Thursday, January 31, 2008

Blog Awards and Other Musings

The Miles Redd skirted table that started the debate: skirts vs. no skirts.

This week I was pleasantly surprised to receive news that Cote de Texas had been awarded the "Best Blog of the Day Award" by the Blog of the Day Awards group. Lana, who writes the newly launched Topsy Turvy blog, nominated me for my "Skirted Tables" entry. Who ever knew that a story about a piece of fabric atop particle board would be worthy of any mention, much less an award? Thankfully the judges behind the Blog of the Day Awards did. The spirited and sometimes raucous debate between my readers and Decorno's readers caught the judges' eyes. Regardless of the merits of such a materialistic discussion, I'm thrilled to have won! Thank you!

And while I'm patting myself on the back, I just learned that Claudia from the Ferret and Hound blog has named Cote de Texas' entry on - what else - skirted tables, to her Top 5 Posts - January. She also cites my "Meeting of the blogs" about my trip to Dallas with blogger Patricia Gray, as a favorite too. Thanks Claudia - I feel so honored to be named twice!!! And be sure to check out All Things Bright and Beautiful for an interview with me on blogging. And just when I could start to get a bit of a big head from all this adulation, I only have to go check my stats at Technorati who rank my blog at a measly and embarrassingly low #73,982!!! Not exactly numbers to gloat about. Ah, well, you can't win them all.

Picture of my family room, shot for Houston House and Home magazine.

All this exciting news has made me stop and think about how much Cote de Texas has affected my life. When I started this blog around nine months ago, it was purely on a lark, something to do to amuse myself and maybe a few friends. I barely even knew what a blog was. I certainly had no clue that Cote de Texas would directly change my life - and for the better. Its effects have been phenomenal, and all the more so because I had no expectation of change, and certainly, no motivation drove me to create the blog. Cote de Texas was borne out of a desire to share my love of design, pure and simple. My family and friends have been very supportive, yet skeptically surprised that I am able to write in an informative and somewhat entertaining manner - something I am not so sure of myself! But, it has been the support from the nameless and faceless readers that has been the most surprising and fulfilling. Those very first comments I received remain the most thrilling ones of all. At this point, I realize I no longer write this blog for just myself, I continue it for the reader and I hadn't anticipated having this feeling of loyalty.

And there are more tangible ways my life has been enriched from the blog: I've heard from editors of favorite magazines who state they actually enjoy reading me. Imagine. My home was published in a local magazine after its editor read my blog. And recently, two national magazines have expressed interest in publishing my home, and, more importantly, my clients' homes. I've reconnected with friends I had lost touch with, and was even reacquainted with a former sister-in-law. I've received gifts from readers, unsolicited and unexpected. I've had art work commissioned for me from friendly bloggers. I've gotten new clients both in Houston and from the far reaches of the globe who seek my advice for their home via emails. I've made so many new friends through the blog - my inbox overflows. It's been rewarding to talk with people who share my love of design. And the most fun has been taking these cyberspace relationships further, meeting other bloggers in person and making lifelong friends in the process. So now, as I look back over the past nine months, what I do know is that through the power of the written word and the magic of the digital camera, what I've gotten back from you, the reader, has been so much more than what I have given. And for that, I am most grateful and thankful.

Cote de Texas meets up with Patricia Gray, Inc. at the Dallas World Market this January.

Did Britney Spears Do It Again?

WHO: Britney Spears
LOCATION: Tennyson Place, Hermosa Beach, CA
PRICE: $8,585,000 (list)
SIZE: 5,785 square feet, 4-5 bedrooms, 4 full and 2 half bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Situation on almost half an acre, at the end of the private cul-de-sac, on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, is the beach cities' premier estate property. The property features panoramic ocean views from every level with exceptional privacy and security and is only a short walk from sands of Manhattna and Hermosa. At approximately 5,900 s.f., the main residence includes 4 bedrooms (could be a 5th), 4 baths, 2 half baths, a world class media room, a vintage Irish pub, and incomparable courtyards and view terraces.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: While that poor Britney Spears gurl remains on lock down in a Los Angeles psych ward on a 72 hour 5150 hold, several tabs and glossies including the National Equirer (no link that we could locate) are reporting that the dissembling pop star has gone and bought herself a new damn house in the unlikely location of Hermosa Beach. While Hermosa Beach is no stranger to celebrity residents, the locals are unlikely to embrace Miz Spears particular brand of celebrity that comes with a battalion of SUV driving and telephoto lens wielding paps who camp outside her houses and follow her around causing all sorts of traffic tie ups.

All the reports gleefully point to a Hill Section house on Tennyson Place that the queen of the bad weave looked at back in October of 2007 (pictured above, more pictures through link). This was before the loony lamb hooked up with that beady eyed Adnan Ghalib dude and started speaking with a faux and not very good British accent. The property in question includes a main house with 4-5 bedrooms, 4 full and 2 half bathroom and a vintage Irish pub. A vintage Irish pub? What the hell does someone need with a vintage Irish pub? Anyhoo, according to listing information the property includes a large sports pool, spa, lush gardens, and a detached guesthouse that rides atop the three car garage.

Here's the thing puppies. Despite the wide reporting that Miz Spears drove a hard bargain and paid around $6,000,000 for the property (which you'll recall from above was priced much higher), Your Mama can not yet verify the a sale. We have searched our databases and contacted several well placed sources who we thought might be in the know about Miz Spears buying a house she doesn't really need and have come up completely empty handed. Perhaps the National Enquirer simply has better sources that Your Mama.

More to come as the whole story surfaces.

Jermaine Dupri's Buckhead "Beauty"

SELLER: Jermaine Dupri
LOCATION: Whitewater Trail, Atlanta, GA
PRICE: $1,500,000
SIZE: 5,523 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 5 full and 2 half bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: An architectural gem nestled on a private estate lot this five bedroom five full bath, features gorgeous window-scapes. Master w/ terrace level, one full bar, two wet bars, recreational room, superb functionality and an artistic sensibility beyond compare. Open flowing plan, three fireplaces, wall to wall carpet, finished terrace, private backyard, stone tile pool, hot tub and three car garage. The exquisite estate represents Buckhead distinction.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Music mogul and Janet Jackson love muffin Jermaine Dupri has listed his Atlanta area house for $1,500,000. Located on Whitewater Trail NW in the swanky and suburban neighborhood of Buckhead, the 2.8 acre estate features a 5,523 square foot house that features 5 bedrooms and 7 terlits spread over 5 full and 2 half bathrooms. Other features include a three car garage, sauna, three bars (because it's best never to be too far from a booze cabinet), a full and finished basement, vaulted ceilings, and "an artistic sensibility beyond compare," whatever that means.

Your Mama really does not know much about the Atlanta real estate market so we haven't a clue as to whether this house is well priced or if it's typical for the Buckhead area. However, we are not much impressed with Mister Dupri's digs, and apparently neither was he because he's already moved out. It is Your Mama's humble and meaningless opinion that the paver stone front drive with it's big ol' porte-cochere looks like a damn Holiday Inn or some other middle brow motel, and do not even get us started on that tiled entrance hall with that upsetting built in planter which looks a little too much like Your Mama's dentist's office. And children, Your Mama hates the dentist office.

Moving into the low ceilinged and beige carpeted living room we see that Mister Dupree and his team of "decorators" appear to have been aiming for that special combination of funeral parlor meets tawdry VIP section of a cheap strip club. Dear Jeezis in heaven have mercy on our bitter and snarky soul, but the last time Your Mama saw flower arrangements like that we were burying our beloved Granny in rural funeral home with blood red carpet, may she rest in peace. Word of advice for all you pee-pohl who execute extreme feats of elaborate drapery swagging: Stop it! Stop it right now! Are you trying to kill Your Mama with all that disturbing and fringed fabric swaggery? Seriously folks, stop it because our delicate constitution simply can not bear it.

Out back, curved stairs with miles of pipe railing lead to a swimming pool and spa complex with heaps and piles of stacked stone walls. Here's the best part though, according to the listing for Mister Dupri's property, the terrace is "finished," a quality Your Mama imagines most people look for in terraces.

In truth, most of what's offensive to Your Mama's delicate decorating sensibilities can easily be changed by a new owner, a sledge hammer, a good architect and an even better nice gay decorator. However, we are concerned that Mister Dupri has simply moved on to perpetrate similarly distressing design crimes in whatever home to which he has moved.

Since he's clearly not living up in this crib, Mister Dupri just might be shacked up with Miss Jackson If Your Nasty at her 34th floor condominium at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City. But more likely he's bedding down in the 4 bedroom he recently leased at the Time Warner Center which is basically across the street from Miz Jackson's luxury building. Do these two live in sin? Anyone know?

Property records show that Mister Dupri also owns several other Atlanta area properties including a 7,126 square foot house in Fairburn, GA, a residential building lot in Atlanta, and a 2,936 square foot house in Stockbridge, GA. It's unclear to Your Mama if Mister Dupri occupies any of these properties himself.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jennifer Aniston Has Flown the Coop

According to a well positioned source in Malibu, a-list ack-tur-uss and former Friend Jennifer Aniston packed her leopard print pillows and pushed off from the itty bitty Carbon Beach cottage she's been renting since she and Mister Pitt split back in 2005.

The 1,531 square foot shingled cottage, reportedly owned by Malee-boo real estate head honcho Larry Ellison and just a few doors from billionaire David Geffen's rather impressive spread about which your Mama hears lurid, unsubstantiated, and not reportable tales, always seemed an oddly accessible choice for a gal obsessed with privacy and security.

To be honest, the ladee has good reason to be concerned to the point of obsession. One morning in August of 2005, a man from Santa Barbara wandered into the 3 bedroom 3 bathroom cottage through an unlocked door. Miz Aniston was not in residence, but the intruder was intercepted by two of Miz Aniston's employees and later arrested. Ever since, the ladee was been accompanied to her Malee-boo getaway by a trio of burly security guards well known for blocking traffic on the PCH while Miz Aniston pulled in or out of the tiny driveway in her huge Range Rover.

Your Mama heard from a very reliable source that the relationship challenged hair icon is holed up in her house on Blue Jay Way while the renovations on her Bev Hills Hal Levitt designed mansion on N. Hillcrest Drive are completed. She's no doubt eager to move into the new digs on N. Hillcrest because it is trés privé and thus an excellent spot for her to quietly rendevous and frolic pool side with that bloated looking Vince Vaughan fellow all the tabs and glossies say she likes to mess around with.

Anyhoo, now that slim and trim Miz Aniston is without a beach house of her own, we imagine she'll be popping in on best Friend Courtney Cox and her huzband David Arquette at the Malee-boo estate they purchased last year. Fortunately for Miz Aniston (and for Mister Arquette), the Cox/Arquette crib (scroll down) includes a detached guest house.

Photo: Pacific Coast News

UPDATE: Micheal Jackson

By now, all the children know that Your Mama finds former super star turned tabloid train wreck Michael Jackson fully fascinating. Over the last few months we've frequently discussed his ongoing real estate saga regarding the possible foreclosure of the 2,700 acre Neverland Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley. The ranch was scheduled to go into foreclosure on January 19, but all the gossips and tabloids have been curiously quiet on the subject. Except Mister Roger Friedman over at Fox News, who yesterday dished all the latest juicy dirt about the financially strapped and essentially homeless Mister Jackson.

According to Mister Friedman's sources, The White Lady's loyal and long time spokesperson, that poor ka-razy talkin' Raymone Bain, has been booted from the inner circle. Apparently she denies it, so who knows. But Your Mama called that one. We just knew that Mister Jackson would throw that ladee under the bus when the money ran out. Also out of the inner circle, according to Mister Friedman, is the children's long time nanny Grace, who may in fact only be sick and staying at her own dee-luxe condo in Las Vegas rather than at the Palms casino where The White Lady is currently holed up with his three white children.

Now here's the real estate stuff...According to Mister Friedman, The White Lady is out looking to spend a little bit of his recent cash infusion on a new house in Las Vegas. Which would be a good thing, because let's be honest, raising them three kids in a damn casino can only lead to tears and trauma. Las Vegas real estate is currently in the terlit, so The White Lady can prolly get himself a big ass home in a gated development at a good price. We just hope there's a staff room back behind the kitchen for that poor Miz Bain.

As for the once beloved Neverland Ranch, well, Mister Friedman's sources whispered to him that supermarket magnate Ron Burkle might have intervened and convinced the fine folks at Fortress (Mister Jackson's eager to be paid creditor on the $23,000,000 loan secured by Neverland Ranch) to provide an extension which would allow Mister Jackson to scramble a while longer looking for someone, anyone, to step in and help him refinance the debt.

Your Mama can't tell the children how we know this or we'd have to kill you, but we understand from a secret source that Mister Jackson's people are actively seeking an entity to step in and save the day. But here's what Your Mama really wants to know: Why doesn't billionaire Burkle just carry the loan on his rather large financial back? Twenty three million is pennies to him. What does Mister Burkle know that we don't?

The Billion Dollar Behemoth

27 damn floors. Indoor parking for 168 cars. Helipad. 600 full time servants. All for one mega-rich family of 6.

1. Architectural Record
2. Mumbai Mirror
3. ABC News
World Architectural News


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Let's Talk About Ashley Olsen For A Moment

By now all the children know all about the modest little Hancock Park adjacent home that mogulette Ashley Olsen recently purchased for $1,575,000. (All you Hancock Park boundary snobs please note the "adjacent.")

However, Your Mama has lately received dozens of emails and contacts about Little Miss Ashley Olson also buying a humongous house in Malee-boo. The real estate related gossip started to churn when the teeny tiny tycoon was photographed (see below) outside a not yet completed and monolithic mansion on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
But it just didn't make sense to us. So, being the no-zee bitch we are, Your Mama got on the horn to pick the brains of a few folks in our vast spider web of contacts. We emailed Mighty Mouse in Malee-boo, we contacted Jim Nasium, who knows a lot about a lot of things, we touched base with Mirakle Mike and we grilled the always well informed Lucy Spillerguts.

We combed the sold properties, we looked at aerial maps and we poured over the assessor records for Malee-boo. For quite some time we came up empty handed. Then it all shimmered into view. We're not ashamed to say that it was not Your Mama who located the exact property at which Little Miss Olsen was photographed, but rather one of our newer tipsters who we call The K-Man who pointed us in the right direction.

So here's what we know: The house at which the itsy bitsy high heeled fashion bug was photographed appears to be the old Mark Hughes mansion located way up the Pacific Coast Highway, beyond the Robert Meyer State beach, and near the ocean front compound owned by Madame Cindy Crawford and the palatial, royalty worthy Michael Eisner beach pad. Y'all know who Mark Hughes was, right? He was the four times married and fantastically rich founder of Herbalife who died in 2000 at the tender age of 44 from what was reported as an accidental overdose of prescription anti-depressants and large amounts of alcohol. In fact he died in the master bedroom of his Malee-boo monster mansion.

Property records show that in December of 1999 the perfectly coiffed and usually tan and blinged out Mister Hughes had paid a record breaking $27,000,000 for the 19,340 square foot house. Mister Hughes purchased the house from the widow Verna Harrah, a former cocktail waitress who acquired a considerable fortune when her hotel and casino magnate mate William Harrah passed over. Sadly, shortly after buying the gargantuan house, Mister Hughes met his big diet supplement supplier in the sky in the master bedroom of his Malee-boo manse, and property records reveal the house was next sold off to big time venture capitalist Howard Marks and his wifey Nancy. Since buying the property, they have embarked on a total gut renovation which has maintained the basic shape of the original house but completely altered the style and articulation of the facades.

Mighty Mouse in Malee-boo told Your Mama that he's heard, but can not confirm, that the place was going to be used as a corporate retreat and given it's multi acre parcel with hundreds of feet of beach frontage, the property would likely be valued in the $80,000,000 range. So while the usage of the property seems to be in question, what is not, at least according to current and accurate property records, is that mega-moneyed mini mogulette Ashley Olsen has not purchased this house.

And really, think about it kids, neither of the Olsen gurls seem the type to buy a monstrous and ridiculously expensive estate like this. A look at their real estate history shows they prefer to shack up in more low-key and modest digs. Yes, they did share Hal Levitt designed digs in Bel Air, and they are trying to unload that big place in the ass uglee Kostas Kondylis designed Morton Square in New York, but they intended to share that place too while they attended NYU (a folly they've both since given up).

If we're being honest, Your Mama does not know about all the properties these pint sized and filthy rich gurls own and/or lease. What we do know is that fashion risk taker Mary Kate leases a private but modest house in the Bird Streets in LA as well as a loft on Mercer Steet in New York's former artist 'hood SoHo. Previous to her recent purchase of a small house in Hancock Park (adjacent), Miss Ashley leased a not so big Nichols Canyon abode, and we think she's got a place she leases in the West Village in NYC, but don't quote us on that. According to Mighty Mouse, the teensy power players together leased a tiny house on Escondido Beach in Malibu last summer. There are undoubtedly other places in the mix that Your Mama doesn't know anything about. And certainly all that real estate costs a fortune to own, lease and maintain. But given these chicklets behemoth bank accounts, they could certainly afford much more expensive and lavish properties to crash and store their vast collections of Balenciaga boots and vintage furs.

So what was Miss Ashley Olsen and her big black Geländewagon doing at that big ass estate in The Boo-Boo? Who knows? But if Miss Olsen or any of her people would like to clue your Mama in, on or off the record, be sure to give us a ringy-dingy.

Cindy and Rande Rent Rooms

OWNER: Rande Gerber and Cindy Crawford
LOCATION: Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
PRICE: $22,500/month
SIZE: 2,413 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Furnished beach front rental. Panoramic ocean views from this impeccable beach house located on a sandy beach just north of Broad Beach. Gated private street–perfect beach retreat. Office could be fourth bedroom.

DESCRIPTION: Thanks to the always helpful hand of Our Fairy Godmother in Bel Air, Your Mama has learned that moletastic moe-dell Cindy Crawford and her nightclub impresario huzband Rande Gerber, himself a former male mannequin, don't you know, are looking to lease an ocean front property they own in Malee-boo.

While most children will never get to frolic and freak with a nearly six foot tall woman who's blessed with the face of an angel and the bahdee of a porn hussy, but some reasonably deep pockets might help soothe a shriveled ego by coughing up considerable coinage to live in an ocean front house owned by a walking talking slice of American good looks and the picture of American capitalism at its finest. Where else can a gurl from Dekalb make bazillions of bucks just by allowing famous photogs to take pictures of her? Ah, America.

Anyhoo, listing information for the Crawford/Gerbers 4 bedroom and 3 bathroom house indicates that the comely couple are totally flex on lease terms (month to month, short term, long term, 1+ years all okay). They are asking $22,500 per month (furnished) for a long term lease and $35,000 per month (furnished) for a short term lease. All things considered, these prices are not that crazy compared to some of the many wildy high priced rental pads in the Boo. So grab your checkbooks and haul ass to Malee-boo to scoop this place up, because if you're rich and in the market for a rental in Malee-boo, it's practically a bargain.

Property records reveal that Mister Good Lookin' Gerber purchased the property back in April of 1998 for $1,850,000, right about the time that he and his cover gurl/Playboy poser became legally hitched. While the house sits cheek by jowl with a couple other ocean front houses, it is accessed down a gated and private street off the Pacific Coast Highway that ensures renting famous folks that looky loos and paps won't have an easy time watching them unload groceries or sunbathe topless (and/or bottomless) on the back deck.

If we're being critical, we'd say Mister and Missus Former Models need to ring up one of their nice gay decorator friends to do this place over proper. But realistically, it's set up just about the way Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter might set up a beach rental...stuffed full of odds, ends, and mixed and matched items we don't actually want in our own residence and don't care if they get ruined. Why provide the renters nice decor their party posse can vomit all over, allow their cats to claw or their loud children to put their scungee feet all over?

Although Your Mama isn't sure if Mister and Missus I'm Better Looking Than All of You ever lived in this house or not, but we do know that this property is definitely not the Malee-boo getaway the Mister and Missus Gerber currently occupy. Oh no puppies, when the super rich super model, her bizness man husband and their couple of loud children head north on the congested Pacific Coast Highway to their sandy hideaway, they park their fancy whips here:
Uh, yeah. Can you believe that shit? That's four damn mini houses that make up the Crawford/Gerber compound, which sits a few miles up the PCH from the available rental. Don't let anyone tell you that looking good won't get you nothing but a heartache and too much attention from pervy men, because they're lying and they're probably just bitter and uglee people. So all you bitches who wannabe America's Next Top Model, well, lookee what real estate pornography cold be in your skinny ass future if you make it big on the catwalk and marry a man who makes butt loads of money.

Lower photo: Pacific Coast News

Monday, January 28, 2008

John Alexander

Texas claims three giant sons of the modern art movement of the 20th century: Robert Rauschenberg, Julian Schnabel, and John Alexander. Of the three, Alexander is the least known, and possibly, the one who remained closest to his Texan roots. Born in Beaumont and educated at SMU in Dallas, Alexander ended up in Houston, a professor at the University of Houston during the 70s. And although he's been in NYC for 30 years, his Texas ties remain strong and show up time and again in his art work. Affable and endearing, Alexander's art is known for it's humor and societal commentary. Not easily categorized, he is as famous for landscapes and nature studies as he is for his satirical commentaries on everyday life. Recent works of birds resemble a modern day Audubon, and his flower canvases rival any 18th century botanical study.

A retrospective of John Alexander's work is now underway in Washington D.C. at the Smithsonian's American Art Museum through March. After that time, the show will be on display at the Houston Museum of Arts, a fitting place for one of Texas' prodigal sons. The New York Social Diary today featured a recently held celebratory party given at the museum for Alexander. The reception was filled with the high society names that support the arts with their pocketbook. There is one major dissenter to all the rave reviews the retrospective is getting: the Washington Post's Blake Gopnik panned the show in a scathing review here. Despite this, Houstonians are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Alexander and his paintings. His fans here are legendary, as are his friends. Below are images of paintings by Alexander, some for sale and some sold in auction recently.

John Alexander on the right with Caroline Kennedy and her husband Edward Schlossberg at the reception for his retrospective at the Smithsonian's American Art Museum.

"Hiding from the taxman," 1986

"Man with two lives," 2007.

Recent nature study, influenced by Alexander's country home on Long Island, NY. I love this painting.

Oil by Alexander.

Early landscape by Alexander.

"Wine and roses," 2006.

"Fires of Xanadu," 1991, recently sold at auction for $17,250.00

"Christina's world," 1986, recently sold at auction for $19,550.00

Alexander's haunting "Topsy Turvy"

"The great horned owl." Recently sold at auction for $12,650.

"Troubled waters"

"Salwatch in the bois de boulogne." Recently auctioned off for $26,400.

"Keep your feet close to the fire."

Alexander and the singer, Paul Simon, at the reception in Washington.

Photo from the retrospective. You can get a feel for the size of the some of the canvases from this picture.

The famous painting, "Melon fields" from the retrospective.

A close up detail of "Melon fields."

The catalogue of the retrospective can be purchased from Amazon books.

And, finally, a bit of fun: native Houstonians may remember Alexander and this piece of gossip - he was once rumored to be the boyfriend of Houston's widowed, long-time mayor Kathryn Whitmire. In actuality, they were probably more friends than lovers. Whitmire was famous for her big glasses, power suits and neckties, and a peculiar resemblance to Dustin Hoffman's Tootsie.

Former mayor of Houston, Kathryn Whitmire, aka Tootsie. Long time friend of John Alexander's.

Today, Whitmire no longer in politics, lives in Hawaii. Obviously, she's also thrown away her powers suits and grown out her hair. Thank God!

Did Scott Baio Fake It?

WHO: Scott Baio
WHAT: an uglee 5 bedroom and 5.5 bathroom house
WHERE: Strawberry Drive, Encino, CA

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Although Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter will watch just about any reality television program that just about any television executive will dare to air, we confess to never having seen Scott Baio's little slice of reality T.V. called Scott Baio is 45...And Single.

However, Your Mama has been getting all sorts of emails wanting to know about an Encino property the program shows Mister Baio buying and moving in to. So not knowing a thing about Mister Baio other than his work on Happy Days, Charles in Charge and later on Arrested Development, we had to take to the internets to sort out the what's what.

Interestingly, it would seem from our wee bit of research, Mister Baio is not, nor was he single during the taping of the "reality" program. Yes, he was unmarried, but not single. He did not frequent meat market bars and try to date young Hollywood hussies. He tried to come to terms with whether he wanted to marry his ladee friend Renee, who he indeed married just after the birth of their baby Chachi.

Next we got on the horn to Lucy Spillerguts and Valley Dude and a few other contacts Your Mama has in the San Fernando Valley to see what we could suss out. What we found is that Mister Baio and his wifey, reportedly a former Playboy Playmate and erstwhile body double for Pammy Anderson and whose name is actually Peaches Renee Sloan, still occupy the 4,403 square foot house on Royal Oak Road in Encino that property records show Mister Baio purchased back in 1994 for $1,345,000. We can't tell you how we know this or we'd have to cut your tongue out and sliver you ears off, but Your Mama is quite certain the couple have not decamped from Mister Baio's single story, 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom, 1+ acre estate on Royal Oak Road to the uglee house (pictured above) squeezed onto a tiny triangular shaped lot on Strawberry Drive.

So what happened on the television show then? Apparently, the couple "bought" this crazy looking McMansion on Strawberry Drive in Encino and Mister Baio moaned and groaned about the big mortgage payments. But children, it appears they were just making television.

Your Mama has included a few pictures of the Strawberry Drive house the Mister and Missus Baio fake bought. But we're simply not up to digging our claws into the architectural aberration, partick because the Baio's don't live here and there are no records that (yet) indicate they purchased this or any other home as far as we know. Mister Big Time? Any thoughts?

This is certainly not the first time that reality shows have depicted something not real and it's not even the first the a reality program has indulged in real estate fakery. Remember when that kooky Kimora Lee Simmons pretended to buy a house different than the one she actually bought on her Life in the Fab Lane reality television publicity vehicle. And let's not forget when Missus David Beckham "lived" up in that big glass contemporary house on her reality special when in fact she and Sexy bought a $22,000,000 freshly built Bev Hills style Mediterranean.

P.S. With the help of a very resourceful cohort, Your Mama located an online listing for the Strawberry Drive house, which no longer appears to be active. The list price was $3,199,000 and Your Mama thinks it would be both unfathomable and inexcusable that Mister Baio would exchange his very private and gated home Royal Oak Road for this monstrosity that is pushed up to the very edges of the property.

UPDATE: Olivia Newton John

The children will recall that Australian singer/actor Olivia Newton John's 5 bedroom and 6 bathroom Malee-boo Mediterranean, located up in the guard gated Serra Retreat die-rectly next door to the former love shack of that poor coming apart at the seams Britney Spears and her Fed-ex, recently swept onto the market with a $14,000,000 asking price.

Now puppies, y'all know we loved Miz Newton John looking flawless and ridiculously thin in her shiny black lycra pants in Grease, and of course we loved ev-er-ee-thing about Xanadu. Your Mama even loved her in that crazy leo-tard outfit when she got all Physical on us. (Not to mention all the muscled mens squatting, thrusting, and stretching in their bikini underwear.) But we are not loving the decor, or rather lack of, in Miz Newton John's Malee-boo mansion.

Your Mama loves a down stuffed white sofa as much as the next big-assed couch potato with an unhealthy addiction to candy and reality television. So one might think we'd be in sofa heaven with all Miz Newton John's white divans. But we're not. At all.

The problem, in our ever so humble and meaningless opinion, is not specifically the profusion of white sofas and chairs, but rather that the house looks like no one actually lives in it. It looks dead inside. Perhaps Miz Newton John has already vacated the premises? And if she did, who could blame her? Who could live more than 3 days up in a house with dining room chairs desperate to look like the damn garden?

Although in the main we like the wide lawn and tucked away swimming pool complex, one area of outdoor concern is that crop circle thing in the backyard. Is she asking for all the ETs to land in her back yard?

Otherwise this is a lovely house in a highly desirable location. We'd just love to see some upsettingly rich Hollywood type come in here with a team of nice gay decorators and do the place up in a manner worthy of a $14,000,000 home.

But don't worry Miz Newton John, Your Mama loves you bad decor and all. But seriously gurl, give us a call when you get moved so we can hook you up with someone to work all your white sofas into something spectacular.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Frank McCourts Do It Again In Malee-boo

BUYERS: Frank and Jamie McCourt
LOCATION: Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
PRICE: around $19,000,000
SIZE: 1,620 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Along with an item or two that had been previously reported, celebrity real estate high priestess Ruth Ryon revealed in her most recent Hot Properties column that Boston biznessman turned LA biznessman and owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers Frank McCourt and his accomplished wifey Jamie dropped another massive wad of cash on a second oceanfront house right next door to the one they already own on uber exclusive Carbon Beach in Malee-boo.

The children will recall that in July of 2007 the stinking rich McCourts dropped an impressive $27,250,272 to acquire Courtney Cox and David Arquette's loopy, swoopy and gorgeous John Lautner designed house on Carbon Beach. And according to Miz Ryon (and confirmed with property records), they've coughed up another impressive chuck of change to buy the 1,620 square foot 1940s beach cottage next door. Records Your Mama accessed do not yet reveal the purchase price, but Miz Ryon reports the carpet bagging couple paid "close to $19,000,000" for the 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom house. (FYI: listing information for the property indicates 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms while Los Angeles County tax records show 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.)

This recent Malee-bee purchase is not the first time the McCourts have purchased a high priced property adjacent to one they already own. When the couple moved West in 2004, they paid a widely reported $21,500,000 for a Charing Cross Road estate across the street from the Playboy Mansion in hoity toity Holmby Hills. They purchased the 11,637 square foot house from Kenneth "Babyface" Edmunds and his then wifey Tracey. (Yes puppies, the very same unlucky in love Tracey who recently split from that fickle Eddie Murphy). Just five months later, the McCourts quickly snapped up the 8,385 square foot house next door. Your Mama imagines they house the staff there, but really, we haven't got a clue why they needed the extra 8 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms in that house.

Now then, let's have a look-see at the recent history of the McCourt's new acquisition, which Miz Ryon says is already under-going and extensive renovation. In November of 2006, entertainment executive and Hollywood scion Casey Wasserman, grandson of the famously bespectacled and hugely powerful Lew Wasserman, sold the house to man named Peter Kleidman. The who's and what's of this Mister Kliedman are a bit of a mystery to Your Mama, but a wee bit of searching the internets comes up with some phun bits. In the Spring of 2007 Mister Kleidman rankled his high-fallutin' neighbors nerves when he threw open the doors to his property and offered the Malee-booan masses public access to one of the most notoriously difficult to access stretches of beach on the West Coast. You'll recall that Miss David Geffen threw all kinds of hissy fits and law suits about having to provide public access to the beach via an accessway that runs next to his rather impressive oceanfront digs, so you can imagine the Carbonites were not thrilled.

Mister Kleidman futher irritated the neighbors when he leased the teeny tiny property to the swag mistresses at The Silver Spoon who decked out the interiors, did up the outdoor spaces all beach club like, dubbed it "The Silver Spoon Beach House," and sub-leased it out at $65,000 per month to celebutants like actor/singer/whatevers Hilary and Haylie Duff and new-nosed and supposed it girl Ashley Tisdale, who leased the petite property for her 22nd birthday.

So perhaps it's no wonder or surprise that the McCourts once again reached into their seemingly endless real estate investment funds to purchase the problematic property next door. Because, let's be honest, what atrociously rich gajillionaire wants to spent nearly $30,000,000 on a beach house only to have a bunch of quasi famous skinny bitches and tabloid princesses throwing paparazzi friendly parties next door? Uhm, none of them.

There's no need to rip apart the interiors, because they did not belong to anyone in particular and are long gone with the McCourt's renovation. Now, Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter are off to the movies so be quiet and don't fight amongst yourselves.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Desert Hot Springs PreFabulosity

SELLERS: Leo Marmol and Alisa Becket
LOCATION: McCarger Road, Desert Hot Springs, CA
PRICE: $1,850,000
SIZE: 2,100 square feet interior space (approx.), 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: According to the newish, well informed, and gaining speed LA based blog Real Sedated (via Mister Peter Viles at the LA Times), another piece of Coachella Valley architectural splendiferousness has come the real estate market. Leo Marmol, partner of starchitectural firm Marmol Radziner, and his wifey Alisa Becket have put their sleek, sexy and solar powered pre-fabulous Desert Hot Springs getaway on the market for $1,850,000, which is a lot of damn money for a house in dumpy but increasingly desirable Desert Hot Springs. But children, just look at what you get for just under two million of your hard earned clams.

Of course, not everyone will appreciate the look and emotional feel of a pre-fab and factory built collection of minimal-ish boxes sited on a dirt road looking over the scrubby desert towards the dramatically craggy San Jacinto Mountains. But Your Mama does. Oh yes children, we would happily sell half of you snot nosed bitches into prostitution for this house, even if it is in Desert Hot Springs.

Sitting on five acres of desert dryness 10 or so miles north of Palm Springs, Mister Marmol and Miz Becket (herself a scion of a noted architect), practiced what they preached out there in the desert. The art and design oriented couple utilized a system of factory built, pre-fabricated modules designed by Marmol Radziner Prefab to create a visually stunning and aggressively contemporary prototype perfect for people with a little bit of money who prefer not to live in a cape, a colonial or a crappy and characterless tract house.

With 2,100 square feet (approx.) of interior space and roughly 2,400 square feet of exterior space, the house wraps around a central courtyard and forms a sort of new-fangled and high class campground. There are three bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in the main section of the compound and a guest wing and separate studio space are accessed via a long, outdoor covered walkway, perfect for fashionista friends who like to pretend they're working the catwalks in Paris after a few pitchers of gin and tonics, and you know Your Mama has got a few friends like that.

As y'all know, the desert sun will cook you like a Thanksgiving turkey, so one and all can surely appreciate the generously sized covered decks that provide necessary shade and extend the somewhat modestly sized interior living space outdoors through sliding walls of floor to ceiling glass. Gigantic perforations in the facade act as windows framing long vistas over the desert.

Inside, Marmol Radziner have debunked the notion that prefab has to be anything but fabulous. The concrete floors are stained to match the color of the desert floor and the kitchen is deelishuslee wrapped in teak. Your Mama imagines this teak material is an upgrade that will cost future prefab buyers some serious scratch. But hunnies, it is worth whatever it cost. Imagine running your nekkid bahdee up against that wall while you're heating up a Lean Cuisine in the built in microwave.

Mister Viles reported that Mister Marmol and Miz Becket are selling off this house in order to build a new prefabricated residence for themselves in Venice. Venice, California that is. Their loss can be your gain children, so act quickly before some other design queen with a little bit of money snatches this property out from under you.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Birthday Luncheon in West University with the Wills Girls

A few months ago I showed you pictures of my sister-in-law and brother-in-law's ranch in Chappell Hill, Texas. By the comments that entry received, everyone seemed to love their home. On Friday, Shannon, my sister-in-law, and her sister Anthea threw themselves a joint birthday party at Anthea's beautiful Houston home. That's Shannon passing out a bowl of home made crisps and her mother, Dottie, is on the far right. It was a small, intimate affair and it really is a great way to entertain - lunch at home instead of at a noisy restaurant filled with rushed businessmen. The three "Wills" girls made all the food: soup with a salad topped with delicious cold beef tender. I had a great time, but you know me - I was preoccupied with thoughts of taking pictures of Anthea's home to share with you!

Mealtime in the dining room. The walls are a gorgeous shade of dusty pink, more of a flesh tone, but definitely not coral. It reminds me so much of the Farrow and Ball shade, Ointment Pink, but it's not. One great thing about the paint is that it's flat, not egg shell. You don't see that too often anymore, but it really has a wonderful, dense look to it.

In the middle is the beautiful Anthea serving a dessert made by her absent husband. No men were allowed at lunch. The girl on the left is an old family friend and she is equally beautiful!

I had trouble concentrating on the conversation, which happens when I am surrounded by beauty. At the end of the dining room, on both sides of the window, is a pair of half-moon shaped, tall chests. Handpainted pink cabbage roses dance atop a pale celadon base. At the top of each chest, is one of a pair of large, antique Satsuma urns. The "Wills" girls know that these chests are my absolute favorite pieces in their family. I totally lust after them and if I could get away with it, these two chests would somehow find their way to my house. Oh well......

Along the side wall of the dining room between two windows is an antique gilded and painted buffet which sits under an oil painting. This piece comes in at a close second as my favorite.

And, on a short wall across from the buffet, this antique commode sits beneath an antique mirror. The dining room is without a doubt the prettiest room in a house filled with pretty rooms. Upon entering the home, it's directly to the right of the front door and is one of the first things you notice when you walk in. In storage are drapes from a previous home that would look wonderful in here. Both Shannon and her mother Dottie (and me) think the drapes should be hung in the dining room, but homeowner Anthea with veto power wants to keep the room light and airy. I have offered to take the drapes off Anthea's hands for her, but she pretends she can't hear me whenever I broach the subject.

The staircase hall. Seagrass covers the stair steps. The bench is filled with birthday presents for Shannon and Anthea, both.

An oversized crystal chandelier hangs in the staircase hall. This fixture is always lit and can be seen from the street through the glass paned, double front doors. I should know - Anthea's house is on my Starbuck's route and I pass it more times a day and night than I care to admit.

Directly across the hall from the stairs is the paneled library. Notice the animal faces on the chairs' arms.

The Wills girls are daughters of the famous artist, J. Anthony Wills, whose work hangs in the White House. Here is an oil of Anthea that her father painted as a surprise for Dottie. Shannon has her portrait from the same sitting in her house.

Note the large, tole light fixture hanging in the library.

At the entry hall, this tablescape with it's bird's nest and chalky urn, is front and center.

The breakfast room is probably my favorite space in the house. The light, painted credenza, toile window shade, creamy accessories and flirty slip covers on the chairs all add to the room's fresh atmosphere.

The kitchen has a wonderful wood counter top on the island and the range sits in its own alcove.

The back courtyard with a fountain and furniture from Smith Hawken. It was a rainy day, so the cushions were taken off the furniture.

The family room with its large antique rug. Most of the other rooms, including the stairs have seagrass rugs. I love the antique frame on the mantel - with no art work inside!

Old candlesticks rest on a marble topped credenza in the stair hall.

The living room is to the immediate left of the front door, across from the dining room. The antique day bed is covered in a blue silk velvet that is wonderfully worn. Most people would probably choose to recover the velvet, but I love the way it's aged to perfection.

This portrait, painted again by Shannon and Anthea's father, is of their mother Dottie - looking very glamorous in her 60s style mink stole! Isn't she gorgeous? Turquoise colored vases sit atop yet another marble topped chest.

In one corner of the living room, behind a needle point french chair, Anthea has propped two antique doors. You can just see the dining room on the very right.

Upstairs, Anthea and her husband sleep in this deep brown bedroom. The ceiling is painted the palest shade of blue. The headboard is slipcovered in white. On either side of the bed are Aidan Gray nightstands.

Across from the bed, an English linen press.

In the master bathroom, the vanity chair carries on with the bedroom's brown and blue color scheme.

A guest room upstairs, furnished in french antiques. This is Shannon's room when she comes to town. Another guest room, not shown, is reserved for Shannon's daughter when she stays over.

Anthea's son's red, white, and blue bedroom, furnished with seagrass headboards and blue and white ticking.

The upstairs playroom for Anthea's son. The slipcovered furniture came from Quatrine.

Dottie, now widowed, divides her time between Houston and Chappell Hill. Here is the sitting room in her bedroom suite at Anthea's. It is furnished entirely with French antiques that Dottie has collected over a lifetime.

The bedroom in Dottie's suite, again furnished with antiques.

And lastly, in Dottie's sitting room hang two portraits of the birthday girls, again, painted by their father. On the left, Shannon, the more talkative sister, is, naturally, on the phone, while Anthea - always prim and proper - sweetly smiles. The most amazing thing of these paintings is that here, both mothers look exactly like their young sons do now. Both boys are about the same age as their mothers' were when these paintings were done.

Be sure to revisit my entry about Shannon's home, the KW Ranch. It's interesting to compare and contrast the two sister's decorating styles. Both girls were their own interior designer, along with their mother's input and advice. All three Wills girls have great style and taste, which is obvious to anyone visiting their homes.