Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Former Domino Magazine Creative Director Lists New York City Townhouse

SELLERS: Paul and Sara Ruffin Costello
PRICE: $12,950,000
SIZE: 4,290 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Listen chickens, it's all jackhammers and power tools around Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter's house today so we're a bit rattled in the head and our morning booze drip has yet to settle in. Therefore we're a wee bit scattered and out of sorts but we're going to try to work our way through this none the less so here goes...

Once upon a time there was a shelter magazine called Domino, and it was good. It wasn't good in the way World of Interiors is a-may-zing and it didn't have the creepy perfect polish of Martha Stewart Living. But it was good. It was really good. In fact, as far as Your Mama is concerned it was one of the better shelter publications. Unlike some of the other glossy magazines that depict real estate and decorating porn, Domino felt accessible to design oriented and savvy folks who don't have the financial wherewithal to hire Alberto Campo Baeza to design them a weekend getaway, 47,000 bucks for a sofa and/or a few hundred grand to spend renovating the kitchen.

Then along came the financial fracas and economic meltdown of 2008. Print publications, those old-school hand held paper things that some believe just might be a thing of publishing past (we, however, hope not), began to drop like flies, victims of a perfect storm of internet nimbleness and pecuniary calamity caused by toxic financial instruments so complex that even Wall Street people can't explain how to untangle them.

The creative director of Domino was a clever gal named Sara Ruffin Costello who is married to and makes babies with well known interior and fashion photographer Paul Costello. Thanks to a heads up by Hot Chocolate, Your Mama has learned that Mister and Missus Costello have recently put their Federal style townhouse in New York City's once bohemian West Village on the market with a not very bohemian asking price of $12,950,000.

Property records show the creative couple paid $2,650,000 for their 25-foot wide, four floor residence in November of 2003. Listing information shows the townhouse measures (approx.) 4,290 square feet and includes 5 bedrooms–we count 4 plus a 3rd floor playroom/bedroom–and 4.5 poopers. Listing information states the recent "full-scale" renovation included adding new structural beams,re-pointing the brick facade, insulation, new roof, new plumbing, electric and HVAC services, security system, new windows and French doors, custom mill work in the pooper and cooker, all-new polished nickel hardware on doors and cabinets, and in wall speakers.

Mister and Missus Costello and their real estate people must be under the impression all that renovations and an exploding (and then shrinking) real estate market make for a near 10-fold increase in value the townhouse. And maybe it does. What do we know? In January of 2010, telecom tycoon and trophy property collector Michael Hirtenstein snagged a gut renovated townhouse on nearby Charles Street for $13,580,000 and in December of 2009, catwalking new mommy (and real estate size queen) Giselle Bundchen sold her Barrow Street townhouse for $12,950,000.

Floorplans for Mister and Missus Costello's crib reveals a surprisingly sensible and livable program. That is if the owner has the fortitude and heart health to climb up and down all the damn stairs all day long. That's right, for all the big-shit renovations, there is not an elevator. There is a garden level office/guest house with private pooper, and the parlor floor sweeps front to back in one essentially open space with chestnut colored and herringbone patterned hardwood floors. At the front a formal living room with an antique fireplace surround, in the middle a small media room/library, and at the back an all white proper sized kitchen that is open to both the "formal" dining area and the breakfast room. The back yard is accessible through a row of floor to ceiling French doors in the breakfast room. We're not thrilled with the location of the powder pooper that opens on to the breakfast area nor are we fond of the blue and white day-core, but the children will note the generous pantry and pet shower tucked behind the kitchen and staircase that in our mind makes up for that somewhat klutzy bathroom situation. See puppies, a wee secret is that Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter would shove a baby off a cliff for a separate pet shower to bathe our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly.

The second floor has a modest sized master suite with fireplace, adequately sized bathing and terliting facilities and an enviable dressing room/closet. Personally speaking, Your Mama could never get a good night's rest in a room so cacophonous with complicated patterns. We've got an twiggy situation on the wallpaper, an Ikat sort of print on the rug and a black and white toile chaise hidden by a Valentine's Day red throw and topped with a red and white toile pillow. It's visually engaging and sort of kooky in a way that we can appreciate but we could just never go there in a bedroom. Ever.

Another bedroom and pooper complete the second floor. It appears that a small closet in the pooper of the second bedroom contains a stacked washer and dryer. This is not good. Yes, it is better than having the laundry facilities on the basement/garden floor–it's far more sensible to have the laundry facilities located where the bulk of the laundry is actually located–it's more than a little awkward for for our house gurl Svetlana to have to storm through a guest bedroom and into the pooper to snatch up the clean linens. In fact it's downright horrible. But in an otherwise well conceived layout, maybe this is just splitting hairs?

The top floor contains two bedrooms, a pooper and a playroom that spans the full width of the house. This could be, of course, converted to another bedroom and pooper (the plumbing is all there) but it's sort of nice as a quasi-public space that opens to a terrace through three French doors. What's nice about that is that an exterior staircase climbs up to the rooftop terrace. Although not shown in any of the listing photos we found, listing information indicates the Costello's rooftop terrace with redwood spa, a "pool house" with kitchen, a wisteria wrapped pergola, and fully grown grape vines for the urban oenophile.

Property records show the dee-ziney duo also own an upstate getaway on Copake Lake in Columbia County that they bought in 2001 for $375,000.

We're not really sure what Missus Ruffin Costello is doing now that Conde Nast closed Domino's doors nor do we know what Mister Costello is photographing now that his bread and butter job–snapping interiors for his wife's now defunct magazine–has evaporated. Hopefully they're both moving on to bigger and better things, right?

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