Friday, November 30, 2007

Prince Bandar Changes His Rich and Fickle Mind

As of the end of November, there is one less $100,000,000+ trophy property on the market looking for a homeless billionaire.

According to a recent post on The Real Estate Bloggers, Royal Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia has decided not to sell Hala Ranch, his 90+ acre Aspen hideaway that has long been for sale with a face smacking $135,000,000 asking price.

Although Mister Bandar has more money than the damn Pope, it costs a lot of oil money to maintain and staff a 56,000 square foot house with 15 bedrooms, 16 bathrooms, a hotel lobby sized living room, a beauty parlor and a barbershop, water treatment plant, car wash, mechanical shop, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis court, racquetball court, heated horse barn and a huge pond stocked with fish. Dayum.

The ranch was initially put on the market because the Prince rarely visited the estate. Now that no one else wants it, maybe he'll jump on his private plane and visit a bit more often to help justify the outrageous expense of owning a place like this. Your Mama doubts it though.

According to Joshua Saslove, THE mega broker of high end properties in the Aspen area, there was "enormous interest" in the property that looks more like a corporate retreat than a private home, but "none of the interested parties wrote a contract that was acceptable to the seller."


Now puppies, just how many times have we told you that rich people can be enormously capricious and one can never predict what choices that breed of fat cat will make on a moments notice when it comes to buying and selling the real estate? A thousand times if we've told you once.

Here's a not very educated or informed by anyone in the know prediction kids: Hala Ranch will remain quietly on the market and come back on the open market several months into next year at a substantially reduced asking price.

Britney's Former NYC Pad Is Flipping Out

SELLERS: Jessica Klein and Isaac Levenbrown
LOCATION: East Fourth Street, New York City, NY
PRICE: $6,995,000
SIZE: 4,400 square feet (approx.), 3 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: SPECTACULAR CELEBRITY PENTHOUSE. Entertain in style in the dramatic, newly renovated 4-level luxury townhouse in the sky. Chef's kitchen with SubZero and Viking appliances, hand-rubbed cherry cabinets and granite countertops. Full-floor living/dining room with wood burning fireplace, soaring ceilings, oversized windows and Empire State views. Super-private master bedroom suite features enormous custom-built closets, wood-burning fireplace, and two full baths with slat counter and European fixtures.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Little Miss I Lost Custody of My Children Because I Like To Party Too Much Britney Spears may be all broken down with bad skin running around with a tawdry cadre of beady eyed cohorts, but thanks to a lovely missive from a gentleman we call The Rolling Stone, Your Mama has learned that her old New York City crash pad in the Silk Building on the corner of East Fourth Street and Broadway is fixed up, spit shined, looking fresh and back on the market for a whopping $6,995,000.

The four floor, three bedroom and 4.5 bathroom townhouse style penthouse languished on the market for more than two years before Beverly Hills 90210 producer and writer Jessica Klein and her huzband Isaac Levenbrown, who designs and installs multimedia systems, swooped in and paid the dee-vorcée pop star exactly $4,000,000 for the 4,400 square foot condominium in August of 2006.

Little Miss Bad Weave Britney was hardly the only celebrity to occupy this condo, and arguably she's not even the most famous behatcha to shack up in these digs above the once legendary and now defunct Tower Records on lower Broadway. Once upon a time, hip hop honcho Russell Simmons owned the place, as did dried apple faced Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, and–drum roll please–according to the sassy and always accurate folks at Curbed, pop music diva Cher also called the penthouse home too.

Interestingly, this is not the only celebrity crib that Miz Klein and Mister Levenbrown have purchased. Oh no. Property records show that back in 2000, the newly married couple paid $1,150,000 to purchase a 5,367 square foot house in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles from follically challenged actor and serial house hopper Nic Cage. According to reports at the time, the 4 bedroom and 4.5 bathroom medieval style and castle-like residence came complete with scads of gargoyles, a mural in the dining room depicting scenes from ancient Egypt, and a cast iron snake for a stair master. Property records show the couple still own this house.

It appears to Your Mama that the Los Angeles based couple decided not to be bi-coastal after all or perhaps they never intended to occupy Britney's former den of iniquity. After purchasing the unit, they embarked on a renovation that Your Mama can only hope included a full scale fumigation not to mention a thorough scraping of all the cigarette smoke sodden paint.

Listing information states the newly renovated condo includes a chef's kitchen, a full floor living and dining room space with a wood burring fireplace, a super-private master bedroom suite with custom built in closets and a wood burning fireplace. Additional features include a Crestron lighting system, central air conditioning, washer and dryer, custom chandeliers, plus a private planted terrace.

However, as nice as that terrace surely is, this place has entirely too many damn stairs not to have a private elevator. Jeezis Mary and Joseph, just thinking about the extreme effort it would take to climb from the 10th floor to the 13th floor so that our long bodied bitches could bask in the lower Manhattan sunshine has Your Mama wheezing and clutching at our heart. Dear gawd, it's just insane to think that anyone besides some kind of exercise nut can climb all those stairs day in and day out without stroking out or popping a damn vessel in their brain. Honestly!

Before we sign off to cozy up with our big bottle of Bombay, let's discuss the dramatic price increase since the Klein/Levenbrowns bought the place just over a year ago. We get it, you renovated the place, and the Manhattan market is still frenzied despite an lackluster economy and a well publicized mortgage melt down. But who among savvy buyers in Manhattan really think that a little bit of paint, a few yards of granite and some floor stain justifies a 75% price increase? Sorry babies, but not Your Mama, not in our humble and meaningless opinion.

Anyhoo, perhaps if Little Miss I Just Bought $200,000 Worth of Brand New Mercedes Benz's hadn't sold this place, she could have easily fled her sad and difficult life in Los Angeles for a new start in New York City where Your Mama is certain that the Dr. Cooter would be more than happy to smack her back into having a functioning bone of sense in her body.

Now listen up. Don't any of you rabid Britney Spears supporters get on the damn subway and head downtown, because Little Miss I Might Be (Or Might Not Be) Pregnant does not live here anymore. For the ignorami among us, Your Mama repeats, she does not live here anymore. So just stay in your dark little apartments dressed in your Catholic schoolgirl uniforms and lip synching the words to Hit Me Baby One More Time.

P.S. Little Miss I Prefer a Hotel Even Though I Have Two Houses appears to have taken her Beverly Hills house off the market. Again. (Follow the links for photos puppies.) Our sources tell us that she lives primarily in the Malee-boo house she leased at a rumored rate of $35,000 per month, but according to someone who has been in the house in the guard gated Summit community, the place is a pig sty and it looks like she uses it as a crash pad and dressing room with clothes strewn all over the place.

Several reports have been coming out about how she has a double locked room up in her Bev Hills crib with a mirrored ceiling, a rack full of costumes for sex play and dozens of, uhm, items used for sexual pleasure. But so far Your Mama can't confirm whether this is true or if this is just people wanting to sell glossy gossip magazines. Honestly, if you ask Your Mama, and of course no one did, we think there's a 50/50 chance of it being true. Little Miss No Underpants is widely considered a bit of sex maniac. So who knows. And really, kids, would that be so bad really? So what if she liked the sex a lot? There are far worse things she could (and reportedly does) put in her body than a dildo. Oh dear, did we say that?

At Home With Leonard Pincus

It seems that just about every wickedly wealthy financier and stinking rich socialite wants to get in on the publicity circus that follows buying, selling, or simply listing a private residence at an unfathomably high price.

We've got Donald Trump and his freaky follicles down in Palm Beach hoping to get $125,000,000 for his flip property that looks like drug lords hideout Your Mama. There's mega rich dee-vorcee Suzanne Saperstein in Los Angeles trying to dump her palatial pile of faux Versailles for $125,000,000 and her 123-acre Simi Valley horse farm for $75,000,000. And let's not forget Leonard Blavatnik, a Russian born magnate of a man who makes spectacular sport of buying high priced digs all over the world including coughing up a rumored (and denied) $150,000,000 for 30,000 square feet of penthouse opulence atop the soon to be refurbished The Mark on the Upper East Side.

And last week, the usually quite discreet white haired financier Lionel Pincus, who ferries Princess Firyal of Jordan around to all the best dinner parties and charity functions of the bejeweled and big bank account set, has tossed his hoity toity hat into the ring by dumping his sprawling duplex at the posh Pierre on the market with a blistering $50,000,000 price tag.

Which is a billionaire's bargain when you consider that filthy rich financier Martin Zweig has spent more than three years trying to unload his tremendous triplex penthouse co-op at The Pierre for an unfathomable $70,000,000.

The Corcoran listing agent for Mister Pincus' duplex has yet to release interior photos, but if the floor plan is any indication of the extreme and obscene lavishness of the interior appointments, Your Mama would bet our left arm they will cause half of the Upper East Side to gasp collectively thereby sucking most of the oxygen out of the air all up and down Fifth Avenue.

Let's have a look-see at what $50,000,000 buys someone with enough liquid assets to feed, clothe, and educate half of Africa. Get ready kids, because the numbers are staggering.

The recently renovated co-op occupies the entire 30th floor, half the 31st floor and measures 6,678 square feet which calculates to a jaw dropping $7,498 per square foot. The listing for the property indicates 14 rooms, the masterful Max Abelson at the New York Observer reports there are twelve rooms, and Your Mama counts fifteen. There are 10 foot ceilings, more than 80 feet of park frontage by our calculations, 4-6 bedrooms depending on how you count or who you talk to, 5 full and three half bathrooms, 39 windows, 31 closets plus 4 walk in closets, 2 wood paneled dressing rooms, two kitchens (and one large pantry), two laundry areas, two paneled libraries, 2 sitting rooms, one exercise room, 1 staff office (natch), 5 star hotel amenities, $27,443 per month in maintenance fees, and according to the listing, the notoriously demanding board at The Pierre requires a minimum of 46% as a down payment...that's $23,000,000 for the math impaired.

Maybe Lakshmi Mittal, a steel tycoon for whom fifty million clams is pocket change, needs a little New York City pied a terre?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Livin' Large in Encino With Eddie Cibrian

SELLER: Eddie Cibrian
BUYER: Carlos Mencia
LOCATION: White Oak Avenue, Encino, CA
PRICE: $4,395,000 (list); $4,300,000 (sale)
SIZE: 6 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Newly renovated walled & gated celebrity owned Ranch Estate. Grand 2 story entry w/ wrought iron staircase. Ideal for entertaining, rooms are grand scale & open to spectacular luch tropical grounds w/ pool & spa. 2 master suites, FR / coffred ceilings, library, + home theater. Banquet sized FD & kitch w/ center isle, granite, Viking & SubZero SS appl. Spacious master w/ frplc, & ba with 2 walk-in closets, 2 showers (1 steam), spa tub. Travertine & hardwood floors + high ceilings. 6 car garage.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Oh dear. Somebody please get Your Mama a silver spike that we can drive through the heart of the decorating demon who is responsible for this Encino mess that luscious looking actor Eddie Cibrian and his model wifey Brandi (with an "i," of course) call home. Dear Jeezis in heaven, Your Mama just prefers not to know that there are people in the world who actually want to live in houses with porte-cocheres meant to make the house look elegant and grandiose but really just make it look like a damn Ramada Inn.

According to property records, Mister Cuban American sexiness purchased this enormous 8,560 square foot house of horrors in May of 2002 for $2,020,000. According to listing information, the rambling and recently renovated six bedroom house includes eight bathrooms, a home theater, library, family room, two master suites (1 up and 1 down), and a banquet sized dining room. The vast second floor master suite features two walk in closets, a fireplace, and for some asinine reason, two showers. Shoved in the corner of the second rate porn set worthy bedroom we see one of those exercise bike abominations. 8,560 square feet of faux elegance and the Cibrians shove that sweat maker into the bedroom? Oh, hunnies, no. Yer a good looking and hard bodied couple who need lots of exercise to look hawt, but surely there's a better location for that contraption.

Since we first located this property a week or so ago, the status of the listing has been changed to "Looking for a Backup" which would indicate that the bee stung lipped slab of beef and his sexy mommy wife have found a buyer for their hive inducing residence.

Holy moly children, we don't mean to be haters. Y'all know we like to say something nice about all the properties we discuss, but sometimes that is just not possible and Your Mama is just too shaken and upset to continue damaging our eyes looking at this house. Well, okay, the backyard lagoon style lap pool with the tropical landscaping is pretty, but that arching bridge is simply not safe for the handicapped or booze imbibers.

Anyhoo, before we cozy up to our big bottle of Bombay in an effort to calm our frazzled nerves, let Your Mama offer Mister and Missus Cibrian and all the children some sage yet simple decorating advice. It is never, ever a good idea to drive the Hummer or whatever other big ass SUV you have out to the local mall and march in to Pottery Barn and shout, "I'll take it all!" Because unfortunately it ends up looking like this. There's nothing overtly offensive here, but there's also nothing interesting or compelling about the interior spaces either, which quite frankly is a decorating crime of the highest magnitude.

Now puppies, we must leave you and ring Louella Hopper, our dear old friend who has recently and thankfully returned from self imposed exile and who always provides Your Mama with moral support, guidance and the most sa-lay-shush and dee-praved gossip about the doings in the Platinum Triangle.

UPDATE: This property was purchased in late 2007 by comedian Carlos Mencia.

UPDATE: 50 Cent

Surely by now all the children know that 50 Cent, the smack talking rapper who was once shot full of holes and lived to tell about it, has been trying to sell his freakishly huge 50,000 square foot mega mansion in Connecticut that he bought from girly voiced boxer Mike Tyson's ex-wifey Monica for $4,100,000.

The super successful musician is asking a whopping $18,500,000 for his poorly decorated pile that features such amenities and a private disco, a movie thee-ay-ter, four kitchens, a racquetball court (which we can't imagine Mister 50 uses much), heli-pad, tennis courts, a private logoo with spitting fountains, an indoor shooting range, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, 19 bedrooms and nearly 40 damn terlits. Yes children nearly 40 terlits. If yer house needs this many terlits, there is entirely too much crapping going on by the guests who have come over to bbq and shoot pistols.

Just in case you can't stay up until 10:30 tonight when the show airs on MTV Cribs, and lahwd knows Your Mama cain't, here's a little teaser where the surprisingly soft spoken and subdued Mister Fifty shows us his tacky $80,000 dining room chandelier, his impressive hat and shoe closet which will make any shoe queen drool with envy, and his bumble bee yellow million dollar Ferrari. For a million bucks Your Mama would rather own a crazy ass Tara Donovan sculpture, but who are we to question the reasons some men need to own powerful and grotesquely expensive sports cars? Back off car enthusiasts, we know yer going to tell us a Ferrari is a work of art. Fine. You say toemaytoe, we say toemahtoe. We'd still rather have an undulating sculpture made of Styrofoam cups.

Now that I've shamelessly plugged MTV Cribs, Your Mama hopes they'll get smart and buy some damn advertising.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jeff Lewis Strikes Again

SELLER: Jeff Lewis
LOCATION: N. Commonwealth Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $1,795,000
SIZE: 1,938 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Incredible design, perfectly private. Down a long private drive sits this stunning modern, recently renovated with a Palm Springs influence. Loft-life space with courtyard entry, high ceilings, exposed ducting, and gorgeous walnut flooring throughout. Streamlined high-end kitchen and baths, and new pool-spa. Three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, including master suite with outdoor access. Outdoor space includes a large deck, patios, and two flat yard areas.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Put down your doobies and put on your thinking caps children because Your Mama wants you to remember all the way back to late July and early August when every real estate freako and house loving homosexual was glued to boob tube while we peered into the wacky world of quirky and balloon lipped house flipper Jeff Lewis and his coterie of actor assistants, pet psychics, the gay daddy ex-boyfriend and a sassy and lovable Nicaraguan housekeeper named Zoila.

Towards the end of the series that aired on The Bravo, Mister Lewis negotiated to purchase a ugly broken down mess of a property on N. Commonwealth Avenue in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. Property records reveal that the professional speculator paid just $800,000 for the 1,938 square foot pile of crap. Ever since, Your Mama has been on pins and needles waiting to see what sort of speculation magic the complicated perfectionist would work.

This time around, according to the listing, Mister Lewis chose a "Palm Springs influence." But children, Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter have spent many a wonderful weekend at The Parker Hotel in Palm Springs, and we don't see it. This place looks nothing like all the low slung Alexanders that litter the desert landscape out there or the fabulous Freys or the wonderful Wexlers, and this certainly has little if anything in connection with a Neutra.

Yes, it does have a courtyard (behind the garage) with a contempo stone fountain (not pictured), and there's a liberal use of frosted glass and lots of high ceilings, which is all vaguely Palm Springs (and Miami and the Hollywood Hills frankly), but Your Mama thinks Mister Lewis, all due respect, is pushing the laws interior decorating decency to throw a few pieces of reproduction mid-century modern staging furniture in a house, paint the exterior door frames a bright (and lovely) shade of orange and call it Palms Springs.

None the less and despite the faux "Palm Springs influence," over all Your Mama is impressed with what Mister Lewis, his big lips and his exceedingly well groomed ex-boyfriend/business partner Ryan have done with this former rat shack that includes 3 bedroom and 2.5 bathrooms. The potty mouthed children can say whatever mean and snarky things they want about Mister Lewis' off-kilter personality and constant state of financial freaking out, and we're certain you will. But be honest. The man flips properties better than 90% of the other professional flippers out there who max their credit cards out buying truckloads of appalling and cheaply made crap at The Home Despot.

The expensive walnut floors were an expected but still delicious choice and a welcomed veer from all that engineered wood crap most house flippers put down. Your Mama always welcomes a shiny suite of high priced kitchen appliances and we are particularly fond of the baby Viking and that gorgeous glass fronted SubZero has us quivering with delight. We know this kitchen isn't blazing any new trails of haute culinary design and it's not going to inspire anyone to be the next Top Chef, but it's a perfectly appropriate and functional kitchen that won't look out of date in six months or even six years. And in a flip property, like it or not kids, that's a prime objective.

They can not be seen in the photo above, but the vaulted ceiling living room has sizable sliders that open to both the entrance courtyard and the swimming pool deck at the side of the house. These sliders allow for turning the room into a big covered porch like area. Nice. However, the prison grey paint isn't working for us, and we're disappointed not to find a fireplace to anchor the room and give it a focus. Of course, seldom is it cool enough for Angelenos to actually need a fireplace to heat the tootsies, but for this price, Your Mama wants the option to dabble in that flaming luxury.

Upstairs we find the sleeping quarters and two of the bathrooms. We do so love a master bedroom that opens to the back yard the way this one does because it's perfect for letting our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly out in the middle of the night when they're unable to hold their bowels. But Your Mama has some serious issues with the bathroom. We can get behind the essentially masculine taupe and blue color scheme, but we do not care for trough sinks, they look like urinals in sleazy gay bars to us. We know that rain style shower heads are all the rage in bathroom renovations, but have y'all ever used one? They're nice for just standing there letting the water fall on you, but try bathing under one of those nightmares. Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter installed one in our outdoor shower at our newly shingled and modest beach house, and don't you know we ripped that thing out before the summer was over. We can not tolerate those things unless they are paired with a more traditional wall mounted shower head. And lastly, we would have really liked to have seen a tiled bench in this big shower, because Your Mama often needs to sit down and catch our breath after a vigorous body scrubbing.

Mister Lewis and his team have managed to squeeze in an attractive and petite plunge pool and spa into the side yard, and they've terrace a good portion of the back yard creating a fair amount of usable space on the difficult hillside parcel. Yes children, it does all look magnificently manicured with the unnaturally green grass and the dark decking, but Your Mama is concerned that the landscaper will put his back out or suffer a hernia hauling the big Toro mower up and down the stairs to the sod covered terraces. And don't even get us started on the drama, hysterics and shirtless manpower required to mow up that steep hillside.

Although Your Mama would never buy this house–too many stairs in the back yard and we're convinced we'd take out the landscaping and scrape the sides of our big BMW trying to back down that narrow driveway–we sincerely hope that Mister Lewis and his carefully coiffed ex boyfriend/business partner Ryan have better luck unloading this property than they have with their flip on Ben Lomond Place. Poor dears have reduced the asking price of that house from $1,525,000 to $1,349,000 and still no one wants to buy it.

But before y'all weep yer crocodile tears for these pretty boys, lets keep in mind that according to property records the flipping duo recently sold the house on Nottingham Avenue (the big unfinished house on the program that Ryan moved in to) for a whopping $4,350,000. The Nottingham house was purchased in June 2006 for $2,260,000 and it appears they took another $1,050,000 in loans, which means by Your Mama's fuzzy math the sale of the property dumped about a million clams into their well pressed khakis. So it seems they can keep all their employees employed for at least a while longer.

Good News!

We've been settin' on a secret children, and before Your Mama explodes into a thousand candy filled pieces, we just have to fill y'all in.

Not too long ago Your Mama was approached by an accomplished and good looking producer who likes what we do here on our little blog. So, after much haggling and screaming Your Mama has thrown caution to the wind and we are now in development for a television show for the 2008 season.

A damn tee-vee show!

Since Your Mama loves all the children so much, even the bitchy potty mouthed ones, we'd love some feedback about what you enjoy about our little blog and what you might like to see translated on to the boob-toob. Also, if any of you clever beavers would like to suggest a title for the show, Your Mama will compile a list and post them for all the children to see who is the most brilliant of our beloved babies.

Email your thoughts, suggestions, ideas, hopes and dreams to

UPDATE: Olsen Twins

You Mama done got it wrong once again. It happens children.

This morning the always accurate Max Abelson, the handsome young man who writes the Manhattan Transfers column at the NY Observer, reports that the Morton Square penthouse that the rail thin Olsen twins bought back in December of 2004 in anticipation of attending New York University is indeed still owed by the mogulettes and has popped back up on the market with a spine tingling asking price of $11,995,000.

Not a bad return considering the twin tycoons paid $7,300,000 for the 5,725 square foot condo that features 12 rooms, 5 bedrooms (including a big bedroom suite with a walk in closest and dressing room for each of them), 4.5 bathrooms, 53 windows, a 53 foot long living and dining room space separated by a glass enclosed fireplace, and every celebrities dream, a service elevator to whisk occupants directly into the subterranean garage without having to cope with the paps camped out in front of the building.


Even the rich and famous sometimes suffer the fate of over reaching house flippers. Back in January, Your Mama discussed the Palm Springs residence that the seemingly ageless glamour icon Cher had on the market for $2,495,000.

Thanks to research by Belinda Beaverman, Your Mama has learned that the price has been substantially reduced to $1,999,000. Oh my.

Before we all start to feel sorry for Cher's spangled, beaded and bedazzled Bob Mackie pocketbook, let's recall that according to property records Miz Cher purchased the posh Las Palmas neighborhood property back in 2004 for just $650,000. Then she spent hundreds of thousands more renovating the place, but Your Mama imagines that's she'll still pocket several hundred thousand on her flip out even if she's forced to sell the 4,000 square foot beige behemoth for considerably less than it's current asking price...which it would appear she's going to have to do.

Cher, hunny, Your Mama loves you almost as much as we love Dolly Parton, but gurl, you gotta get a grip on your stagers because they've done messed up that place in Palm Springs with all that beige paint.

If the Dark Lady really wants to unload this place Your Mama recommends that she haul her nipped, tucked and taut booty out to Palm Springs and remove that damn pear painting in the dining room and those ridiculous photographs of her baby smooth face in the den. Lawhd hunnies, who can see past those hideous "decorations?" Clearly no one in the market for a well located $2,000,000 house in Palm Springs.

Mimmi O'Connell

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White walls, symmetry, tufted ottoman used as a coffee table, ticking used for upholstery, black iron accents, seagrass matting: elements used over and over again.

In the 70’s - there was a designer in London who started a trend that lives on, 35 years later – the cornerstone of this trend was oriental furniture imported from the far east. The young designer combined these eastern pieces with large accessories: wooden boxes that doubled as coffee tables, bowls, blue and white porcelains, and eastern baskets, to name a few. She used mostly cotton tickings and rolled up mattresses instead of bolsters. Her beds were made of black iron and they usually were four poster. Her look was one of high contrasts: lots of darks and lights. She used red as a neutral, her walls were always white, her rooms always had black accents. Her look was new and fresh and very innovative. It still is today. Her name is Mimmi O’Connell.

Mimmi was never a household name in the United States. Most images of her work come from English books and publications. Through the store she owned, Port of Call, she started a look, the fusion look, that is still going strong today. She combined relatively inexpensive eastern furniture that she imported with inexpensive fabrics to produce a look that was strongly visual and rich, texturally. Through her design work, O’Connell was the force behind using seagrass and bamboo blinds in settings other than orangeries and sunrooms. Her look has spawned hundreds of imitators, her business helped launch others: OKA in England comes to mind immediately. Her use of cotton and linens and tickings is oft copied today – you would never see a room that O’Connell designed using chenille and mohair and brocades. It’s just not her style. Despite the enormous impact she made on design today, O’Connell rarely receives press or recognition for her work. Apparently, she’s still active, still in business, but it’s been a while since any current work of hers has been seen. So, take a look at her portfolio and keep in mind, many of these images are from years and years and years ago. And remember, the next time you see a room with an iron four poster bed swathed in tickings or oriental chairs mixed with bespoke upholstery on seagrass, give a nod to Mimmi O’Connell, wherever she is today.

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An iron four poster bed, hallmark of Mimmi's style. High contrast black and white.

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Traditional Mimmi: white walls, eastern chairs, blue and white porcelains, large, spare accessorizing

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The previous room seen from the other side. Large, tufted ottomans are often used as coffee tables.

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Heaven to Mimmi: rolled bolsters, blue and white ticking, plaids, iron furniture, seagrass. The striped poles seen in the corner are frequently used in her designs.

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High contrast black and white, iron furniture, highly edited spaces.

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Red is another favorite, as is wicker.

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Outdoors styling: black iron, oversized votives set a romantic atmosphere.

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Quintessential Mimmi: black iron canopy, white walls, ticking, plus white bedding.

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Her Italian country home in a restored school house.

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Mimmi at her best: symmetry, black iron, high contrasts, oriental furniture, tufted ticking, oversized accessorizing, baskets, corner poles, black iron curtain rods, and white wallss.

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Italy meets Zen.

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Port of Call merchandise: antique oriental furniture and accessories.

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Mimmi: iron day beds used as sofas, ottomans used as coffee tables, iron bistro chairs, ticking, tufting, garden seats, symmetry, oversized accessories.

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Again and again - her recognizable design.

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Here the architecture becomes the design: high contrast black paint vs. the ever present white walls, seagrass matting, reds mixed with black ticking.

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A Mimmi kitchen: eastern influenced chairs and table, eastern baskets and buckets, the plates provide the usual symmetry and black color, iron drapery rods, white walls, red checks for curtains.

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A departure for Mimmi: aqua painted chairs!!!!

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This room looks Rose Tarlow-ish to me. Notice how even in a library/dining room, the ticking is present, the walls are white, the symmetry is intact.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Your Mama Catches Up

Your Mama has had half a dozen friends and relatives visiting the past 10 days and we've moved en masse from one residence to the next like it ain't nothing to pack up six people, two long bodied bitches named Linda and Beverly, a mean ol' pussycat named Sugar and stuff them all into a couple of late model BMWs. So we are tired children. And we are in no mood to listen to the children whine and complain that we haven't been posting enough. Screw you little ingrates. It was a damn holiday and Your Mama is entitled to a day off every now and again whether any of you naughty little children think so or not.

Anyhoo, all the familial commotion has left Your Mama backed up, both gastro-intestinally and with our little blog. So in the interest of saving time and our last nerve, we're going to quickly discuss a few things before we begin our regular routine tomorrow. So sit back children, because this is going to be fast and furious.

Like the rest of y'all, we have seen the stories and photos about high heel tottering tycoon Ashley Olsen buying a cluttered Spanish style house in Hancock Park. We'd love to be able to confirm or deny the veracity of those stories, but we can not. As of today, none of our many sources have been able to provide us with any information. The last we knew, the itty bitty Olsen twin was living in a rental property up in Nichols Canyon. Now puppies, we know she's done packed up her designer duds and high heels and decamped from that house, but we've not been able to locate her since. Sorry babies. Your Mama ain't no soothsayer or miracle worker when it comes to these things and despite appearances, we aren't always able to pull a celebrity rabbit out of a real estate hat. So then, if any of you with the inside scoop would like to fill in the gaps for Your Mama and all the hungry children, please don't hesitate to email with some juice.

What we do know, thanks to tipster Richie Rich, is that the massive penthouse condominium at Morton Square in the far West Village of Manhattan that the twins bought but never occupied during their short lived stint at getting educated at NYU is back on the market for $11,995,000. But there's really not much to see because the mogulettes never moved into the sprawling condo and leased it for a whopping $35,000 per month even before they decided the charade of going to college was just too much effort for a couple of young and filthy rich fashionistas with a very, very bizzy schedule of glammy parties to attend.

Your Mama is a big fan of Mister Big Time's little game "Which Celebrity's House Is This," and naturally we're an even bigger fan when we can answer his call about what famous person has bought and/or sold the mystery property. And this week, Your Mama is on a roll. Although to be fair, we have actually managed to figure out the mystery buyers and sellers with the invaluable aid of the always funny and always informative Lucy Spillerguts.

The not very attractive house with jetliner views at 8918 Appian Way in the Hollywood Hills was sold by hot to trot Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor, the super sexy rock star that makes our beloved Lucy pee her pants a little with glee and delight.

We also know who purchased the teeny tiny West Hollywood house on Harland Avenue, but we're awaiting contact from Lucy before we let that cat out of the bag. Suffice for now to say, it's a much bigger celebrity than any of the children would imagine. Much bigger.

Regarding the legal smack down of celebrity real estate agents Joe Babajian and Kyle Grasso in the rarefied Platinum Triangle of Los Angeles, we have no news to report. After the 85 page indictment was handed down, Mister Babajian put his house on the market and we assume the gentlemen have hired top flight attorneys to represent them. We await a settlement or trial like everyone else. We make no predictions on how this will all come down, but Your Mama read every word of the indictment and to our untrained and unlawyer-like mind, it looks bad for these two and the various other folks named in the indictment.

For weeks and weeks Your Mama has been getting email after email about the supposed house that glamazon Kimora Lee Simmons appeared to have purchased on her "reality" show Life in the Fast Lane. Some of the email has been quite friendly, but some of it has been rather hoss-tile too, yes it has. Some of these snot nosed children were snapping and sniping at Your Mama that Miz Simmons did not buy the house that we discussed on our little blog like they know what they are talking about because they saw it on a damn reality show on the tee-vee. Jeezis H. Christ. Some-bahdee bring Your Mama a nerve pill and a gin and tonic to wash it down. Rather than go into it here, Your Mama recommends that any of the interested children check out RADAR's brief exposé on the matter which should clear up what's real and what's not real with Miz Simmons' real estate.

We would like to thank all the children for sending the many tips about celebrity houses being bought and sold over the last few weeks. We do our best to get you as many stories as we can, but Your Mama has only two hands and ten fingers to type with and wear down to nubbins, so please don't be insulted if we don't get to your lovely information in a timely manner.

Enough with the anti-Semitic remarks. Seriously. We do not want to get involved with policing the damn comments section children, but do not think Your Mama won't whip out the wooden spoon and beat your ass until it's black, blue and bleeding before we delete your asinine and uneducated comments. We're certain there are many other blogs that would appreciate that particular brand of inflammatory commentary, but we here at the Real Estalker do not, thank you very much

On that note, get outta here and don't bother Your Mama while we wash our hair with beer and order in a nice big Indian dinner for the Dr. Cooter to say thanks for putting up with the crazy ways of Your Mama's family these past 10 days.

Bye now.

For The Love of Land

Bring on the Middle Eastern potentates, the Russian oligarchs and the American software billionaires because a couple of outrageously high priced Los Angeles land parcels have hit the market that only mega rich magnates or deep pocketed developers can afford.

The first property Your Mama would like to discuss is a collection of lots in swanky Old Bel Air that we have previously discussed when it was rumored that creepy Tom Crooz's peeple were sniffing around the property. Dubbed "The Park at Stone Canyon," the massive 10+ acre plot represents the significant and exceedingly expensive efforts of Elizabeth Hurley's multi-millionaire baby daddy Steve Bing. It took more than nine years for Mister Bing to buy up nine separate lots piece by piece and tear down eight of the old-school mansions, some of which has been previously owned by local luminaries like sexy 1950s siren Kim Novak and the crooner that looks like a lady, Barry Manilow.
Sometime in 2005, Mister Bing the Hollywood producer (Beowolf, The Polar Express), a lucky man who inherited a reported $400-600,000,000 from his grandfather, decided he didn't desire such a monstrous estate after all and sold the 12.4 acre parcel to a group of investors called ECP Acquisitions. Jeezis, Mary and Joseph, how many times has Your Mama told the children that rich people can be so fickle with the real estate? Nine years and umpteen millions only to decide, well, maybe not. We're breathless.

After purchasing the property for an amount money that Your Mama never been able to suss, figure or ferret out, these ECP Acquisitions people had elaborate plans drawn up for an opulent mega-estate that includes a mammoth main house, a separate office and gym, guest house, staff house, a greenhouse and a retreat house, whatever that is, a putting green, an orchard, waterfalls, ponds and a lagoon, not to mention the de riguer tennis court and infinity pool. They also drew up plans for splitting the property into six estates of roughly two acres each. Then they did what anyone with piles of cash to invest in real estate in Los Angeles was doing in 2005, they attempted to flip the property at an ear piercing price and profit. News reports declared that the landscaped and terraced parcel(s), which sit directly across from the hoity-toity Hotel Bel Air, could fetch an unnerving $75,000,000 or more.

But alas...No Texan oil tycoon, hedge fund honcho or Indian Industrialist was willing to cough up the copious cash required to acquire the property. The property disappeared off Your Mama's radar for some time and then poof, out of nowhere, it popped back up on the MLS with a reduced but still eye popping asking price of $59,950,000. Yes puppies, that's just for the bare land. The new owner will need considerable additional assets to design, build and pay for whatever ridiculously humongous residence(s) and accoutrement they would like to put on this piece of property.

Interestingly, the listing describes the property as 10.52 acres (originally the property was marketed with 12.4 acres) which would indicated that one of the ECG people is keeping one of the 2 acre-ish lots for his or herself. Hmm.

Now pour yerself a big stiff one kids, and someone please pass Your Mama the smelling salts because we are not done discussing platinum triangle land parcels with puke inducing price tags.

Not so long ago a property appeared on the MLS that intrigued Your Mama. Located high in the hills of the Beverly Hills Post Office, a 4 parcel estate site totalling nearly 6.25 acres with a Tower Lane address crashed down on the market with a stunning $39,500,000 price tag. Cough. Cough. For the bare land. Can you hear Your Mama's teeth chattering with shock and awe?
Even more intriguing and nerve rattling are the apparent plans the current owner had for the place: 50,000 square feet of Richard Landry designed interior space including a 30,000 square foot main house, a tennis house, gate house, spa house and a waterfall/guest house. All this lavishness was to be accessed by a 1,500 foot long private drive with garage parking for 25 cars, which pretty much makes the place a car dealership with resort amenities.

And who is the current owner you might be wanting to know? Well, after much digging, two of Your Mama's best sources have both independently fingered Jon Peters, the super rich super producer known for his lavish lifestyle, for getting his start in showbiz by dressing Barbra Streisand's hair, and for letting his ex-wife of two months, a ladee named Christine, live rent free in his big house in Bel Air for nearly 20 years, a situation that has resulted in a bitter battle.

According to property records, Mister Peters, who reportedly also owns a home in Bel Air, another in Malibu and an ocean front pile in Santa Barbara, purchased the lots way back in 1996 when there was an 8,000+ square foot house sitting on the property. The house has since been razed and according to listing information, years have been spent on the planning, engineering and design of the property. Ten years into the project and many millions of dollars later with not much to show besides a bunch of damn retaining walls and some drawings and plans, Mister Peters appears to have changed his mind like so many rich and famous do when it comes to ridiculous real estate ventures.

Only time will tell if there are buyers willing to plunk down such huge amounts of coin for vacant property. Lawhd children, imagine all the hungry mouths that could be fed and all the college educations for the poor and hard working that could be funded with this kind of money. It takes a lot to make Your Mama's head spin with visions of money being flushed down the terlit, and children, our head is twisting and spinning just as fast as it can go over these vacant plots of land with obscenely sky high prices.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Names Can Be Deceiving: Shabby Slips

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Veranda's September 2007 cover story features Houston designer Renea Abbott and her work - a large, Provencal-inspired home built in California. The finished product is the culmination of years of toil: construction alone lasted over three years. This project catapults Abbott into the upper echelons of the design business, something she truly deserves. The "farmhouse," as it is referred to, is a study in timeless design - aged materials were used throughout and careful attention was given to the most minute details in order to ensure authenticity. The result of all this labor is a home truly deserving of recognition for its designer. Rather than doing interiors that are faithful to its farmhouse style, Abbott's choices are instead sometimes surprising and yet, always fresh. The front cover with the Cy Twombly over an 18th century mantel epitomizes Abbott's eclectic "look" - the modern mixed with the antique. Both ends of that spectrum are represented by sophisticated pieces. This type of design mix is familiar to Houstonians long aware of Renea Abbott.

Best known as the proprietress of the store Shabby Slips, Abbott has garnered much local press, mostly showcasing her own frequently changed dwellings. The store started out with a simple premise - slipcovers handmade to cover the plush, down-filled sofas and chairs that filled her shop. Everything was white back then, but things at Shabby Slips are different now. The walls are a deep, dark shade. Wonderful, period antiques have taken over floor space formerly reserved for the masses of cushy upholstery. In fact, slipcovers are no longer even offered to the public. The direction of the store, but not it's name, has changed completely and this is probably somewhat confusing to the uninitiated. Regardless of the misleading name, the changes at Shabby Slips could not be more gorgeous. Large, gilt chandeliers glitter over the gilded finishes of the antiques. Mid century lacquered pieces vie for attention with rustic oddities. Exotic lamps are fashioned from rock and crystal. The atmosphere in the store has taken on the air of an exquisite jeweled box. Elegance, certainly not shabby, is the key word here. Always in motion, Abbott has branched out with additional Shabby Slips in Austin and New Orleans. And in Santa Fe, her mother Barbara Carlton runs a store there with a decidedly different, more western feel. If visiting Houston, Shabby Slips should be a must stop on the antique shopper's agenda.

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Sparse, yet elegant hallway in the Californian farmhouse.

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The dining room.

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The master bathroom with the double shower placed behind the tub.

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Beautiful Californian garden with limestone table and Rose Tarlow chairs.

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Shabby Slips: gilt antique furniture, contemporary fabrics.

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More antiques with a surprising Global Views table.

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Crystal obelisks on lacquered trays.

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More gilt, more modern.

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A lamp with a modern rock crystal base.

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Another interesting lamp base.

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Finally, a sofa meant for slip covers!

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An unusual zebra upholstered chair.

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A typically untypical Abbott tablescape.

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The mix that Abbott is known for: slipcovered furniture, antique crystal chandeliers, rustic coffeetable.

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The old mixed with the new.

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Out back, behind a gate, through a back yard - Shabby Slips recently expanded into a neighborhood house.

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In the house annex, things are definitely more casual.

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Someone could move right into the shop's annex.

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Notice the rug from Creative Flooring. This is my favorite 'skin' pattern.

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Wonderful card table with a mix of chairs.

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I love how the curtains are tied back in this room.

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And lastly, Abbott's attempt at being hip: two pink, Palm Beach inspired chairs.

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Shabby Slips in Santa Fe - more rustic than the Houston locale. Religious santos and crosses are popular here.

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Antlers and horns are sold in Santa Fe with it's more western ambience.

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Slipcovers are still emphasized in Santa Fe, unlike in Houston. Two Shappy Slips staples: club chairs with linen slips and down cushions -the best combination ever!!!