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It's hard to say whether or not you will feel like king (or queen) of the world living in this casual-but-elegant, four-bedroom Manhattan penthouse. But you might feel like a Hollywood film idol. It belongs to Oscar-winning actor Kate Winslet. The Titanic and Sense and Sensibility star bought the Chelsea loft with her husband, Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes in 2004, and their divorce has left it vacant and up for lease. How much? $30,000 a month. Clearly, living like a star doesn't come cheap. But what surprises me more than the price is how relaxed, effortless and pared down the condo is. There's nothing glitzy, showy or over-the-top-theatrical about it. Let's take a look.

The open-concept, living-dining space seems perfect for a modern family. I wonder if having Kate Winslet as a landlord means that she would ever drop by. Probably not — I don't imagine she would ever want to check in on the plumbing or come to collect rent cheques!

The spacious, light-filled kitchen seems both urban, with its crisp white walls, and cottagey, with its woodsy accents and farmhouse table.

The lanterns hovering in this guest bedroom add a charming, whimsical touch.

The most luxurious room in the apartment is likely the principal ensuite. Other than the fact that it's huge (I'm fairly sure it's larger than the last hotel room I had in New York City), it's nicely appointed with a clawfoot tub, his-and-her sinks and planked floors. Plus, it's just really, really pretty.

For more information on the house, contact Town Real Estate.

Photo credits:
1-4. Town Real Estate

Author: 

Matthew Hague

It's hard not to feel jealous of people who live in Paris. The culture-rich city is packed with amazing fashion, art and architecture. Did I mention the architecture? The last time I was in Paris, it was a bitterly cold, unusually snowy December. I was staying in a cheap-as-beans hostel in a less-than-luxe corner of town. But even still, the city was luminous because of its incredible buildings (not to mention its squares, streets and parks). There's just a sense of style there which is impossible to suppress. Anyway, I'm already doubly jealous of whoever ends up buying this 3,700-square-foot, five-bedroom condo. It's in an amazing part of the city — near Parc Monceau — and is filled with the kind of drama, elegance and opulence one could only dream of in a piece of prime Parisian real estate.

Beautiful herringbone floors start in the palatial foyer and run throughout the condo. Intricately detailed walls and marble accents create a sense of grandeur.

The regal salon is massive but well proportioned so it still feels comfortable.

The dining room is my favourite space in the house. It's undeniably formal, but the tropical-themed wallpaper creates a relaxed warmth.

The full-height drapes around the french doors create a sense of drama in the principal bedroom.

For more information on the house, contact Luxury Portfolio International.

Photo credits:
1-4. Luxury Portfolio International

Author: 

Matthew Hague

Sometimes, when I'm at my desk and my legs are bopping up and down at a million miles an hour, I feel like I'm in grade school again. I just can't sit still and all I want to do is spring up, run around, and burn off some extra energy. But instead of changing into my gym clothes at lunch, I'm tempted to try working at an adjustable standing desk. The concept is really simple: a crank or lever allows you to move the work surface up and down, so throughout the day, you can easily transition from sitting to standing to be more comfortable (and less slouchy). The idea being that sitting for hours at a time really isn't very healthy (or productive), and standing for a few hours at a time might be quite good for the mind and body. Some big companies like Facebook and Google are already trying it in their offices.

The problem for me is finding a standing desk that looks good. It's hard! A lot of the versions I've checked out are too corporate or mechanical looking. The problem is that I'm not looking for an office desk, but one for my own apartment, so the aesthetic is particularly important. I've rounded up three options below, but if anyone out there has any leads, please let me know!

Ohio Design's Adler Table is by far my favourite. It's unfussy and simple, but still has character thanks to the exposed gears and hardwood top.

The look is a bit industrial but very contemporary.

Humanscale's Float Table is also very simple, but a little more sleek.

It's incredibly easy to adjust with this simple hand lever. The construction looks clean-lined and thoughtful, which I definitely appreciate.

MultiTable.com has a more affordable, practical option with its basic black table. It's not terribly fancy (like the two above), but it's all I'm looking for.

Above is the corner of my small apartment where the desk will likely go (after I find a new home for the easel and the CB2 Scan chair). The wall is a pretty bold red, so I need the desk to be fairly unobtrusive so as not to compete.

What do you think?

See more inspiring home offices in Seema Persaud's blog post.

Photo credits:
1. Ohio Design
2. Humanscale
3. MultiTable.com

Author: 

Matthew Hague

When traditional and contemporary styles collide, something exciting happens. There's a certain electricity, for example, when an avant-garde canvas hangs in an antique gilt frame, or when neon throw pillows perk up a Victorian chesterfield. The blend helps make time-honoured looks feel fresh, and prevents a space from becoming too rigidly modern or trendy. In this 3-bedroom, $3.7-million Los Angeles home, classic elements are given a serious shake with bold colours, striking patterns and unusual art. The resulting spaces are vibrant and youthful. To put it simply, I love it. Check it out below!

The unassuming exterior belies the villa's deeply glamorous roots. It was designed by architect John Elgin Woolf, whose client roster included Cary Grant, Errol Flynn and Katharine Hepburn, and who was a pioneer of the stately-yet-irreverent Hollywood Regency style that is currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity (think Kelly Wearstler and Tamara Kaye-Honey). Singer-songwriter Moby currently co-owns the place, and it's his quirky stamp that defines the interiors. 

Timeless parquet de Versaille floors contrast smartly with the brilliantly patterned sofa. Aren't those chairs fun?

The dining room is incredibly whimsical — with its chunky striped walls, mirrored ceiling and colourful-classic chairs. There's something slightly Alice in Wonderland about the space, which is what makes it interesting. What do you think?

For more Hollywood Regency style, browse our Paul R. Williams photo gallery.

For more information on the house, contact Ben Bacal.

Photo credits:
1-3. Ben Bacal

Author: 

Matthew Hague

I know a lot of people who bemoan the high cost of rent these days — me included — but $400,000 a month? That's ridiculous! Unless, of course, you happen to be superstars like Beyoncé and Jay-Z. That's the price they've reportedly paid for a 31,500-square-foot summer rental just outside of New York City. Below, a peek inside the 12-bedroom estate.

The home is in an extra-exclusive enclave of the Hamptons, called the Sandscastle. The 11-acre manicured grounds include a 60-foot pool and a tennis court.

The place has many luxurious amenities, including a half-pipe for skateboarding, movie theatre and rock climbing wall. But to me, the most over-the-top feature is this palatial dressing room. The size, level of detail and chandelier make it truly decadent.

Although baby Blue Ivy is too young to have friends in for sleepovers (let alone sleep in a real bed), this bunker room would be ideal for it. Maybe Beyoncé and Jay-Z will rent the place again when she's a little bit older.

Read more Surreal Estate posts.

Photo credits:
1-2. Corcoran
3. Curbed Hamptons

Author: 

Matthew Hague

Each week on the Surreal Estate blog, I write about some of the world's most lavish properties — mansions and estates that cost tens of millions of dollars, and belong to Hollywood celebrities like Gwenyth Paltrow or socialites like Rachel Mellon. So it was refreshing to stumble upon (via a friend's tweet) this teensy, utterly modest — but still beautifully decorated — Victorian cottage the other day. It's not that much bigger than a garden shed — 9 by 14 feet — yet looks like it would still be a great retreat. And given that it only cost $3,000 to renovate and furnish, it gives me hope that one day I will be able to afford a cottage, too!

The house — an old hunting cabin — is in New York's picturesque Catskills area.

Okay, so the space is too small for a kitchen or bathroom, and isn't winterized — minor issues! All the amenities are in a neighbouring trailer, which functions as the owner's main home, making this more of an occasional refuge or escape.

There is something really sweet and innocent about this place. It seems like the perfect setting to enjoy tea and scones. According to the New York Times, which originally published the cottage a couple of years ago, many of the decor elements came from garage sales and flea markets. Thrifty and gorgeous!

Get more small space inspiration in House & Home's September 2012 issue.

Photo credits:
1-3. Trevor Tondro for the New York Times

Author: 

Matthew Hague

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