from the exterior, indoors there is excellent accommodation including seven bedroom suites. The downstairs layout flows between the fabulous kitchen, comfortable family room, quiet sitting space and bay-view dining area.

This home is for relaxation, family and entertaining. It has the location, space and specification to cater for all three with ease. Ease is the perfect word to describe the feeling that this beautiful house engenders.

So let’s pop into the sensational climate-controlled wine room, pop a cork, pour a glass and pull up a chair on the deck for one of the best times of the day – sunset. It is going to be a fantastic show.

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No Shoes Required

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Nick Churton from the Diane Turton Realtors’ London office, kicks off his shoes and relaxes into a landmark beachfront home in New Jersey.

The Property: 1611 Ocean Avenue, Spring Lake, New Jersey

The Broker: Diane Turton Realtors

The Agent: Cindy Napp

I’m not for a moment suggesting you may feel smug, but when sipping cold French Rosé on the ocean-view, wraparound veranda of 1611 Ocean Drive in Spring Lake, I think you might be permitted a moment of personal satisfaction.

As you relax there, looking at the passers-by looking at you, and waving to neighbours and friends, you should be allowed to congratulate yourself on a job well done and on a purchase well made.

Owning a front line house in Spring Lake is a big deal. It is undoubtedly a big deal for the children and perhaps grandchildren – no, especially the grandchildren, as this house is a grandchildren magnet. It draws them to you. Having done that, it gives them something to do – all the time. The beach is across the road. A barefoot, sun-soaked summer is guaranteed.

So far we haven’t even gone past the veranda. It is worth going further. This is a beautifully fitted, decorated and maintained home with several bedrooms (out of 8) having outstanding ocean views. On the ground floor, there are generous living spaces, ideal for decompressing after the beach – and after dark entertaining. Or sit on the stoop sipping Rosé. It is up to you; this is your dream come true.

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Six out of Six

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Nick Churton from the Houlihan Lawrence, London office, does the math and discovers a perfect six in Rye.

The Property: 12 Dogwood Lane, Rye, New York

The Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

The Agent: Joan M. O’Meara

At a dogleg in Dogwood Lane, Rye is the entrance to a drive that sweeps up to a beautiful colonial home set in private and secluded grounds. This exclusive part of Rye is close to golf and country clubs. It is also only three minutes drive to Rye train station and close to some excellent private and public schools. For goodness sake, it’s only 15 minute’s walk to brunch at Ruby’s Oyster Bar & Bistro in the heart of Rye. This is a first-class place to live.

12 Dogwood Lane is first class also. This is not just a Rye house. This is a Susie Cappelli, Rye house. For those who don’t know why this means so much, Susie Cappelli has been an established leader in Rye real estate development since 2005. Her signature involvement in new build and key renovations is a big deal. Cappelli’s sense of style, design flare, and construction expertise combine to make her a busy and sought after developer. If one is having a house built or one made-over then Cappelli is a great professional to have in one’s corner.

This home is an excellent example of Cappelli’s work. Here she worked hand-in-hand with the current owners to re-imagine this 1963-built home. It has been designed for modern family-style living but retains a traditional flavour. Have no doubt; this is a beautifully executed root and branch renovation.

So, great looks, accommodation, location, schools, commuting and convenience: to me that sounds like the top six requirements that any buyer is looking for.


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A Pocket Full of Rye

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Nick Churton from the Houlihan Lawrence London office compares two Ryes and finds an English looking home in Rye, New York, that ticks all the boxes for active family living in a coastal location not far from Manhattan.

The Property: 45 Forest Avenue, Rye, New York

The Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

The Agents: Marianna Glennon

Rye, on the south coast of England is a quaint town with steep cobbled streets of charmingly higgledy-piggledy tile-hung houses and cottages. It was once a port, but the sea, in the form of The English Chanel, forsook Rye hundreds of years ago, leaving it now only with a tidal river and thrilling tales of smugglers and excise men.

Rye in New York, is a different kettle of fish. No smuggling here – as far as I know, although there are, no doubt, one or two tax people – and the sea, in the form of Long Island Sound, still laps the town’s rocky shore.

Likewise, the houses are different. This Rye is a serious New York City commuter town. Getting to and from Manhattan quickly is important to the people here as much of the local wealth is generated in Wall Street, less than an hour away by train.

It is not surprising that living in Rye, New York, is popular – with handsome houses like 45 Forest Avenue in which to live. This brick built Georgian style home certainly looks good on the outside, but this is nothing to the interior. I loved the entrance hall with elliptical cantilevered stairway. But I also loved the spacious layout of elegant rooms and the wonderful facilities for an active home life, like a gym and outside pool and tennis court.

If you are looking for Rye and a comfortable family house only a few minutes away from the station and the rocky shore, this is one for you.

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Living Canvas

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Nick Churton from the Houlihan Lawrence London office joins the hunt for the perfect rural home only a couple of hours drive from New York City.

The Property:    Lithgow Farm, 33 Lithgow Millbrook, New York

The Broker:        Houlihan Lawrence

The Agent:          John R. Friend

I have tried six times to start this blog. It should write itself – such is the subject matter. But it is hard sometimes to describe somewhere so profoundly personal.

Most homes reflect their owners. Pictures, objects, books, collectables, travel mementos and decorative taste in furniture and rugs all combine to mirror the curator.

Dating back to 1758, Lithgow Farm in Millbrook is a case in point. Le Corbusier described a house as a machine for living. Lithgow Farm is a canvas for living. The current owners have painted their canvas perfectly. It suits them. It suits me. It may well suit you. But the thing with Lithgow Farm is that it is such a good house that, once its beautiful and fascinating contents are gone, it will re-become a wonderful blank canvas for a new owner. As we say in the trade, the house has good bones.

And if you think the house is special, then take a walk in the garden. It will be a long walk. It is a large garden. Or take a four-wheel drive to the highest point on the 200 acre estate where the sensational views go on forever in any direction. There is also a lake with Pagoda Island, a wild swimming pool, woodland and landscaped areas and vistas. I could go on.

Millbrook is one of the finest places in the US to follow country pursuits such as hunting, shooting and fishing. The renowned Millbrook Hunt, established in the 1890s, is one of the premier hunts in North America. Horses, rather than people, set the pace hereabouts – and the pace can get pretty fast – in pursuit of quarry! Institutions are important in Millbrook – such as the nearby Tamarack Preserve, a hunting and fishing membership club – think Ralph Lauren-like clubhouse décor.

Believe me, if you are moving to Millbrook then Lithgow Farm, one of the most important and historic houses in the neighbourhood, and set in the heart of this welcoming community, is the place to be.

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Seat of Learning

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Nick Churton from the Houlihan Lawrence London office takes a lesson in the importance of geography to property and education.

The Property:     48 Porter Street, Lakeville, Connecticut

The Broker:        Houlihan Lawrence

The Agent:          Marc Maclean

If you don’t know Lakeville, Connecticut, then let me introduce you to this bucolic place. Tucked away in beautiful hills in the northwest corner of the state – between the Hudson River and the Berkshires – Lakeville is a small town with a big impact. Why live here? There are four good reasons: schools, beauty, community and the lake – Wononskopomuc Lake to be precise, but we’ll stick to calling it, ‘the lake’!

Schools are such a draw for parents buying homes and Lakeville has three of the state’s premier private high schools – The Hotchkiss School, Salisbury Boy’s School and Berkshire School.

Lakeville is a peaceful area – except on match day! I can’t begin to imagine the sporting and academic rivalry between the schools here. If you want your child prepared for the hurly burly of modern post-education life, then Lakeville is a pretty good place to start.

But on non-match days Lakeville returns to peace and serenity. It is a far cry from the frenzy of New York City only three hours away. That’s a little over 100 miles, so very doable for the weekend.

And what about the wonderful house I went to see? First, there is nothing to improve. Its done, and to a very high standard. It is spacious, tasteful and occupies a magnificent elevated position with a glorious view of the lake to wooded hills beyond. In autumn, it is an indescribably beautiful palette of colour. I feel I don’t need to describe it here. Just take a look at the video – what on earth is there not to like?

So, if you like peace, beauty and preparing your offspring for adulthood, then this is the ideal seat of learning for masterminding operations.

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Top of the World

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Nick Churton from the Houlihan Lawrence London office has his head in the clouds but feet on the ground with a spectacular penthouse apartment with New York skyline views.

The Penthouse:   1 Renaissance Square, PH2EGF

The Broker:        Houlihan Lawrence

The Agent:          April W. Saxe

New York means the world to millions of people. To live on top of this world, one might look for a lofty apartment in Manhattan. But that will come with a very lofty price tag.

There is an alternative. White Plains is within sight of New York City. By train it is only thirty minutes away. At the top of the splendid Ritz Carlton, Westchester is a fabulous penthouse with 300-degree views to the New York skyline and Long Island Sound. It is well worth a look. In fact you don’t just look at a place like this, as much as try it on, because penthouses wrap themselves around one like a comfortable and extremely chic cloak.

Penthouse living should come with deep-pile luxury as standard, and it doesn’t get more deep-pile than here with all the sumptuous, white glove facilities of the hotel on tap. These include full service spa, fitness centre, steak restaurant and housekeeping services.

But let’s head into the apartment. Good penthouses hold an exciting place in the real estate world. They feel special from the very start. They immediately suggest a hushed luxury and sophistication with a dash of élan.

With lustrous bespoke wood panelling and cabinetry, the apartment seems to reference glossy and glamorous Hollywood movies. It may be me, but when I closed my eyes I could swear I saw a cardigan clad, Carry Grant, holding a Martini glass, and then Jack Lemmon with, of course, his gap-toothed grinning, valet, Terry Thomas. But this is what penthouses, like movies, are all about – they conjure up glamour!

This is sophisticated high life living within easy reach of Manhattan. In fact White Plains railway station is only a few minutes walk away, so getting to and from Wall Street or a Broadway show is a doddle. So, try it on. You will soon realise that the movies don’t have the monopoly on glamour – you’re wearing it!

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Hen’s Tooth

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Nick Churton from the Houlihan Lawence, London office, feels the presence of a master architect at a magnificent home overlooking Long Island Sound.

The Property: 217 Hommocks Road, Larchmont, New York

The Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

The Agent: Katie Becker McLoughlin

You tell your agent that you want a special house in Larchmont, New York, one with presence and style. Then you add that it must be on the water. That’s the kicker because there are, of course, waterfront houses and waterfront houses.

Some houses need a beautiful waterfront position to give them added appeal, and some waterside locations need a fine house to give them a strong focal point. Very rarely, however, there is a balance between house and watery location. Both add to each other in equal measure. When this happens there is an alchemy that produces a home of rare and incomparable brilliance and desirability. These are like hen’s teeth. You have almost more chance of being stepped on by a dinosaur than finding one of these houses.

So this, dear reader, is where I urge you to pay extra attention, because when your agent suggests you view 217 Hommocks Road with 400 ft. of shoreline, you should drop everything and jump in your car. For this is a hen’s tooth.

I’m not going to list all the many great features here, nor am I going to outline the fabulous benefits either. There is not enough room and anyway I don’t need to: when you visit you will understand.

Although there is no evidence that celebrated architect, Stanford White, designed this house, it has all his hallmarks. This is a wonderfully laid out home that has been delightfully updated and decorated by the current owners. Like the waters of Long Island Sound outside, this home shimmers. It is outstanding.

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And the Sandwich Comes Free

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Nick Churton from the Halstead, London office, loves the village of Sag Harbor, New York and discovers a fabulous waterside condo with a lower-cost way of ownership.

The Property: 68 West Water Street, Sag Harbor, New York

The Broker: Halstead

The Agents: John Scott “JT” Thomas and Robert J Stearns

Let’s face it; The Hamptons is not the cheapest place on earth in which to live. It is a highly popular A-list destination with buyers – not just from within the US but also internationally. The property prices are, accordingly, above-the-norm, so too are the property taxes and, in the case of condominiums, the monthly management costs.

So, what makes this two-floor condominium with balcony and water views in highly popular, Sag Harbour, such a great buy? Well, apart from the space, layout, facilities, convenience and the outlook, it is the rental income. Based on the last few years’ figures, vacation rental return from June, July and August, alone, would pay for the annual taxes and management costs. Imagine that, cost-neutral living in the Hamptons! Not only that, but you may even make enough extra to pay for an extended European vacation yourself while your tenants are in residence.

Looked at like that, it’s a no-brainer. So check out this duplex with nautical style interior. It’s only a short walk from Main Street and all the great Sag Harbour restaurants. While you’re there, try the delicious bar snacks at the American Hotel – they do these great little fried cheese and bacon sandwiches. At the rate of the condo’s rental return, they will probably be cost-neutral too.

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