Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It Was A Very Good Year



Hello, it’s Joni – the face behind Cote de Texas.  I thought I‘d introduce myself for once – all professionally photoshopped, with 54 year old wrinkles and jowls miraculously removed and my image stretched vertically to make me look less……horizontal!    Thank God for photoshop!   Signing off on 2008 brings thoughts of this past year – a year in which Cote de Texas played a huge part in my life.   So many wonderful things have come my way because of this little design blog – the friendships made in real life and through emails, the support you brought with each and every comment (except that occasional nasty Anonymous!) and then there was the wealth of knowledge that came from reading your own blogs about design in your lives.  It’s a small, but growing community – the design blogs – a sisterhood (and brotherhood) dedicated to our homes and our love for them and for those of our friends.

Cote de Texas has become a passion – something which I feel a great responsibility to.   I think about it a lot, questioning my ability to keep you entertained:  what I will find to write about next, will I ever think of anything decent to blog about again?  Just knowing you are out there, clicking onto an old post drives me mad – I wish I could have something interesting and new to post three times a day, but three times a week is more the reality, unfortunately.  

Sometimes what goes on behind the scenes is funnier than what is written.   This year – the award for absurdity goes to a homeowner who shall remain nameless.  When I received gorgeous real estate photographs of her house in an email, and was informed it was up for sale – I naively shared it with you, of course!   The homeowner quickly wrote me, aghast, and demanded to know if I had broken into her home and taken pictures of it!!!  Uh, no.   I’m not THAT crazy for a new story line!    What a headline that would make:

Desperate for a new topic, blogger Cote de Texas broke into a Houston mansion to steal pictures of it to show her readers.   Arrested, she remains in jail, unable to post bail – her funds all dried up due to her incessant purchasing of French antiques.”

OK.  I’ll admit to suffering from writer’s block now and then, but trust me people, your homes are safe from me!   But, finding new topics to write about became somewhat harder this year.  2008 was the year of the Design Blog explosion.  Every day brought a new and exciting design blog to read and with each new blog, the competition for fresh material became just a little bit more intense.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve started to write about something, only to discover three other bloggers had already covered the subject, and more adequately, too.  Still, somehow I managed to write a number of columns that you found interesting judging from the amount of comments and emails it garnered.   So, here, is a recap of 2008’s more popular Cote de  Texas stories.   I hope you enjoy revisiting these with me.  Follow the RED links to reread the story in its entirety, if you so desire.  And my favorite picks of the 2008 design blogs follows.



Katrina refuges seek shelter in the Houston Astrodome.

I learned a big lesson this year.  Politics and design blogging don’t mix!   Not everyone, by a long shot,  who reads this blog wanted to hear how great Obama was.  Trust me on this!    When I wrote about President Bush and Hurricane Katrina in Gustav – The Bad, boy were the comments heated!  Quite a few of you threatened to never read my blog again after that post!   But it worked both ways.  A Republican blogger friend suffered the same exact threats from Democrats.   I learned, I learned!



Kelly Wearstler, noted designer and author, is just one of the many famous interior designers fined in Florida.  

The one story that truly resonated with readers and created the most comments was ASID – An Agency Out of Control - a post written about Kelly Wearstler, among other notables, being fined in Florida for practicing without a license.   I was stunned to learn what is happening to interior designers in Florida and other states and it was a real eye opener to read how intrusive ASID has become.   Readers mostly agreed, though some pro-ASID people left comments too.  To date, there have been more than 200 comments left, debating the issue of the state licensing of interior designers.  The battle still rages on, but the anti-ASID side seems to be making the most strides.



Hunkering Down with Ike

Another popular storyline and a more poignant one was the series about Hurricane Ike.   I was deeply touched by all the well wishes and prayers you sent our way during Ike.   I can’t express how much your comments meant to my family, even though I didn’t have the electricity to read them and had to resort to using my car battery to charge up my laptop!  As I write this now, our fence is finally being replaced from Ike’s damage – but we were the lucky ones.   Galveston and Bolivar Island suffered greatly and still suffer today.



The beautiful oaks trees and houses of Galveston’s Historical  District.

Remember those beautiful trees from the Historical Districts in Galveston that you commented on?    All those gorgeous trees are now dead, killed by the salt water during Ike.   I can’t bear to think how terrible it must be for that neighborhood, many of those oak trees were planted right after the Great Storm.   In an interesting side note to the Galveston story, one reader was motivated by the pictures to purchase a second home in the historical district!  Lucky girl!



The Wheat’s beautiful kitchen.

So many of you enjoyed Stalking the Wheats in West University and at their Beach House – Bolivar Style.   I still get emails about their house and specifically their kitchen paint color:  Benjamin Moore Fieldstone, btw!  In all – those two stories generated lots of comments and private emails and Sally Wheat became a bit of a celebrity with Cote de Texas readers.  Luckily their Bolivar beach house survived Ike.



The Toile Peugeot!

New Car Blues (and white) was another one you commented on.   But more interesting was the fact that so many design bloggers love the vintage Jeep Wagoneer.  Let’s start a petition to bring it back!


Virtual Beach House #1 versus


Virtual Beach House #2

I never can anticipate what story you will like or reject, and sometimes your choice is surprising.  One such surprise was My Virtual Beach House.  Apparently, everyone has dreams of one day furnishing a second home too!    You voted on whether you liked Beach House #1 or #2 best.  House #2 won.



The beautiful living room from the popular movie Something’s Gotta Give.

My all-time favorite topic to write about is the Something’s Gotta Give beach house – and I’ve done it as much as humanly possible.  So many people had emailed me about that house that I decided to write a blog on how to achieve the same look in your own home in Beach House-Series #4, Hamptons House.   My dream is to one day write an entire book about that movie beach house!!


Nancy Lancaster’s Famous Butta Yellow Drawing Room

The answer to that aged-old decorating dilemma – To Clutter or Not to Clutter remains elusive to me and, apparently,  to lots of you too!!  It seems a number of people can’t decide if they want to live in a cozy, cluttered home or in a slick, clean and spare interior.  I’m still undecided – what about you?



The Infamous Miles Redd Slipcover

When Decorno wrote that she hated this skirted table in a Miles Redd interior, I felt a need to defend it in Skirted Tables.   After Decorno responded, the war of words was on and comments flew from my blog to hers and back again.   Never has such a silly topic gotten so heated!



And finally - Thank Yous to Bloggers, Readers, and Stalkers!, a recap of the year’s emails and gifts I received deserves a reading if you missed it the first go round.  If you have ever sent me a picture of your home, it probably was included here!

Here is my list of favorite new blogs in 2008.   There is one for each month – it was hard to limit it to just 12, all the new blogs are great!!!  In no particular order, in fact the last one is favorite:

Velvet and Linen – What can I say about Brooke Giannetti?  Beautiful, talented, sweet, warm.  Her blog is phenomenal, her talent even more so.  The first time I read hers I thought, “well, it’s been fun writing mine.”  Brooke lives a fairy tale life in two beautiful homes she and her architect husband created.  Read it and often – you will be amazed.

Visual Vamp – Another dynamo, Valorie Hart is an interior designer, florist, tango dancer, inn keeper – you name it, she’s done it.  Her blog is the stream of consciousness that flows from her intellectual brain.  I adore her!

Cheap Chic – A 17 year old writes about fashion.  OK, it’s not design, but she’s my daughter!!!!!  oy!

The Lettered Cottage – Layla is redoing her darling cottage and we get front row seats.  Catch her now – she’s probably going to be HGTV’s next Design Star!!!

Color Outside the Lines -  Artie, working and decorating and gardening in upstate New York.   He’s a doll – the sweetest there is.

Simply Seleta – Seleta lives in Florida’s wonderful northwest area.  Beautiful with 4 beautiful little ones living in a beautiful house.

Renee Finberg – is an interior designer from Florida.  A wealth of knowledge, her blog is exotic and heady.  Worth a daily visit!

Lime in the  Coconut – Florida again.  Linda writes about beaches, hotels in sunny spots, her house, and her tropical style.  Delightful!

Canyon Wren Cottage – Texas!  Austin!  A recap of real estate happenings in the Hill Country. 

Willow Decor – Swedish gray and white all the way.   Lots of yummy eye candy.

Harmony and Home – A Californian interior designer blogs about interior design.   Rebecca’s story on the Golden Mean is first rate.

French Essence – France, Provence, Vicki Archer, The Book, The Blog – Vicki leads the life we all dream for!!!!

Here is wishing all of you and yours a Happy and Very Healthy New Years!!!!    I am looking forward to sharing 2009 with all of you!!!

Happy New Year!

Your Mama wishes all the children a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous New Year.

Now go out and get drunk like you're supposed to on New Year's Eve.

Just don't drink and drive babies because that's as stoopid as stoopid can be.

See y'all in the New Year.

Your Mama Hears...

...that the still pin thin and Bel Air bred celebutant Nicole Ritchie finally managed to get her baby daddy Joel Madden to move from his long time home in suburban seeming Glendale, CA.

According to several of our secret sources, the young and tattooed twosome (plus baby Harlow makes three) decamped to a Spanish Villa in the hills above Hollywood. It appears to Your Mama from listing information we dug up that the couple are forking over $6,500 per month to lease their new crib in the celebrity friendly Outpost Estates area. A bit more research shows the recently renovated house was built in 1930, includes 3 bedrooms, 3 terlits and measures in at 2,325 square feet. Listing information also indicates the property features a gated driveway, several covered terraces for sipping champagne in the shade, gorgeous drought tolerant landscaping and an elevated viewing terrace for taking in the glittering lights of Hollywood below.

Other famous residents of the Outpost Estates include (but are certainly not limited to) recently wed Scarlett Johansson, House's Hugh Laurie and married actors Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy.

Danja Mixes It Up on Mulholland Drive

BUYER: Floyd Nathaniel Hills, aka Danja
LOCATION: Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $2,925,000
SIZE: 4,850 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: ...this totally private, walled and gated home, with a jaw dropping view, was created for lavish or intimate entertaining. The versatile floor plan provides potential for 2 master bedrooms. Featuring a state-of-the-art kitchen, walls of glass, resort style poolside area, a floating staircase, high Venetian plastered walls for an art collection, 6 car motor court and lush landscaping with handsome olive trees...

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: A couple of weeks ago we received a covert communique from a tipster we'll call Patty Cake who informed us that a Grammy winning music producer, composer and songwriter named Danja picked up a new house on Mulholland Drive. Of course, Your Mama had never heard of a person with such a name so we took to the internets where we learned that along with his super-producer mentor Timbaland, this Danja person co-produced 10 of the 12 tracks of Justin Timberlake's Future Sex/Love Sounds album as well as having produced six tracks on Britney Spears middle of the crazies record Blackout and more recently produced a couple of tracks for on the mental mend Miss Spears' chart topping comeback album Circus. Mister Danja, whose real name is Floyd Nathaniel Hill, has also worked with big name musical artistes like Madonna, Mariah, Cassie and some chick named Ciara.

Property records showed that in November of 2008 young Mister Danja–a monikor we presume rhymes with ganga–forked over $2,925,000 of his new found paper for a freshly rehabbed split level contemporary style house at the top of Laurel Canyon on twisty, turny and often very busy Mulholland Drive.

Listing information Your Mama accessed show the house was once listed as high as $4,380,000 before being reduced to $3,495,000. Which means, of course, that Mister Danja and his financial peeps negotiated an impressively prodigious price reduction on the 5 bedroom and 4.5 bathoom house that measures in at (approx.) 4,850 square feet.

Listing information also reveals the walled and gated property offers off-street parking for six shiny whips in the motor court and another two spinners in the garages. The front doors, flanked by a couple of lovely olive trees, open to a rather large and somewhat disturbingly amorphous "great room" with travertine floors, one of the three fireplaces, and floor to ceiling windows that draw the eye balls towards the explosive view over the San Fernando Valley.

The kitchen features a gigantic work island large enough to perform an autopsy at the very same time Chef prepares a four course dinner. The cherry-looking cabinetry is topped by what appears to be two different types of counter tops and there is, natch, a full suite of top grade stainless steel appliances inclues a double Viking brand oven. A breakfast area is contained in a curving and (nearly) frameless wall of glass overlooking the swimming pool.

Listing information indicates that 1 of the 5 bedrooms can be used as a staff suite and 2 of the other bedrooms can be utilized as master bedrooms so it would seem that Mister Danja has his choice of where he'd like to lay his pretty little head down at night. One of the master suites is comprised of a large bedroom (with a way too tiny tee-vee mounted to the wall opposite the bed which will make porno viewing rather difficult) and a marble clad bathroom with a separate tub and party sized shower.

We think (but can no confirm) that the room with all the heinous brown leather furniture is the other potential master suite. If the children look hard with their peepers they'll note what appears to be an entire wall of mirrored closet doors. While that may be appealing to all the people who like to watch themselves fornicate, it's a rather unappealing feature from a design snob's perspective.

The back yard hangs over the hillside and includes a curving crescent shaped swimming pool with a small waterfall. We do not notice a spa, which is rather unfortunate because we can imagine it make it easy for Mister Danja to coax all the star fucking wanna be singer ladees out of their itty bitty bikinis after a few Rémy Martins in a spa overlooking the glittering lights of the valley. But alas...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

George Furla Selling in Los Angeles Too

SELLER: George Furla
LOCATION: Clinton Street, Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $2,295,000
SIZE: 4,417 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: ...Exquisite Mediterranean Villa built in 2006. Grand entry w/ wrought iron staircase, walnut floors, exposed beams & arched doorways. Gourmet eat-in kitchen w/ center island, granite counter tops, stainless Viking appliances. Beautiful dining room. Living room w/ FP opens to pool, fountain & sitting area w/ FP. Surround sound throughout. Master w/ FP. Lower level w/ fabulous game rm. & direct access to garage.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Last week the venerable Wall Street Journal reported in their Private Properties column that film producer George Furla listed his 6,220 square foot unfinished penthouse in Chicago with an asking price of $3,495,000. Well, thanks to a covert communique from a fine friend we'll call Windycity Willie, Your Mama has learned that Mister Furla is also trying (rather unsuccessfully) to unload his house in Los Angeles which has been on the market for nearly a year and is currently listed at $2,295,000.

We'd never heard of Mister Furla and after a look-see at his rehzoomay we quickly understood why. The man is responsible for producing a long laundry list of films neither Your Mama nor the Dr. Cooter have ever heard of nor would dream of paying good money to see in an actual thee-ay-ter establishment. They include (but are far from limited to) cinematic jewels such as Major Movie Star, Righteous Kill, Day of the Dead, the most recent Rambo disaster as well as some movie called Lonely Hearts that starring be-wigged Scientologist John Travolta.

Anyhoo, a peek into property records reveals that Mister Furla purchased a property on Los Angeles' Clinton Street (is this actually West Hollywood?) in August of 2006 for $2,229,000. Prop records show the Andalusian style residence measures 3,874 square feet with 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms while listing information indicates it sprawls across 4,417 square feet and includes just 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. Who knows why the discrepancy.

Listing information reveals that in addition to the 4 bedrooms and 4 terlits, the 3 story home was built in 2006, has three fireplaces (living room, master bedroom and outdoor sitting area), subterranean parking for two cars with direct access into the house and a surround sound system that pumps music (or muzak if you prefer) throughout the house.

Other amenities includes a living room that opens to the swimming pool (which is actually in the front yard as there isn't a rear yard), walnut, stone and tile floors, lots of wrought iron detailing, exposed beams, and a gore-may kitchen outfitted with dark cabinets, beige granite counter tops and a full suite of stainless steel Viking appliances including a wine refrigerator that looks almost exactly like the two we have (one for white, one for red) where the Dr. Cooter keeps the vino collection chilled to appropriate temperatures.

The basement level is where the game room is located. We know many people like these game rooms but Your Mama hates them. If we want to play pool we're gonna head on down to some dicey pool hall in a not very nice part of town where there's always a risk we're going to get a beat down by one of the beer soaked and overweight regulars.

The front of Mister Furla's property is fully hedged, which is a good thing as it fronts very busy Crescent Heights Boulevard and sits just a hop, skip and a jump from the pricey and celebrity friendly Fred Segal shopping emporium on Melrose. The plunge pool and party sized spa are complemented by an arched tile water fountain that spits water into the swimming pool and helps to cut down on the traffic noise.

Listing information we received from one of our cohorts shows the house was put on the market nearly a year ago (!!) at $3,195,000 and has since had the asking price karate chopped down a stunning $900,000 to it's current asking price of $2,295,000, a number that will surely leave Mister Furla in the financial hole should he manage to get anywhere near the asking price. The listing clearly states the seller is motivated and wants the house sold right away, so word to the wise for all you pee-pole with a couple million to spend on a nearly new Mediterranean on a teeny tiny lot so close to West Hollywood you can practically smell the poppers wafting on the breeze.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hanukkah – Cote de Texas Style


Hanukkah2008 001

Ready and waiting for the overcooked beef tender and soggy potato latkes!


I promised I would show the pictures from my family Hanukkah party this year.    Unlike my husband’s Webb Family Christmas which means 3 to 4 gifts for everyone, the Cohen Family Hanukkah party is more subdued, thankfully!!!!!    The adults all pick names on Thanksgiving, with a limit around $50 to $100 per gift, but you can go over or under if you find just the right thing.  The grandchildren each get a present from all the adults.    I have tried to institute picking names in the Webb Family, and one year we did do it, except Ben’s mother cheated and bought presents for everyone!   So, we went back to not picking names.  With the economy getting so scary, I think picking names is a wonderful way to keep the holiday season manageable, so maybe in 2009 we’ll try it again at the Webb Family Christmas.  

For the Cohen Family’s Hanukkah, we served beef tender, potato latkes, salad, and green beans.   Dessert was a tiramisu picked up from Carrabba’s.   Unfortunately, the beef tender was a disaster this year, as it was totally overcooked!   I like my meat well done, but beef tender is NOT supposed to be that way.  Sorry guys, next year it will be better!   Latkes are a universal problem for Jews everywhere.   They only really taste delicious when someone stands over the stove and fries them right before they are eaten.    Of course, then your house stinks like stale grease for about a week – it’s awful!!!   Plus, its hugely labor intensive, someone has to peel and prepare enough potatoes to feed a small army  and then the cook might as well not even be at the party – she’s just busy frying at the hot stove.   So -----  a lot of people make their latkes early, or pick them up from a deli, and then heat them up.   Unfortunately, ours were not really crispy this year.    Oh well, the point of any holiday is getting together with family and having fun, but still, you do want the food to be good.   Each year is a learning experience for me as I am not the best of cooks.  And, I promise to get new baking sheets and have them ready to go next year.  (Don’t ask!)    I serve buffet style off the kitchen table where there is plenty of room to spread everything out.


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The only preparation in the living room were fresh flowers and a few lit candles.   I used peach roses and white tulips in this room.  I love my reflection in the mirror – still in my sweats!


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The “adult” table.


At the “adult” table – I used pink roses to match my china.   Since I have an oval skirted table in my dining room, I really can’t fit a lot of people at the table, so I put out a couple of extra tables around the house.  This year we were missing a few people – so I only needed two tables.  Actually  - this is a perfect time to discuss skirted tables and dinner parties!   Underneath the white linen table cloth is my silk yellow skirt that I use daily.   But, in order to protect it against food and water spills,  when entertaining,  I first cover it with a plastic waterproof, table liner with a felt backing.   These can be bought at places like Bed Bath and Beyond.   You just cut them with scissors to fit the table.  Over this, I then place the white table cloth – or any other festive cloth for the occasion.  This way – if someone spills a glass of wine, I don’t have to worry about my “real” table skirt being damaged.  Whenever I have a client that wants to use a skirted table in the dining room, we go over this procedure in detail.  It’s a “must”  - skirted table cloths are not made to be eaten off!!   (Alyse – are you taking notes?)



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Pink roses, wooden dreidels and chocolate gelt.


On the tables I spread chocolate coins or gelt, a Hanukkah tradition for the kids.   Also, I put out a handful of little wooden dreidels for some holiday spirit.    There is one interesting tidbit about my china.   When I got married, I chose the same china that my mother, my two aunts and my sister all had!   This way, in our family, we have a huge set of place settings in one pattern.   As long as you all like the same pattern – it’s a great way to accumulate a large set of china – in case you ever have the Russian Army for a dinner party.   It’s hard to see in this picture, but the rim of the china is a celadon green color, so I used fun green colored wine glasses and put the napkins in the bubble water glasses (before the water was poured, of course – I’m not quite that inept.)


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The “kids” table.


The “kids” table is right across from the dining room – I actually used my wine table that is usually here and my breakfast room chairs.  The table is set exactly the same as the “adult” table.    I do have several  round office conference tables that I store in my infamous garage that seat 8 or 10 for when the crowd is bigger.  The wine table is a little wobbly, but it was the perfect size to use this time.   This year the party was a little early – set for 5:00 p.m. because we have a new baby in the family!!!



AWWWWW, here she is, my great niece – Laine !!!   Can you help but smile?   She’s six months old and she arrived in her new pink coat and hat that was a gift from her great grandmother, my mother.   Isn’t she just the cutest thing!!!!  The other cute thing in the picture is her uncle, my nephew, Jeffrey.   Still available, ladies!




Laine’s father, my nephew Philip, and her great grandmother, Nana, get ready for Laine’s first Hanukkah.




Here we go! 

Usually, the youngest in the family says the prayers in Hebrew and English and then lights the menorah, but since Laine didn’t know the prayers and my daughter was away for her BBYO Regional Convention, the prayer lighting fell to Philip.   That’s my mother and father and my nephew Jeffrey, on the right, who doesn’t look too happy here for some reason -  I think he just anxious for his present!!!!



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Everyone got Laine a present, of course.   Philip is smiling because he’s glad he won’t have to buy her anything new for a while.  That’s my sister Cathy, the new grandmother, and Allison, Laine’s mom. 


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Watching Laine open her gifts – the three biggest UT Football fans in the world:   Ben, my brother in law Robert, and Jeffrey, still waiting for gifts!!!




Ben, Elisabeth and I gave Laine this rocker toy.  I think she really liked it.   I thought it would look cute in her nursery – always worried about design.



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She really liked it!!!   In case you like it too, I ordered it online from a Dallas store –


We had our party on the first night of Hanukkah.   For the next 7 nights, we lit the menorah ourselves while Elisabeth was gone and then with her when she came back.    It’s really pretty on the 8th night, when all the candles are lit, but it’s always a little sad that it’s over for another year.  Sunday was the final night.    I’m sure it’s the same feeling at your house the day after Christmas when it’s all over after all the planning and decorating and cooking.    We spend Christmas at my sister in law’s ranch and it is such fun, but it all goes by so fast.   There is always lots of laughs and great food – so much food that we all need to go on a diet by New Years.     Every Christmas Eve, they have a dinner party for the family.   My sister-in-law, her sister and their mother put on quite a feast.  Here’s a peek at her table this year:


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 My sister-in-law’s dining room is part of a big living area – so she can have a large table with all the leaves in place – something I would really like one day.  Everyone fits around one table, even all the children, which is so nice.  



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Holding the flowers is a large silver epergne – something you get for a wedding gift and then put away, which is a shame because epergnes are so beautiful and make such wonderful centerpieces!!  Also, she put out three sets of mercury glass candleholders with gold candles and lots of holly and pomegranates.



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Each place setting was marked with a gold charger, and the napkin rings were made of velvet roses.  She used red crystal stemware and her Christmas china.  She served beef tender which was properly cooked, and yes, I took a lesson from her!!  There was also a to-die-for cornbread casserole type dish that was out of this world.    But the best thing of all was a coconut cream cake that her sister’s husband baked.  We finished it all off, it was so delicious.  There was plenty of beef tender left over, so it made great sandwiches for a few days.   One thing I know – I’ll eat really great when I go to the country for the Webb Christmas.


A few of you have asked to see pictures of the KW Ranch.  If you are interested in seeing the ranch,  I wrote about it last year.  Follow the link HERE to see those pictures.   I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza!!    We’re looking forward to the New Year and the UT Bowl game, go Horns!!!!!

Another Housewife Bites the Real Estate Dust

SELLER: Bob and Sheree Whitfield
LOCATION: 5525 Long Island Drive, Atlanta, GA
PRICE: $2,850,000 (off market)
SIZE: 8,903 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 8 full and 2 half bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Benecki built resale home on large private gated lot. Quality throughout, nanny suite with separate entrance located over garages.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Listen children, we know what you are thinking and we do not want to hear it. Your Mama is well aware we are scraping the bottom of the celebrity real estate barrel here. But, see, we just can't help ourselves. Unfortunately for y'all, we woke up with a burning need to discuss the real estate doings of a smarmy Georgia peach named Sheree Whitfield who recently listed her suburban Atlanta mansion with an asking price of $2,850,000.

If the children will put on their reality tee-vee thinking caps they will recall that Miz Sheree Whitfield–whose claim to fame is that she is the ex-wife of pro-footballer Bob Whitfield–recently appeared on the hair raising boob-toob pièce de résistance The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

During each episode of this masterpiece of reality television, we were treated to Miz Sheree prancing her over-sized ego all around Atlanta in her her giant Range Rover acting as if she was the classiest and most dignified high society bee-hawtcha that ever walked the damn Phipps Plaza mall. Pleeze. And do not even get Your Mama started about Miz Sheree and her nascent "She by Sheree" clothing line because we would hate to burst Miz Sheree's self-indulgent bubble by saying that being a hardcore hobby shopper does not a fashion designer make.

Well children, the laws of gravity say that goes up must come down and according to the gossip grapevine, poor Miz Sheree is going down. Not only is she in effect being booted from her Atlanta mansion, some Atlanta-based scuttlebutters are snickering that she's bouncing checks all over Atlanta. Oh dear. Now puppies, we don't know if that shit is true or if it's just a bunch of wagging tongues, but it is what folks are whispering about Miz I'm So Much Better Than You.

Property records for the Whitfield's 1.81 acre estate on Long Island Drive NW show it was purchased in August of 2000 for $2,395,000 and the snarky children will note with some righteous eyebrow raising that the property was owned solely by Mister Whitfield and that Miz Sheree's name never appeared on the paperwork for the property. That's right puppies. Neh. Vah. Which means, of course, Sassy Sheree never actually owned the house and was merely squatting there until her dee-vorce was settled. Well, ain't that interesting?

Anyhoo, listing information for the house Sheree calls home shows it measures in at a good sized 8,903 square feet and includes 6 bedrooms and 8.5 bathrooms, a count which we assume includes the nanny quarters above the garage.

In addition to the ballroom sized living room with its elaborately stenciled ceilings, dark stained wood floors and King Arthur-esque furnishings, the sprawling English cottage style mansion includes a modest sized dining room with a faux paint treatment, all manner of crystal lighting fixtures and, gack!, red velvet curtains that look to Your Mama like something she purchased at a yard sale of an upscale bordello in Reno, Nevada.

Besides the copious knickknacks cluttering up the counter tops, the bronze colored ceiling, all that stoopid crap shoved up in the ceiling corners and the bird's nest up in the chandelier, the fully equipped kitchen really isn't so bad. The stainless steel appliances includes twin dishwashers, a mac-daddy Viking range and a double wide SubZero refridgerator/freezer, all good things.

The commodious but low ceilinged family room features more faux paint treatments, a giant beige sectional sofa, an intricately carved and ass uglee coffee table and and even uglier pool table with crazy carved up legs. Somewhere in the house is a home gym with all manner of exercise contraptions of the sort Your Mama scrupulously avoids, a fully mirrored wall where Miz Sheree can admire her toned and tight middle-aged boo-tox, and another faux paint treatment on the walls. Listen Miz Sheree, let Your Mama give you a word of deco-raytin' advice. Just because you like the faux paint treatment your nice gay decorator did in the dining room does not mean you should have him do up the entire house that way. Your Mama's boozy pal Fiona Trambeau calls that sort of thing, "Flooding the car." Think about it.

The gated grounds include a crushed stone driveway which terminates in a small motor court where the front door stands opposite the four-car garage. Out back is a large and attractive rectangular shaped swimming pool surrounded by a stone terrace that includes an outdoor fireplace and peek-aboo views of a small pond.

Listing information now shows the Whitfield house is currently "off market." We don't know if that means Sheree is stayin' put or if, more likely, it means she's a little peeved about the publicity she's getting for having to so publicly downsize her lifestyle. Them's the breaks when you put yerself on tee-vee Miz Sheree.

Naturally, Your Mama does not have a clue where Miz Sheree will reside when and if this house gets sold but we're pretty sure that her be-weaved blond gurl friend Kim Zolciak would let her and the kids shack up in her 3,396 square foot condo on Bent Tree View in Duluth, GA that records show she purchased in January of 2006 for $486,000.

Listen puppies, we know we sound like a catty bitch talking nasty about Miz Sheree. And we are. However, there is nuthin' more loathsome to Your Mama than a person who will (fake) smile at your face and then turn around and wag his or her vicious tongue to anyone with ears. And that's exactly what Miz Sheree did week after week on the first season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. And we can hardly wait until season two begins to see more bee-hawtcha back-biting and learn more about Miz Sheree's lowered circumstances.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Swedish Treat For A Cold, Winter Night!



As seen in the new French Elle Decor.   Since I don’t speak French – I can only surmise what the captions say!  Two Swedish antique dealers chose the Gustavian style for their home.  I love this picture of the enfilade – or rooms that are set up next to each other, without any halls.  This enfilade is comprised of three different rooms, at least.    I love how the floors are untreated – or I should probably say “look” untreated.  I suspect it took a lot of work to make these floors look so perfectly raw!!    While Americans think of Gustavian furniture as mostly painted gray – red paint was another popular finish as the chair in this picture shows.



A living area is furnished with gray painted consoles and table.    The arm chairs wear a blue checked fabric on the back.  The walls are faux painted.  Notice the beautiful oils – especially the round portrait on the fireplace.   A tall clock is to the right – not the typical Swedish Mora clocks Americans are so used to.  I think this room is very charming!


Looking into the dining room and onto the kitchen area.  Here you can see how the faux painting actually is two toned, imitating a wainscoting.  The crystal chandelier is a  hallmark of a Gustavian interior. 



A beautiful set of dishes behind a glass fronted cabinet.



A wonderful gilt clock hangs from the wall over a Gustavian chest.  The ribbed wood is typical of Gustavian decoration.



Small round table, armoire and chandelier.   Notice the thick Belgian type linen napkins and the adorable iron wine holder – these holders are popular items at antique shops.



Two pairs of barrel back Swedish chairs share space with a gilt and marble console.  These types of chairs were very popular then, as they are today. Notice the beautiful clock on the console.    The shades are simple white linen, a typical authentic Swedish design.


The Salon is a gorgeous room – the long Swedish sofa is gray with a gilded shell motif.  There are at least three mirrors, one rests on the settee.  Notice the candles attached to the mirror – this form of sconce was popular in Sweden – a very dark country during the winter – this way, the candlelight was reflected causing maximum illumination.  Just beautiful. 

Friday, December 26, 2008

Victoria Gotti's Hot Mess of a Mansion Hits the Market

SELLER: Victoria Gotti
LOCATION: Birch Hill Court, Old Westbury, NY
PRICE: $3,500,000
SIZE: 5 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: This exquisite custom brick estate with Old World charm and elaborate detail on 4 acres of magnificent property was built in 1993 and features a pool with cascading waterfalls, guest/cabana house, gazebo with pond, stable/paddock, 4 car garage, fountains, children's playground, tennis court.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: If the Long Island children will simmer down and listen very closely they can probably hear all the lock-jawed blue bloods in old money Old Westbury, NY sitting around their exclusive (and "restricted") country clubs quietly clinking their brandy snifters at in celebration that mafia princess turned gossip writer turned novelist Victoria Gotti has listed her 4 acre estate with an asking price of $3,500,000.

According to the gurls at Newsday, this is far from the first time Miz Gotti, a questionably klassy ladee who once pretended to have breast cancer, has attempted to unload her mafia-style mansion on the North Shore of Long Island. First listed in 2003, then 2005 and again in 2006, the over-processed property once carried an asking price of $4,800,000.

Property records show that weavetastic Miz Gotti and her former huzband Carmine Agnello (who was, surprise!, jailed in the year 2000 for racketeering) purchased the Birch Hill Court property in 1989 for $175,000 and proceeded to build one of the ass-ugliest mansions Your Mama has ever had the displeasure of laying eyes on.

Miz Gotti reportedly shares her Old Westbury estate with her three college age cugines (Carmine Jr, John and Frank) who revealed themselves to be nearly inarticulate, obscenely entitled and wildly ill-mannered morons on the family's lurid and stomach churning reality tee-vee program Growing Up Gotti which has, thankfully, been cancelled. Even Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter, who are unashamed and unrepentant reality program addicts could not sit through an entire episode of that television train wreck.

Anyhoo, listing information for Miz Gotti's estate indicates the two story house (plus finished basement) of indeterminate and completely whacked architectural pedigree includes 5 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms while property records show the house measures 5,739 square feet with 7 full and 2 half bathrooms. Your Mama can not account for the terlit count difference, but it may be the larger pooper count includes bathing and evacuating facilities in the detached guest house/cabana which looks like some half-assed, please poke our eyes out with a stick attempt at re-creating the damn Parthenon.

Listing information reveals the fully landscaped property, which rather unfortunately backs up to the service road of the very bizzy and very loud Long Island Expressway, includes double drive gates, a large motor court, any number of fountains, a cascading waterfall, dark-bottomed swimming pool, vast (featureless and furnitureless) paver-tiled patios and terraces, long stretches of lawn, a gazebo occupying on a small island in the middle of a private pond (gack!), stables and paddocks for the horsey types, a children's playground, a tennis court, a damn go-kart track and a 4 car garage for all the Gotti family's many mafia-mobiles.

While the puzzling and perplexing exterior has Your Mama's hair standing on end, it's really the interior spaces that make us go all glassy eyed, slack jawed an in desperate need of a large nerve pill and a gigantic gin and tonic. Guests, associates, buttons and compares are greeted in an entrance hall with a too-low looking ceiling and twin curving staircases where Miz Gotti can make dramatic entrances with her white pant suits, deep decolletage and riotous Rapunzel like tresses. The large living room features wood floors (that look like they might be cherry) a grand piano (that we'd bet our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly has never been touched by the Gotti boys), all manner of over-stuffed chintz sofas, funeral home style drapery, and perhaps most unsettling of all, an entire wall completely covered with floor to ceiling mirrors. Who does that? Seriously. Who? The dining room ceiling, like that of the living room, has been stenciled with flowers, an affectation that makes Your Mama gag a little, inlaid wood floors and more funeral home style drapery.

The kitchen, with its tile floor and mirrored built-in buffet/display cabinet, is clearly in need of a complete overhaul and Your Mama does not even know what to make of those curly-cue iron stools that have been pulled up to the pill shaped work island, but we sincerely recommend they be taken out with yesterday's garbage because they are making our back ache just lookin' attem.

While Miz Gotti's office with its fireplace, inlaid floors and black walls almost (we stress the word almost) passes muster for not being completely vomit worthy, we are completely over-whelmed by the decorative tragedy of Miz Gotti's boudoir and private bathroom. For some reason, some misguided decorator has draped and swagged yard after yard after yard of gauzy textiles over Miz Gotti's four poster bed which sits, as you might well imagine, on a pedestal. The eagle eyed children will note how the swoopy chaise lounge at the foot of the bed appears to hang over the edge of the pedestal. Niiiihce. Miz Gotti's rose and gold colored bathroom is quite possibly one of the most upsetting examples of a bathroom on which we have ever laid our beady little eyes. How much do the children want to bet that all those floral arrangements are silk or plastic dust catchers? We'd also like to direct the children's limited attentions the baseboard heating elements which are certainly not what we expect to see in a multi-million dollar mansion, even on Long Island where baseboard heating is as common as sand at the beach.

There's a saying in real estate which is that, "Every lid has a pot." However, Your Mama imagines that only another mobbed up family with a few million clams stashed in a hidden compartment in their late model Escalade will find this is the right pot for their over the top design luvvin' lid.

None the less, we wish Miz Gotti and her three cretin kids all the luck in the world selling her real estate white elephant and respectfully request she not send any of her deceased father's former enforcers out looking for Your Mama's and/or the Dr. Cooter's knee caps. Capeesh?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Merry Happy Happy!



Ben, Elisabeth, and me at the KW Ranch, Chappell Hill, Texas – don’t we look cute?  I’m on the left, Ben’s on the right and Lizzy is in the middle – just in case you didn’t recognize us.


The three of us Webbs have left for Ben’s brother and sister-in-law’s ranch in Chappell Hill for Christmas in the Country.  It’s always so much fun when Hanukkah and Christmas collide like they do this year.  It’s a gift extravaganza for the kids!  I schlep the Menorah and candles and my Radco dreidels, given to me by my sister-in-law whose entire Christmas tree is covered with Radco and Old World ornaments. 


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What’s wrong with this picture?  Elisabeth lighting the Hanukkah candles for the night in front of the Christmas tree while her cousins are waiting for Santa Claus!   Actually Elisabeth loves the chance to share her holiday with her cousins!!


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The Radco-laden tree with just a few of the gifts.


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My nephew Wills Webb’s tree is always Mexican inspired – topped with a vintage sombrero!


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Some of the gifts.


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And more!



And more.


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And more!  Hmmm – I like those two orange Hermes boxes myself!   Tomorrow when the rest of the Webbs come, there will be even more presents!!  I told you it was an extravaganza that we swear every year we won’t repeat!!!



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Aw, the two besties – my niece Caroline and my daughter Elisabeth – even though there is five years between them, they get along great.


I hope everyone is settled in for the night – wherever you are going!  Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a wonderful Kwanza or whatever you celebrate!  AND most importantly, here’s to a happy and HEALTHY New Year’s!!!   More dispatches to come from the KW Ranch – that is, after Santa leaves.