Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Russia's $99,000,000 House

The Russian stock market is having a melt down and here in the good ol' U.S. of A Wall Street is in an utter panic over the bail out brouhaha, but that's not stopping at least one mega-moneyed Russian oligarch from dropping a chomper chattering $99,000,000 on a seven-plus story townhouse in Moscow.

No children, Your Mama did not key in the wrong numbers, that's $99,000,000.

According to a recent report from the big living boys and gurls at Baller House, the approximately 14,000 square foot townhouse is part of something called the Chistie Prudy (Clean Ponds) which appears to Your Mama to be a residential complex of obscenely priced apartments and townhouses in the center of Moscow and within walking distance of the Kremlin. The townhouse is reported to contain 5 bedrooms, 5 full and 3 half bathrooms, a swimming pool in the basement, a winter garden on the roof and an entire floor for the children because, apparently, really rich Russians prefer to keep the kiddies out of the way.

The billionaire buyer has not been named but according to a Moscow real estate agent, he's a low profile tycoon who is around 40 years old.

Let's put this purchase in perspective. According to Reuters India, the average monthly income for Russians is just below $700. A few clicks of the beads on our beloved and bejeweled abacus reveals that it would take the average Russian 11,785 years to come up with the $99,000,000 to buy this house.

Now that's just sad, ain't it?

Max Mutchnick Gets Lucky in Manhattan

SELLER: Max Mutchnick and Erik Hyman
LOCATION: West 11th Street, New York, NY
PRICE: $4,100,000 (maintenance and common charges: $2,847/month)
SIZE: 1,750 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: This brilliantly warm pre-war home offers a sense of luxury and comfort at every turn. The meticulously designed South facing living room and formal dining room adjoin, looking over quiet and historic W. 11th Street in the heart of the Gold Coast. Superb eat-in kitchen for informal gathering. Two bedroom, both with en-suite baths.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: A little birdie we'll call Manhattan Mary recently whispered in Your Mama's big ear that Will and Grace co-creator and his unfortunately named man-mate Erik Hyman recently sold their Manhattan pied a terre for $4,100,000.

Most of the children will surely recall that over the last year or so Your Mama has discussed Mssrs. Mutchnick and Hyman's real estate comings and goings both ad infinitum and ad nauseum. But for those of you with memories the size of a garbanzo bean, we'll quickly recap:

Back in December of 2007 Misters Mutchnick and Hyman sold their exuberantly engineered house in Beverly Hills to talk show princess Ellen Degeneres and her newly wedded wifey Porta Di Rossi for a blistering $29,000,000. Then in June of 2008, the property mad men took their real estate and residual riches and scooped up tennis titan Pete Sampras' mansion on super swank Loma Vista Drive in Beverly Hills. Rumors and reports say that the real estate savvy gentleman managed to swing the 6 bedroom and 12 bathroom house for $16,980,000, a huge sum of money by any standards but nowhere near the $23,000,000 asking price. Someone in that family is clearly a very skilled negotiator.

Anyhoo, property records show the Misters Mutchnik and Hyman purchased a 6th floor unit in a reasonably posh, well maintained, and pet friendly building just of lower Fifth Avenue on West 11th Street in July of 2005 for $2,590,000. Listing information we managed to squeeze out of the interweb shows that that co-operative apartment measures (approx.) 1,750 square feet and includes two bedrooms and three bathrooms. (Yes children, we too can see that the floor plan shows 2.5 bathrooms.) The master bedroom includes four separate closets and a hotel sized bathroom large enough to turn a wheelchair, a nice feature for those of us in our advanced years. A confusing and catty wompus hallway runs between the master bedroom at the rear of the apartment and the impressive 38' long living and dining room space. A windowed kitchen is tucked up behind the dining room and appears large enough in which to put a small breakfast table, a rarity in most Manhattan apartments. For four million clams, we can only hope that kitchen has been stuffed full of very expensive and high grade appliances and cabinetry.

Although we know that many of you will loathe them with every fiber of your being, Your Mama l-o-v-e-s all them white walls which are perfect for hanging a small art collection and we love the pre-war proportions of the rooms. But for us, by far the most pleasing part of the co-operative apartment are the stunning herringbone patterned wood floors that have been given a lusterous and lovely finish. We can imagine the dee-light we would feel writhing around on those floors in our birthday suit, but that's really none of y'all biznes, is it?

Clearly the Misters Mutchnick and Hyman hired a nice gay decorator to come in and do up and do over their pied a terre in quasi masculine high homo style with Louis Vuitton trunks, zebra striped benches, well worn brown leather club chairs, velvet sofas and shiny lamp shades. Don't nobody misunderstand Your Mama. We'd live here in a heartbeat (cattywompus hallway and all), but we don't imagine anyone would mistake this for a heterosexual male's home.

What is perhaps most interesting about this sale is that the apartment was listed for $3,960,000 and Manhattan Mary swears it sold for $4,100,000. Although the apartment is listed as "sold" on Streeteasy, due to the fact that property records for the sale are yet to clear, we're unable to confirm that rather impressive (and surprising) $140,000 over the asking price number. If Manhattan Mary is right–and we think he is–Misters Mutchnick and Hyman got very lucky, didn't they?

Between the mortgage melt down and the bailout brouhaha it's interesting to note that some homes and apartments are somehow still selling for more than the asking price. In fact, according to the fine folks at Curbed, this is not the only apartment in the building at 15 West 11th Street that has recently gone to contract for more than the asking price. Yes, children, more.

As mentioned above, at the time of this discussion, prop records of the purchase have yet to clear so we were unable to suss out the buyer's name. We asked Manhattan Mary who the buyer is, natch, and he said it's just some billionaire with money to burn. Must be nice to be spending big as the Dow drops.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Your Mama Hears...

...that bling queen Kimora Lee Simmons has bought herself new house in Beverly Hills.

The children will recall it was only in August of 2007 that Miz Simmons unloaded her N. Doheny Drive manse and scooped up a new nest on guard gated Lime Orchard Road in the Beverly Hills Post Office that happens to sit right up next door to wannabe country crooner Jessica Simpson's California crib.

The children will also recall that nine months later, in early June of 2008, Miz Ants in Her Property Pants flipped the Lime Orchard Road residence back on to the market with an asking price of $7,750,000, a rather gutsy $1,850,000 price increase over the $5,900,000 she paid for the 5 bedroom and 8 bathroom house less than a year before.

Now we hear from a well connected tipster we'll call Danny Dishesdirt that the peripatetic Miz Simmons went out and dumped 8 figures on a 9,405 square foot house on a swanky Shadow Hill Way in the Bev Hills. The property was not listed on the open market.

According to Danny Dishesdirt, the bold, brassy and filthy rich dee-vorcée forked over $11,500,000 for what Mister Dishesdirt called a "tired 90s Medit. villa with a n/s tennis court."

Information Your Mama located on the property reveals that the model turned fashion dee-ziner's new walled, gated and humongously hedged house includes 7 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms, 4 fireplaces, a two story entrance hall, a mahogany paneled library, a ginormous screening room, a state of the art home gym, a wine cellar and an existing guest house. (Mister Dishesdirt also whispered in Your Mama's big ear that there are plans for a new guest house.) Your Mama is a little flummoxed that there does not appear to be a swimming pool on the property. Eleven million plus clams and no swimming pool? No thank you.

Your Mama, as well as several of the children, has already noted that the house on Lime Orchard Road has been removed from the Multiple Listing Service. Of course we don't have any idea why, but perhaps she's planning on staying put on Lime Orchard Road while the new house on Shadow Hill Way is gilded, glamorized, updated and upgraded to her her lavish standards? Could be.

As far as we know, Miz Simmons also still co-owns that outlandish monster mansion in Saddle River, NJ that she shared with her music mogul ex-huzband Russell Simmons which was last listed for sale with a wonky looking asking price of $19,888,000. The (approx.) 35,000 square foot mega-manse no longer seems to be listed.

Teen Aged Vanessa Hudgens Buys an Adult Sized House

BUYER: Vanessa Hudgens
LOCATION: Studio City, CA
PRICE: $2,750,000
SIZE: 5,200 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Spectacular old-world Tuscan, architectural manor with Moroccan influences & city light views. Engineer w/ caissons into bedrock, amazing custom stacked stone, saline Pebble-Tech pool/spa, waterfalls, cabana, bbq island, hardwood & stone floors, the ultimate gourmet kitchen, Thermador appliances, windows, copper sinks, Arte de Mexico wrought iron & glass doors wine cellar.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Your Mama has long heard whispers and rumors that 19 year old High School Musical ack-tress/wannabe pop star Vanessa Hudgens was looking to buy herself a house in the Hills of Hollywood. The paps frequently photographed the dark haired gossip glossy favorite touring multi-million dollar properties and several reports came out that she bought this house. But, according to our sources, she did not buy that house.

In early August of 2008 while strutting her starlet stuff in borrowed clothes at the Teen Choice Awards, young Miss Hudgens rather brazenly announced to E! Entertainment's super slim red carpet reporter Juliana Rancic that she was in the process of purchasing her first house. Not long after that, Your Mama received a secret communique from a gal we'll call Charity Chitchatter who whispered in Your Mama's big ear that she'd recently heard from someone who would know that Miss Hudgens had closed on her new house.

So Your Mama quickly got on the horn and contacted a few folks we thought might know what is what regarding Miss Hudgen's real estate doings and sho enuf we soon heard back from our wickedly well informed source Lucy Spillerguts who told us that the teen aged millionaire recently dumped $2,750,000 on a big house in Studio City, CA.

Property records show that in early September, young Miss Hudgens completed the transaction for an approximately 5,200 square foot house in the hills above Studio City that listing information reveals includes 6 bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms. Children, what in the world does an 19 year old gurl need with a 5,000+ square foot house with half a dozen bedrooms and 6.5 damn bathrooms?

Listing information also shows that in addition to all the bedrooms, Miss Hudgen's new abode includes a large entrance hall with a curving staircase where she can practice for her Norma Desmond years, living and dining rooms, a home office, a large gore-may kitchen that looks to Your Mama like it could be in just about any upscale tract house anywhere, a family room that opens to the rear terrace and pool deck, and a wine cellar which young Miss Hudgens will not be able to use for quite some time as she's not even old enough to buy liquor.

Other amenities of the teenager's three story abode include hardwood and stone floors, glittery views over the San Fernando Valley, three fireplaces, a three car garage where she can park her pricey Audi convertible, multiple terraces overlooking the back yard and all sorts of wrought iron detailing Your Mama assumes is an attempt to give the house a neo-Tuscan/faux Mediterranean/Moroccan mish-mash sort of vibe. Ack! Listen people, you can't just slap a tile roof on a house an fill it with wrought iron railings and call it Tuscan because we have been to Tuscany and we are certain there are not many (if any) houses in Tuscany that look quite like this. But then again, Miss Hudgens is just a bizzy teen aged ack-tress giddy and flush with fame and while she may well know a Louboutin from a Blahnik and True Religion from Rock and Republic, what does the gurl know about architecture? Seriously. We imagine her real estate agent could have told her this was High Gothic Georgian-style Center Hall Colonial Revival and what would she know, right?

Anyhoo, Miss Hudgen's terraced back yard features a beautifully blue saline swimming pool and spa where she can skinny dip in private after spending the afternoon slapping down the credit card at Fred Segal, a barbecue island, whatever that is, and a cabana where she and boy beau Zac Efron can quietly comb each other's hair and paint each other's toe nails in the shade.

If anyone were to ask Your Mama, which of course no one did, we think it might have been more financially prudent for young Miss Hudgens to purchase something a bit more modest in price and size. Certainly she could have found a cute three bedroom cottage in a solid Studio City neighborhood for 1.5 million, right? Afterall, the Disney people will eventually stop making High School Musical movies and then what is young Miss Hudgens going to do to make her mortgage? Sing? Pleeze.

Previous to scooping up her own celebrity style spread, young Miss Hudgens shacked up with her parents in the 2,385 square foot North Hollywood house prop records indicate they purchased in September of 2005 for $865,000. It must be kinda surreal to have your teen aged daughter buy a house worth more than three times the value of your own house. Not bad, just strange. Right?


P.S. Thanks to one of Your Mama's children we stand corrected. Miss Hudgens is 19 going on 20 and not the 18 years old that we first thought (and reported). We used our fingers rather than our bejeweled abacus and we counted incorrectly. But whatever. She's still 19 damn years old, which is awfully young to be buying a 6 bedroom house. Imagine what it's going to be like for her roaming and rattling around in there all alone as the house creaks and groans as it settles on its caissons. It makes Your Mama lonely just to think about it.

Group Sibuet - Romantic French Hotels- Part 2


Jocelyn and Jean Louis Sibuets latest hotel venture is the Villa Marie located in the mountains right above St. Tropez, France.  The original hotel located on the property was a run down wreck when the Sibuets purchased the complex.  As always, Jean Louis was in charge of the renovations, while Jocelyn took care of the decorating and today the once run down hotel is now rated first class.  Nestled in the pine tree hills above the coast, the hotel is perfect for those who want to be near the bustling tourist area, but  crave a more private base  away from the crowds.  The hotel, located in the quaint area of Ramatuelle, overlooks the Baie de Pampelonne, and is a quick mile away from the playground of  hip Saint-Tropez.  Movie stars and socialites are flocking to the four year old Villa Marie for its quiet seclusion and very romantic atmosphere.

Among the changes made to the hotel by Jean Louis is a restaurant and a bar area.  He also created an outdoor dining terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Ocean.  A swimming pool was built, fashioned out of the rocky hillside.  The guest rooms were knocked down to their studs and rebuilt with a most unique floorplan:  the bathroom is exposed and is the first area encountered when entering the room, the bedroom area is next leading to a private balcony in most rooms.  Each guest room has unique furnishings  - no two rooms are alike.   Jocelyne, famous for her keen design sense, does not disappoint here.    The hotel is quaint, the grounds are gorgeous.  The Sibuets have planted thousands of trees to add to the lush Provencal style landscaping.  Rows of lavender line the gravel drive leading into the hotel and hydrangeas are planted throughout the property.  Cacti and other succulents are also plentiful.  The hotel boasts a spa with two log cabins built in the pine woods for more private treatment rooms.

The food is excellent, though quite expensive, as each review I read made a point of saying.  A single bottle of water is 10 euros - and this was taken from a two year old review!!!!  The staff  gets consistently rave reviews for friendliness and attentiveness.   Reviewers state that the hotel looks as great in person as on the web site, something that isn't always the case.  A four star rated hotel, this one is another hit for the Group Sibuet and it looks absolutely wonderful to me!



Jocelyne Sibuet, Hotel Villa Marie owner and interior designer.



The main building is an ochre colored stucco.  The garden paths surrounding the hotel are gravel.  The complex sits in a pine forest, though the Sibuets have planted thousands of trees of different varieties.



The same view, at dusk, where votives in lanterns light the paths.  Notice the beautiful iron balconies and the terra cotta roof.



At at night, fully lighted and so romantic.



Stacked limestone was used for the retaining walls, adding to the French Provencal charm.  Huge pine trees and cypress dot the landscape.




The view of the ocean from the swimming pool.




One side of the swimming pool was carved out of the rock. 



The other side is a wooden deck.



Outside dining overlooking the Mediterranean Ocean.



Another outside dining spot amid the lavender and cypress trees.  The bright stucco hotel can be seen in the background.  So Provencal!



A greenhouse added next to the main hotel is stocked with various succulents.



Fresh towels delivered to rooms next to a unique fountain in the gardens.




Jean Louis built the bar with glass walls that open to the fresh air.  Seagrass furniture with white cushions and turquoise pillows complete the decor.  This room was designed to simulate the feel of being on a boat at sea, as the bar overlooks the ocean.



Jean Louis decorated the bar with shells placed one by one by hand.




The dining room is also a new building added to the complex by Jean Louis.   Notice the iron dining room chairs used here.  They are very vintage and romantic in feel.



A corner of the dining room, overlooking the grounds. 



Jean Louis designed this terrace adjoining the dining room for outdoor meals.  Lanterns provide soft lighting.  The food gets excellent ratings at the hotel, the prices do not!



The Spa.  Besides these treatment rooms, additional rooms are located in the woods in newly built log cabins.  Again, vintage style iron furniture mixed with Louis XV chairs, lend a decidedly romantic feel to the decor. 



Dining on the arched terrace.  I love this outdoor furniture - it also looks vintage.  Pots of hydrangeas line the half walls.  Wisteria hangs from the roof.  The tiled floor is terra cotta.



A close up of the hydrangea plants that are growing throughout the property.  Notice the lovely opaque blue plates that this table is set with.  Just beautiful!



The arched stucco walkway leads to the lobby and main living areas of the hotel. 



The main living area is furnished with an Italian styled tete-a-tete and banquettes.  Notice the beautiful armoire doors built into the walls.  The black wood mantel is decorated with shells and sea fans.  To the right is the open aired dining area. 



A view of the opposite side of the open air lobby.




A vignette that Jocelyne is famous for.  Here shell filled urns sit next to coral.  I love the way the lantern is placed leaning against the wall. 




Another vignette in the lobby area.  A large shell encrusted mirror sits behind two caned French chairs. 



And another vignette, this time a large console is set with shells inside glass apothecary jars. 



More hydrangeas.  Notice the iron balconies and the lanterns on the wall behind. 




Each of the 42 guest rooms are decorated differently.  Here bright red and white striped fabric was used.  In most of the rooms, the bathroom walls were removed and they were left open to the sleeping area.  Additionally, balconies were added to many rooms.




In this room, an iron four poster bed was used.  Again, the bathtub is open to the bedroom, partially closed off by linen curtains.



This room was decorated using hydrangea inspired colors.  Though the headboard looks as if it was created out of molding nailed to the walls - a great idea to incorporate in one's own home - it's wood is actually painted the same color as the walls.




The other side of the hydrangea colored guest room.  Notice the beautifully carved crown molding. 



This guest room was decorated using pale blue striped fabric.  In many rooms the lamps were created out of urns.



More vintage inspired iron furniture used in one of the guest rooms.




This guest room has an iron four poster dressed in white linens.  A patterned fabric was used for the curtains.  An antique drop leaf desk doubles as a night stand.



Vessels sinks were used in this bath area.   The small pendant lights are adorable!



A deep blue color was used in this room along with purple.  An antique console doubles as a night stand in this guest room.



A close up of the free standing tub in the middle of this guest room.  All toilets are actually behind closed doors for privacy.  Whew!  I was worried about that!!!!



And one final guest room - here you can see the wonderful terra cotta tiled floors that are used in many of the rooms.  Seagrass rugs are placed underneath the beds only. 




A map showing the proximity of the Villa Marie to St. Tropez.


Question:  How would you feel about a guest room with the bathroom exposed as these are here?  Would it matter to you?  Would you be comfortable in such a room?  Is this something that Europeans are more acclimated to than Westerners?    I think that, for myself, I would prefer to have a closed bathtub (and a shower at that!)  Even sharing the room with just my husband, I'm not sure I'm all that ready to watch him bathe and vice versa! 

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tony Gonzalez Lists House in Manhattan Beach

SELLER: Tony Gonzalez
LOCATION: 34th Street, Manhattan Beach, CA
PRICE: $3,999,000
SIZE: 3,465 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Huge rooftop deck that runs the length of the property. Ocean views from the interior. Big master bedroom. Giant four car garage with bonus storage room. Great kitchen, den and family room area. Lots of character. Two blocks to the sand.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Just the other day, based on a contact from someone we call Princess Sandypants, we discussed and dissected the Manhattan Beach house of professional baseball player Derek Lowe. Then yesterday, Your Mama recently received a second clandestine communique from the obviously well informed Princess Sandypants letting us know that another professional ball player had listed his Manhattan Beach house with an asking price of $3,999,000. This time the the property peddler is a professional pig skin player named Tony Gonzalez.

Not knowing a thing about professional football other than that the muscular men are usually stuffed like sausages into very thin capri pants through which you can often see their jock straps, Your Mama did not have a clue who this Tony Gonzalez person is. So early this morning, we rather unwisely dialed up our hard living and ball obsessed pal Fiona Trambeau on the Skype wires for a little 411 on Mister Gonzalez. We should have known better than to call Miss Trambeau before noon. While Miss Trambeau was, uhm, indisposed this early morning and could do little more than hurl scathing insults at us for bugging her while she was, uhm, entertaining, she did manage amid her foul-mouthed ranting and raving to get across that Mister Gonazalez plays the tight end position for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Tight end? What in the hell is a tight end? Of course Your Mama knows what a tight end is, but what kind of luridly suggestive job title is Tight End for the Kansas City Chiefs? And here we thought football was only for gentlemen of the butch and burly persuasion. A quick search of the interweb also informed us that in his position as a tight end Mister Gonzalez holds several impressive sounding NFL records for such things as most single season receptions for a tight end and most career touchdowns by a tight end. Being such a record breaker, he probably makes a lot of money, right?

Anyhoo, just as Princess Sandypants promised, property records do indeed show that the 3,465 square foot house on Manhattan Beach's 34th Street was purchased by an Anthony Gonzalez back in January of 2003 for $1,575,000. Upon seeing that number and comparing it against the property's current asking price of $3,999,000, Your Mama immediately consulted our bejeweled abacus whose well worn beads revealed that Mister Gonzalez is attempting to double down on his real estate investment after owning the 4 bedroom and 4 bathroom property for less than five years.

Ordinarily Your Mama would say this is outrageous and unrealistic, not to mention a little greedy grabby. However, the Dr. Cooter has some good lookin' and wonderfully bronzed cuzzins who did very well for themselves when they recently sold (and bought) some choice Manhattan Beach real estate. So before all you Chicken Littles start hollering and getting all in a snit about the sky falling–and if you watch CNN, it does sorta sound like the sky might be falling–remember that people with money to burn on real estate have always paid high unholy premiums to shack up a short distance to the sugar sandy beaches of southern California. And children, this house is just two itty bitty blocks to the shore.

Now then, let's have a look see at Mister Gonzalez's house. Listing information shows that in addition to the probably little used living and dining rooms, the house includes a large master bedroom, three additional family/guest bedrooms, and a large family room/den area in which Mister Gonzalez has put, yes children, a pool table. If there's anything that Your Mama loathes more than a pot rack it's a prominently placed pool table. Put it in the basement, put it in the garage, put it in its own room where you don't have to look at the ass uglee thing 24/7, but people, do not put a pool table in the damn family room. Ever. Did you hear that bachelor men? Not. Ever. We concede that putting the pool table in the family room is better than the living room, but really, that only makes the sorry situation marginally better in our snarky book. And the wet bar area? Holy cow children that thing looks to Your Mama like an unhappy marriage between a stuffy British pub and a tourist filled Mexican Margarita bar in Puerto Vallarta and it only adds to our dire need for a nerve pill and a giant pitcher of gin and tonics to wash it down.

What about the kitchen you ask? Well, it's certainly trying very hard to look dignified and distinguished, isn't it? We would have much preferred to see something a little lighter in tone, a lot less carved and not nearly as serious...this is a house at the beach after all.

On the other hand, the reedonkulously gigantic roof terrace is dee-voon. We love the long views of the shoreline, we adore that bed thing with the shade making slatted canopy, it was smart to include a built in barbecue area and the Dr. Cooter would think he'd died and gone to heaven sitting in that hot tub guzzling wine and listening to the pounding surf in the distance. The kitchen can (and in our estimation should) be replaced, but this view, children, can not.

Seriously kids, considering its plum location, awesome view, decent size and the fantabulous roof deck and despite all that fussy cabinetry and all those bile producing "chandeliers," this is not a bad house. All that crap can be fixed. And let's be honest, if someone can pay nearly four million buck for a house, they can afford a smart architect, a nice gay decorator and few hundred thousand to fix all those punishable crimes of cabinetry and interior design. Plus, there is a four car garage. Four! Anyone who has ever tried to park anywhere near the beach knows that having all that parking on your property in Manhattan Beach is worth a pretty penny or two.

Given that Mister Gonzalez was raised up in nearby Huntington Beach, it's hard to imagine he's giving up a beach house for the land locked horizons of Kansas City. But maybe he is. Then again, maybe he's just trading up to a bigger an better house at the beach. Who knows? Your Mama certainly don't, so don't any bahdee go reporting that we do. Because we don't. We only know that this house is for sale.

Now then, Your Mama has to git. We've got a full day of meetin' and greetin' ahead of us.

The Fabulous Flea

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The Fabulous Flea:  French antiques on Bammel Lane in Houston


Everyone loves their home, that goes without saying.  Your home is a reflection of who you are, what your style is, what colors you like, what kind of furniture you are drawn to.   Your home is your refuge, your safe place, the one spot you can go to and be with your family and feel contented, protected, and sheltered against the world.      We make our homes our nests and we're happy there.  But......(of course there is a but!) have you ever been  inside someone else's home and felt a pang of longing and desire, a thought that says "gosh, I could live here and be very happy, in fact I WANT to live here!"    And still more, "Gee, she's talented! What great taste she has.  Why haven't I ever done anything as stylish as she has?"   It's not a jealousy, it's an appreciation of beauty (ok, maybe it IS a jealousy - I'll be honest!)   And then, after your visit to this fabulous house, you go home, to your own beloved house that you've worked so hard on and fretted over, that you've designed and furnished .........and you think........"is there a gun anywhere?   I want to shoot myself!" 


I had just that feeling today while out antiquing.   A glimpse into another home, another style, another design aesthetic that gave me pause and made me think:      " hmmm.....can I please start all over again?"   Mary Daly lives in just that home, a wonderful resort inside the city limits, an architectural gem of a place, designed and built by none other than Houston great and legend Kurt Aichler.   I've yet to see an Aichler home that I haven't loved and this one certainly didn't disappoint.


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Isn't this the cutest license plate?


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Even the delivery  truck is cute!


So, why was I torturing myself at Mary Daly's house today?     Mary is an antique dealer.  She goes to Paris several times a year to meet up with her partner Pat  Sadoux, Ohio born, but for the past 45 years, a French wife and mother.  Together Mary and Pat scour the countryside of the south of France and the flea markets of Paris, and just about everywhere in between to gather up a unique assortment of antiques:  some refined, some more rustic, some just fun, but all wonderful.   The business is called the Fabulous Flea and for a few years they showed their wares at Antiques and Interiors on  Dunlavy.  That was until there was turn of events:   Mary's elderly next door neighbors moved out and the Daly's purchased their lot.  At that point, Aichler was again recruited  to design a guest house and an outside entertaining pavilion along with a pool.  The  newly built guest house now houses the Fabulous Flea and fabulous it is.  One day, when Mary and Pat are through with the antique grind, the Dalys will turn the shop into a either an apartment for their children, or a place for their guests -  whomever needs it first.


So, today, I found myself shopping at the Fabulous Flea as  Mary and Pat were showing their new shipment before they pack it all up this weekend for Round Top, the Texas antique fair.  If you are going to Round Top, be sure to visit the Fabulous Flea.  They'll be in Marburger Farms, September 30 through October 4th, Tent B Row b6.  But, be sure to get there early - things tend to sell out fast.    If you can't make it to Marburger, call Mary for an appointment in Houston when she gets back home.   And if you don't live in Houston, enjoy these pictures and shop from their web site


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The compound:  On the left is the Daly house:  The front door is through the arch.  On the right is the guest house aka The Fabulous Flea.  Behind the stucco wall is the garden, swimming pool, and outdoor pavilion.  This wonderful compound was designed and built by Kurt Aichler.


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Close up of the guest house aka The Fabulous Flea.  You can enter the Fabulous Flea through either the "front door" under the awning, or through the carriage doors on the right.


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A lantern hangs next to the Fab Flea's front door.   Vintage theatre seats, slipcovered in linen sit outside along with other items. 


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I went in through the carriage doors.   Be sure to notice the doors - large and arched, with handsome hardware, they open in the middle. 


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The view going in through the carriage doors to the first room.


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One of two large rooms filled with  newly arrived purchases from France.  Along the back door behind the bookcase is a smaller pair of carriage doors that lead to the back garden. 


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Matching lanterns in two sizes. 


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This Swedish demi lune is one of a pair - they can be used as consoles or together as a table. 



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A beautiful, painted armoire.


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An extra large,  antique buffet, laden with  books and small, iron planters.  Slipcovered stools are underneath.


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Across the back carriage door, an assortment of furniture.


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Hanging are a pair of black pendant lights.


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Looking from the  first room  into the second - notice the paneled doors that lead into the next area.


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The large, second room, with an assortment of French antiques and accessories. 


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A Charles V settee sits against the window over looking the garden and the main house.    You can just make out the antique door that leads into the house.   


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Through these doors, lined up on an axis, is the outdoor pavilion. 



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I loved this table, but it was already sold. 



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Everywhere are beautiful vignettes.  Here a painted chest with mirror and flanking sconces.


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An arched window sits next to a French chaise.   The metal display case holds jewelry and silver utensils. 


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A hanging, painted console with mirror, one of a pair.   Reflected in the mirror is more merchandise.


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And looking back into the first room, a pair of standing lamps flank the large doors.  Be sure to notice the hardware on the doors and the ceiling height  in the first room.  Beautiful!


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OK!  Enough shopping!  I want to go see the backyard!  Here, outside the double doors is the path back  into the Fab Flea.  You can see Mary on the left, and Moi on the right, unfashionably still in white linen.  Mary and Pat refused to have their pictures taken for some reason odd reason - they both looked adorable I thought!    Be sure to notice the pathways lined in pavers against gravel. 


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The outdoor pavilion over looking the pool and the main house.  The large arched building has an outdoor kitchen, dining area, and seating area.   Large lanterns flank the arches.  Through the arches on the opposite side  is a large courtyard.  To the right of this building is the Fab Flea. 


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Inside the seating area.  Notice the beautiful ceiling.  To the left is the pool and  main house, to the right is the courtyard area. 



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Close up of the fireplace.  I love the stacked wood on each side.   The horns above are just perfect for the space.  Isn't this wonderful?


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The eating area.  Through the opening is  the door to the Fab Flea.



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The view from the outdoor pavilion looking across the swimming pool into the main house.   Before the Daly's neighbor's sold their lot, the fence between their two properties was right at the edge of the swimming pool.  Hard to imagine now!    The pool, the outdoor pavilion, the Fab Flea guest house, and the courtyard area were all conceived by Aichler who designed and built the house and the additions.    




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Going back into the Fabulous Flea through the back carriage doors in the first room.  Mary's beautiful daughter, Grace, is there to help.  



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Inside the same door, looking out to the courtyard.  To the left of the courtyard you can just make out the outdoor pavilion.  The paths around the courtyard are gravel.



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The very friendly and sweet Gracie, helping her mom and Pat at work.    Gracie is enjoying her second week off from school due to Hurricane Ike, Monday will be her first day back.   The Dalys also have an teenage son. 


So, where's the main house?   Well, Mary gave me a tour of her house, and I was afraid of being too pushy and obnoxious, so I didn't dare even ask for pictures.  Suffice it to say, the house is beautiful -  understated and elegant at the same time.  The wood  floors are bleached, the walls are white stucco.  The interior is all linen and slipcovers with seagrass rugs, so you can imagine how much in heaven I was.  The details of the house are magnificent - the baseboards for example, I've never seen such wonderful baseboards!  The kitchen, well  - to die for.  The house is casual and comfortable, the rooms are human sized, not over scaled.  The ceilings are high and some are paneled.   Mary says that the more time she spends in France, the more she wants to edit, but surely she must know, that her house is already wonderfully edited.   Of course Mary was gracious and humble, but truly, I was overwhelmed by how perfect the house is.  I could have asked for the keys and moved in there today and never looked back on my own house.....eekkk!!!!  I have to go BACK there to live  forever??????  NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!    This feeling rarely happens, I don't usually fall so in love with a house, but I promise you, you would have too.   The Daly's house hasn't been published yet, but, not that they haven't been asked.  Hopefully, it will be soon and then you will get to experience it firsthand too. 


I had such a great time today with Mary and Pat and Gracie.  They were wonderful hosts and eager to hear all about blogging and such.    Since I wasn't given the keys to the house, I did want to take a piece of it home with me to remember the day.  So, what did I choose?  Can you guess?  It's something  in the picture below.


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If you are going to Round Top, be sure to stop by the Fabulous Flea at Marburger, September 30 through October 4th, Tent B Row b6.  Otherwise, contact Mary for an appointment at the Fab Flea in Houston.    And also, be sure to peruse the web site for information and prices of the items shown here:  www.thefabflea.com.