Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pierce Brosan Goes Mano-a-Mano with Eroding Beach in the Bu

There's trouble in paradise if one's idea of paradise is the freakishly expensive strip of sand known as Broad Beach in Malibu, CA. Broad Beach has for decades been lined with beach bungalows and ocean front mansions, many owned by rich and famous folks, showbiz executives, and a slew of west coast-based Wall Street types.

One of Broad Beach's newest mansions, now just about finished, was built for and is owned by smoldering Irish-born movie star Pierce Brosnan (Mamma Mia!, The Thomas Crown Affair and half a dozen money makers from the James Bond film franchise) and his second wife, former actress/tee-vee presenter/activist Keely Shaye Smith.

We're not sure why the gossips at X17 reported earlier in the week that Mister Brosnan and Missus Shaye Smith paid a bone shattering $45,000,000 for the two-parcel ocean front spread because the admittedly somewhat vague online records we peeped indicate they acquired the property in March 2000 for $5,100,000.

Whatever the case, the existing house was razed (or at least significantly dismantled) and replaced by a gigantic, just about completed U-shaped Balinese-inspired mansion with ocean side swimming pool and detached guest/pool house.

Unfortunately for Mister Brosnan, Missus Shaye Smith and the many of the other well-heeled (but probably bare-footed) Broad Beach home owners, the shoreline has eroded and diminished significantly over the last 10 or so years. In order to protect their newly built residence, Mister Brosnan and Missus Shaye Smith, as well as numerous other residents along Broad Beach, erected a ghastly but necessary tall wall of sandbags to hold the advancing ocean at bay. More recently home owners along Broad Beach spent boo coo bucks to construct an an even more unsightly and permanent rock revetment between their homes and thundering surf.

Fortunately for him and his, Mister Brosnan's just about completed crib has a swimming pool but should he or any of his children and/or guests desire to stroll along the shoreline or bob around in the ocean, they must first make a grisly, knee scraping scramble over the revetment.

Some of the other property owners who share the same stretch of eroding shoreline as the Brosnans include Tinseltown types such as Steven Spielberg (who leased his contemporary Craftsman-style compound last summer to David and Victoria Beckham for $150,000 per month), Mike Ovitz, Dustin Hoffman, Danny DeVito and Rhea Pearlman, and a slew of high-flying financiers and real estate developers who include Mark Attanasio, George Novogroder, Edward Roski Jr., tool tycoon Eric Smidt, and former shipbuilding mogul turned investor Burton Borman whose 10,000-plus square foot Frank Gehry-designed digs on Broad Beach include, of all luxuries, a lighted and sunken ocean side tennis court.

This is not the first Broad Beach area home Mister Brosnan and Missus Shaye-Smith Brosnan have owned. In fact, the environmentally concerned couple have long resided in Malibu in a Mediterranean style hillside house that sits much closer to busy and loud Pacific Coast Highway than the beach. In June 2010 Mister Brosnan and Missus Shaye-Smith Brosnan listed their 3,412 square foot hillside house with an asking price of $3,900,000. Just a few days before Christmas, eighteen months after first being listed, several price chops that brought the final asking price to $2,790,000, and at least one failed escrow the two-story, 3 bedroom, 3.25 bathroom and 4 fireplace Brosnan/Shaye Smith abode has been sold to a non-celebrity for an undisclosed price We heard through the Malibu celebrity real estate gossip grapevine but can't confirm it went for $2,650,000.

Property records indicate Mister Brosnan and Missus Shaye Smith also own at least one home near the scenic Hanalei and Wainiha bays on the star-studded Hawaiian island of Kauai.

aerial photo: X17

Friday, December 30, 2011

Marina Abramović Lists Modern Minded Manhattan Loft

SELLER: Marina Abramović
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $3,495,000
SIZE: (approximately) 3,000 square feet, 1 bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: 'Tis the end of the year (and a travel day to boot) so much to the chagrin of some, we're sure, Your Mama's gonna to take the low road today and dredge up a wee piece of New York City art world celebrity real estate that we didn't stop to (dis or) discuss earlier in the year, namely the very spare SoHo loft performance art pioneer Marina Abramović first heaved and hoisted on to the market in January (2011) with an asking price of $3,750,000. By May the price had dropped to $3,375,000 and in mid-August it was taken off the market until late September when it reappeared with a mysteriously higher (and current) price tag of $3,495,000.

The raven-tressed and Serbian by birth Miz Abramović, who apparently once described herself as the "Grandmother of Performance Art," has been making decidedly intense, sometimes obtuse, often enigmatic and frequently controversial performance-based artwork for more than three decades. Art-minded types probably already know and recall that from mid-March to the tail end of May 2010 the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown Manhattan held a comprehensive retrospective of her work that included the punishing 736.5 hour extended performance of The Artist is Present during which Miz Abramović, weirdly regal in a floor-length blue or red wizard-like outfit and a sloppy side pony braid, sat silent, all but immobile at a small table set up in the airy atrium of the museum where spectators, one at a time, sat in an opposite chair for as long or short amount of time as they wished. The artist and the sitter(s) simply stared at each other, a quiet and painfully self-conscious yet terrifically dynamic exercise that produced a variety of (sometimes emotional) responses from participants, some who returned several and even many times. Your Mama did not sit with Miz Abramović during her epic performance but we do know a number who did. Most said they were mesmerized and unexpectedly moved and the others thought it was a silly waste of time.

Anyhoo, property records are a bit vague for Miz Abramović's SoHo spread, but previous reports about the apartment indicate she acquired the approximately 3,000 square foot full-floor loft sometime in 2001 for around $1,500,000. Current monthly maintenance charges run $2,269 per month).

The sixty-something year old avant garde art star later and somewhat recently had the apartment overhauled from top to bottom by New York-based architect Dennis Wedlick. A 2010 article in the New York Times states that Miz Abramović provided Mister Wedlick 4 months and three-quarters of a million clams to re-work the loft in to its present condition, a light-filled minimalist urban retreat with direct (manually operated) elevator access and gleaming gallery white walls juxtaposed with very purposeful and vibrant bursts of color. An interior structure compactly and cost-effectively encloses a variety of the apartment's plumbing and service areas into a single, permeable and semi-transparent 325-ish square foot interior volume that contains a fitted dressing room in the master bedroom, a half bathroom off the long, window-lined entrance gallery, a luxurious but utilitarian master bathroom, and a wee but well-equipped galley style kitchen. The outer wall of the translucent light box-like structure is lined with aluminum framed frosted glass panels that swing open or twist close to reveal or conceal the inner areas as desired or necessary.

About half the approximately 3,000 square foot spread encompasses a prairie-like living and dining area with 11-foot (or so) ceiling, 13 over-sized windows that run in perfect sequence around two walls, an acre of white-washed hardwood floors, and an extensive lighting system. Listing photos show the vast, sun-bleached space divided into three distinct areas: a lounge with low-slung Euro-style contemporary and mid-century modern furnishings; a dining area near the kitchen; and an open space outfitted with little more than a personal (and trendy) Pilates machine.

Certainly Miz Abramović has a studio space where she exercises her creative impulses but Your Mama imagines Miz Abramović might sometimes instruct her team of hipster assistants and minimum wage booty kissers to push all the low-slung Patricia Urquiola-designed Lowseat sofas up against the walls when she's feeling in the mood to interpretive dance or wants to rehearse one of her mind and body challenging performance pieces that have made her rich and famous, or at least famous in the Art World, caps intended.

The galley style kitchen, small as it may be, packs an ocular punch with top-of-the-line Euro-style appliances, custom fabricated polished concrete counter tops, and lacquered turquoise and apple green flat-fronted cabinetry. We're certain many if not most of the children will poo-poo the eye-popping color scheme in the kitchen but Your Mama, an out-and-out sucker for bright and/or shiny things, happens to think it's the bees knees in contemporary kitchen design.

A coat closet and larger storage closet flank a door that leads to the building's interior stair hall and helps to define a bookshelf-lined office nook nestled in next to a series of sliding panels that disappear completely into the wall when fully opened to reveal the apartment's lone bedroom, a sizable multi-windowed room with commodious walk-in closet, even larger custom-fitted dressing room, and master bathroom that offers top quality Thassos marble tile floors and walls, two cast concrete sinks on a cornflower blue pedestal, a separate cast concrete soaking tub and opaque glass panels that slide open to reveal the terlit and bee-day and large shower enclosure with pebble tile flooring.

Listing information indicates a second bedroom can be "easily added" without compromising the overall expansiveness of the loft by sectioning off a small portion of the main living space.

In addition to her sparely done loft in downtown Manhattan, Miz Abramović also owns a semi-rural retreat in out-of-the-way Malden Bridge, NY she acquired in March 2007, according to property records, for $1,350,00. The star-shaped residence's original architect Dennis Wedlick was quickly commissioned by Miz Abramović and given 8 weeks and a quarter million dollars to "strip the house bare," paint the ceilings white, refinish the wood floors, remove various columns that cluttered up the space and relocate the driveway to the rear of the residence because, according to Miz Abramović, "Americans like to park their cars in front of the house. This is unacceptable. A car should be parked out behind the barn." It was her positive experience with Mister Wedlick in Malden Bridge that prompted her to re-hire the smart architect to, as mentioned above, re-work her downtown digs.

listing photos and floor plan: Sotheby's International Realty

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Visit to a Bed and Breakfast in Washington County



I hope everyone’s Christmas was as wonderful as ours!  Above is the sweets table that my sister-in-law Shannon sets up each year.  Laden with handmade gingerbread houses and peppermint sticks, it’s the focal point of the living room.   




Each Christmas the Webbs and the Wills families get together to celebrate at the KW Ranch in Chappell Hill Texas where Ben’s brother Kirk lives the life of a gentleman rancher with his wife and two children.  There are horses and donkeys and one cow, but Bella’s just a pet – one of the very few lucky Texas Longhorns that doesn’t have to worry about the slaughter house.  There are fancy chickens that have fancy white plumes who lay pastel colored eggs.   There are five English Springer Spaniels and a few barn cats that live indoors.  The acreage is planted with bluebonnets and roses, not crops.  In other words, it’s not a working ranch – rather a home with acreage where extended family and friends come to swim in the summer and sit around the fire pit in the winter.   A special treat this year was a fireworks show put on by Kirk and Elisabeth’s boyfriend, Rob. It rivaled any professional show I’ve ever seen. Of course, it took 3 trips to the stand just to collect enough fireworks.  Thankfully, no one was injured either.



The Southern Rose Ranch, a Chappell Hill Bed and Breakfast


During Christmas, the house is filled with visiting family, so Ben and I usually stay in the Casita – the small guest house. But, this year there were extra guests and the Casita was full,  so we opted to stay across the street at the Southern Rose Ranch, a charming bed and breakfast owned by Donna and Steve Cummins.  The Cummins were out of town for Christmas, so we had the run of their ranch all to ourselves.  The two suite B&B is located in the beautiful and historic Washington County of Texas, halfway between Austin and Houston and close to Round Top.   While we missed the scrumptious breakfasts that Donna serves to her guests, it was fun to pretend the Southern Rose Ranch was all ours – if only for a few days.




The front yard of the Southern Rose Rose is an extra large pasture.  The two story main house overlooks the rolling landscape where the cows and horses have staked their claim.  Directly across the street from the B&B is the Webb’s KW Ranch – their ranches face each other.   In this picture, you can see how far back the main house of the B&B is from the road.  The ranch sits on a total of 33 acres.





And looking the other direction from the Southern Rose Ranch.  Sitting on the main house’s front porch you can see across the street to Shannon and Kirk’s KW Ranch.   Everyone in this area uses golf carts to visit neighbors or to go fishing in the lakes.   Notice how the land is slightly rolling.   At the end of this street, the hill gets quite high and the view of the countryside is incredible.




To enter the B&B, you drive down a long gravel road that runs along the back side of the property.  A wooden fence and a Welcome Sign mark the entrance.




The B&B consists of two suites that are located in their own building which is painted red with a metal seam roof.   If you are hesitant about B&Bs because you prefer privacy – this is the place for you.   The B&B is completely separate from the inn keeper’s house.  It’s like owning your own little house on a big ranch.    The covered porch has rocking chairs to enjoy the view.  One room, the Star Suite, is larger than the other with a full kitchen and living room.  The smaller room – the Rose Suite – has a kitchenette and a great bathroom.



The view off the porch shows the front pasture and the main house where the inn keepers, the Cummins, live.  The open air stone building is an outdoor kitchen/dining room with a hot tub.  



To the left of the B&B is another pasture and barn which their cows and horses call home.   The horses were really friendly but were probably wondering who we were!




You can barely seem them, but Elisabeth and her friend Rob, from New Hampshire, bought apples and carrots to feed to the horses.  Notice the cute red barn seen in the distance. 



Little Lucy had so much fun chasing the horses around, as long as they couldn’t get outside their fence, that is!



Of the three horses, this one was my favorite – so beautiful!



The Cummins raise the unusually beautiful Belted Galloway cows, distinguished by a large white band around their middle.    They are nicknamed Oreo cows and Texas Zebras because of their distinct white stripe.



The baby cows are the cutest!!



One morning the skies threatened to rain.  You can just barely see Shannon and Kirk’s red barn with its metal roof in the upper right of this picture.  It looks like the Cummins are trying to grow a few baby trees in the pasture.   They probably need more shade for the cows and horses during the summer. 





Looking back from the front pasture to the B&B and on the left, the outdoor kitchen and the main house.




The Cummins live here in the main house, a darling two story traditional farmhouse.



But, the stone outdoor kitchen is the real focal point of the ranch.  It resembles a pioneer house, without it’s roof.  It looks like a true centuries old structure that’s been long abandoned.  Log railings lead to the hot tub that is located next to the stone kitchen.



You have your choice of several different BBQ pits. 



The structure looks like an authentic 18th century abandoned home that’s lost its roof.   Actually,  it’s brand new!!




At night you can sit around the roaring fire to keep warm.



There are “windows” without glass – and a “roof” without a ceiling. 



Throughout the property little vignettes are set up, like this seating area near the hand pump and pump house.  In the spring and summer, there are flowers and roses everywhere.  It’s still very green considering this is the dead of winter. 




The area in front of the B&B is cool and shady – great in the summer.  There’s even a hammock set up under the Live Oak tree.



We hated to leave, but after a few days, we needed to head back to Houston.  Hopefully we’ll stay here again next Christmas.  Reserve the two suites for us, Donna!     I didn’t take any pictures of the suites because of course we made a huge mess in them.  But below are a few pictures taken from the web site so you can get an idea of what the suites look like.  Be sure to peruse their web site if you are planning a stay in the region.  It’s a very popular B&B so make reservations ahead of time to insure a room. 



The Star Suite has two beds plus a kitchen and living room.



The Rose Suite has a kitchenette with a sitting area and a huge, beautiful bathroom and tub!



The bathroom in the Rose Suite.  There is also a separate shower stall.



A nighttime shot of the outdoor kitchen all lit up – so romantic!!!




Watch the video of the Southern Rose Ranch B&B HERE.




Of course the prettiest time to visit Chappell Hill is during the spring when the countryside is covered in Texas bluebonnets.  The landscape looks like it is painted with a stroke of purple.  It is impossible to describe its beauty.  The perfect time to come is the first weekend in April when the Round Top Antiques Fair is held –  the bluebonnets are at their peak then.   Round Top is just a short drive from Chappell Hill.


For more information, see the Southern Rose Ranch web site HERE.

In Style Bigwig and Project Accessory Judge Sells Downtown Digs

SELLER: Ariel Foxman
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $949,000
SIZE: 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: As anyone who knows Your Mama will probably ruefully and woefully attest, we love us a reality television program. We can't help it. So many of them cater to the trailer trash that runs in trace amounts in our decidedly not-blue blood and with this genetic sickness we will test drive just about any old reality tee-vee turd ball that comes along. Of course, we don't keep watching most reality programs. After all, just how many episodes of a morbidly over-weight dance teacher who screams and wags her luridly manicured fingers at the neurotic mothers of the talented tweenage girls she teaches to tap and grind can a person take, you know?

Being unfortunately inclined towards reality teev-vee, it didn't even occur to Your Mama not to tune in for the first few episodes of the first season of Project Accessory, a recent if not quite full term off-spring of supermodel Heidi Klum's boob-toob gold mine Project Runway. Much to our own surprise we worked our way through the entire first season and saw the winner crowned (or whatever) but our inner jury remains in a hostile flux about the continued watchability of future seasons. Not only is Molly Sims–no offense to the tall darlin'–a pale facsimile of Miz Klum's accented camp but a fair number of the contestants were not particularly compelling which would be okay if they made compelling cuffs, handbags and belly chains but, alas...

But we digress. One of the regular judges on Project Accessory's first season was a compact-looking, chisel-chinned, droopy-eyed and well-pressed young(ish) gentleman named Ariel Foxman, the honcho editor at celebrity-focused magazine InStyle and the sartorial-minded son of Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman.

Previous to sitting atop the mast head at InStyle Mister Foxman headed up the thankfully defunct Condé Nast men's shopping guide Cargo. It was during his years at Cargo, in the mid-Aughts, that the New York Observer reported and revealed in April 2006 that Mister Foxman received (and did other favored editors, editrixes and executives at Condé Nast) some sort of mortgage assistance in 2005 when he purchased what was then described in the Observer as an "oversized one-bedroom spread that had listed for $625,000."

As it turns out Mister Foxman paid handsomely for his co-operative apartment located a momentary stroll to the insanely chic or, depending on your view of the 'hood's gentrification, jump-the-shark sheek collision of the West Village and the Meatpacking District, a once stinky, out of the way corner of Manhattan where the streets literally ran with animal blood and now transformed in to an upscale and urbane shopping and dining district dense with fancy-schmancy eateries, high-cost hotels and private clubs, emergent and established art galleries, a glassy Apple store and scads of designer boo-teeks.

The fine folks at StreetEasy and Property Shark both show Mister Foxman, in February 2005, actually paid $695,000 for his fifth floor, three-exposure, 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom apartment in the well regarded Art Deco-style Abingdon Court building. That price, according to Your Mama's bejeweled abacus, is more than ten percent over the asking price.

Mister Foxman briefly and unsuccessfully attempted to sell his West Village one bedroom over the summer of 2009 when he heaved it on the market with a $995,000 price tag. For unknown reasons, Mister Foxman quickly caught a classic case of The Real Estate Fickle and de-listed his stylish downtown bachelor pad just three weeks later.

Fast forward to July of this year (2011) when Mister Foxman once again listed his fully updated and contemporized pre-war one bedroom bolthole with a $995,000 price tag. Three weeks later the co-op crib went to contract–that's like escrow for all the west coasters–but that deal soon swirled down the real estate terlit as some deals do and by late September the apartment was back on the market, again at $995,000. A week later the price dropped to $949,000 and about three weeks after that the apartment was once again put into contract. Mazel Tov! and ¡Buena Suerte!

Listing information for Mister Foxman's apartment doesn't indicate the square footage but we guesstimate it's a generous but far from huge 800 or maybe 850 square feet. What listing information does reveal is that the three exposures are to the north, west and east and that the monthly maintenance cost for the full-service building runs a not insignificant $1,205 per month.

The apartment opens, as do many decent-sized one bedroom pre-war one bedroom apartments in Manhattan, directly into a large foyer that could, if the occupant so chose, do double duty as an intimate (if essentially windowless) dining room. The deep ebony wood floors and crisp white walls in the foyer extend into the step-down corner living room with excellent windows on two walls and just enough floor space to accommodate a proper seating lounge/tee-vee nook and a dining area just large enough for six to sit for a take-out from Fatty Crab. Generally speaking Mister Foxman's tailored but contemporary clean-lined day-core is lovely except for that upsetting pair of two-toned armchairs that flank the wall-mounted flat screen tee vee and the credenza below it. Probably they were bought at Wyeth or on 1st Dibs for as much as a Fiat 500 but we just don't get it.

The galley-style kitchen isn't large by any stretch but it more than adequate for Manhattan where many residents rarely cook has a window and is fully upgraded with plenty of counter space for laying out the hors d'oeuvres and booze bottles, dark and sleek flat-fronted Euro-style lower cabinets for hiding ugly pots and pans, and open shelves above the white counter tops for displaying daily dishes. Mister Foxman (or his nice-gay or lady decorator) slathered the rear wall of the kitchen, a wall complicated with a radiator and a large but off-center window, in a patterned wallpaper that looks like some sort of winter time forest scene, a naked birch trees in the snow sort of thing. We're still torn up by the notion of wallpaper in general and this wallpaper in particular. We want to like it but we're afraid to commit and worry about it's trendiness despite the fact it's been in decorative resurgence for more than 10 years.

Anyhoo, Mister Foxman (or, again, his nice-gay or lady decorator) opted for an abstract pattern wallpaper in his boo-dwar where the long wall behind his Nakashima-esque bed frame is sheathed in a somewhat dizzying but not unpleasant vertical striped wall covering in repeating shades of blue. The bedroom benefits from two closets–or one long one with two doors as shown on the floor plan–and windows on two walls that encourage cross ventilation.

Listing photographs do not show the one bathroom but does describe it as "Deco" which means either the original Art Deco-era bathroom has been retained (and presumably restored) or an all new "Deco" style facility was installed to replace the original one.

We really haven't any idea where Mister Foxman might go now that his one bedroom and one bathroom co-op in the West Village is–knock on wood–about to be sold but given that's he's now the honcho of a huge celebrity-culture driven magazine and a judge on a reality television program Your Mama imagines he might feel he wants a second bedroom (and maybe even a second bathroom) so his overnight house guests don't have to bed down on an air mattress in the living room anymore.

listing photos and floor plan: Corcoran

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Producer Randy Barbato Lists Hollywood House

SELLER: Randy Barbato
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $1,649,000
SIZE: 2,512 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms (plus guest house)

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: It was only a few weeks ago alterna-super-producer Fenton Bailey put a $1,649,000 price tag on his historic and nicely provenanced Arts and Crafts bungalow in the Hollywood Heights area of Los Angeles, CA, built in the early 1920s by Hollywood's first art director Wilfred Buckland.

This week Mister Bailey's long-time b.f.f. and producing partner at World of Wonder Productions Randy Barbato pushed his own historic 1925 Spanish style hillside mini-compound on the market, also and in what may or may not be a coincidence, with a $1,649,000 price tag.

The Emmy-nominated Misters Barbato and Bailey co-founded and co-operate one of the finest and funkiest production houses in Tinseltown that creates and produces a long list of reality television shows and documentary-type movies both mainstream and somewhat subversive. They are the people responsible for boob-toob fare such as Million Dollar Listing, Becoming Chaz (and Being Chaz), RuPaul's Drag Race, and silver screen things like Party Monster, and the ever-popular, unexpectedly touching and simply lashtacular The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

Property records show handsome Mister Barbato, who like and with Mister Bailey sprang forth in a hail of rainbow sprinkles from the bowels of NYU and the decadent downtown Manhattan underground club scene in the mid-1980s, purchased his discreetly situated, masculine edged, and glamour-tinged hillside house above Hollywood in May 2003 for $1,113,500.

Current listing information indicates the two-story main house, perched privately well above the tail end of a sleepy cul-de-sac (with easy freeway access) in the Hollywood Dell 'hood, encompasses a relatively modest 2,512 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. A wee but voluminous detached guest suite, atop the street-level garage and divided from the main house by a narrow brick courtyard, offers an additional living/sleeping space and one more three-quarter pooper.

A stingy vestibule is all that separates the front door from the damn near baronial living room that extends 30-feet in the long direction and benefits from beautifully well-worn wide plank wood floors, coved ceiling, and a wide arched windows and French doors on three of its four walls. The day-core is both cutting edge and ironically referential and conducive to both civilized and uncivilized cocktail parties, particularly the sorts of parties where nobody would notice or mind if Your Mama slipped off our metallic gold sneaker to run our stubby toes over that pale burgundy rug that looks like it might be silk or some other synthetic yet sumptuous fiber.

A short corridor off the living room connects to the main entertainment terrace at the rear of the house and provides for a welcomed modicum of privacy for a pin thin but decadently done powder pooper with luscious carved marble sink and small carpet in front of the crapper woven with one of pop art star Andy Warhol's famous soup can paintings, in this instance tomato rice flavor.

A shallow but wide pointed arch joins the living room the just about square dining room where Mister Barbato (or his decorator A.J. Bernard or maybe some other nice-gay or lady decorator) wisely installed a massive circular dining room table. The ceiling is coved, the floors laid with shiny pavers set at a 45-degree angle to the room, and a wide row of French doors that open to the slim courtyard that separates the main house from the detached guest suite with laundry facilities.

The 45-degree angle shiny paver tiles extend into and through the generous eat-in kitchen daring makes use of both sleek modern cabinetry and old-timey country kitchen type cabinetry unified with a pale, cement-colored grey paint. The appliances are high-grade and stainless steel, hefty rough-hewn wood beams cross the ceiling in rapid succession, a bistro-ish vertical stripe curtain charmingly hides a section of the lower cabinets near the sink and dishwasher–we'd imagine the refuse and recycling bins are in there–and a vintage work table with vintage lab stool runs down the center of the room for food prep and service, snack and/or booze ingestion, and cozy kitchen confidentials with pals.

An archway in the kitchen, which can be closed off with curtains instead of doors, leads into the intimately scaled family room with gleaming paver tiles on the floor, heavy and rough-hewn beams across the ceiling, a comfy looking velvet upholstered and down-filled sofa, a wall-mounted flat screen tee-vee, and French doors that open, rather dangerously for anyone boozed up or otherwise intoxicated, to a narrow strip of brick terrace that girdles the plunge-sized swimming pool.

A tight, enclosed staircase curls up from the dining room to an architecturally dramatic landing (not pictured here) where two impressively sized guest/family bedrooms (above, lower left and right) share a fully-renovated bathroom Jack-and-Jill style bathroom. Listing photos suggest Mister Barbato utilizes one of the guest/family bedrooms as a home office/library (above, lower right) as it's lined with bookshelves, filled with contemporary art and objet, and furnished with a plaid curtains, a distressed leather club chair, and a desk that looks too damn tiny to do anything besides sit at and talk on the phone.

The sufficient but hardly huge master suite (above, top left and right) offers Mister Barbato a manly (or "manly") but elegant retreat for slumber and love making that includes magnificent mahogany floor-to-ceiling built-in wardrobes with an integrated dresser and gorjus arched French doors that link to a private terrace with an over the tree tops canyon view. The attached bathroom (above, top right) is average sized but remodeled on an above average manner with a masculine mix of modern details (frameless glass shower enclosure) with the vibe of a vintage haberdashery or upscale barber shop (dark wood paneling).

Listing information and online marketing materials state Mister Barbato has put somewhere around $400,000 into upgrades and renovations that include but are not limited to renovation of master bedroom and both upstairs bathrooms (as well as the detached guest suite crapper), the restoration and re-tiling of various patios and terraces, and the smart addition of an adjoining parcel of land that brings the total property size to approximately three-fifths of an acre (25,197 square feet as per listing information).

Outdoor lounging and entertaining areas are many in the thickly and thoughtfully landscaped backyard areas comprised of copious courtyards, numerous patios, and various pathways that zig zag up, down and around the terraced hillside that rises steeply from the back of the house. The gardens and terraces are, by our humble and meaningless opinion, impeccable. We wouldn't change a single drought tolerant anything. We are however, concerned about the squeezy plunge pool. We do love a plunge pool–we are most definitely not a size queen when it comes to cement ponds–so the two- or maybe three-person pool isn't an issue at all. However, anyone who knows Your Mama knows we do love us a big bottle of booze so, natch, it's the balance beam thin strip of terrace that surrounds the pool that has us most concerned. We'd surely be loathe to spend the time and energy to walk around and through the house to get from the living room to the back terrace but the reality is we don't have the best equilibrium when sauced up on the hooch and, too, we do so hate to get wet when we're drunk. 'Tis a quandary for sure but thankfully we're not in the market for a new house.

Anyhoo, the detached guest suite (above), which y'all will recall sits above the street level garage and across a small courtyard from the main house, includes a bedroom area with vaulted ceiling and a wall of quasi-rugged reclaimed wood paneling and arched windows with cul-de-sac view. There's also a truly tiny closet, a tight but well-equipped three-quarter bathroom, laundry facilities, and a tight corkscrew stair that winds down to the garage. Only a gossamer curtain separates the sleeping area from the laundry area and the spiral staircase (over which hangs various yard care implements such as a rake), which means unless the curtain is drawn you're sleeping in the garden shed/laundry room, a fancy laundry room/garden shed but a laundry/garden shed room none-the-less. Our imperious and sometimes openly hostile house gurl Svetlana would have a conniption over the set up. Beehawtcha will sleep in a room adjacent to the laundry room but she will not, under any circumstances except drunkenness, sleep in the laundry room.

One presumes both Mister Barbato and Bailey plan to move on to bigger and better digs in Los Angeles but we haven't any inside intel as to where they plan to lay their heads and host holiday parties next. Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?

listing photos: Sotheby's International Realty

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Von Dutch Tycoon Tonny Sorensen Lists L.A. Crib

SELLER: Tonny Sorensen
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $6,900,000
SIZE: 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Once upon a time, in the not so distant fashion past, every celebrity-oriented blog and gossip glossy regularly featured photographs of Von Dutch trucker hat wearing celebs who included Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Gwen Stefani, Nic Cage, Sheryl Crow, Beyoncé, and Ashton Kutcher who was pretty much the poster boy for the trucker hat trend that had reached both its zenith and nadir by the mid-Aughts.

From the heads of celebrities the Von Dutch trucker hat found its way to the mall-walking masses and became much favored head wear by many of the same sorts of people who, without a shred of irony, succumbed to sartorial absurdities such as bedazzled Ed Hardy t-shirts and pastel-colored velour lounge outfits with the word "JUICY" emblazoned the ass.

We can, in all sincerity and truthfulness, say that neither Your Mama nor the Dr. Cooter–or anyone we know for that matter–fell prey to the Von Dutch millinery mania that became so feverish, over-hyped and over-exposed that some stylistas and fashionistas began to refer snidely to the brand as "Von Douche."

The Von Dutch label, which bloomed out of the southern California custom and vintage car subculture, was not created by but was foisted on the world by Danish-born arts- and (pop) culture-minded entrepreneur Tonny Sorensen who in invested in and became CEO of the Von Dutch apparel label sometime around the turn of the century.

The Von Dutch label was sold to multi-national footwear and apparel conglomerate Groupe Royer in 2009 and Mister Sorensen has moved on to other ventures that include the creative networking and brand building site Planet illogica and California Christiana Republic whose sole product seems to be the so-called OneZ, an utterly mortifying pajama-like garment that bears a striking similarity to the fleecy and freaky Forever Lazy.

But we digress. Fascinatin' as it all may be it is not, after all, Mister Sorensen's psychically cataclysmic clothing products we are here to discuss but rather the sleek Beverly Hills, CA house he's quietly put up for sale with an asking price of $6,900,000.

Property records reveal Mister Sorensen acquired the crescent-shaped crib in February 2004 for $4,100,000 and listing information states the single-story 4 bedroom and 5 bathroom residence was subsequently and completely remodeled. Listing information doesn't indicate the square footage but the Los Angeles County Tax Man shows the house was originally built in 1961 and measures in at a considerable but far from gargantuan 4,990 square feet.

A gated motor court at the front of the property parks upwards of 20 cars for parties and other charity events and a shallow moat runs along the front of the house where the front door opens into a spacious open plan living room with bleached (or otherwise almost white) hardwood floors, a bank of floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that connect to the backyard entertainment areas, and a double-sided fireplace flanked by floor-to-ceiling book cases and display shelves.

The living room bleeds seamlessly into a glass-walled formal dining room with a possibly but probably not-vintage Verner Panton Globe Pendant light and the dining room, which does double duty as a home office in listing photos, in turn opens into an airy and very contemporary eat-in kitchen complete with long center island, cantilevered snack counter, sleek flat-fronted Euro-style cabinetry, over-sized windows with garden and city views, and a full complement of super-slick, high-cost Euro-style stainless steel appliances.

Since they're not shown in any of the listing photos we have access to, we can't say a damn thing about the three family/guest bedrooms or any of the 5 bathrooms. Listing images do show a sizable, architecturally pared down master bedroom with its full wall of floor-to-ceiling glass sliders that open to the swimming pool area and double-sided fireplace. The over-sized firebox opens on the other side to the living room which allows anyone in the living room to look directly into the master bedroom, a serious concern to anyone concerned their full-time house gurl or weekend house guest might want to sneak a peek at their private bedroom activities.

The slim backyard wraps around and hugs the back of the house and is divided into various areas that include a dining terrace, small grass patch for the pooches, and a swimming pool surrounded by a narrow strip of decking. The ground falls away beyond the swimming pool and allows for lovely if not particularly amazing city lights view over the shrubbery and tree tops that pepper the down slope.

The Trousdale Estates 'hood, soon to be gabbed about in all its louche, mid-century modern glory in an upcoming book by Steven Price, has long been home to oodles of Tinseltown luminaries and some of Mister Sorensen's nearest neighbors include 4-time Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman (Young Adult, Up In The Air, Juno)

The trendy (and quite pricey) Trousdale Estates neighborhood, soon to be gabbed about in all its mid-century modern glory in an upcoming book by Steven Price, has long been appealing to Tinseltown types and indeed Mister Sorensen's sleek next in the hills sits sugar borrowing distance from 4-time Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman (Young Adult, Up In The Air, Juno).

Property records show that in June 2010 Mister Sorensen dropped $1,200,000 to purchase a rugged, rustic, and semi-remote ranch spread in Three Rivers, CA (above) that encompasses more than 600 acres, borders the Sequoia National Park, has nearly a mile of frontage on the south fork of the Kaweah River, offers stunning and staggering views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains, and includes a perfectly ordinary (and even dumpy) 1,650 square foot residence with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a detached four-car garage perfect for stashing and storing a sliver of Mister Sorensen's extensive vintage car collection.

listing photos (Beverly Hills): Westside Estate Agency 
listing photos (Three Rivers): Century 21 Three Rivers

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Few Links to Keep Y'all Busy For the Holidays

photo: Your Mama

Happy Holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Festivus, Whatever) from Your Mama, the Dr. Cooter, our long-bodied bitches Linda and Beverly, and our mean ol' pussy Sugar.

Your Mama thought some of the children might need or want a brief escape their familial holiday psychodramas so below are a few links to keep y'all busy and distracted.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that rumored to be on the rocks Tinseltown married couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith have quietly sold their 7-acre spread with it's plantation style residence (above) that overlooks Secret Beach near Hanalei on the island of Kauai in Hawaii for $20,000,000, $6,500,000 more than they paid two year ago.

As shown above, recently engaged pop superstar Britney Spears liberally festooned her newly leased mansion in Thousand Oaks, CA with bazillions of twinkling Christmas lights and a rather disturbing number of lighted holiday inflatables.

listing photo: The Levin Group

Hollywood heiress and reality television star Tori Spelling sold her big mansion in Encino and dropped $2,400,000 on a much more modestly scaled (if still quite pricey) ranch house in the Point Dume area of Malibu (above).

And, finally, just in case some of y'all might be boozed up on egg nog and/or artificially mellowed out with Mary Jane or a big fat nerve pill we bring you something deliciously syrupy and disturbingly maudlin courtesy of our boozy b.f.f. Fiona Trambeau who sent out this this little video ditty of the incomparable (and barely conscious) Petty Lee as her digital Christmas card.