Nick Churton of Houlihan Lawrence’s London office visits a home in Briarcliff Manor, New York that couldn’t be more gloriously American if it tried.

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Agent: Marilynn Sternschuss

It doesn’t get more American than apple pie – or Scarborough Hill. This three-storey hipped roof Victorian home, only 45 minutes from Manhattan and built in 1874, has it all. A demilune porch with fine columns and sunburst fanlights leads to an elegant house of substantial presence. Then there is the view of the Hudson River and its wooded western banks from the porch, front facing rooms and garden. It doesn’t get more American than that.

All-American features stud the house and its five-acre grounds – a widow walk on the roof, a breezeway connecting the house with a guest/recreation/garage/studio wing. Above the house in a commanding, elevated position with more amazing river views is a pool and magnificent pool house with expansive terrace.

In the world of the New York commuter the Hudson Valley is one of the best ways to get from home to desk. After a healthy, tree-lined walk to Ossining or Scarborough stations the rail service sweeps one alongside the mighty Hudson to Grand Central Station in style.

I can’t think of many nicer houses to come home to. But then I really wouldn’t want to leave it in the first place. But real estate is like that. It is full of little compromises. But the good thing about Briarcliff Manor itself is that it is uncompromising about its spacious accommodation, fabulous view, impressive position and handsome look.

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The Other New Jersey

Nick Churton of Turpin Realtors‘ London office heads deep into the New Jersey countryside to find a home which brings new meaning to the term, house proud.

Broker: Turpin Realtors

Agent: John Schott

Away from the New Jersey of Bruce Springsteen and the New Jersey Turnpike of Simon and Garfunkel; and away from the built up New Jersey that faces Manhattan across the Hudson River and then runs in a ribbon of coastal enclaves down to the Boardwalk and bright lights of Atlantic City, there is another place entirely. This is the area that most outsiders don’t hear about very much – or often get to see. But they should. New Jersey is a huge area of land – about a sixth of the landmass of England. The first impression one gets of this other New Jersey, once away from the industrial engine of the state, the trunk roads, airports and dense commuter areas, is the greenness of it all – wave after wave of hills for as far as the eye can see and well beyond are completely clothed in trees. This is what England must have looked like before man invented the axe. New Jersey is called the Garden State, although if you’re standing in Jersey City or Hoboken it might not seem like it.

This other New Jersey is a verdant world that contains some of the most beautiful houses in the United States. Many were built for Wall Street financiers or corporate lawyers who wanted a quiet retreat from the frenzy of the big city. One such home is Hidden Pond Farm in Harding Township. It was built in 1927 as a summer home for a noted attorney and private counsel to John D Rockefeller Jn.

Since the day it was built this home, set in over 43 acres of meticulously maintained grounds, has never been anything than perfectly and particularly looked after. The investment in care and expense has seen no limits. If you seek a home where you know everything is just as good below the surface as it is on the surface then look no further.

Take a look at the details here if you want further information, but take it from me that if you are the type of house buyer who never accepts second best then you won’t be disappointed. But you won’t be surprised either, for the current owners truly understand what no compromise and total attention to detail really mean. If you want everything perfect in your house then take a look here. You will be right at home.

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Me Tarzan You Brevoort Lane

F4B44bD21c304ca-4706106Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London office explores deepest Greenhaven, Rye, New York and finds three trophy houses well worth bagging.

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence


14 Lake Road: Joan O’Meara

14 Shore RoadMarianna Glennon

508 Brevoort Lane: Pollena Forsman

When not swinging through the African (Hollywood) jungle, Tarzan – or rather, the actor Johnny Wiesmuller – lived at his Greenhaven home near Rye, New York. And when not leaving on a jet plane Mary Travers from the 1960s folk trio, Peter, Paul & Mary also resided in this leafy and tranquil waterside enclave just thirty minutes by train from Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Greenhaven was to become known as the East Coast Hollywood and became home to movie moguls and a playground to the stars. Some of the 1954 classic film, Sabrina, starring Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart was filmed in Greenhaven.

The land was originally purchased for farming from the Siwanoy Native Americans in 1601. Then when the railway was finished in 1849 Greenhaven became a prime commuting community for New York City workers who craved some peace and quiet at the end of a hectic day. It still provides that. Indeed not too much has changed in this neck of the woods in a century and a half. The rail service remains excellent and the houses that were later built in a delightful Tudor Revival style still charm with their lovely feel, exquisite craftsmanship and proximity to Long Island Sound and the Van Amringe Pond.

Three of these beautiful houses are currently available through Houlihan Lawrence, Private Brokerage department. 14 Lake Road, 14 Shore Road and 508 Brevoort Lane offer a variety of sizes and aspects. You could choose your favourite view over sound or pond (this pond would be called a lake in the UK). You could also pick your favourite layout and size. Each house has its own distinctive style, but each is ideal for a growing family who likes to be near a beach with sailing and tennis on tap. Most importantly too, Greenhaven is in the highly regarded and sought after Rye school district.

So grab a jet plane or a vine and swing down to Greenhaven. It won’t disappoint.

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Please Don’t Make Me Leave


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Nick Churton of Village Properties’ London office discovers no better place to spend a day or a lifetime.

Broker: Village Properties

Agent: Gregg Leach

Montecito always thrills. It is the combination of ocean, mountains, light, air, wine and sophistication. It is also a reflection of the Mediterranean – to a point. But one might as well say that the Mediterranean is a reflection of Montecito, as the town by the side of Santa Barbara in California stands on its own as a destination with a great climate, lifestyle and domestic architecture.

So given that this is an ideal location to live, where would one rest one’s head? I have the perfect answer. Set high on the Montecito slopes with the Pacific Ocean stretching west to the horizon and the Santa Ynez Mountains creating a gorgeous backdrop is a house of Provencal or Tuscan appearance and feel. But that is where the similarities stop because this is an American house, with American comfort and American ideas about modern living. And in America they do this as well as, if not better than, anywhere.

It is all done beautifully behind the mask of a rustic farmhouse, but it is all here. The elegant living spaces under rough-hewn ceiling beams, the beautiful timber and marble floors so tactile under bare feet, the media room, the wine cellar and the simple but fabulous bedrooms all thrill. But for me it was outside that perhaps created the strongest pull. After all in this climate much of one’s time is spent outdoors. I loved the ocean views, the sitting and dining areas, the olive trees against a perfectly blue sky and the fabulous infinity pool. In the evening there is a fire pit from where to watch the sunset and then the stars while perhaps sipping a Santa Ynez, Au Bon Climat, Pinot Noir.

This is single storey living at its very best. It is hard to think what would drag anyone away from this Shangri-La. Indeed one would never want to leave, as every minute of every day in this house and garden would be a blessing. If it were up to me I would still be there.

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Barefoot Beauty


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Nick Churton of Village Properties’ London office finds that he would rather wash up on this Santa Barbara beach than just about anywhere else in the world.

Broker: Village Properties

Agent: Grubb Campbell Group

All good houses move the spirit. But the very best touch all the senses as well. 3353 Padaro Lane, Carpinteria, California does this. I mention the address because those in the know would choose this road ahead of any other in Santa Barbara. This is the road with houses that meet the beach, the road where living with the ocean is a reality rather than a dream and the road where even the simplest home becomes a pavilion of splendour.

This beach house on the Californian Riviera is the stuff of lifelong recollections, where children and grandchildren will return to time and time again – if only in their memories.

The view of the ocean is a light-filled wonder – with pelicans gliding by. The sound of the waves lulls even the most restless soul. The ocean breeze wafts through the open windows gently caressing the skin and bringing with it the smell of the sea and salt that lingers on the lips. This is what heaven tastes like. It is a sensory feast of a house.

This home has the power to inspire and nurture and the power to heal and restore. Great beach houses do this and this is a great beach house.

A wide deck for all day living separates the house from the beach – its slight elevation creating privacy and seclusion. Inside the home the rooms have been perfectly and romantically decorated in effortless castaway chic by a highly gifted homemaker. So cast around no further. This house is way too good to miss.

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California Dreaming


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Nick Churton of Village Properties’ London office wakes up in California to a dream cottage in a dreamy location and now can’t sleep for thinking about it.

Broker: Village Properties

Agent: Jackie Walters

Sometimes, when idly thumbing through House & Garden magazine or Architectural Digest, one happens upon a dazzling little home that really delights the eye and fires the imagination. It is the perfect retreat – the one you have often dreamed about. Often an initial thought is how did the current owner even find such a gem in the first place? The second – with a tinge of envy – is that someone has had the skill to create such an enchanting interior which makes the very best of unique and memorable architectural detail.

Getting the stuff of dreams so right is not easy. It takes great taste and rare opportunity. It also takes skill and time.

So here is a dream that seems pulled from the pages of the very finest interiors magazines. It has it all – comfort, simplicity, charm, finish, detail and opportunity. In real estate when the perfect opportunity comes along, grab it! It is often a one-chance deal.

But I have missed something. Of course! How silly of me – where it is. How could I have left out the location? This little classic is in Montecito, Santa Barbara, California. And that just puts the tin lid on it, for if anyone were to have a remarkable rustic-white retreat between pink and purple mountains and azure ocean then Montecito is the dream to end all dreams.

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Casa Marina


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Nick Churton of Michael Saunders’ London office visits Boca Grande on Florida’s Gulf coast and discovers the perfect getaway property.

Broker: Michael Saunders & Co

Agent: Carol Stewart

Florida’s west coast hosts some memorable and delightful towns and cities. But a jewel amongst these is surely Boca Grande that sits by the Boca Grande Pass at the head of the Peace River between Sarasota and Fort Myers. The railway, originally built to transport the valuable phosphate that was mined locally, became an important route for wealthy northerners who from 1911 came to enjoy the exceptional Tarpon fishing, and more recentely golf, and stay at the built-for-purpose Gasparilla Inn before graduating to homes of their own. This seasonal migration has continued down the years with notable regular visitors including the Bush family and Katharine Hepburn.

To say this place is family friendly is an understatement. Just look at the traffic – or lack of it. Transportation in this town is generally by golf buggy with all but two streets designated as golf cart paths. A good thing too, as there is no filling station in Boca Grande and the whole place is on an island protected against the rest of the world by a narrow bridge. Where else would you want to go? This precious haven is made for fabulous vacations and a very laid back way of life in the sun where going anywhere else is the last thing you would want to do.

Loving where you are going to live is a key part of choosing a home and it would be hard not to love Boca Grande. But finding the right house is another matter. Boca Grande has much to choose from in that department and will serve many tastes. But frankly, 161 Gilchrist Ave should stop your search in its tracks. A palm tree fringe separates the pool area and the 130 ft west-facing Gulf-front beach at the rear of the property. This house is a Spanish casa marina, a glorious Mediterranean style mansion. Approached past a guest cottage and enormous banyan trees the entrance is as good as it gets in terms of arrival. You really think you have reached somewhere very special. And you have. This house oozes sophisticated relaxation. The multi-zoned living is perfect here, giving plenty of opportunity for personal retreat. But then the magnificent reception rooms and outside spaces provide unparalleled entertaining space against the azure sea and coral sunset backdrop of the Gulf of Mexico.

It is intoxicating.

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Cheese and Cracker


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Nick Churton of Houlihan Lawrence’s London office visits a lovely area of the Hudson Valley just three hours, but a world away, form Manhattan.

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Agent: Katherine Jennings

No visit to Old Chatham, nestled in New York’s verdant Hudson Valley is complete without spending a while at the Old Chatham Country Store and Café. It is a landmark hereabouts, an institution that lends this pretty village centre celebrity status through the simple expedience of being charming and welcoming in a delightfully olde worlde sort of way. It looks as if time has stood still here. But that is just the surface. What is on offer is bang up to date in the taste department. The central table heaves with home made breads, cakes and other delicacies. The counter buzzes with activity. In the large room next door, a giant ancient blackened stove warms the café, its walls covered with work by local artists. A wonderful simplicity belies the polite but constant procession of locals and other pilgrims getting their weekly – or in some cases – daily cake fix whilst reading the papers or chatting to friends. This is how a café should be.

Also on sale are some very fine locally produced cheeses, which brings me seamlessly to the Old Chatham Shepherding Inn just three minutes’ drive away. No prizes for what this beautifully proportioned colonial house used to be. But today it is a wonderful private family home and dairy enterprise.

Dating from the 1790s this sedate home was built when George Washington was president. Some features, like the stone fireplaces and exposed beams, are little changed since then. The layout also reflects the Georgian influence of that age. Period building this may be but like the nearby café, there is so much more going on. The house is surrounded by fenced pastures and fabulous views, and there is a complete barn complex with sheep creamery/dairy ideal for those keen on a great ready-to-go, farm-to-table opportunity. This is after all the home of the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, celebrated for its sheep’s milk cheese and yogurt. The house offers six guest suites with additional office suites, and art studio suitable for conversion to further guest space. Plus there is a tennis court, separate wine cellar, a large greenhouse – I could go on but there is so much to take in. It makes a wonderful family home. But it could be the best B&B ever or a hotel or a retreat or a spa or a… the list is endless. Its a cracker. The best thing to do is retreat to the Old Chatham Store and Café for lunch and think about what a great place this is to live, what a fabulous opportunity it affords and how this could well be the best home you will ever own.

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There may not be Dragons


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Nick Churton of EWM’s London office gets to know a town outside Miami that combines great creature comforts with, well, great creatures.

Broker: EWM

Agent: Alicia Mayz

2947 Lake Ridge Lane, Weston near Miami in Florida is a house on the edge. It stands between a comfortable manmade world and nature in the raw tooth and claw.

From the raised deck the view ahead is the Everglades, that 100 mile river of grass that flows from central Florida and down into the Gulf of Mexico in the south of the state. The view behind is of a magnificent home with pool, summer kitchen, and large entertainment area. It is a glorious juxtaposition with a world-class eco system on the doorstep with flamingos, pelicans, ospreys, turkey vultures, short tailed hawks, deer and bobcats as your neighbours on one side and some very nice human meighbours on the other.

The town is called Weston and it is one of south Florida’s most desirable communities. It’s easy to see why. Just look at the beautifully manicured roadside verges and the public parks of which there are many. Learn about the school system here and you can’t fail to be impressed. This is civic management at the top of its game. It is a perfect environment for families. As perfect as the Everglades is for its rich and teeming wildlife.

This house stands elegantly between these ideal worlds. One is mapped out the other still remains largely untouched and unexplored. There may not be dragons over the fence but there are alligators.

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Bang on the Money


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Nick Churton of Smith & Associates’ London office discovers the story behind one of Tampa’s most celebrated residential areas and a house that is pick of the bunch.

Broker: Smith & Associates

Agent: B-G Holmberg

In the early 1920s Tampa native, D P Davis, a developer who had prospered in the Miami property boom, masterminded the conversion of mudflats and three small islands near the mouth of the Hillsborough River in Tampa. His vision was an idyllic island community to be called Davis Islands. He hired the four largest dredgers available and ran them 24 hours a day in order to remove from the bay the 89 million cubic feet of sand necessary to realise his dream. It was a big dream.

When the sales office doors were opened on the day the island home plots went on sale there was pandemonium. Prospective buyers had waited in long queues and the streets near the sales office were congested with traffic. Within the first three hours, all 306 of the first phase plots were sold. Mr. Davis had been showered with checks and entered the record books for sales in a new subdivision.

Now, nearly one hundred years later, things maybe a little calmer on Davis Islands. But the homes are just as popular. D P Davis’s dream has become a reality and the islands have fulfilled their early promise by becoming one of Tampa’s most exclusive and sought after residential areas. Now the estate is so well regarded it is listed on the National Historic Registry.

A perfect example of why these homes are so popular is in Bosphorous Avenue. Back in 1926 number 190 was one of the first homes to be built on the Islands, Now known as Washington House the gated property occupies a fine double corner plot and is one of the most pleasing and distinctive homes on the Islands. That distinction continues inside. The house has been beautifully maintained but also refurbished into a modern and elegant home that has lost none of its innate character.

It would be impossible to argue that D P Davis’s vision was not bang on the money back in the 1920s. Close to Tampa’s top amenities this area has it all for those that want style with convenience – which makes it bang on the money today too.

Please form an orderly queue.

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