Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Brangelina On The Move...Again

Word on the ritzy rues of St. Jean Cap-Ferrat is that super stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie along with their multi-culti brood of celebutots have recently arrived in the South of France via private jet with two nannies and three security guards in tow.

(What! That's all? Your Mama was under the impression that the entourage of these two always on the move movie stars also includes several personal assistants. Don't tell Your Mama the assistants were forced to fly coach on a commercial airline because that is just mean. And what about the home school teachers? Don't these children need teachers?)

The freakishly good looking couple et. al. have reportedly settled in for an extended stay at Villa Maryland, the Florentine-style architectural confection owned by Microsoft co-founder and prodigious party thrower Paul Allen. The spectacular hill top villa is tended by a year round staff of 12 and features a lovely swimming pool, meticulously manicured grounds, plenty of privacy and a view of the Mediterranean over a small yacht harbor.

Other really rich (part time) residents and nearby neighbors are said to include Bono (whose waterfront place is in nearby Eze Bord du Mer), music theater mogul Andrew Lloyd Weber, and it is widely rumored but not confirmed that multi billionaire Bill Gates purchased the legendary Villa La Leopolda from international high society doyenne Lily Safra for between seventy five and ninety million smackers. Pocket change for a man with a net worth of 60 or 70 billion bucks.

photos: NiceLife via VirtualTourist

Ricky Martin Has Island Fever

According to bunches of Brazilian newspapers and blogs that Your Mama is unable to read, bearded and bon bon shaking Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin has gone and bought himself an island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. A damn island!

Details are slim, but all reports say He of the Bubble Boo-tay forked over about eight million clams for the small island that is reported to be part of the Angra dos Reis archipelago.

We got no reason to piss, moan or dispute any one's reports, but quite frankly, that number sounds a little high to Your Mama given that another island in the chain of island-ettes which features a giant 7 bedroom house, a swimming pool and a private heliport is currently on market for $3,495,000. Did Ricky get something even more faboo? Or did he get had?

Listen up Señor Martin, call Your Mama. We could use a nice vacay far from the snap snapping of the paparazzi and it sounds like your little island could be just the place. We'll even bring Sven the Svee-dish masseur who'll rub your beefy bah-dee until you beg him to stop.

Your Mama Hears...

...From the Shelter Island Snitch that Shorewood Manor, once the summer digs of former New York State governor Hugh Carey, has finally been sold.

Shelter Island local Chris Knight purchased the spectacular (but somewhat shabby) 8.5 acre property in early 2007 for $10,000,000 and immediately put it back on the market with a shocking $33,000,000 asking price which was later hacked to $24,900,000 and then again chopped to $22,400,000.

Property records do not yet reveal a buyer or a sale price, but Snitch whispered to Your Mama that Mister Knight had several offers to chose from and the lucky winner of the property hails from the land of Rolex. That would be Switzerland least that's where Your Mama's Submariner comes from. All that coy little Snitch would reveal about the sale price was that it is "in the double digits" and provides a "handsome profit" for all parties involved in the (rumored to be) record setting deal.

UPDATE: Veronica Hearst

It sounds like Miz Veronica Hearst's Fifth Avenue real estate ship has finally sailed and the moving trucks will soon be lined up on East 66th Street with doors standing agape and ready for all the fine furniture and high priced ar-tay-facts that will be swaddled in bubble wrap and squirreled out through the service entrance.

Boy wonder real estate gossip Max Abelson at the New York Observer worked his Rolodex, turned on his considerable charms and recently managed to get the chatty wife of co-cop board president (and AllianceBernstein CEO) Lewis Sanders on the horn who told him, "She [Miz Hearst] has a gorgeous apartment and it’s sold at a top price. … And that’s all that can be said."

However, that is not all that was said. When asked about the identity of the new buyer Miz Sanders added, “You really don’t see people. This is like living in a building alone, as opposed to living with others,” she said. “Affluent people prefer that." Oh. Ouch. That's an unconscious but very revealing statement by a very privileged woman, isn't it?

Miz Sanders, who apparently could not stop speaking once she started, also told Mister Abelson that, “She’s [Miz Hearst] decided to move to another residence.”

Well, obviously.

Will Miz Hearst and her roommate/daughter Fabiola Beracasa pack up and move to her 45-acre estate in New Castle, NY? Have the two of them rented something small but soigné in Southampton for the summer? Or, as The Fifth Avenue Flapjaw whispered to Your Mama the other day, Miz Hearst might be packing up her closets full of couture clothing and heading south. Way south. To Bolivia. Bolivia? Who moves to Bolivia anymore? Anyhoo, we can't confirm that bit of gossip and rumor, but let's remember children that it whaaz Flapjaw who first tattled to Your Mama that Miz Hearst had done sold her lavish and long time Fifth Avenue digs for $31,000,000. (The actual sale price is yet to be revealed or confirmed.)

If we've said it once we've said it a thousand times, we sincerely hope this marks the end of The Widow Hearst's financial brouhaha and that the educated ladee will soon settle into something modest and manageable and encourage fabulous Fabiola go and get an apartment of her own.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Arthur Blank Selling Buckhead Mansion

SELLER: Arthur and Stephanie Blank
LOCATION: Tuxedo Road, Atlanta, GA
PRICE: $10,600,000
SIZE: 8,225 square feet, 7 bedrooms, 7 full and 3 half bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Spectacular mature gardens and lake are viewed from the iron balconies of this magnificent 4 acre estate. Situated on one of Atlanta's finest streets, across from the Woodruff estate, the grounds of this wonderful seven bedroom home are unparalleled in Buckhead.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: About a week ago Your Mama received word from the Buckhead Blabbermouth that Atlanta Falcons owner, Home Depot co-founder and billionaire Arthur Blank recently put his baronial Buckhead mansion on the market for $10,900,000. Being blissfully and almost totally ignorant about professional sports, the only tidbit Your Mama can pull out of the dark recesses of our gin soaked mind about the Atlanta Falcons is that it's the team for which disturbing dog torturer Michael Vick last quarterbacked. However, let's not uglee this story up with discussing that pile of sick whom Your Mama hopes is some demonic dude's new "wife" in whatever prison he's landed.

Knowing little about Atlanta other than it's sometimes called "Hotlanta" and that land luvin' billionaire Ted Turner and He of the Fabulous Sunglasses Elton John maintain residences in the southern city, we once again turned to our saucy and sassy friend Fiona Trambeau who happens to know a thing or two about Buckhead thanks to a sexually confused, Guinness guzzling and pill popping former consort who shall remain nameless. For now.

Miz Trambeau informs Your Mama that Buckhead is one of Atlanta's finer neighborhoods and its winding and leafy streets are lined with mansions both modest and excessive, stately and over-stated. According to Miz Trambeau, there also happens to be a thriving nightlife in Buckhead that is peopled by khaki clad bizness men who look like they might have belonged to a fraternity in college and young women in strappy high heels, expensive mini dresses and even more expensive handbags. As you might imagine, Miz Trambeau finds it all a little mainstream for her notoriously wild and wicked ways.

Anyhoo, property records reveal that Mister and Missus Blank purchased their 8,225 square foot brick Colonial Revival style mansion on Buckhead's Tuxedo Road in April 1993 for $3,380,000. Listing information indicates the house includes 7 bedrooms with 7 full and 3 half bathrooms. It's a good thing listing information also indicates that the Blank pile also includes staff quarters, because with ten terlits you definitely need a live in gurl with a scrub brush super glued to one of her hands.

Listing information and and a recent report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution reveal that the interior spaces include a two story foyer for impressing guests and the pizza delivery man, a dining room that seats 12, a library, media room/home thee-ay-ter, and in-law suite (which is a fantastic feature for those with frustrating in-laws), a wine grotto for perfect for well to do winos to tipple and taste, and an in-home fitness center in which the hung over home owners can privately sweat out the booze the next morning .

However, it's really the outdoor spaces that make this property a real head turner. Four acres of magnificent, meticulous and mature landscaping include a private lake (that looks a wee bit small to be a lake, so let's call it a pond), multiples terraces, patios and decks, a swimming pool, sculpted lawn areas, gazebos, pergolas, quiet contemplative corners and secret sweet spots where one could easily and freely frolic in their birthday suit without any fear of being spied by neighbors or hovering helicopters.

As the children might expect and any high end property shopper would hope, Mister and Missus Blank's Buckhead estate sits in solid real estate company. Across the street is Windcrofte, the Regency style behemoth that was once the home of Robert Woodruff, a man who had Coca Cola cash coming out his philanthropic wazoo. Currently owned by big biznessman and wannabe Republican politician Guy Millner, the 7-acre property is also on the market for $13,900,000.

According the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the billionaire Blanks will be staying in the hotsy totsy 'hood and plan to move to another Buckhead property that is currently under renovation. Your Mama hopes their new digs will include landscaping as lovely and impressive as their old house and we look forward to being invited to a garden party this summer to check it all out.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Alex Lifeson In a Rush to Sell His Hoose

SELLER: Alex Lifeson
LOCATION: Chestnut Park Road, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
PRICE: $5,699,000 (Canadian)
SIZE: 6 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: ...Over 6,000 sq. ft. of beautifully fin space lends itself to elegant & comfortable living. Entertaining spaces are stylishly fin w/ sophisticated accents. Fab fpls. on 4 lvls. 6 bdrms are spacious. A detached 3 car grg w/ 2nd lvl living/studio space accessible fr frdn. A rare circular drive creates a dramatic entrance.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Back in the 1970s, Your Mama, Sister Woman, and cuzzins Lois and Toddaroohoo used sit around Aunt Jennie's colossal console stereo and ride around in Your Mama's Mama's souped up Cutlass listening to 8-track tapes of Linda Ronstadt, Barry Manilow and Donna Summer with a bit of the Bay City Rollers tossed in for modern measure. In the 1980s, like so many other confused and angst ridden small town teens, Your Mama fell backwards into the post-Punk and New Romantic music scenes of the The Psychedelic Furs, Softcell and Culture Club. Jeezis, remember those days, kids? So when we first received word from Canadian Jon that a man named Alex Lifeson had put his big hoose in a hoity toity area of Toronto on the market, we confess, we didn't have a clue who Mister Lifeson is or what he does that qualifies him as a noteworthy individual.

So, as we always do, Your Mama turned to the internets where we learned Mister Lifeson is the founder and lead guitarist for Rush, a venerable and beloved prog-rock band that defines a particular genre of music that Your Mama never understood nor particularly liked. Listen puppies, we're not dogging Rush or in any way throwing shade on their talents, longevity or considerable successes. We're simply saying, that heavy duty rock (or "prog-rock," whatever that is) was not, is not and will never be Your Mama's cup of musical tea.

Anyhoo, according to listing information and a recent report in The Globe and Mail, Mister Lifeson's three story and (approx.) 6,000 square foot brick built hoose stands on Chestnut Park Road in a leafy and posh part of Toronto called Rosedale. Your Mama feels comfortable enough with the children to tell them that we are entirely ignorant of Toronto's lay of the land so we quickly consulted a Canadian cohort we'll call The Fiddler who tells us that ritzy Rosedale sits very near downtown Toronto, has lots of swanky shops that line Yonge Street, and is chock full of Canadian rich and famous folks like master thespian Eugene Levy, billionaires Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman, comedienne Andrea Martin and fellow Rushian Geddy Lee. Several years ago, troubled American actor Kiefer Sutherland and his wifey Kelly very publicly sold their house in the Crescent Park section of Rosedale during their long estrangement (and subsequent dee-vorce).

Since Your Mama hasn't any idea how to look up Canadian property records, we have to rely on The Globe and Mail's report that 54 year old Mister Lifeson and his wifey Charlene have owned their crib with the frat hoose-like facade for (about) ten years. We don't know how much moolah the couple paid for their place, but it is currently listed at $5,699,000 (Canadian), which our bejeweled abacus informs Your Mama is about the same as $5,624,000 American dollars.

Listing information indicates the hoose includes 6 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms spread over three floors of living space as well as a finished basement that contains a games room. The main living level features an impressive entrance gallery and stair hall, living and dining rooms with wacky wallpaper and elaborate and upsetting window treatments, a library, family room and a large eat in kitchen with a large (and possibly dangerous) pot rack that listing information reveals is included in the sale.

Other than the zany zebra print rug paired with the kooky 1980s red-violet chaise lounge with the poppy orange throw pillows in the sitting room of the master bedroom, there's really little in terms of interior day-core that Your Mama cares's just too traditional, fussy and furniture showroom-ish for our personal taste. None the less we find the facade stately, the public rooms nicely proportioned, and we adore the detached carriage hoose/garage with living space above which is perfect for stashing staff and/or guests that don't recognize that a three week visit is simply too long and intrusive to be warrant being hoosed in the main hoose.

According to local gossip (and reported in The Globe and Mail), now that their two children are grown Mister and Missus Lifeson have decided to move on to a smaller crib, a sensible real estate decision we seldom see made by rich and famous folks who so often buy and build ever bigger and more lavish hooses.

Although we hear that Toronto is wonderfully lefty liberal and a lovely location to live, Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter prefer to make our home in warmer climes. However, if we were ever to pack up our small fleet of BMWs and emigrate to Canada (which, politically speaking, hasn't aways seemed like such a bad idea), we can imagine that a solid and dignified hoose like this would be an excellent place to set up shop and keep the bitter chill of winter at bay. After a little redecorating and a lot of wallpaper removal, natch.

UPDATE: Michael Jackson

Let Your Mama offer a word to the real estate wise: Get on the horn right away to the Biltmore or the Bacara iffin you want to be standing in the front row of the scheduled and fast approaching May 14 foreclosure auction of (literally) fading pop icon Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. Fox 411 gossip columnist Roger Friedman recently reported that a few big bucks bidders are already circling with their cashier's checks in hand and Your Mama thinks that hotel rooms–good hotel rooms– may be difficult to come by.

Expect a media madhouse on the steps of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse when the tattered, torn and tossed aside 2,900 acre ranch is sold to the highest bidder and Mister Jackson's sad and embarrassing Santa Ynez Valley real estate woes come to their tawdry and inevitable end.

Interested parties are said to include "some form of the original loan holder Fortress Investments" as well as a Virginia based mortgage company who was approached earlier this year by now nixed Jackson manager/mouth piece Raymone Bain.

Meanwhile, where's Mister Jackson?

Sad. Sad. Sad. As Your Mama's good pal Virginia Slim says, "This can only end in tears." But at least it will end children, at least it will end.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spring has Sprung

 spring 045

At my daughter's school, they raise money for their senior prom by selling spring flowers.  Even though she's only a sophomore, they've already begun the fund raising.  It must be one hell of a prom to need three years to raise money for, but whatever.   This year I was shamed into buying my spring flowers from her school.  When I picked them up a few weeks ago they were itty bitty things in itty bitty pots.  Today, I noticed that - boy! they have really gotten huge!  And so pretty!   Spring is definitely here in Houston.  Sunday it was 80 degrees outside and such a gorgeous day that I just had to show you pictures of my garden: 

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Pots of spring flowers courtesy of the prom fund raiser. 

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My back yard patio.  Our house is in a neighborhood in flux.  Half of the houses are newer and half were built for WWII veterans.  The lots are tiny -  50 x 100 is standard.  That doesn't leave much left out back for anything other than a courtyard.  Which is fine, I guess, as long as your neighbors are friendly and you don't like to sunbathe in the nude. (I don't, don't worry.)

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Pottery Barn pillows, Pier I chairs, Urban Outfitters rug, Wisteria blue and white garden seat (one of three that I own.)

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In case you are wondering what's with all the concrete bunnies and squirrels, etc.   -  I don't know either.  Ask my husband.   For a few years every Mother's Day he went to the Garden Gate and bought me some animal.  I would probably have hundreds by now if I hadn't of threatened to throw the next one he gave me through the window.       My sister (you remember her house, right?) gave me this garden bench and the pedestals and antique urns (hard to see the urns through the luscious plants)  when she moved to a high rise a few years ago.  Now that she's back on the ground, I've offered to return this vignette to her (half-heartedly really - I very lamely offered to give it back.)  So far, thankfully, she has refused my most generous offer. 

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Come to think of it, she gave me this too when she moved (God, I'm such a mooch! And Cathy - I am not giving this back!) - an antique wire plant stand.   Last year I decided to try all green plants on the stand, no more flowers.  Not a great look - I need to freshen these pots up.  Blue and white pot from Wisteria, not Cathy.

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Last year I planted caladiums (well the garden man planted them - I ordered them - he even got that wrong since I ordered  green and white caladiums and got pink and green instead.)   Surprisingly, the caladiums are back this spring!  So exciting to get something for nothing!   Do you see a theme here?    And, for added fun, you can play a  game:  "find the poop" - I just noticed that little Sammie Jo has left a package on the gravel.    First one to find the poop - wins it!!!!  Shipping included, free.


Oh Sammie Jo - you're such a bad girl! 

And psst. you need to go on a diet, too!   

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Looking towards the right of the courtyard.   

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Same angle, just a wider shot of the patio to the right.  You can see the columns on the right side - those used to have evergreen wisteria growing on them - which we trained patiently for 14 years.  This spring we removed all the vines after we noticed that the only thing nesting in them were rodents.  Yes.  Lovely,  I know.  But true.  And don't judge me until you've gone out in your back yard late at night.  Trust me, you have them too.

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And a view to the left.  Here you can see the beautiful antique urns next to the bench.

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This cute planter with the fleur de lis was a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law, Michelle.  Not sure if I ever thanked you - but thanks, Michelle!  I love it,  as you can see.  Michelle has a new blog here.  Check it out - it's great! 

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My office!  And that Starbucks is NOT a styling prop!  Table and chairs from Wisteria.

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The hydrangeas in the front yard are starting to come to life.  You can just see the buds of the flowers in the center.    Can't wait for those.

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Just underneath our address plaque, you can make out the Star of Texas brass plate that my other sister-in-law Shannon (remember her house?) gave me for Christmas one year.   Ben and I like to pretend it's actually a State of Texas Historical Marker, such jokesters.

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My window box in the front yard.   This actually looks pretty good for once.  I've contemplated just putting fake ivy and flowers in here - it's so hard to keep this box looking pretty all year long.

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Our front yard tree.  It's just now getting it's leaves back after winter.  That's the top of my two story roof on the left.  The tree is an old water oak and it's the reason we bought this particular lot to begin with.   It's a huge responsibility to have a tree this old and large.    Each spring we have a tree professional come trim it and feed it.    We have another, smaller water oak on our lot that grew from an acorn dropped off  from the older tree.  And when we tore down the house on this lot to build our home, my mother-in-law salvaged a lot of the plants.  One thing she took was a tiny plant that grew from an acorn from this tree.  She planted it in her back yard and 17 years later, her water oak is quite tall.  The tree is called "Elisabeth's Tree" after my daughter who just turned 17 the other day.  Happy Birthday to Lizzy and her tree!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Houston Bloggers Have the Most Fun!!


Courtney, Ronda, Moi, Paloma, and Carolina

Dinner at the new Armando's on Westheimer at Kirby

It's becoming something of a tradition that the girls from Houston who write design blogs get together to share a meal and some laughs.  It was my fourth time being with different Houston bloggers, and the first time we've all been together as a group.  This Thursday night, we hosted Ronda of All the Best blog.  Ronda, originally from Houston, now lives with her husband and son in Scotland, but she still makes a few trips a year home to visit family.  We're a pretty motley crew - aged from 25 to 53 (guess who?) But, oddly enough, age doesn't define us.  Our commonality is, of course, our blogs, and all the trials and tribulations that come from blogging. 

Ronda, is the go getter of the bunch, anxious to take blogging to the next level - she's succeeding at making her dreams a reality.  The rest of us are in awe of Ronda.   

Carolina, of the Carolina Eclectic blog, is an interior designer with a mid-century-modern bent.  She is calm by nature and very interesting to talk to.  She belongs to Houston Mod and as such is very knowledgeable about mid-century design in Houston. 

Paloma, well, Paloma what can I say? - So pretty, absolutely beautiful,  she's certainly the jewelry at any dinner table.  Writer of the La Dolce Vita blog, she teaches pre AP Spanish at a public high school but excitedly announced she is leaving teaching for real estate.  Good luck Paloma! 

And then there's Courtney of Inside the Loop. Courtney is  the Energizer Bunny of the lot.  Full of joie de vie, she recently hosted an outdoor movie party in her back yard for her neighbors. For her trek to Round Top, she borrowed an RV and took another blogger from Florida, along with their husbands, for a weekend of fun.  Fun?  Sleeping in an RV with perfect strangers?  OH YES!!!! Courtney assured me it was a blast.

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Ronda and Courtney

Meeting up with other bloggers isn't something I had planned on doing when I started my blog last year, but it's been one of the more fun rewards that's come with my blog.   Paloma has named us The Mutual Admiration Society - and what a great name it is!  We do have a certain respect for each other, perfect strangers with truly only one thing in common - our blogs.  But that's enough for us!    See y'all this summer!!

spring 004 

Paloma, Ronda and Carolina

UPDATE: Veronica Hearst

The scuttlebutt among the hoity toity denizens of the Upper East Side has reached a fever pitch in regards to the rumored sale of Veronica Hearst's lavish co-op at 4 East 66th Street. Someone in the know is apparently whispering similar stuff to Mister Max Abelson at the New York Observer that Your Mama heard through the gossip grapevine the other day.

Iffin the ladee who lunches needs a ridiculously discreet place to hole up and ride out the publicity, Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter would like to offer Miz Hearst our guest bedroom...because no one, and we mean no one, would ever expect Miz Hearst to be shacking up with Your Mama.

In all seriousness, if Miz Hearst does indeed sell her giant apartment we sincerely hope all her financial difficulties will be cleaned up, cleared up and a nothing but an uglee memory.

A Wee Bit of Weekend Mish Mash

Your Mama hears whispered through the gossip grapevine that P-Diddy or Puff Daddy or Diddle Daddle–or whatever damn moniker the hugely successful East Coast based entrepreneur has chosen to go by this year–is sniffing around for a high priced property in some of the hillier and more desirable zip codes in Los Angeles.

Oscar winning Australian actor and pugilist Russell Crowe must have moved out of the former N. Alpine Drive compound that had been previously leased by Tom Crooz. The 9 bedroom and 9 bathroom house (pictured above) sits on 3 manicured and prime Bev Hills acres and the owner is asking a spine tingling $100,000 per month.

Not that saving money is any concern of his, but sounds like Mister Prince could have saved some serious purple paper money if he'd leased this heavily secured house rather than (reportedly) forking over a shocking $200,000 per month for that behemoth in Beverly Park.

In additional rental news, Your Mama's favorite Hollywood hottie of a certain age Sharon Stone is offering to lease a house she owns–but has never occupied as far as we know–for $58,000 per month. Located on five glorious acres at the terminus of N. Beverly Drive, poor Miss Stone has been trying to sell this real estate white elephant (pictured above) for about as long as Your Mama has been alive. Given that the baby-maker flashing AIDS activist and single mommy of three remains ensconced in her long time compound over on Dawnridge Drive, we can't fathom why she bought this house back in 2006 to begin with. But if we've said it once we've said it a thousand times, who are we to make sense of the fickle real estate desires and machinations of the rich and famous...particularly when we're talking about a capricious minx like Miz Stone?

Since we're blathering on about rental properties today, let's go back to the teeny tiny house on Carbon Beach that billionaire David Geffen recently purchased from merely rich restaurateur Peter Morton. Our Fairy Godmother in Malee-boo whispered in our big ear that immediately after forking over $9,800,000 for the 2 bedroom house, Mister Geffen offered it out for lease at $15,000 per month (year round). Your Mama can't be sure the monthly checks Mister Geffen receives from the tenant show that exact number, but given its sa-weet location amongst all the billionaires on Carbon Beach, Your Mama presumes they do.

Just so the children of the Chicken Little variety don't feel left out this morning, let's touch on the heavenly Hollywood Hills house that Naomi Foner and Stephen Gyllenhaal have on the market. Miz Foner and Mister Gyllenhaal are, of course, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal's mommy and daddy. However, they are also successful and respected industry types in their own right. Located on Mulholland Drive near the northern tip of Runyon Canyon, the couple first offered their warmly contemporary single story digs with an asking price of $4,200,000. They recently ka-rah-tay chopped the asking priced all the way down $3,795,000. Does this reflect the current state of the market or rather a sincere desire by Miz Foner and Mister Gyllenhaal to sell the property quickly? You decide. Whatever the case, this is one of our favorite celeb owned properties and if Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter had $3,795,000 to spend on a house, we do we would certainly consider this one.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Prince Leases Giant House in Beverly Park

According to the gurls who write the Wall Street Journal's Private Properties column, high heel wearing rock star royalty Prince recently leased this house in the guard gated Beverly Park community for $200,000...

...Per month.

Can you hear Your Mama gasping for air and reaching for the nerve pills?

Two hundred thousand dollars is a lot of damn money for to lease a place to live and throw parties even if the house measures in at around 30,000 square feet. The "Tuscan-style" extravagance is also available to purchase for a blistering $50,000,000. Property records, reports and rumors all say that the owner of the home is George Santopietro, who built the behemoth on speculation.

Prince may be special, but he isn't the only royal on this particular Beverly Park block. Several of the homes across the street are owned by the Saudi royal family. On one side of Prince's temporary palace is Rockstar Energy Drink founder Russ Weiner, who forked over $15,000,000 for his 16,000 (approx.) square foot house in February 0f 2007, and on the other side is the above mentioned Mister Santopietro, who was once married to letter turner Vanna White.

UPDATE LATER SAME WEEK: Your Mama heard from Mister Sunshine that Mister Prince only leased this house for one month during which he and his people threw a may-jah party for the Academy Awards. So maybe one of you Bev Park le can shoot us an email and let us know if His Petite Purpleness is (or is not) shacking up in Mister Santopietro's spec house.

Your Mama Hears...

...from A Girl Named Ted that pop starlet slash new mommy Christina Aguilera and her music executive huzband Jordan Bratman have quietly put their former residence on Devlin Drive in the Hollywood Hills on the market with a $7,995,000 price tag.

If the children put on their thinking caps, they will recall that in August of 2007 Mister and Missus Bratman made the rather unexpected choice to fork over $11,500,000 for the 11,571 square foot Bev Hills mansion of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. Perhaps Miss X-Tina was drawn to all the religious iconography carved into the doors and floors? Maybe she liked the gated motor court where they can unload baby Bratman from their gas guzzling white Rolls Royce without being photographed? Or maybe they are just not bothered by buses that roll slowly by while tourists act foolish and hang out of windows snap, snap, snapping with their Leicas? Who knows?

Anyhoo, property records reveal that Miss Aguilera purchased the Steve Hermann designed digs at the top of Devlin Drive in April of 2003 for an undisclosed sum of money although reports from the time indicate it was around $5,000,000. We've also heard from A Girl Named Ted that Miss Courtney Cox looked at this place before it was quickly snatched up–furniture and all–by Miss X-Tina. Prior to Mister Herman giving the place an overhaul, the Devlin Drive house was owned by producer Jack Haley Jr., who is perhaps better known in some circles for having once been married to the lovable show bizness train wreck that is Liza Minelli, a senior citizen who can still high kick it like she's 45 years old thanks to new hips.
Anyhoo, we digress yet again. Your Mama has yet to locate a listing for the Devlin Drive property, but records and reports indicate that there are 5 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms in the 5,411 square foot house (some reports say 6,500 square feet) as well as living and dining rooms, a screening lounge with wet bar, a 25 foot waterfall, and unobstructed views. Your Mama located photos on the designer's website that reveal that Mister Hermann did what he always does to houses in the Hollywood Hills, which is transform them into sleek and sexy celebrity style residences with textured palettes of taupe, mushroom, brown and beige.

We've got a tufted wall of mushroom colored velvet in the media area, a fireplace surround that appears to be made of brushed aluminum (or some other metal), a Carrara marble clad master bathroom, acres of shag rugs, a kitchen straight out of an Italian design magazine, lots of down filled leather furniture in the living room, a custom fitted closet and a dark bottomed swimming pool sunk into the large terrace that overlooks the twinkling lights of Tinseltown below.

If the children have kept their thinking caps strapped on, they might also recall that Mister Hermann is the man responsible for the Nightingale Drive nest for which billionaire Larry Ellison recently paid a record breaking $12,600,000 to purchase as a gift to his lucky daughter Megan. Mister Hermann also did over the house immediately next door to Miss Megan's new crib that media mogul Byron Allen has been trying to unload for over a year.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dwayne Wade Lists Pinecrest Palace

SELLER: Dwayne Wade Jr.
LOCATION: SW 59th Place, Pinecrest, FL
PRICE: $4,999,000
SIZE: 9,035 square feet, 7 bedrooms, 7 full and 1 half bath
DESCRIPTION: Once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase NBA All Star home, Dwayne Wade's home in Pinecrest. Totally furnished with personal memorabilia.

YOUR MAMAS NOTE: Just between us chickens, Your Mama has been bending over backwards, forwards and sideways trying to handle our personal and professional bizness and attend to the brutal needs of the celebrity real estate obsessed. However, we can't be all things to all people at all times so we'd appreciate it if those naughty and nasty few (who know who they are) would stop sending Your Mama emails just to let us know you think we're a "lazy bitch." Seriously people, do you think we got nuthin' else to do but sit around and write this shit? Please. So unless you want to start writing the checks to pay our mortgages, vet bills and BMW payments, we do not want to hear it.

Now then, with that off our heaving chest, let's move on down to a place called Pinecrest, Flaw-ri-duh where an NBA all star basketball player named Dwayne Wade has put his crib on the market with a $4,999,000 asking price. All the children surely know by now that Your Mama knows as much about professional basketball as the devil knows about doin' right. So after being informed by our research queen B.S. Beaverman about Mister Wade's listing, we quickly consulted both the internets and our ball crazy buddy Fiona Trambeau for some basic 411 on the six foot four shooting guard from the Miami Heat they call Flash.

The internets told Your Mama that Esquire magazine has twice included young Mister Wade Jr. on their list of best dressed dudes, that the baby faced b-baller is soon headed for the court of dee-vorce and also that there is also salacious scuttlebutt circulating that he's dating formerly fat (but still sorta scary) Star Jones who recently filed for a dee-vorce from her well groomed huzband Al Reynolds. Miz Trambeau, on the other hand, offered Your Mama one of her typically snide and sickly cynical nuggets about Mister Wade Jr. saying, "He's a good looking young Christian man who gives wads of money to his church and in my book anyone who gives that much money to God is hiding something besides all of his basketball equipment." Oh dear. That's what we get for asking Fiona Trambeau a question when she's severely hung over after a long, durrty night at The Transfer.

Anyhoo, property records reveal that Mister Wade Jr. and his soon to be ex-wife Siohvaughn (pronounced shi-vahn) purchased the .94 acre property in July of 2005 for $3,975,000. A report in the Wall Street Journal discusses a legal brouhaha in which the developer of the house sued Mister and Missus Wade claiming they had not coughed up an additional $150,000 in improvements to the spec built property. The Wade's subsequently filed a counterclaim. We don't know the outcome of the drama, and if we're being honest, we don't much care.

Listing information for the 9,035 square foot mansion labels it a "contemporary colonial," an architectural style that, quite frankly, Your Mama has never heard of before. Records show the house measures 10,409 square feet with 6 bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms. However, listing information indicates 9,035 square feet with 7 bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms. Your Mama does not know why the discrepancy, but it might (might, children, might) have to do with the detached guest house adjacent to the backyard swimming pool.

Guest are greeted in the grandiose and designed to impress entrance foyer that features a double circular stairway and a custom floor medallion with the letter "W," a decorating detail only a professional sports star could love and one that neither Your Mama nor any nice gay decorator we know would ever suggest, recommend or allow.

The rest of the rooms seen in the photos hardly looked lived in and the chenille throw laid across the white leather recliner in the home thee-ay-ter reveals the all too obvious hand of a property stager. What Your Mama would really like to know is who exactly is responsible for deciding on and disseminating the notion that a chenille throw casually strewn across any and every piece of furniture says "home" to a potential buyer?

Upstairs in the master suite, which includes a giant beige tiled bathroom, we are genuinely mortified to find a circular bed. This children, is an item of furniture that can actually work in honeymoon suites of cheesy motels in the Poconos and/or in glitzy high roller suites in Las Vegas. However, Your Mama knows deep in our snarky soul that circular beds should not be installed in private homes. Anywhere. Ever. None the less Your Mama expects and sorta hopes that somewhere in the headboard is a tiny slot where one can drop a quarter to start the bed vibrating and rotating.

Interlocking pavers surround the pleasingly rectangular swimming pool that unfortunately features Mister Wade Junior's nickname "Flash" spelled out in custom tile work on the bottom. This is another questionable decorating notion that will be bothersome and costly for the next owner to fix.

Listing information indicates that the sale of Mister Wade Jr.'s home includes selected personal memorabilia, a sales tactic that Your Mama seldom sees. We got nuthin' against young and rich Mister Wade Junior. However, if we were in the market for a giant house in Pinecrest, FL–which we can assure you we will never be–tossing in an elaborately framed jersey and a few signed basketballs* would not be much of an enticement to sign on the five million dollar dotted line. A better notion might actually be for Mister Wade to bite the financial bullet and have that meddlesome medallion and all that custom tile work on the bottom of the swimming pool removed so that the new owner is relieved of the burden and cost of fixing that crap after closing on the property.

We imagine, but have no knowledge, that the sale of this property has more to do with Mister Wade's impending dee-vorce and less to do with any shifting professional associations. Whatever the case, we sincerely wish Mister Wade Junior's real estate agent is able to locate a well to do fan who's willing to cough up considerable cash to live with all that ka-razy customization.

YOUR MAMAS UPDATE: We did not at first realize that the lovelies at Luxist had actually discussed Mister Wade's property last year when it first hit the market with a sky high asking price of $8,900,000. The children will note that Luxist posted additional photos of the Wade crib that show a circular shaped glass elevator, a Spiderman themed bathroom and a truly bizarro (and wrong wrong wrong) mural of a shirtless Mister Wade located in a small niche in off the entrance foyer. We know Mister Wade was just a child himself when he came into all his basketball money so perhaps he went a little nuts on the day-core because, well, that's what very young people with money do sometimes. But Jeezis, Mary and Joseph, where was his mother or his nice gay decorator to step on the brakes of reason?

*Your Mama has no knowledge or information about what items of personal memorabilia may are may not be included in the sale.

Stalking the Wheats

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As most of my friends know, I have a slight (well, ok - it's not so slight) addiction to Starbucks coffee.  Two or three (sometimes four or five -  I can't lie) times a day I go to the drive-through Starbucks in my neighborhood, West University.  Instead of driving there on the main streets, I drive down the side streets, admiring the homes on my way.    I have a few favorite houses on my route and one,  in particular, caught my attention as it was being built.   At first it was the white stucco exterior with its stone foundation that I noticed.   As time went on and the building progressed, each detail the owners added made it seem like a special home, one that I would love:   they added gray, french wood shutters to the  windows, and then they added a most charming wooden gate for the driveway.   Next - the owners put in French styled landscaping - all green - with box woods.   After they had moved in, whenever I drove by the house, I would slow my car to a crawl, craning my neck to try to see inside the white stuccoed home that had so captured my imagination.  Through their windows, I could make out some of their furnishings -  first, there was a screen in the living room, and then I could see an oversized mirror.  Next - I noticed the dining room's antique light fixture which furthered my suspicions that this was a house I would love - inside and out.  By the time the sheer, linen curtains were hung - the deal was sealed - I was an official stalker and somehow, I had to finagle my way into the home to see it first hand.

As luck would have it, Anthea, my sister-in-law's sister (Cote de Texas readers may remember her house featured here) lived almost across the street from my stalk-ees.  One day, Anthea casually mentioned to me that her new neighbor read my blog and wanted to meet me.  Emails were exchanged and we set a date - finally,  after stalking these poor people and their house for over a year, they were actually going to invite me inside.  I'm sure had they known of my obsession with their white stuccoed home, the invitation would have been rescinded.

And so this is how I came to be in Sally Wheat's home:  me - a total weirdo taking pictures of a stranger's house.  I can't imagine what her husband thought when he came home and walked into the scene.   Sally was delightful and claimed to be excited that I was going to put her in my blog;  but truthfully, I'm not convinced she meant it.     Her 7 year old daughter couldn't have been more friendly, even offering to show me the toilets.  As pathetic as it must sound, I was actually interested in seeing those, too.     Sally, an interior designer, furnished her own house, of course.   After such a build up on my part, the house could have been a disappointment, but it wasn't.   In fact, it was more charming than I had imagined.  Bathed in grays and creams and taupes, with gleaming white walls, and antique painted furniture - the interiors lean towards the ever-growing-in-popularity Belgian style of design.   The Wheats also own a beach house on Boliver Island which Sally admitted was "really cute."  Unfortunately, Boliver Island is a little out of the way for drive-by stalking, but Sally promised me we would get together this summer so that I could bring you pictures from their beach house.  Below, I hope you enjoy the Wheat's home in West University:


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The Object of My Obsession:  The stucco exterior of the Wheat's house which first caught my attention.  I love the stacked stone foundation, the stone walkway, the boxwoods, the wisteria, the paneled wood door, and the gas lanterns. - all details which make the exterior special.

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  When these french styled shutters were installed, I knew the house was going to be unique - not your typical, everyday, West University stucco house.

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The clincher:  the driveway gate.  Most West University homes have iron gates on their driveways.  This wooden gate is utterly charming.   A matching gate on the opposite side of the house leads to the back yard.

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The stalker is actually allowed inside!  The front room - instead of a sofa, Sally has four chairs.  The rug (probably seagrass) is on hold until the puppy is housetrained.  The drapes throughout the house are unlined Belgian linen which were purchased at Indulge Decor in Houston.

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The antique screen which is visible from the front window.  I would drive by and see the screen and know that I would love the interiors!  This screen was purchased at Thompson + Hanson in Houston.   I actually remember this screen from when it was for sale there.

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An iron table sits between two white chairs.  A trendy crown shares space with pottery.

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The French lantern in the entry hall was purchased from Chateau Domingue.  The dining room is to the right of the front door when you walk in.

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A vignette in the entry hall - antique bench, pottery, and mirror.

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The dining table was custom made, copied from a picture found in The World of Interiors.  French mouton leg chairs are slipcovered.

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The large mirror that caught my eye as I did my drive-bys.  The darling puppy looks out the front window - maybe guarding against other stalkers driving by with craned necks?  

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The beautiful antique chandelier is the focal point of the dining room.

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A wall of framed botanicals in the dining room.

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Two vintage starburst mirrors are layered over the larger mirror.

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The kitchen:  honed, statuary marble counter tops with white subway tiles for the backsplash.  The two pendant lights are from Belgium, via Brown, a fabulous Houston shop that specializes in light fixtures.  

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The kitchen shelves are without doors. 

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I love this faucet and the farm sink with it's single bowl.

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The breakfast room has another light fixture from Brown.

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Painted furniture and horns in this vignette.

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The iron staircase was fauxed to resemble pewter.

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Another vignette:  this one features a wall of portraits of strangers, not family!

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A view of the family room overlooking the back yard.  The two slipcovered sofas are extra long, again reminiscent of the popular Belgian style.

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The family room:  the two sets of doors are antique shutters from Bill Gardner of Houston.  The cross on the coffee table was designed by Sally Wheat using driftwood she collects on Boliver Island.

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View of the family room looking towards the staircase.

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The TV is hidden behind the antique shutters.  Also housed there is Sally's butterfly collection.

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The backyard is mostly a patio.

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The powder room is tiny, but there's room for a Louis Phillipe antique mirror, a chandelier, and antique tiles from Chateau Domingue.

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The charming powder room sink is made of stone.  The faucets are installed in the wall instead of the counter.

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The upstairs guest room, all in greens and reds.  All bedrooms upstairs have wall to wall seagrass in the basket weave pattern.

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Sally's darling daughter's bedroom.  The chest was painted by James Farmer, from Houston.

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The master bedroom is, like the rest of the house, all in cream, mushroom and taupe.  The headboard is tufted and upholstered.   Curtains here, as in the rest of the house, are from Indulge Decor of Houston.

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Sally's painted white desk and Ghost chair.

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The bathroom is all white carrara marble and mirrors.  I love how the doors are mirrored in this built in chest.

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The cabinet doors in the vanities are screened.

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The children's playroom over the garage connects through the master bedroom closet.  A work in progress, the carpet is the trendy antelope print.


I hope you enjoyed Sally's house as much as I did!  Besides being an interior designer (and if you are interested in contacting Sally, email me and I'll forward it on to Sally)  she has recently opened a booth selling antiques and decorative items at Antiques and Interiors on Dunlavy.  Below, are a few items from her booth:

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A pair of beautiful antique, gilt arm chairs, upholstered in while muslin.

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A Wheat designed cross, make from Boliver Island driftwood.

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Painted white chest, assorted statutes and artwork.

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Gilt bench, covered in linen.

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A pair of vintage chairs newly upholstered in a trendy trellis fabric.

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One of a pair of driftwood lamps, designed by Sally Wheat.

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Finally, a standing lamp, made of driftwood, designed by Sally Wheat.

Looking around at other booths at Antiques and Interiors on Dunlavy, I spotted several items that reminded me of Sally's home:

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Antique shutters - these are similar to the shutters found in Sally's family room.

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A pair of candlesticks similar to those found on Sally's dining room table.

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One of Houston's favorite antique dealers, Annette Schatte also recently opened a booth here.    Here, Schatte sells mirrors that are similar to the antique mirrors found in Sally's home.   The iron candelabra is similar to the one found in the Wheats' family room.

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Schatte is selling this French lantern, similar to the one hanging in Sally's entry hall.

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A dark wood dining room table with a hand planed table top is reminiscent of the one in Sally's dining room.

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And lastly, one more lantern from Annette Schatte.

To learn more about Belgian style interior design, the web site has a large library of coffee table  books for sale.  Published in Belgium, the books are gorgeous with page after page of interiors in the Belgian style that is rapidly gaining in popularity, giving rise to the saying "Belgian is the new Sweden."