Every year around this time, I suddenly notice that gosh, it’s dark out. The bare trees and dropping temperatures don’t bother me, but when the sun disappears at 4:30, it hits me that we’re in for a long, dark winter. So, with the solstice still over a month away, I’ve been looking to the real estate listings for my sunlight fix. This condo in Miami caught my eye for its mix of clean, tropical light-filled spaces and restrained hits of big-city glitz. And at only $1.5 million, it’s in the realm of “unlikely” dreams but not “utterly impossible in this lifetime” fantasies. Let’s take a look.
The 3-bedroom, 3-bath unit is on the 19th floor and has a gorgeous view of the water and a nearby park. The highway connecting the city to Miami Beach isn’t quite so scenic in this photo, but I’d imagine that the causeway and skyline beyond are actually quite pretty when lit up at night.
Judging by this floor plan, you enter the "new" kitchen through two foyers off your private elevator (considering the building was finished in early 2013, everything is pretty much spanking new). Glossy white cupboards and stainless steel appliances are sleek and restrained, making the room’s one indulgence — that beautifully veined waterfall Calacatta marble island — all the more gorgeous.
White walls, millwork and floors and Lucite chairs let the sunlight bounce around the kitchen and dining area. The living room lies to the left, with a floor-to-ceiling window at the end and the terrace beyond. Lots of shiny white can feel cold, but here, an industrial-chic table and metallic vases keep the vibe warm and inviting.
Each of the three bedrooms has its own bath and ample closet space, and two of the three have exits to two separate balconies. The third bedroom is currently outfitted as an office in the same calm, monochromatic palette. I’d move that desk to face the window, even if the view is inland on this side of the building.
The principal bedroom, with its wooden bed, gold accent table, and wiry chandelier, sticks to the white-with-warmth idea. Here, the ensuite bath really is en suite — that sparkly wall to the right is the glass-enclosed shower, and the double vanity is visible at the back of the room. I like the idea of watching the sun rise over the ocean from the shower; less appealing is the idea of lounging in bed and listening to tooth-brushing just a few feet away.
What do you think? Does this apartment satisfy your cravings for sunshine?
1–5. Douglas Elliman Real Estate
When this listing appeared in September, the French press reported that Brigitte Bardot lived here in the 1960s. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be true. The 79-year-old bombshell opened a Twitter account and used her first tweet to insist that she had "never set foot in that apartment." It seems the property was actually owned by her third husband, Gunter Sachs, after their split. Still, like Bardot, this $8 million, three-bedroom home is a retro beauty, and totally worth a look.
Whether the actress visited or not, I think the apartment's gorgeous Art Deco trappings speak for themselves. I'm not sure whether this is the entryway or a dining room, but either way, that stained-glass window is worth lingering by.
The architecture here is a bit more classical, less swoopy, but the furnishings are just as dramatic. (You don't have to be a starlet to want to swoon onto that red velvet settee.) At right, the lipstick red walls continue through a gallery-like elliptical space.
In the open-concept living and dining room, the palette is a little more restrained. A great room like this is unusual for a Parisian apartment, but given that this house also includes a discotheque and billiards room, it's clearly doesn't play by the rules.
Frosted glass and glossy light wood make the eat-in kitchen feel a bit '90s, but I'd be willing to look past the decor to have this kind of space in the middle of Paris. Plus, it's easy enough to swap out dated seating for some chic-er options.
I'd be a little concerned about people looking down on this terrace and watching me eat, but let's face it: in Paris, people-watching is the whole point. And given the building's location in the ritzy Passy area of the 16th arrondissement, I'd bet the neighbours would be too well-bred to say anything.
Would you feel like a cat-eyed movie star (or at least, the former husband of one) in this glamorous apartment?
1–5. Barnes International Luxury Real Estate
If Rome is the Eternal City, Milan is the city of now — of all that’s hot in design and fashion. Though it’s located in the city’s historic centre, this price-upon-request penthouse has been made over with the latest in both design worlds. Let’s start the week with a tour of the three-storey space.
The giant terrace — large enough to be divided into three areas spread over two levels — is what first caught my eye about this listing. Sure, you could go to the nearby Parco Sempione and picnic, or you could dine al fresco on your own park-like patio. Keep the fuchsia hue of that table in mind; we’ll be seeing it again later.
You climb to the fifth-storey terrace through a glass-enclosed living room, skirting the sculptural modern sectionals on the way. I love the wood slats on the gallery wall at right, which make the greenhouse-like space feel like a real room, and the potted plants, which help create the airy greenhouse feel in the first place. Less wonderful is that white portal, which seems to belong to the stairs but is, oddly, a pace or two from the actual steps.
Continuing downstairs, here’s the dining room on the apartment’s main floor. (The kitchen, TV room, gym, principal suite, and ‘service area’ are also on this floor.) I just can’t get over the combination of the lacquered orange cabinet with the stone-cold floor and slightly more organic wishbone chairs.
And here’s that fuchsia again, spread all over the floor and even running up one wall. (It even continues onto the floor of an outdoor dining area, as though its brightness just can’t be contained.) The cabinets and kitchen fixtures are so uniformly sleek and contemporary that I half suspect they were just carted over after Design Week one year.
This shot of one of the six bedrooms doesn’t give a very good idea of the room’s proportions or layout, but gives a gorgeous view of that grainy paneling. It really makes the space feel cosy, even snug, in spite of the crisp bedding and white beams overhead.
What do you think? Is this Milan space your style?
For more Milan inspiration, check out Suzanne Dimma’s dispatch from the Salone del Mobile.
1-5: Sotheby's International Realty Milan.
While on a recent working trip to NYC I was lucky enough to stay at the Gansevoort Park Avenue. I often find myself leaning toward the pre-war architecture of some of Manhattan’s smaller boutique hotels, but the Gansevoort has opened my eyes to a different NYC experience. Located at 29th and Park Avenue, this newly built 249-room hotel is a short walk to one my favourite food meccas in the city, Eataly.
The lobby of the Gansevoort Park Avenue really sets the tone for the entire experience. Bold, energetic, clever and glamorous really really sum it up. Like most hotel lobbies, this three-story space is a hub of activity, but also an incredibly chic place to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi!
I have to admit, this lobby is ‘a whole lot of look’ but I think the fact that they really went for it makes it work. Hot pink, tufted upholstery, and bold, black and white chevron floors altogether — why not? It’s certainly memorable!
The guest rooms carry the same aesthetic as the lobby but in a more peaceful and relaxing way, using bold hues as accents to a more neutral backdrop. I really love the intense sapphire blue and fuchsia pink together and how they give this room so much life. Would I hang hot pink drapes in my own bedroom? No. But it’s a total rock-star move to hang them in a hotel room where guests won't tire of them so quickly.
My favourite thing about this room has to be the size of its window. I’ve never stayed in a NYC hotel room with this much natural light, and of course it offers a great view of this incredible city.
1-4. Joel Bray
I'm always interested in seeing where the creative class creates — for every F. Scott Fitzgerald dashing off pages at a glamorous villa in the south of France, there's a J.K. Rowling scribbling her first novel on a napkin while riding to work on a train. This listing in London intrigued me because it's vast and still feels unfinished, as though anything could happen in the space — a sculpture, a music video, an incredible party, an art exhibit. Let's take a peek inside.
From the outside, you'd never guess this was in the middle of London, just east of Regent's Park. (Or at least, I didn't.) According to the listing, it used to be the studios of Monty Python, and was named Milkwood Studios in honour of poet Dylan Thomas, who lived and worked in the neighbourhood. Now, it's been converted to a private home, but with over 9,500 square feet of space, there's still plenty of room for creativity.
The cavernous, oddly-shaped studio space is now a living and dining area, with plenty of room left over to display what I'm guessing is the current owners' sculpture collection. I love the idea of lining that entire wall with bookshelves; along with art, books bring so much life to a room.
A bright eat-in kitchen uses the same vertical panelling as the exterior and opens to an inner courtyard for an informal feel. The open shelving fits the property's freewheeling, everything-exposed vibe, too, but for nearly $20 million, I'd like some kitchen cabinets, please.
Invite friends to hang out in the home theatre, games room, roof terrace or private patio. If the party lasts a while, there are three bedrooms, plus another two rooms that could be used to crash in. They can even leave their cars in the gated off-street parking area.
Even the four bathrooms are full of art...and what looks like plywood walls. Still, the space is quite roomy, and if you're buying a house like this, the loft-like, bohemian atmosphere is part of the charm.
Would you keep the space open and basic, or do you think it's time for something completely different for this house?
1–5: Savills St. John's Wood
Being a director seems glamorous, but I bet it's actually a lot of work: wrangling actors, keeping production moving and making sure the studio likes the final product. So it's no surprise that director Rob Cohen built his low-key vacation home on Bali well off the, ahem, fast-and-furious Hollywood track. Now, his magazine-worthy oceanfront estate in the tropics is up for sale. Let's meander through the photos.
Set on the east coast of Bali, the structures were inspired by traditional Sumatran architecture. The main living and dining pavilion sits between a pond and the ocean for near-360-degree water views, and I would take full advantage by sitting (or more accurately, sprawling) in one of those second-floor hammocks.
This pavilion was situated to afford a view of Mount Agung, a sacred — and active — volcano. Inside, it's exotic but cosy thanks to teak floors, woven bamboo walls and sofas designed by Linda Garland to withstand wet bathing suits.
If you don't want to sit down to a glass of wine here, this probably isn't the blog post for you. The rest of us will imagine taking a seat on that nice cool stone, looking out at the ocean and listening to the waves crash. The only problem: the current owner is a surfer, and judging by the one cresting in this photo, I'm afraid said waves might be a little rough for swimming.
Now, imagine drifting off to sleep beneath those clouds of white fabric, listening to the thatch roof creak in the sea breeze. (I feel my day-to-day stress melting away already!) The masks on the walls are traditional Balinese pieces; the owners bought a large collection of Balinese statues from an anthropologist to ensure that all the works would remain on the island and they are displayed around the house.
The property originally had a river running through the centre, so the designer simply diverted the water to create this continuously re-circulating pond. Recycled electric poles were used to make the structures, including the guesthouses shown. Instead of nails, local carpenters used traditional pegs to hold everything together. The listing says this six-bedroom, six-bath property is "price on application," but other sources estimate the value as $3 million.
Would this inspire you to yell "cut" and move over to the slow lane?
1-5. Knight Frank
Paris' Parc Monceau has always been home to some architectural oddities; the original layout had a Roman-style colonnade, Egyptian-style pyramid, Turkish-inspired tent, Dutch-style windmill and a Chinese-style bridge. Apparently, the follies have spread through the neighbourhood. Not only is this apartment just five minutes from the park, it's across the street from a pagoda.
The apartment building itself is decidedly not a folly, with Haussmanian features dating to 1890. The listing promises an elevator — the apartment is on the fourth floor — but it also looks like it could be from the turn of the 20th century. Far more convenient is the location, in the ritzy 8th arrondissement, and that bus stop practically at the doorstep.
The interiors are as dignified as you'd expect, with parquet floors and moulding aplenty. I love the dark, moody shades of smoky grey-green, oxblood and charcoal, glammed up with large mirrors and gold trim. Apparently the current owners weren't afraid when it came to painting, hanging art or using leopard print.
Here's the view from that living room. Originally one of Paris' thousands of hôtels particuliers, the building was transformed into a pagoda in the 1920s after being purchased by an Asian art and antiques dealer. Today, its preserved interiors are home to an event space and art gallery. I think the view would be a nice daily reminder that in Paris, you just never know what you'll see next.
The dining room could be summed up as 'shiny,' from the glossy walls and metallic moulding to the mirrored tabletop. But the vaguely Art Deco paintings and sassy open-backed chairs help add depth to all those gleaming surfaces.
I'm guessing this is the entrance, from the keys in the door and the umbrella stand in the corner. And the red Barcelona chairs — obviously, we all have those in the foyer for fiddling with shoes. There's a separate (and probably far less glamorous) service entrance elsewhere, plus a self-contained studio apartment that could be rented out.
The centre of the apartment is a large reading room with a giant south-facing stained-glass window. (I'll pause while we all sigh with envy.) Okay, now I'll point out how perfect that secretary in the corner looks for setting up a laptop. You could even pull the screen around for a little office nook.
Rounding out the apartment are a North American-style eat-in kitchen with lacquered red cabinets, three bedrooms, three bathrooms and two wine cellars. For this much space — and character — in the heart of Paris, $5.5 million doesn't seem so bad.
What do you think? Would you buy this space for the interiors, the view or both?
If you like the 8th arrondissement but not the style of this home, check out a more traditional, grandly proportioned apartment that's also near the Parc Monceau.
The stories of country-music stars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw read like Cinderella twice over. He dropped out of college, she took shifts at McDonald's, they both moved to Nashville to follow their dreams, and — cut to 15 years later — together, they took the highest-grossing country tour of all time. Maybe you can't have their showbiz success (or their we-don't-spend-more-than-three-days-apart marriage) but now, you can have one of their houses. Let's take a look at their Franklin, Tennessee, spread, now on the market for $20 million.
The property's main attraction is the nearly 7,000-square-foot Beechwood Hall, which dates from 1856. Though the home's size is sprawling, its Italianate revival style is relatively restrained. I'm sure the winding drive is lovely — in the listing photos, the driveway approaches from the rear and dramatically curves to the front at the last moment — but one of my first orders of business would be to remove what looks like a parking lot in front.
The interior of Beechwood Hall doesn't seem to have been touched since at least the turn of the 20th century. (Even the listing outright admits that it needs restoration.) But that's not entirely a bad thing; with some TLC, this panelling could be absolutely stunning, and if you can handle the listing price, another few million for a restoration probably doesn't sound too bad.
What's a historic mansion without a sweeping staircase and gleaming crystal chandelier? At first I hoped the landscapes on the walls were hand-painted, but a glance at the wall above the staircase shows that they're actually wallpaper (and peeling off in sheets). The teal paint looks a bit institutional here, but in other shots it has a little more of a grey tone, so perhaps it just needs a fresh coat.
Though a log home doesn't look quite as grand from the outside — save that front portico — the inside has been beautifully modernized. If you don't want to live here while restoring the main house, there are four (yes, four!) other houses to choose from, plus a nearly 1,200-square-foot caretaker's apartment in the barn.
In the kitchen of the barn, the logs have been covered with drywall and a very modern marble backsplash. (In a few of the living rooms, they're left exposed for some rustic charm.) I'm not sure two farmhouse sinks are needed in what's otherwise a normal-sized kitchen, but I do love that the shelf between has been left open to the window.
Sure, the $20 million price tag buys six homes and a 12-stall barn, but what it also gets you is over 750 acres of land. This corner of the Tennessee countryside, about an hour south of Nashville, is criss-crossed by streams and speckled with little ponds like this, for all your swimming, fishing, riding and even four-wheeling needs.
What do you think? Does this Nashville farm look like a dream come true?
Psst! If you don't want to take on a renovation, Faith and Tim are selling their in-town mansion, too — at a slightly more reasonable price.
1-6. Fridrich and Clark, photography by Showcase Photographers
Nothing says vacation like sun-drenched white stucco overlooking blue water. The only problem with this Greek-island fantasy is that 'overlooking' part; after a day lying in the Mediterranean sun, I don't want to hike down a hill to go for a swim. (I know — I'm very particular.) That's why I was so excited to come across this listing on a peninsula on the Peloponnese that has both sea views and ocean frontage. Let's jet off to Porto Heli, Greece, to take a closer look.
Here's a view of the peninsula and main house, looking out across the Argolic Gulf to the island of Spetses. Though you can drive to the property, there's room for at least four boats to dock at the pier, plus a helipad. There's also an on-site Greek Orthodox chapel perfect for big fat weddings, so perhaps all those parking spots will come in handy.
Most of the ground floor of the main villa is open to the terrace around the infinity-edge pool. If you'd rather take advantage of the natural surroundings, the white-sand beaches on either side of the peninsula present a tough choice: one quiet cove versus another.
Grab a drink from the bar in the traditional wood-beamed great room before stepping out to the pool. Judging by the tiny chairs pulled up to the table at right, there's plenty of room for everyone in the family here. In the evening, gather everyone at the 40-seat outdoor theatre for an alfresco movie screening.
Despite the listing's boasting that this region is known as the Greek Riviera, I'm sure it gets cold and stormy at some point. Luckily, there's not just a fireplace, but two sofas to curl up on, whether it's chilly outside or you just need a break from the sun.
And here's the two-bedroom "beach house" on — you guessed it — one of two private stretches of white sand. Put your guests up here or, if you'd rather fall asleep to the soft sound of waves, give them the seven-bedroom main house or five-bedroom garden villa.
What do you think? Could you deal with plucking olives from your own trees while taking in 270-degree views of the gorgeous Mediterranean?
For more traditional Mediterranean inspiration, check out our blog post on Greek style.
1-5. Ploumis Sotiropoulos OE, via Christie's Real Estate
Last week's wet weather got me thinking about heading to drier territory. While browsing the listings for the deserts of the American Southwest, I came across this gem, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1942 but not built until 1984. (Just think: the charm of a vintage home but the upkeep of a modern one!) Let's make our way to hot, dry Santa Fe, New Mexico, and peek inside the elliptical Pottery House.
The eye-shaped house is made of two arc-shaped wings: one for living spaces and one for sleeping spaces. Made of thousands of bricks covered in stucco, it's Wright's only adobe design, so this could be your chance to own a bit of architectural history. (It's been on the market since 2011, too, so perhaps the owners could be accommodating on the $4-million asking price.)
The two wings surround an interior courtyard that's lined with windows and a water feature. Past photos show the courtyard with a small lawn, quaint dining area, and lily pads in the curvy pond. The gravel is tidy, but I think this would be a great spot for some xeriscaping.
Here's an interior view of the glass-walled hallway facing the courtyard. The brick path through the courtyard continues on the interior floor, and the wood ceiling and geometric rug warm up the space even more. This appears to be an older photo, so the rooster artwork might already be gone.
The eye motif repeats in this window in the dining area, which sits at the corner of the two wings. Just visible at right is a fireplace — one of three in the house — and to the left, around the corner, lie the kitchen and breakfast nook.
Like the curving path through the interior courtyard, a swimming lane also leads into the house. In addition to scaling up the original plans for a nearly 5,000-square-foot house, architects Charles Montooth and Wesley Peters added a spa room underneath the pool and a three-car garage.
With arched windows lining the great room and bring perched in the foothills above Santa Fe, this house has views in every direction. When — not if — your friends come to visit, put them up in the four bedrooms and four full baths, or send them to the separate (and less architecturally significant) caretaker's house.
For another Frank Lloyd Wright up for sale, check out our post on California's La Miniatura.
1, 2, 4, 5. Sotheby's International Realty
3. Santa Fe Style (1986 Rizzoli) by Christine Mather and Sharon Woods via Flw-potteryhouse.com
6: American Home (1986) by Nenkin Jutaku Fukushi Kyokai via Flw-potteryhouse.com