Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Catch Up: Rafael Marquez

SELLER: Rafael Márquez
PRICE: $10,950,000
SIZE: 4,042 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: As was first reported ages ago by the property peeps at The Real Deal, internationally known professional soccer player Rafael Márquez has his sprawling Manhattan combo-condo on the market for $10,950,000. Property records show the Mexican-born soccer star purchased the two-until combination apartment in the last days of 2010 for $6,395,000.

Presumably the decision to list has everything to do with the Mexican-born footballer being released a few months early from his $4.5 million dollar annual contract with the New York Red Bulls. The release, so the stories go, may have had something to do with injuries and suspensions that kept the ball kicker off the field more than 50% of the time during his tenure with the Red Bulls. Mister Márquez went—or soon will go if he hasn't already—back to his native Mexico where he was immediately picked up by the Léon team.
Numerous reports say the W. 17th Street apartment has six bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms but a quick study of the floor plan included with current listing details shows the 4,042 square foot 7th floor spread has four bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms and 20 windows on three exposures. The corner living/dining space stretches 35-feet and the adjacent kitchen is eat-in with a enviable walk-in pantry.

The northwest wing, easily and conveniently closed off from the rest of the apartment, contains two roomy guest/family bedrooms plus a family room and a shared compartmentalized bathroom. An unusually large guest suite, perfectly situated for over night guest privacy in the opposite southeast corner of the apartment, has a small sitting room/office, a separate bedroom, a windowless five piece facility and a fitted dressing room that's quite a bit roomier, perhaps, than any number of $3,000 per month studio apartments in the West Village.

The master suite, off the foyer, just past the over-sized laundry room, encompasses a long entry vestibule lined with closets (or maybe they're shelves or some other thing entirely), a surprisingly compact bedroom, a pair of separate but interconnected and gloriously windowed dressing rooms, and an only partially private bathroom with twin sinks, separate tub and shower and—thankfully—and enclosed cubicle for the crapper.

The apartment also has generous 10.5 foot ceilings, a central sound system, a multi-zone air condition system and steam heating. Monthly taxes and common charges come to $7,469, as per listing details.

exterior photo: Nicholas Strini for Property Shark
floor plan: Douglas Elliman

Tuesday Catch Up: Jacqueline Laurita

In other semi-celebrity foreclosure news and gossip, The Real Housewife of New Jersey's Jacqueline Laurita and her entrepreneurial businessman husband Chris are reported by TMZ to be faced with the gaping maw of foreclosure on their Franklin Lakes, NJ mini-mansion.*

It appears the Laurita's purchased their 1.75 acre semi-rural suburban spread in November 2001 for $1,720,000. We don't know a thing about the Franklin Lakes real estate market so we don't have a clue what's its street value is but public records show that in 2011 the Bergen County Tax Man assessed the property at $2,199,200 and levied a tax bill of $33,647.76. In The previous two years the house had been assessed at at much higher $2,6450,000.

According to TMZ, Mister and Missus Laurita missed one of their nearly $11,000 monthly payments on an approximately $1.6 million dollar mortgage back in spring 2012. The terms of their mortgage, so the story goes, allows the lender to demand full repayment of the loan if even a single installment is missed. We don't have any idea, of course, these Laurita people were living beyond their means, if they just found themselves in an unexpected financial tight spot and without the funds for just one mortgage payment or if they missed multiple payments. All are believable scenarios. So are other explanations like paperwork snafu, Post Office error or some sort of family emergency.

Property records show Mister and Missus Laurita's architecturally vague mini-mansion was built in the early Aughts, measures 5,674 square feet, and is both across and down the street a from one of the half dozen or so small bodies of water after which Franklin Lakes was named.

At least once Missus Laurita invited the Bravo cameras through her wood-worky residence for a tour that revealed the Housewife—who pretty much is a housewife—organizes the books in her wood-paneled library by subject matter, as in most bookstores. Your Mama organizes our always expanding collection of paperbacks by color, natch, but we appreciate Missus Laurita's organizational efforts immensely. Anyhoo...

She goes on to drag the camera into one of her children's bedrooms where she shows off the rather extensive collection of tiny shoes that belong to a toddler boy child. Next she Carol Merrills her way through her and her husbands separate, custom-fitted walk-in closet/dressing rooms before she heads down to the well-stocked walk-in wine cellar.

All this mortgage and foreclosure nonsense ought to be cleared up, if it hasn't been already because, seriously, what's eleven thousand dollars to people who spend thousands of dollars on dozens of pairs of shoes for their toddler? Fer chrissakes, even Your Mama got $11,000 in the damn bank.

We're sure Missus and Mister Laurita—and all the many other "housewives" who faced financial peril and ruin in the public eye—would love for all this ugliness to go down without the tabs and snarky property gossips butting in with their ill-informed two cents. However, hunties, let Your Mama off all you "housewives" a bit of unsolicited tough love: You can not sell your cook books and hawk your handbags, promote your bottled water clients and peddle your insurance policies on the meatless backs of your reality genre fame and then expect the hoi polloi not to be curious about the gory details of your lives. Did you hear that? It's a reality show. They told y'all when you signed your contracts it was a reality show, right? We understand why they first season ladies in Orange County were taken by surprise by the celebrity monster but every one of you women after those first five shoulda known. You shoulda known.

The proverbial fame cat is next to impossible to get back in the bag except by, well, public obscurity. And that is certainly an option if y'all want to exercise it and then pursue your multi-pronged commercial endeavors on their own merits without the invaluable exposure you get for being a cast member who can plug their products mercilessly on one of the most successful reality television franchises to ever be conceived. Okay? Anyways...

*We know this bit of semi-celebrity real estate news went down a couple weeks ago but somehow we missed it. We figured maybe some of the children did too. Plus, earlier today Missus Laurita took to the Twitter to thank her local law enforcement people for their rapid response to a call about an attempted break in of her house. Apparently she watched a man walk across her yard and over her deck to the very door at which she was standing. That sounds goddamn scary, for real! The would-be intruder was caught on surveillance cameras and Your Mama expects he'll be apprehended shortly if he hasn't already. Nothing like a little criminal melodrama mixed in with an alleged financial pickle. Good grief. Anyways...

aerial photo: Bing

Tuesday Catch Up: Fantasia Barrino

She may have rocketed to fame as the winner of the third season of American Idol but fortune seems to have eluded three time Grammy nominee Fantasia Barrino who, bless her real estate heart, seems to have (yet again) run into a bit of a squeezy financial situation. Celebrity gossip juggernaut TMZ recently snitched that in an effort to avoid an ugly and protracted tangle with foreclosure Miz Barrino has voluntarily handed the keys to her approximately 6,5000 square foot residence in the upscale Glynmoor Lakes development in Charlotte, NC back to the bank.

Property records show Miz Barrino acquired the six bedroom and 5.5 bathroom pond-front mini-mansion of vexatiously indeterminate architectural style in March 2007 for $1.3 million.*

The last ditch effort to divest her property portfolio of this particular house is by far not Miz Barrino's first effort to deal with this unfortunate situation. In December 2008 foreclosure proceedings were initiated over an unpaid $58,000 loan Miz Barrino had previously (and reportedly) secured to pay taxes. Now, children, ain't that the very definition of robbing Peter to pay Paul? Let this be a lesson, kittens.

Anyhoo, Miz Barrino also attempted to sell the property last year for $800,000 but, alas, it went unsold and, well, here we are.

Property records show Miz Barrino also owns a smaller, 4,600-ish square foot residence less than a mile away as the crow flies but 2.4 miles by car in the Piper Glen Estates community. She bought the four bedroom and 3.5 bathroom abode in August 2004 for $740,000. As far as we can tell, this house is not currently for sale and is not subject to foreclosure.

*Some reports and other digital resources show the house has 5 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms.

photos: Google

Tuesday Catch Up: Vince Vaughn

After an arduous house hunt across Los Angeles, comedy and rom-com movie veteran actor Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers, The Break-up, Dodgeball) and his preggers wife Kyla have splashed out $3.925 million on a mini-mansion in the upscale suburban community of La Canada-Flintridge, CA.

The turn of the most recent century white clapboard center hall Colonial is trés Beaver Cleaver that measures in at 5,563 square feet of traditional living space with Brazilian cherry wood floors in the foyer, formal living and dining rooms, small paneled library/office, spacious center island kitchen and adjoining family room. Listing details indicate the house has five (en suite) bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms, two fireplaces and a front-facing three car garage.

The East Coast-y three-quarter acre spread has broad lawns, a pergola shaded terrace, a swimming pool and, tucked into a tangle of trees at the rear of the property, a sport court.

Our research shows the property is the second most expensive house to trade hands in the 91011 zip code in the last year or so, the most expensive being a Cape Cod style compound on 1.5 acres with 11 bathrooms, pool house, separate office suite wand a separate pavilion with screening room and music studio that sold in final days of 201 for $7.4 million.

If any of the children wanna peep a few more listing photos of the luxurious yet very ordinary residence visit the ever-industrious kids at Curbed.

This is not the first home Mister Vaughn has owned in Los Angeles. In early 1999 he paid $1,575,000 for a gated and privately situated house in the Oaks area of Los Feliz that he sold over the summer of 2005 for $4,050,000 to crime and sci-fi writer/producer René Echevarria. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Dark Angel, Medium, Castle, The 4400).

In Chicago, Mister (and Missus) Vaughn continue to own a four-story townhouse-type property in the River North area purchased in August 2005 for $1,425,5000. The couple has had the house on an off the rental market over the years at a variety of prices that range from $6,900-9,500 per month. He also still owns the somewhat legendary, 12,000 square foot triplex penthouse atop the Palmolive building that he bought in 2006 for $12,000,000, quietly tried to sell off market last year for $24,700,000 and eventually pushed on the open market with an $18.4 million price tag that eventually dropped to $16.75 million before he took it off the market in early 2013.

listing photos: Dilbeck Real Estate

Monday, April 29, 2013

Drake Bell Lists at a Loss in Los Feliz

SELLER: Drake Bell
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $1,400,000
SIZE: 3,400 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Yesterday Your Mama received a covert communique from a lovely lady we'll call Mustang Sushi who snitched that former child star, musician and reality game show contestant Drake Bell has heaved his hillside casa in L.A.'s celeb-friendly Los Feliz neighborhood on the market with a $1.4 million price tag.

All T. no shade, children but Your Mama didn't have a clue who Mister Bell is until we Blackled him and found out he was kind of a big deal in his later teen years when he co-starred on the wildly popular teen- and tween-oriented Nickelodeon sitcom Drake & Josh. Young Mister Bell, now in his mid-20s, penned the theme song for the partially eponymous program for which he received three consecutive Kids' Choice Awards for Favorite Television Actor.

Since Drake & Josh went dark in 2007 Mister Bell has appeared in more than a dozen television sitcoms and movies. He currently voices Peter Parker on The Ultimate Spider-Man and he appears as a contestant on the currently airing Joey Lawrence co-hosted reality game show Splash on which celebrities, semi-celebrities and former celebrities—many of whom Your Mama has never even heard of—strap themselves into sparkly bathing costumes and attempt to execute a variety of springboard and platform diving maneuvers.

As it happens Your Mama knows a thing or two about the sport of diving so we tuned in to Splash...once. We know it's not easy for an a non-diver to throw a forward 1.5 somersault in the pike position from the 10 meter platform like Mister Bell successfully but inelegantly did. And Your Mama knows as much as anyone that it takes real guts to get on national t.v. in a body revealing bathing suit. Never the less we found the whole thing bizarre to the point of surreal, uncomfortably nerve wracking and, well, vicariously humiliating to the degree that Your Mama and The Dr. Cooter had to split a damn nerve pill and an entire bottle of rosé just to get through pool side spectacle.

Mister Bell, some of y'all may know, has been much in the celebrity gossip blogs lately for his ongoing Twitter feud with Paris Jackson, the 15-year old daughter of the late Michael Jackson. Apparently she tweeted her annoyance over his snarky tweets about gangsta-pop entertainer Justin Bieber and his unreservedly fervid army of "Beliebers." He tweeted that she should know her place. She tweeted about him blocking her and so on and so forth. Could there be anything any more unsettling and depressing, butter beans, than a grown man having a digital slap fight with a teenage girl? No, there really isn't is there? Anyhoo...

Property records show young Mister Bell picked up his vintage, 1920s Spanish casa in Los Feliz in May 2007 for $2,050,000. Mister Bell has been on a short but wild real estate ride since he first pushed his house on the open market on the 20th of April with a $1,350,000 price tag. Two days later the house was in escrow and two days after that—having fallen out of escrow for reasons Your Mama knows nada—the house was re-listed at the inexplicably higher price of $1,630,000. The property was quickly de-listed and then re-listed the very next day with a much lower (but still higher than original) asking price of $1,400,000.

It doesn't take too much flickin' and clickin' on Your Mama's beloved bejeweled abacus to see that even if he sells the house for its full $1.4 million asking price Mister Bell stands to lose a toe curling $650,000 not counting carrying costs, improvements and real estate fees. Interestingly, as pointed out by our informant Miss Sally, listing details reveal Mister Bell's house is somewhere in the foreclosure process and any short pay sale will—natch—be subject to lender approval. That means, of course, Mister Bell could not only lose his proverbial shirt but also his credit rating.

The walled and gated three floor abode has four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms in 3,400 square feet according to listing details that go on to describe the residence as "turn key" with "Vintage accents, alcoves & arches, balconies, professional faux finishes throughout, custom paint color, designer fixtures & elegance that flows from room to room." Needless to say, perhaps, but Your Mama isn't sure the mucked up ceramic tile floors on the stairway between the living and dining rooms qualify as "turn key" and we are outright mortified by all the "professional faux finishes" seen throughout such as the strongly striated business that gives the living room walls the distinct the look of water staining.*

A rotunda entry with multi-colored stained glass windows steps down to the spacious formal living room that has dark wood floors, an extra-high ceiling crossed by carved wood beams, large windows and a tile-accented fireplace surmounted by a large flat-screen t.v. that's tied into an integrated surround sound system. Mister Bell has furnished the room in a kind of high camp decadence with a baby grand piano, a huge glass chandelier, decorative books and a lot of other this and thats that look like maybe a suburban Auntie Mame sort of lady might have picked out. It's all rather odd for a 26 year old man, right?

The upper level formal dining room overlooks the living room through an arched cut out and has glass doors that open to a small balcony with city and swimming pool views. Another wide archway joins the dining room to a dim-looking library nook and the kitchen, located across a corridor from the dining room, looks well-equipped (if dark and brooding) with heavily grained slab stone counter tops, dark chocolate-colored wood cabinetry, paver tile flooring and high-quality name brand stainless steel appliances.

Two of the four bedrooms are located on the home's lower level and, according to listing details, share a Jack 'n' Jill bathroom. One room is currently used as a home office and the other a den/t.v. lounge where the closet was converted to a full wet bar/mini kitchenette with sink, under counter fridge and built-in microwave. Both of the other bedrooms are, according to listing details, a master bedroom. One has a private entrance, both have private modern bathrooms and both have—like the living room— bordello-like day-core that Mister Bell (or his nice-gay or lady decorator) worked over in a uniform palette of earth tones and includes (but is far from limited to) decorative extravagances like a brocade coverlet, a brown tufted velvet headboard and pasamenterie trimmed taffeta and velvet drapery.

A long brick stairway bob and weaves its way down the hillside from the back of the house where it connects to a tree-shaded terrace and a swimming pool ringed by a thin strip ratty-looking grass and a thicket of foliage that looks like it could use some attention by Javier the jardinero.

*We have not, children, suggested the walls of Mister Bell's abode are actually water stained. We're saying the "professional faux finish" as seen in listing photos looks to Your Mama like water staining. Okay?

listing photos: RE/MAX Fine Homes

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Perfect Mother’s Day Gift & GIVEAWAY!!!



Just in time for Mother’s Day – we are hosting a linens giveaway and sale – courtesy of our sponsor Vero Linens. 


The giveaway:

One set of sheets:  flat & fitted, along with a pair of shams – in your choice of size and color!!



  Vero Linens are high quality, handcrafted Italian linens that are made from the finest Egyptian cotton.   What makes Vero so appealing to the consumer is that they sell bed linens worth over $1,000 for HALF the price!  How?  By knocking out the middle man – the retailer -  you now can buy high quality Italian linens for half the price.   To watch a video which explains how this huge savings is passed on to the customer, go HERE.


Since our last Vero Linens giveaway – they now have a brand new website which is much easier to navigate.  Additionally, they have produced over 25 “How To”  YouTube videos that are highly informative on everything from “how to care for your linens” to “how to properly make a bed” to “how to get rid of the wrinkles in your bed linens!”  To watch these videos, go HERE.


Vero Linens come in White, Ivory or Sable and either Plain or Stripes. 


We chose to run this giveaway around Mother’s Day because linens make the perfect gift.  As I’m sure you know – shopping for the mother who already has everything can be difficult for both her children and her husband.   A set of fine Italian linens is the ultimate gift that will last for years and years to come.   And, even better – husbands get to enjoy the gift too!!

Most exciting is in honor of Mother’s Day, Vero Linens is also offering a 10% discount for Cote de Texas readers. 


Besides sheets, Vero also sells down pillows and comforters, along with duvet covers  & matching shams.  They even have linen cleaning products available on their web site.

I must say that I own a set of Vero sheets and they launder so well and feel so silky and soft.  They are, without a doubt, the nicest, highest quality sheets I’ve ever owned.  Slipping into my bed is pure luxury!!


The Contest Details:

The contest will run until this Wednesday night at 11:59 PM. 

In order to enter the giveaway, you must first go to the Vero Linens web site HERE and pick out the color, size and pattern (either striped or plain) of sheets you would like if you are the winner.

Next, come back here to the blog and leave me a comment telling me your choices.

Also, if you have a Facebook page, please “LIKE” the Vero Linens Page HERE.

That’s All!!!

NOW, if you want to purchase a set of linens, go right ahead – no need to delay until the contest is over.  If you are chosen to be the winner, we will refund your payment! 

To receive your 10% discount – be sure to use the code:  “cotemom” when you make your purchase!

Vero web site:   https://www.verolinens.com/

A huge thank you to Vero Linens for this most generous giveaway!!

And, Good Luck!!!


Please note:  The promo code does not apply to the “Gold Package” – as this is a bundle of products which is already discounted 20%. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Taylor Swift Spends Big in Rhode Island

BUYER: Taylor Swift
LOCATION: Watch Hill, RI
PRICE: $17,750,000
SIZE: 11,000+ square feet, 8 bedrooms and at least 10.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Just a couple quick months after she flipped a house on Cape Cod—the one next door to her old teen-aged boyfriend Conor Kennedy's famed family compound—famously real estate fickle country queen Taylor Swift has reportedly dropped $17.75 on an historic, 16-room mansion on 5.23 water front acres in the charming seaside village of Watch Hill, RI. So celebrity gossip juggernaut TMZ breathlessly revealed, the 23 year old singer/songwriter paid for her new and exceptionally expensive real estate toy in cold hard cash. That's right. children. Beotch just wired the dough, so the story goes.

A little birdie we'll call Henry Hasthegoods slipped Your Mama some digital marketing materials via covert communique that shows the quintessentially East Coast seaside spread was designed by "an eminent Philadelphia architect" and built in 1930. The house, dubbed High Watch as per listing information, sits high and proud on a prominent rise where it lords over 700 feet of shoreline with uninterrupted views of Fishers Island Sound, Little Narragansett Bay, The Watch Hill Light House and a seven mile stretch of sandy beach. At 65 feet off the beach/water, listing details boldly states High Watch occupies what is "thought to be the highest point of direct waterfront land on the entire eastern seaboard, from Florida to Southern New England."

Marketing materials show the walled, gated and—no doubt—exuberantly secured ocean front estate was last listed for $24,000,000. A gated drive swoops up to a massive, parking lot-sized motor court in front of the house, a hulking Colonial style pile that measures more than 11,000 square feet spread out over four levels of living space. There are 8 bedrooms, at least 10.5 bathrooms, and a total of 8 fireplaces.

Multiple main floor reception rooms including (but not limited to) a 36-foot long parlor, a 45-foot long paneled sun room and an octagonal dining room with built in china cabinets. The over-sized kitchen has all the modern bells and whistles such as Sub-Zero fridge, warming drawer and wine cooler plus an adjoining sitting/family room with marble fireplace and sweeping views up and down the coastline.

There is, according to listing details, a guest/family bedroom with private bathroom on main floor. Four more guest/family bedrooms on the second floor each have en suite facilities and and expansive master suite is complete with two bathrooms, one for Miss Swift and another for her next boyfriend who may or may not wind up the subject of one of her future Top 40 country-pop songs.

In addition to a spacious sitting room with wet bar, fireplace and access to the widow's walk/roof terrace the top floor offers two more guest bedrooms, each a whopping 32-feet long and each equipped with attached bathroom, walk-in closet and private, water-side balcony.

The two lower levels include a vast recreation room with direct access to outdoor seaside entertainment areas, a service kitchen, a five car heated garage, a heated workshop and a discreet half bathroom for domestic and landscaping staff.

There are numerous balconies with serene water views, vast seaside terraces, and, set well below the house, a bra-shaped swimming pool (with uneven cup-sizes) and adjacent pool house/fitness room.

Little Miss Swift already owns a mini-compound tucked up into a quiet canyon in Beverly Hills, a bizarrely decorated duplex penthouse in downtown Nashville and, also in Nashville, a substantial mini-mansion in a swank gated enclave bought in mid-2011 for $2.5 million and where—we've been told but can't confirm—her parents live.

Property records reveal the Weston, Mass.-based sellers, James and Marlene Benson, are not famous—he's an insurance industry honcho who was the former CEO of John Hancock Life Insurance in the early- and mid-Aughts—but they're clearly quite rich and property records show they picked up the property way back in May 1996 for $3.5 million.

listing photos: Seaboard Properties

Friday, April 26, 2013

H. Ross Perot, Jr. Double Whammy: Mi Patria

BUYER: Sarah and H. Ross Perot, Jr.
SELLER: Freddy De Mann
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $18,000,000
SIZE: 10,000 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms (as per listing)

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Earlier today Your Mama yammered on about the sprawling downtown Dallas penthouse that Texas-based real estate developer H. Ross Perot, Jr. has on the open market for $10,950,000.

More than a week ago Your Mama received a customarily brief covert communique from the often eerily well-informed Yolanda Yakketyak who whispered to Your Mama that the good word on the high end real estate gossip grapevine was that H. Ross Perot, Jr. had spent $18 million for Mi Patria, a walled, gated and expensively maintained and upgraded Spanish hacienda with a history of high profile ownersin L.A.'s hoity toity Bel Air community.

Property records show Mi Patria was most recently sold by Freddy De Mann, a near mythic film and theater producer, music executive and co-founder of Maverick Records. In his heyday he managed a coupla superstars like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Lionel Richie and Billy Idol during their professional salad days. Mister De Mann is, well, Da Man, you know? Anyways, property records show Mister and Missus De Mann acquired the Bel Air mini-estate in October 2001 for $6,500,000 from the Nancy Daly, an important philanthropist and prominent social fixture in Los Angeles (and beyond) who passed in 2009.

Property records show the mini-estate was most recently acquired for exactly $18 million through an opaquely named corporate entity that links directly back to the Plano, TX offices of Perot Systems, the very company Perot Senior sold to Dell but where Perot Junior still holds the title of Chairman of the Board. It might be ignorant to say it out loud but we don't even really know what a Chairman of the Board does. But that's really not the point, is it? Anyhoo, altogether three well connected canaries have chirped to Your Mama that Mister Perot, Jr. and his wife, Sarah, are the new keepers of the elegant Mi Patria estate. Make of that "evidence" what you will. Okay?

Listing details Your Mama dug up on the internets show the foliage enshrouded, multi-winged Spanish hacienda was originally built in 1929 and stretches out to (approx.) 10,000 square feet with five bedrooms and 8 bathrooms.* The house has been extensively restored in such a way that retained much the original architectural integrity, or at least the architectural spirit of the home. The entire property has been updated and upgraded to "exacting standards," according to listing details, and with all the modern conveniences and luxuries one really ought to be able to expect in an $18 million house in Bel Air.

A glamorously long driveway curls up to the front of the house between two gated and secured automotive entrance points. Interior spaces include a stone-walled double-height foyer, party sized public rooms, a large library that converts to a 35mm screening room, and an open concept eat-in kitchen outfitted with a raised fireplace and a marble-topped center work island/snack bar that's as big as a damn boxcar. Online marketing materials show upper level master bedroom has a fireplace, plenty of room for a separate sitting area, dual bathrooms for maintaining marital and olfactory harmony and at least one walk-in closet "lined in rare woods." Fancy!

Lower level living spaces open to a large loggia and sunny, foliage enshrouded central terrace of magical, plaza-like proportion.** Beyond the central terrace, past a swathe of lawn, an entirely mosaic tiled dark-bottom swimming pool stretches out in front of a gently curved open-air cabana and lounge with outdoor fireplace. Your Mama would be shocked—shocked, we tell you—to discover there is not at least one changing room/bathroom tucked somewhere up or around that poolside pavilion. Anyways, more lawn slopes down to a secluded putting green and somewhere on the property is a gym with Zen meditation garden. A second gated driveway at the rear of the .89 acre spread provides a second secure motor court and access to what may (or may not) be a detached garage with what appears to be (but may not be) additional living space above.

According to property records and various other online resources the neighborhood is littered with rich and sometimes high profile people who surely have the manners to send a housewarming gift to their new neighbors. Perhaps the Bryan Schers will send flowers from their own garden and an invitation for a TDB cocktail party, or whatever. Maybe Mister and Missus Sugar—he's the head honcho at Northrop Grumman—will consider having an embarrassingly large and ludicrously expensive box of chocolates from Fauchon in Paris sent by over-night courier. That would be really nice to receive if you were moving in, wouldn't it? And former Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel would do fine to send his downstairs maid, Whatsername, over with a freshly baked apple pie Chef Tony whipped up by scratch.***

As in all the finest zip codes across the land—or at least in L.A.—as one or more very rich and/or high profile person moves in other big names decamp. We're certain those that chose to leave do so for reasons entirely unrelated to who move in, right? Television actress Deborah Messing recently sold her mini-compound on Bellagio Road for $14,400,000 to an as-yet unidentified buyer and in May 2011 actress wife Lori Loughlin and her Italian clothing mogul husband Mossimo Giannulli sold their nearly 1.5 acre Michael Smith decorated Bellagio Road estate for $16,600,000 to a corporate entity linked to Alexandra Dwek who seems to be some sort of princess or something. We don't know. But we digress...

*The L.A. County Tax Man shows the house has nine bedrooms and eight bathrooms in 8,908 square feet. Make of those discrepancies what you will since they're not entirely relevant to the discussion.

**P.S.: The patchwork upholstered chairs on the loggia are furniture heaven as far as Your Mama is concerned.

***Naturally, children, Your Mama has no idea if any of the named folk will or would even think to send a housewarming gift. Maybe they will maybe they won't. Who cares? But, certainly, if any one of them does opt to send something to be cordial and neighborly, it's highly unlikely they'll send any of the options we came up with. And, finally, Your Mama hasn't an iota if Terry Semel employs any kind of household staff of any kind, let alone a downstairs maid named Whatsername or a chef named Tony.

listing photos: Hilton & Hyland

H. Ross Perot, Jr. Double Whammy: Dallas

SELLER: H. Ross Perot, Jr.
PRICE: $10,950,000
SIZE: 11,807 square feet, five bedrooms, seven full and three half bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Some of y'all may not have heard but it's been a couple of months now since Texas-based tech-sector scion H. Ross Perot, Jr. put his suburban mansion-sized downtown Dallas (TX) penthouse on the open market with an asking price of $10,950,000.

Natch, Your Mama's real estate gossip gal pal down in Dallas—that would be the quirkily bespectacled sassy-pants real estate chronicler Candy Evans—already discussed the matter but for all you seven children who don't read Miz Evans's always entertaining online endeavor, Candy's Dirt, we're gonna piggy-back on her report on our way to Los Angeles where multiple sources snitched to Your Mama that Mister Perot, Jr. and his wife Sarah recently dropped a wad on an historic house with a high profile provenance. More on that addition to their real estate portfolio in a moment but first...

Mister Perot, Jr., for those of you were weren't present or engaged with presidential politics in the 1990s, is the only son of hard charging and outspoken Texas-based multi-billionaire H. Ross Perot. After he earned a vast fortune in the mundane but necessary world of data processing the elder Mister Perot boldly declared his candidacy for president of the United States of America. And not just once, youngsters, but twice, first in 1992 as an independent and then again in 1996 under his self-founded—and still in existence if tattered—Reform Party.

After he sold his first data processing concern to General Motors for a whole lotta money, entrepreneurial Poppa Perot founded Perot Systems, an information technology operation that grew to become a Fortune 100 corporate juggernaut that was sold in 2009 to Texas-based computer giant Dell for $3.9 billion. The Perot family's take was estimated to somewhere in the neighborhood of a billion dollars and Forbes recently estimated that Perot Senior's net worth balloons to about $3.5 billion.

It can't be easy to grow up in the shadow of a billionaire force of nature the H. Ross Perot, Sr., but Mister Perot, Jr. seems to have made his own way just fine. He served eight years in the Air Force, was one of the first two people to circumnavigate the globe in a helicopter and he earned his own very substantial fortune as a real estate developer of mixed-use developments and vast housing tracts, many of them in and around Dallas and many of them punished with hyperbolic and/or corny names like Harmony and Liberty. Forbes recently estimated Junior Perot's net worth at around $1.4 billion.

As anyone in Dallas can tell you, Mister Perot, Jr. had a significant hand in the development of the not entirely successful Victory Park, a massive, three billion dollar freeway-embraced mixed-use development in downtown Dallas with a variety of office and retail spaces, dining establishments, residential blocks and vast parking lots. At the heart of the 75-acre development is the American Airlines Center arena, home to the professional basketball team, the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs—as Your Mama understands the locals call 'em—are currently (majority) owned by swashbuckling billionaire Mark Cuban who bought the bulk of the basketball franchise in 2000 for $285 million from—you got it, folks—H. Ross Perot, Junior.*

Victory Park is also where Mister and Missus Perot's penthouse pied-a-terre sprawls across the entire 30th floor of the W Dallas Victory Hotel & Residences. Mister and Missus Perot, who reportedly also keep a substantial single family residence not so far away, acquired the penthouse in 2004.**  It appears the building was not completed until sometime in 2006 but we're not really sure and it's not really important to the story. The Junior Perots, globally-engaged art collectors and philanthropists with sophisticated (and expensive) taste, engaged the hard to come by services of accomplished and frequently published Dallas-based lady-designer/decorator Emily Summers who transformed the nearly 12,000 square foot space into an suave, modern residence with 19 rooms and only the finest of finishes and furniture.

The results were published in the March, 2008 issue of Architectural Digest. The photos show Miz Summers's no-doubt ludicrously costly efforts successfully showcases the couple's stellar collection of contemporary art, reflects a cool sophistication commensurate with their net worth  and social status and provides a posh perch from which to entertain in an urbane setting high above the truck driving hoi polloi. To her credit Miz Summers managed to imbue the humongous penthouse with a number of spatial moments of relaxed intimacy that surely lend to family gatherings and solitary moments of contemplation. It's really good, people. It may not be your thing, decoratively or geographically speaking, but it's pretty dang flawless, no?

According to current listing details and various other digitized resources, the Perot penthouse encompasses 11,807 square feet and contains five bedrooms and seven full and three half bathrooms.

A central corridor effectively organizes the private and public spaces that include a tremendous living room and a neighboring 25-foot long formal dining room furnished with a simply smashing set of 14 (or more) Robsjohn-Gibbings Klismos chairs that altogether probably cost the Perots more than Your Mama paid for our BMW. Seriously.***

The baronial but contemporary formal living and dining spaces are balanced by spacious informal living areas that include a family room, game room and adjoining his and her studies decadently lined with African teak paneling and custom mill work. The penthouse boasts (at least) three (presumably gas) fireplaces, secured parking in the underground garage for four cars, and several terraces that ring the penthouse and provide unfettered and up-close skyline views of the surrounding skyline and the nasty clover leaf tangle of freeways that frenetically girdle Victory Park on at least two sides.

The finish work is not for the financially feint of heart with limestone floors in the foyer, Venetian plaster walls, whisper soft silk carpeting in the bedrooms, leather tile floors in the twin studies, Balthaup fittings in the sleek eat-in kitchen and regal, ceiling height doorways outfitted with custom-made metal frames and pixilated glass panels that become less opaque at the top. Brava! Miz Summers.

Anyhoo, listing information elaborates that the penthouse is equipped with a small fitness room and the master bedroom features at least one decked out walk-in closet/dressing room plus two bathrooms, hers lavishly suited up with a boomerang-shape make-up vanity, a glassed-in steam shower and a small sofa where Missus Perot Jr. can take a break after a long, hard soak in the super-sized tub.

Home owners dues for the penthouse come to just over $99,000 per year ($8,259.00 per month, as per listing details). A quick (and entirely unscientific) tussle with the well-worn beads on Your Mama's bejeweled abacus shows that's about twice as much money as the average American earns in an entire year, give or take a few thousand.

We don't know the full scope of Mister and Missus Perot, Jr.'s personal property portfolio but according to Second Shelters—also operated by the inestimable and industrious Candy Evans—Junior Perot owns a large-looking ski chalet in Vail, CO nestled into a treed hillside next door to one owned by none other than Poppa Perot. We recall reading they owned a residence somewhere in Great Britain but we don't recall where we read it now. According to the just-mentioned Candy Evans, the other Dallas residence besides the up for sale penthouse that Mister and Missus Perot, Jr. own that was mentioned in the March 2008 A.D. article, is a nearly 10,000 square foot manse in the affluent Highland Park community near the Dallas Country Club. We also know, as mentioned earlier, the Junior Perots recently dropped $18 million on a magnificent mansion in Los Angeles. Stay tuned for that...

*As a side note: Mister Perot, Jr. retained a minority 5% ownership of the Mavs that has become be a real thorn in Mister Cuban's side. Anyhoo...

**As noted in Architectural Digest (March 2008).

***We tease. We have no idea how much Mister and Missus Perot, Jr. paid for the Robsjohn-Gibbings Klismos chairs but way back in 2000 Christie's sold a set of eight not very similar looking Fruitwood Klismos chairs by Robsjohn-Gibbings (for Saridis) for $28,000. Imagine the cost today for 14 or 16 versions of something similar. It's enough to make a person vomit with financial anxiety. Anyhoo.

listing photos: Allie Beth Allman & Associates

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Your Mama Hears...

...that just a few short months after hunky Hollywood hot shot Ryan Reynolds dropped $2,350,000 on a 1.75-ish acre country spread in the drop dead gorgeous rolling hills and dales of Bedford, NY, he and his stylish missus, in-demand actress Blake Lively, have had a real estate change of heart and surreptitiously shelled out $5,700,000 for a bigger country spread just over four miles away on a meandering rural road in posh and scenically bucolic Pound Ridge, NY.

Property records show the estate in question was actually purchased about five months ago, in November 2012, by a opaquely named trust that happens to link back to the very same swanky Beverly Hills attorney's office to which property records for Mister Reynold's Bedford (NY) and Los Angeles (CA) homes point. While that—ahem—evidence of acquisition by Mister Reynolds and/or Missus Lively-Reynolds may be circumstantial, at best, Your Mama recently received an unexpected covert communique from a local source—let's call him Les B. Aneyewitness—who tattled that he has many times seen the couple's cars entering and exiting the property and that moving trucks recently hauled belongings from their Bedford house to the Pound Ridge house in question. Good ol' Les went on to snitch that the Pound Ridge residence in question has been subject to an extensive renovation the last few months.

Not for lack of trying, Your Mama was unable to unearth even a single, proper digital listing for the property so we surmise the whole deal probably went down off market. The Westchester County Tax Man and other online resources do show, however, that the original section of the 21-room Colonial-style residence was built in 1860 and sits on nearly 12 fenced and gated acres. Tucked privately behind a thick wall of dense foliage and mature trees, the quintessentially pastoral property offers up vast tree-dotted lawns, a swimming pool fenced and set well away and across the curving drive from the house, and an inky private pond.

The 8,892 square foot house, again according to various online resources, encompasses seven bedrooms and six or maybe seven bathrooms. There appears to be additional living space with another few bedrooms and bathrooms in the detached-barn like-structure at the head of the swooping driveway.

Make of Mister Aneyewitness's eye witness account(s) of the Lively-Reynolds real estate matter what you will, children, but until you read about his in one of the more respectable property gossip columns in a major newspaper this is all just a morsel of otherwise unconfirmed celebrity real estate rumor and gossip.

As far as we can tell from our entirely unscientific research, Mister Reynolds continues to own the Hollywood Hills house he bought in October 2007 for $1.715 million and has attempted to sell a couple of times in the last few years including in September 2011 when it was listed (at a loss) for $1,599,000. Neither Your Mama nor Les B. Aneyewitness located an active online listing for the couple's country spread in Bedford and—natch—we don't have any idea what their plans for the place may or may not be.

Aerial Image: Bing

Zsa Zsa's Bel Air Mansion Falls Out of Escrow

SELLER: Zsa Zsa Gabor and Prince Frédéric von Anhalt
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $14,900,000
SIZE: 8,878 square feet, 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: After a couple of unsuccessful years on and off the market, ailing nonagenarian Show Business Super-diva Zsa Zsa Gabor's ninth husband—the sassy and wacky faux-prince Frédéric von Anhalt*—re-listed their legendary, timeworn but (mostly) still elegant Old School Hollywood Regency-style villa in Bel Air on the open market in May 2012 with an asking price of $14,900,000.

The property languished for nearly a year until late February (2013) when an unidentified buyer stepped up and put the house into escrow, or in contract or under offer or whatever the syntax is in whatever part of the real estate world you may be in. Our well-informed informant Yolanda Yakketyak snitched to Your Mama that she heard word it was a wealthy Indonesian who wanted to buy the well located estate but we can't vouch for the accuracy of that particular scuttlebutt.

Anyways, the couple have well-publicized money problems, partly due to Miz Gabor's exorbitant and mounting medical bills and partly due—so says Mister von Anhalt—to losing a $10 million bundle down the multi billion dollar sink hole created by financial services scoundrel Bernie Madoff a few years ago. Last fall, as the property faced foreclosure due to unpaid payments on a $700,000 mortgage, Mister von Anhalt launched a Facebook campaign that successfully if temporarily saved the property from imminent foreclosure. But—so the story goes—he has until the end of this year to pay off the $1.5 million dollar personal loan he managed to secure via his last ditch social media effort.

In early April an L.A. judge decreed that the outspoken and notoriously erratic German-born bon vivant, acting on his wife's behalf, can sell the quixotic and quickly aging couple's long time crib in what is known as a deferred transaction. The details of the deferred transaction, such as they've been reported, would allow Miz Gabor and her (in)famously eccentric faux-prince to remain in residence for up to three years or until 96 year old Miz Gabor passes over to the other side, whichever comes first. Additionally, the terms of the deferred transaction compel a buyer to pay Miz Gabor and her husband $325,000 per year for the length of their tenancy up to three years. Your Mama have no idea as to whether the 325 grand a year is to maintain the already down on her heels house or if it's simply a kind of house-sitting salary that would be used for the luxe-living couple's day-to-day living expenses but either way it's a ballsy demand by Mister van Anhalt and Miz Gabor.

The potentially cumbersome, time consuming and expensive terms of a continued tenancy by Miz Gabor and the faux prince may or may not have had something to do with the property falling out of escrow earlier this week and being quietly re-listed with a by-now-familiar $14,900,000 asking price.

Current online listings make hay of the fact it's the long time residence of "glamour icon, actress, and philanthropist, Zsa Zsa Gabor and husband Prince Frederic von Anhalt." Marketing materials go on to show the gated, two story house sits on a private knoll of just over an acre with "270-degree, jetliner views from Downtown to the Pacific Ocean and beyond," was built in 1955 and encompasses "over 8,878 square feet per owner."

Listing details are less clear on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. One listing shows there are six bedrooms and five bathrooms, another states there are 6 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms and, back when Your Mama first discussed the estate in mid-2011, listing information called it out as 6,393 square feet with four bedrooms and five bathrooms.

Whatever the case, listing details further reveal the house has sensationally circular foyer freshly painted a creamy beige from its previous lipstick red. Several more elegantly sized formal entertaining rooms include a large living room with fireplace, a reception room with built-in wet bar hidden behind limed wood cabinetry and a formal dining room that have all "entertained guests such as Queen Elizabeth, US Presidents, CEO's, dignitaries and celebrities."

A large and less formal entertainment space on the second floor includes a lounge with built-in bar, a family room area and a pool table because can't everyone picture ol' Zsa Zsa working a pool stick? Sliding glass doors connect the big but very ordinary party room space to a spacious and far more satisfying city view terrace for mid-party star gazing and cigarette smoking, although we imagine Miz Gabor does little of either of those things anymore. A wide exterior stairway for convenient access to the lower level outdoor areas. There's also, as per listing details, a "master-sized guest bed & bath" on the second floor.

Several of the lower level public rooms open to various outdoor living spaces that include an awning shaded, mirror-lined lanai with black and white checkerboard marble floor and glittery night time view over the city lights. A swimming  pool guarded by a pair of life-like cheetah figurines and various other less fearsome statuary sits and a cock-eyed angle to the house in an expansive red brick terrace.

The house sits amongst some of the hoitiest of the toitiest estates in upper Bel Air including the sprawling compound of Quincy Jones next door. Many reports say the home was once owned and/or occupied by both Elvis Presley and Howard Hughes—at different time, natch—but we don't really know and the fine gentlemen at The Movieland Directory only show Mister Hughes as a resident in the 1950s.

Stay tuned, children, because where Zsa Zsa and her faux prince are involved it's always a tangled and fascinating ride.

listing photos: Carothers Photo for Rodeo Realty

A Bit of Politics and Interior Design


Please allow me to broach the subject of Regulation of Interior Design in Texas.    While I know this may not be a topic on everyone’s mind, it is a very important issue to those in this field who currently work in this state. 

A bit of history:   Way back in 2008, I wrote an article on licensing for interior designers HERE.  At that time, Kelly Wearstler, the legendary interior designer, was not allowed to practice in Florida – because she wasn’t licensed by the state.  Two other very talented and well known designers, Philip Sides and Juan Montoya, also ran afoul of Florida’s laws.   Worse, were all the others who were fined – people without national exposure and without deep pockets.  The state made quite on bundle on fining these designers.   The issue was shocking to me and others and for months, people left comments on this story – arguing their case for and against regulation. 

In Texas – at that time – we had our own laws to deal with.  You weren’t allowed to call yourself an Interior Designer unless you were licensed by the state – after passing a rigorous test.  Of course, most who WERE licensed had been grandfathered in without even having to take the test. 

How far did this law go?   There was a prominent designer here in Houston who was referred to by a magazine as an Interior Designer.   He was fined because of this.   Most galling was that he never even had called himself anything but a decorator.  That law has since been repealed. 

But, now, again, the ugly subject is being raised in this new legislative session in Austin.

A group of licensed interior designers and others in the field are seeking complete deregulation of interior design in Texas.    Unfortunately, this group “Texans for Interior Design Deregulation”  recently lost their first bid – out maneuvered by high priced lobbyists.  Now, this grassroots group is asking for your support of Sunset Bill, SB205 that keeps the exam requirement in place.   The bill would require those originally grandfathered in (the majority)  be required to now take the NCIDQ examination. 

The reasoning behind this bill is threefold.   First, grandfathering perpetrates a fraud on the public who rely on state information to be accurate.  Second, it puts non-NCIDQ designers at an unfair disadvantage competitively. 

And third,  the majority would not bother to take the examination because they either don’t qualify, don’t want to pay the fees, don’t want to take the time to study for it, or just find it unnecessary.  By forcing those grandfathered in to retake the examination, the number of registered interior designers would be greatly reduced – causing an economic burden for the state to fund the board  - thereby making it easier to get the repeal at the next session.

The issue is complex.  Basically – many in the field believe there is no need at all for regulation of interior design.   No one has ever been injured or killed by unregulated ID.  The profession does not pose a risk to the health, safety & welfare of the public – traditional reasons which are causes for regulation.  Yet, the few in power want regulation in order to maintain this power and control and to stomp out competition.  

As it is now, this elite group decides which schools are accredited and which are not.  For instance, if you graduate with an Interior Design degree from Houston Community College – a very popular school – you are not eligible to sit for the examination.  Only a few number of schools in the state are deemed worthy of producing interior designers.  Imagine.   What on earth are they teaching at UT that they aren’t teaching at HCC?  I dare say – nothing, especially for those who practice residential design. 

Deregulation is also important when considering the infamous slippery slope.  For instance in bordering Louisiana, their Practice Act laws are so Draconian that under certain circumstances, designing a house is not allowed by a decorator – it must be done by a registered designer. 

This lack of the need of regulation is further evidenced by examining Louisiana.   The videos of Louisiana's Interior Design Board meetings are available on the internet to watch.  One advocate for deregulation watched a year’s worth of these meetings where not one consumer complaint was presented against a designer.  Not one.  Instead the board spent over 90 percent of their time discussing how to educate the public on the importance of designer licensing. 

While there are certain laws involved in designing hospitals and hotels, regulating who can decorate a house is asinine.  No one has ever been hurt in their home by the work done by an unregulated interior designer.  But don’t think those in power haven’t tried to  make a case.  Those pushing for regulation searched for years to find a case of injury or death caused by a designer – with no luck at all. 

The activist in Texas leading the cause against regulation is Kelley Barnett who is registered and is a recent former president of the Texas ASID.  She has since let her membership lapse after learning how much of the dues money went to hire lobbyists for the regulation cause.  Barnett is well aware of the what goes on behind the scenes with these lobbyists, the ASID, and the examination board.   Kelley is also the founder of “Texans for Interior Design Deregulation."   - the grassroots organization with 1,000s of members leading the fight for deregulation.    

If you are interested – how can you help?  Kelley is asking that everyone who is fighting against Texas regulation of interior designers to please sign their petition in support of Sunset Bill, SB205, as received from the House of Representatives on 4/22/13, WITH the exam requirement in place.  Time is of essence.  Please sign this as soon as possible. 

Go HERE to sign the petition.   Remember, this is an urgent matter and the petition needs to be signed quickly.   You do not need to be a citizen of Texas to sign the petition.

To contact Kelley for more information -  email her here:


and she will be happy to further explain this issue to you.


If you ARE in support of regulation, please feel free to state your case in the comment section.  You may do so anonymously or you may leave your name – either way.   I know I would be interested in hearing your opinion on this issue. 



Thank you so much for reading this. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Buckle Your Real Estate Safety Belts...

...The Times of London reveals (via Curbed) an unfathomably rich but unnamed member of an unidentified Arab royal family is fixin' to fling his titanic central London mansion on the market in a blaze of international real estate shock, awe and publicity with a intergalactic £250,000,000 price tag. That totals, according to Your Mama's trusty currency conversion contraption, a belly ache making $381,493,000 for all us Americanos.

The elegant, 1830-ish Georgian semi-detached terrace house—is that a proper description?—stands four floors above ground with another two subterranean levels that total a downright civic 50,000 (or so) square feet. It's less than half as big as a basic Wal-Mart and it's positively miniature compared to the gargantuan royal palaces some Arab royal families maintain but it is almost as large as the White House that weighs in at around 56,000 square feet.

A Greek temple-like porte cochere on the front facade stands out like a sore thumb against the rhythmic but featureless office block that dominates and absolutely oppresses the otherwise usually coveted tail end of the swanky cul-de-sac. Worse, perhaps, is the even more disagreeable office tower that looms forbiddingly directly across the narrow lane. Ugly and menacing office buildings aside, The Times goes on to reveal that India's multi billionaire Hinduja brothers also maintain one or more lavish residences on the terrace that's just a hop, skip, and a jump down The Mall from Buckingham Palace.

 Who's to say the Arab royal will get anywhere near his sky high asking price that The Times notes is "almost double the record for a residential property in the UK."Unidentified sources told the property gossips at The Times that the owner recently refurbished the redonkulously baronial residence that will likely appeal to a sovereign wealth fund for use as and embassy or ambassadorial residence.

If Your Mama was the betting type—and we're not—we'd throw down our pennies on someone more   like an obscure multi-billionaire commodities tycoon nobody who reads Vanity Fair has ever heard of from some place most Americans—including Your Mama—could probably neither pronounce nor pick out on a map will come along and snatch that thing up so his pampered youngest daughter and her retinue of handlers and keepers will have a decent place to live while she "attends" Central St. Martins.

What do the children think? What's the profile for a  buyer of this house at a quarter billion dollars?

photo: Google

Nick Nolte Lists Quirky Malibu Compound

SELLER: Nick Nolte
PRICE: $8,250,000
SIZE: 6,006 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Accomplished but occasionally erratic acting three-time Oscar nominee Nick Nolte has listed a portion of his expansive, multi-acre Malibu, CA, compound with an asking price of $8,250,000.

Although Mister Nolte, now in his early 70s, remains a vital, steadily working actor with a half a dozen projects in post- or pre-production plus a 2011 Oscar nod for Warrior, the three-time Academy Award-nominee arguably reached his professional pinnacle in the 1990s with seminal roles in Affliction, The Prince of Tides, The Thin Red Line, Lorenzo's Oil, and Cape Fear. Sadly, the once hunky and devastatingly manly actor has become almost as well known in his sunset years for his sometimes eye-popping, Gary Bussey-like public appearances and occasional public tangles with heavy duty mood altering substances, such as in 2002 when Mister Nolte, then in his early sixties, was arrested for driving under the influence of what turned out to be GHB.

Property records show Mister Nolte purchased the just-over-two-acre estate in 1991 for an unknown amount of dough. An earlier discussion of the listing reveals the property was previously owned and/or occupied by Tommy Chong of bong-ed up Cheech & Chong fame, Don Felder of The Eagles and music producer David Foster whose fourth wife, Dutch model turned housewife Yolanda Foster, joined the cast for the most recent season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. But we digress...

Listing information shows the main house—a two-story number of unrecognizable architectural vernacular originally built in the mid 1960s—measures 6,006 square feet and includes four bedrooms, four bathrooms, half a dozen carved wood and stone fireplaces and garage parking for up to six cars.

An olive tree flanked electronic gate slides open to a long black top drive that shoots across the lawn to a squat, flat-roofed porte cochere that sticks off the front of the house in a manner one might too easily associate with a low-cost hotel/motel for Your Mama's particular taste in porte cocheres.

Inside the mahogany front doors one is immediately—and aggressively confronted—with a cacophonous visual avalanche of various finish work a vast collection of East Asian furnishings that define the interior spaces and result in a sometimes semi-ceremonial decorative drama of Mexican telenovela proportions.

A giant pair of identical, angry-looking carved stone Chinese dogs stand sentinel at the muscular mahogany archway that separates the the onyx-floored foyer from the ballroom-scaled living room that has a soaring 19-foot ceiling pierced by six or eight skylights over head and the marble floors criss-crosses with wood inlay under foot. A fireplace nearly tall enough to stand in anchors the room lined on two walls with wide, mahogany-trimmed arched windows filled with garden vistas.

A sturdy, thickly spindled staircase climbs to a book shelf-lined landing and master suite (above) that is nothing if not extensive: big bedroom with vaulted mahogany beamed ceiling; separate adjoining sitting room with mahogany-manteled fireplace and same vaulted mahogany beamed ceiling; private office/study with built-in work desk, second and massive mahogany fireplace and more of the vaulted mahogany beamed ceiling; and, of course, a lavish private en suite situation.

In addition to the main house Mister Nolte's compound property includes a detached structure once used as a recording studio by at least one of the property's music oriented previous owner/occupants. The building was, at some point, converted to a capacious guest house with living room—the room with corner fireplace and guitars strewn all over the place in listing photos—two bedrooms, three bathrooms, at least one kitchenette and a built-in bar next to which Mister Nolte proudly parked a vintage motorcycle that—no doubt—has a meaningful story to tell.

The expansive but haphazardly landscaped and unfussily maintained grounds stretch out to just over two flat acres that include broad swathes of lawn sprinkled with mature corral, pine and sycamore trees. There's a lagoon-style freshwater swimming pool and spa surrounded by a slate stone terrace and a lighted tennis court tightly girdled by a wind-screen equipped chain link fence.

Mister Nolte also owns the adjacent property, a fenced, gated and bougainvillea-hedged 2.1+ acre mini-compound that encompasses a dense copse, terraced terraces, extensive cutting and kitchen gardens and at least two modestly-sized structures that appear to Your Mama to be residential in nature. It's not entirely clear from property records we peeped but it appears Mister Nolte acquired this particular part of his multi-parcel compound in August 1982 for $575,000 but, honestly puppies, we're not entirely sure that's accurate. The property is not currently on the market and, so the story goes, Mister Nolte will downsize into this property when he vacates the one one currently for sale next door.

listing photos: Westside Estate Agency

Claire Danes Snags NYC Townhouse

BUYER: Claire Danes
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $6,876,000
SIZE: 3,166 square feet, 4-5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Property records—along with a helping hand from The Bizzy Boys at Celebrity Address Aerial (C.A.A.)—reveal that on the very same day that Homeland actress Claire Danes sold her nearly 4000 square foot condo-loft in a re-purposed turn of the 19th century building in the heart of New York City's Soho 'hood for $5,850,650, she and her British actor hubby Hugh Dancy (Black Hawk Down, The Big C, Hannibal) shelled out $6,876,000 for a late 19th century four story Greek Revival-style townhouse eight or nine blocks north on a narrow, tree-shaded block in the south end of the fully gentrified West Village.

The townhouse seller, according to easily accessible public property records, was David Shaffer, an enormously respected and impressively accomplished psychiatrist who was married to and procreated with famously autocratic Vogue head honcho Anna Wintour in the 1980s and 1990s. Doctor Shaffer, much to his pocketbook's delight, no doubt, acquired the house, according to property records, in late 1999 for $1,700,000. It is Mister Shaffer who is responsible for all the books and artwork and interestingly placed rugs seen throughout the house in listing photos.

Your Mama managed to dig up a floor plan on Street Easy from when Mister Shaffer unsuccessfully attempted to sell the fully renovated townhouse in 2008 and 2009 with an asking price that started at $8.3 million and plunged to $6,950,000 before it was removed from the market in March 2009. Online documentation shows Mister Shaffer gave it another go in May 2012 when he shoved the tightly sandwiched single family townhouse back up for sale on the open market with an even lower $6,900,000 price tag.

Listing details Your Mama managed to squirrel out of the interweb shows the fairly narrow but quite long townhouse measures in at 3,166 square feet. There are—by our count—4 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. A second floor den/living room could easily be pressed into use as a fifth bedroom.

A claustrophobically compact entry vestibule awkwardly pops open into the simple but well-equipped and expensively finished kitchen end of the loft-like ground floor living space. Listing photos show yellow blond wood floors, a dark carved marble fireplace mantel and a handful of pilasters that, for some reason we just can't fathom, don't quite reach the remarkably high ceiling. A towering French door brings a little natural light to the room that connects though to a wee study.

A single double side-lit glass door in the second floor landing marks entry to a large, flexi-use room at the rear of the townhouse that would make a lovely if only semi-private fifth bedroom but is absolutely better suited for use—as Mister Shaffer did—as a sun-splashed library/den complete. Mister Shaffer fitted the room with a wide stretch of floor-to-ceiling book shelves to one side of the marble fireplace. French doors open to a decked terrace with through the tree tops view over the surrounding gardens. A windowless three-quarter bathroom off the high-functioning second floor stair landing is not only the primary powder room for guests but also services the also flexi-use street-side bedroom. The landing also has an inset cluster of book shelves and a closet, the home's only coat closet that eagle-eyed floor plan readers have already determined must also operate as a busy linen closet for the adjacent bedroom and bathroom.

Each of the two guest/family bedrooms on the third floor are generously proportioned and nicely outfitted with three windows and an attached bathroom. Both, however, suffer some from surprisingly scant closet space. It's an easily remedied situation but one that any one who owns or travels with a lot of clothing might find a little stifling in its current configuration.

The commodious but (unfortunately) bifurcated master suite spreads across the entire top floor of the townhouse. At the back end a large bedroom benefits from a verdant garden overlook and a substantial, custom-fitted walk-in closet/dressing room. It does not, however, have direct access to a bathroom. For that, according to the floor plan, one must traverse the entire length of the extra-wide but (semi-)public stair landing. Floor plans show a small half bathroom opens directly off the landing and an entirely separate bedroom-sized full bathroom appears to be without a proper door but is none-the-less luxuriously complete with fireplace, soaking tub and couple-sized walk-in shower.

Altogether the bohemian-tinged but decided upscale urban residence boasts three outdoor spaces: the aforementioned courtyard garden off the ground floor living/dining area; the terrace in the tree tops off the second floor library/den; and, the outdoor living pièce de résistance, a roomy roof deck with quintessential over-the-roof top views of the Village.

According to the C.A.A. boys, Miz Danes and Mister Dancy also maintain a semi-remote rural getaway near tiny Hillsdale in the scenic Columbia County, NY that property records show encompasses 4.7 acres and an 1820s era farmhouse that was last purchased in late 2009 for $525,000.

listing photos and floor plan: Douglas Elliman



Like I said last week, the Houston market is a true Seller’s Dream.  Houses that are reasonably priced go option-pending so quickly, especially the cuter ones and especially those in my zip code 77005.   So many of these 77005 houses that are listed for sale actually have contracts already.  I found four houses in my neighborhood that I like – and all but one were already spoken for.   But, it’s obvious why.  They are all furnished nicely and all have great curb appeal. 

And also, the houses I chose to show today are obviously owned by younger couples.  

  Rather than sophisticated houses filled with fine accessories and rare furnishings collected over many long years – these houses are obviously owned by younger couples with décor that is fresh and up to date.   They don’t have that cluttered look that comes from living in a house for 20 or more years.   These houses make me want to edit and then go back and edit so more.  There’s something refreshing about rooms that aren’t filled with books and knick knacks, paintings and chairs in every single corner! 

See if these four houses don’t motivate you, like me, to clean up and clear out.  OR, instead, they may make you realize that you really appreciate all you’ve accrued over the years and look forward to adding even more!




House #1 


 Located in the University area, close to the Medical Center, this house was built in 1939, it has 2 bedrooms and 2.5 baths and is just under 1,590 sq. feet.  The asking price is $739,000 – and it’s a sale pending after being listed for barely a month.  I can see why.   The listing states that Chandos Interiors did the design work for this totally renovated house.  Well, no wonder it’s so pretty!  Chandos is known for their beautiful interiors.  It’s not often that a house on HAR is professionally decorated by someone of this caliber – so when they show up, it’s a thrill. 

The façade is the definition of “curb appeal” – with its black and white color scheme.  The stripe awning adds so much charm!



The front door opens to the foyer with the zebra print staircase runner.  I love the gray door – I usually advise to paint builder’s grade doors in black, but if your house is painted white or light gray – a darker gray door can be just as effective, if not more so.  Especially with a crystal doorknob that acts like a piece of jewelry.  Beautiful!  Dining room to the left and living room to the right.



The living room – from Chandros’ web site.  White slip covers with beige walls and custom cut seagrass.  Typical “Houston Look” – but with a more youthful and contemporary twist – there’s high contrast with patterned curtains and pillows in both a reverse toile and stripes.  Modern end tables and lamps and mirror. 




And looking the other direction, there’s a fireplace with the flatscreen over it flanked by contemporary lights.   No doubt this is a young couple who lives here – albeit one with great taste and style.   Again, gray painted door that leads to the kitchen. 



The dining room is so pretty – wallpapered in the same reverse toile with a skirted table.  Love the painted chairs with the gray trim added to the white.   The shades are high quality, and it shows.  Pretty light fixture.  Just a great, well designed room – love it!  From Chandros web site.



And, another view – showing how large the room really is.    The kitchen leads off to the right behind pocket doors.   The wallpaper really makes a difference!  In an older house, with well defined, separate rooms, wallpaper makes sense.  In most new houses today – the rooms are so open to each other, it’s hard to use a paper like this.



Totally renovated – white marble, farm sink, range, subway tile, with stainless appliances.  Classic elements make up a classic kitchen.   This design will be good for years to come.




And looking the other direction towards the living room.



A butler’s pantry off the kitchen.  I might have forgone the desk on the right and left the space open for a small table.  But, they didn’t ask me!




Upstairs, the master is done in beige – it looks like the walls are wallpapered, but its hard to tell.  Pretty tufted headboard. 




Love the flat, patterned carpet.  Contemporary chest with nailheads.   Putting a bed in front of a window is always awkward.  I might have just closed off the window or made the curtains a little wider to extend past the bed. 



Off the web site, here’s how it looks with the curtains open.  Pretty.



The master bath is updated with tile floors and marble countertops.  Just perfect and again, timeless classic!



The guest room has two upholstered beds with matching shades and paneled walls (or wallpaper) and a textured rug.  Love those beds!



Off the closet is a small office area.



And the second bath with it’s classic charm.  Very well done!!!



The back yard needs a little landscaping, but it’s so big – you can easily add on to the house and make it bigger and still have room for a swimming pool.  Whoever put the winning bid down on this house is very lucky!!  To see the listing, go HERE.

$739,000.  Option Pending



House #2


This house was built in 1992 – a rather typical West University house – but, when interior designer Margaret Ann McEver and husband bought it,  they totally erased all the builder grade choices – turning it into a sophisticated house with a décor to match.   McEver owns MALI, a well known design firm HERE.    The house is 4 bedrooms, 4 baths, with quarters over the garage.  It is just over 3200 sq. ft. 




The front façade was totally updated by MALI – with a new steel front door, lanterns, a stone porch and walkway, and landscaping.  The brick was painted beige.  Love the new look – it’s slightly contemporary and lets you know that big changes have happened inside. 



Inside, antique wood doors stand ready to be closed, if privacy is needed.  Upon entering, on the left is the living room, while the dining room is to the right.




The living room is a blend of mid century modern mixed with antiques.




The focal point is a large contemporary oil painting. 




And in the front window is a painted desk with a modern bench.




The dining room is an eclectic mix of French chairs with a zinc table. 




In the family room, MALI installed a new contemporary styled stone mantel.  The shelves were closed off behind doors trimmed in an X pattern.  



Here is another view of the family room.  Through the arch is the staircase and library.




The library was painted a stunning black!  Love it!  Longhorns play up the masculine side of the room.




The kitchen was totally updated with new concrete countertops and appliances. 




Antique doors hide the pantry.  Love the Saariren table.  I grew up with a table like this – wish I still had it!




View into the family room. 




The powder room – great stone sink on rustic console.  Love the floors.  And hiding behind the fabric is a shower, a rarity on first floors in West U houses.  Love the wall mounted faucets and love the dark gray paint!! 





Upstairs, one of the bedrooms was turned into a playroom – with brown and white stripes.  Love the orange contrast.



The master bedroom has a velvet headboard with nailheads and contemporary nightstands.  The patterned curtains add a youthful touch to the decor. 




The master bathroom was redone with marble countertops and tiny mosaic floors.  Again, love the dark gray doors.



My favorite!   She added a portiere of white linen to close off the bath area for privacy, if needed.  Plus it just softens the area.   Great idea.





The boy’s room is taupe with touches of blue and orange.



And the little girl has an icy blue bedroom with hints of lilac.  Love the whimsical headboard!





Metal awnings were added to the back French doors.



There is an apartment above the garage.




Brown walls and taupe velvet chairs.  Love the matching small Louis Philippe mirrors.  There is also a small kitchen in the apartment.  Wall to wall seagrass.

I really like the ideas that MALI added to this house to make it more contemporary, and more special.

$1,225,000 – again, Option Pending

To see the listing, go HERE.





A few months ago, I showed a house for sale by Southampton Builders HERE and today is another one.  I love the houses they build.  They are all so charming!   Great façade on this house with its painted garage doors and shutters and dormers and balcony and tiny windows and brick drive.  What curb appeal!




Built in 2007, it has 5 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, and is 5,584 sq. ft.  And here is a daytime view of the house, so, so pretty.




The floors are terra cotta tiles – which is unusual for this neighborhood.  It’s very open with a winding staircase in the foyer.  Love the skirted table with pleats and the console table with mirror and lamps. 



And looking back towards the front door, at the left of it is the study with its arched French door.  There is no formal living room, which I do miss.



The study, at the front of the house.  You could use this a sitting room instead if you prefer a living room.




The dining room has a round wooden table with a painted base and painted, nailhead chairs. 




Past the dining room is the large family room and kitchen.   Love the painted French chairs and the more Belgian styled coffee table.




The family room over looks the backyard.  Notice the wonderful stone over mantel.




Two lanterns light the area.  White linen curtains soften the French doors.   Past the family room is the kitchen.




The kitchen has beautiful cabinetry with marble counters and a subway tile backsplash.  Love the range and its stucco hood.  




Looking the other direction to the wet bar and family room.  Love the gray color on the cabinets.  Farm sink.



A view into the bar.



Past the kitchen is the large breakfast room.





Great built ins.  Past the breakfast room is a covered terrace.  I like the café styled curtains that are on the bottom half of the windows. 




Upstairs, there is a large master suite that overlooks the back yard.  Hardwoods and raised roof.



The bathroom is gorgeous with marble floors and venetian sconces.



So pretty!!



OK.  This closet is to die for!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Can you imagine??!!!  Looks like a boutique.  Wow. 



The little girls room is cute in coral and taupe.   It’s balcony overlooks the front yard.



The Hollywood bath matches both bedrooms.



The baby’s room.  Love the bright colors. 



The playroom is set up in the extra bedroom.



On the third floor is a separate apartment with a small kitchen.



And two bedrooms.






Outside, there is a brick terrace and a covered porch.




The covered porch – notice the brick ceiling.  This is off the breakfast room.




And the terrace is off the family room.

At $2,250,000. it is the most expensive house shown today and the only one that is not a sale pending!

To see the listing, go HERE.



HOUSE #4   


This house was a real surprise to me.  It’s right down the street from me!  I had no idea how cute it was inside.  I’ve never even seen the owners and wonder who decorated the house – if they hired someone or if they did it themselves.  The homeowner might be a decorator because the house has great décor.   Again, a young couple lives here. 

Stone façade is mixed with stucco and shutters.   It was built in 2005 and is 3,600 sq. ft with 4 bedrooms and  3.5 bathrooms.



The front door opens to a long hall with the living room and dining room at the left.  Love the sconces in the entry – and notice the homeowner framed some type of ceremonial clothing, which is a great idea.




I love the dark hardwoods mixed with light walls.   Brown linen curtains at the windows are found throughout the downstairs rooms.  A simple contemporary white sofa mixes with a rustic bricklayers coffee table and cowskin rug.



I love the wall of French doors between the living room and dining room.  Love the dining room- with its botanicals and Italian wood chandelier.  Pretty Oushak rug.



Past the spacious, long entry hall is the staircase with iron rails and the family room.  Love the iron based console that divides the room – it’s great looking.  Love the horns too.



A mix of slipcovered furniture and French styled chairs.   Antique doors rest along the back wall.



Pretty stone mantel.  The same brown linen curtains hang in the back windows too – making all the rooms blend , now’s the time to sell your house!

To see the listing, go HERE.


Four houses – from moderately priced to expensive.  All owned by young families – and all houses showed a mix of contemporary furniture with antique pieces.   The décor was edited and uncluttered, fresh and youthful.   Seeing these houses makes me want to clean out my shelves and table tops and get rid of “stuff!!”  

That is until I see a house I like that is filled with that “stuff” and books and accessories.  It’s a vicious cycle.

Did these houses motivate you to edit?   Did they motivate you to bring in more cotemporary pieces into your home?   Did they make you want to bring in fresh fabrics and modern prints? 

Or did it instead make you appreciate what you have all the more???  Perhaps motivate you to collect even more?

Do you prefer the edited look or the more collected look?



Coming soon – another fabulous linens giveaway by Vero!!!