Monday, November 30, 2009

Faith Hill and Tim McGraw List Belle Meade Manse

SELLERS: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw
LOCATION: Chickering Lane, Nashville, TN
PRICE: Your Mama Don't Know
SIZE: 6,430 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Late last night, after a long drive that followed a longer weekend of festivities, family, several turkeys, a sizable sack of salt water taffy and far too many gin & tonics, Your Mama received a covert communique from Vlad the Revealer who pointed us toward the Nashville estate of country music mega-stars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw who appear to have put their plush property up for sale.

It certainly makes sense that the Hill-McGraws would sell their Chickering Lane estate since they've spent years and many millions building a new nest on nearby Crater Hill Drive in which they can house their boat load of Grammies, CMAs, AMAs, ACMs, and People's Choice Awards. However, Your Mama has yet to locate a complete listing or even an actual asking price for the Hill-McGraw mansion located in the swanky neighborhood of Nashville known as Belle Meade. So, although we'd bet our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly that the property is for sale, we can't yet say it's for sale without also offering this caveat: It may or may not be for sale after all. Okay? We'll try and get that bit of confusion cleared up soon.

Anyhoo, property records and previous reports reveal the Nashville nobles purchased the 4.22 acre property in December of 2004 for $2,550,000. Records show the quasi-rural, pastoral and bew-collick estate spreads across 4.22 acres and includes a center hall, antebellum-style mansion–or is it a colonial revival number?–built in 1934 that measures a sizable 6,430 square feet and includes 6 bedrooms and 6 poopers.

A long flight of wide brick stairs leads from the driveway to the front door which is tucked into a double height portico held up by six spindly columns that Your Mama could probably snap with one swift kick iffin we were inclined and angry enough. Inside, the wood floors have been ebonized that gives the historically minded architecture a slight touch of the contemporary and allows all the mostly tan, taupe and beige day-core a dark base on which to stand out. The Hill-McGraw's nice, gay decorator–or skilled ladee dee-ziner–has used the entrance hall to successfully set the mansion's decorative mood which Your Mama might describe as updated traditional merged with some much welcomed and needed modern moments.

The entrance hall splits the home down the middle and is sparsely furnished but exuberantly decorated with a wonderfully worn and perfectly sized rug in shades of cafe au lait and beige, a couple of ridiculously over-sized, tulip-like stone urns sitting on chunky pedestals and four serpentine sconces that are, rather strangely, affixed to the double doors that open to the formal living and dining rooms. A tightly curving and terrifically southern staircase opposite the front door has wood treads covered with a beige runner and swoops up to the bedrooms on the second floor.

The formal living room, missing a coffee table on which to set cocktails and done in a number of shades of beige, has just enough black or nearly black accents–the wood flooring, fireplace surround, lamp shades and wing back chairs–to keep the room from visually evaporating into a giant field of ecru nothingness. Even still, the symmetrically placed furniture is an undeniably dee-lishus mix of clean lined modern things such as the long library table cleverly placed in front of the multi-paned floor to ceiling window and updated traditional pieces such as the wing back chairs that flank the fireplace. Your Mama would bet our bank account the rug is hand woven silk and feels heavenly under a bare foot. Like the living room, the dining room day-core also follows a mostly symmetrical pattern and also has a magnificently long library table, only this one with spiral carved legs set cleverly in front of the window.

Modern and traditional elements meet in the kitchen as well. There is a black and white tile floor, lavishly expensive stainless steel appliances including two refrigerators and a double wide range with more burners and griddles than a private chef could ever want. There are two work islands, one a chunky, glossy black that is threatened with bodily harm and a cracked counter top by a linear pot rack and the other, a spare, lab table like thing lit by two simple drum shade light fixtures. Along the window wall, custom build cabinetry gives the eyeballs a good and need zapping with it's fire engine red color.

The kitchen's tile floor continues into a crisp but still cozy family room area with dramatically high ceilings and a couple of massive, winter white chaise chairs for boob-toob viewing placed in front of a huge and glossy black cabinet with glass fronted shelving. A nearby room, let's call it the sun room, retains its original and marvelous architectural detailing in the form of a coffered ceiling and elaborate corbels–that Your Mama hopes are plaster–and opens to the side terrace through at least seven massive, arched French doors .

The side terrace, which has a roof of fabric panels that can be pulled open or closed to ward off the harmful rays of the steaming summer sunshine, spills down to the simply shaped and enormous rectangular swimming pool. Brick and stone terracing surrounds the swimming pool and instead of chaise lounges the Hill-McGraws and their team of decorators have chosen chunky sectional sofas for lounging and sunbathing. Two adjacent pavilions, connected by a vine covered pergola, have a distinct John Woolf/Hollywood Regency thing going on and Your Mama can only hope and pray these pavilions provide poolside poopers and wet bars so swimmers and sunbathers need not trot up to the house in order to make use of a terlit or mix a mid-day cocktail. An outdoor shower has been installed near the pool and children, there is little Your Mama likes more than an outdoor shower. If y'all haven't experienced that bit of summertime bliss you really should. The Hill-McGraw's outdoor shower consists of a brick wall and curtains that can be pulled closed along the circular bar for privacy.

Your Mama presumes that the Hill-McGraws will be moving to their new Nashville estate over on Crater Hill Drive which they've been custom building since 2004 when they bought the hilltop property for $3,000,000 and took out another $12,000,000 to build the damn thing. According to the good folks at Virtual Globetrotting, Mister and Missus Hill-McGraw also own a farm in Williamson County's Bear Creek Road that they picked up in 2001 and which was formerly owned by country music legend Hank Williams Sr.

Records and previous reports also show that in addition to the comely country couple's Nashville area properties, they also have a big house in Beverly Hills. Located behind the gates of the fancy-schmacy Beverly Park community, the 10,000+ square foot, 6 bedroom and 7.5 bathroom beast was first listed in October of 2008 at $14,800,000 and remains listed as the "Best Deal In Beverly Park" at $10,800,000.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christina Ricci Lists in Los Feliz at a Loss

SELLER: Christina Ricci
LOCATION: Los Feliz, Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $1,250,000
SIZE: 1,891 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 1.75 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Sophisticated traditional. Recent renovations further improved w/ custom finishes & detailing. Property features master suite w/ formidable dressing rm (office/nursery), chef's kitchen w/ top top-of-the-line appliances, ample den, newer skylights, gorgeous pool + spa, ample access to outdoor spaces, all on a generous 12,000 sqft parcel. Updated systems and many more amenities.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Although Christina Ricci and her former fiance Owen Benjamin have reportedly gone their separate ways, it would appear that all those real estate rumors from back in March of 2009 about the art house actress house hunting in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles must have some truth to them because she recently listed her current home in the celeb-friendly Oaks neighborhood in Los Feliz for $1,250,000.

Itty-bitty Miss Ricci got her start in Tinseltown at a very young age, appearing in Mermaids with La Cher and later in the Addams Family film franchise. She went on to quirky and often dark roles in movies like The Ice Storm, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and The Opposite of Sex. Her more recent professional activities include a few turns on the boob-toob (Saving Grace), an unfortunate role in the major flop Speed Racer and a role in New York, I Love You opposite Orlando Bloom.

Property records show that Miss Ricci purchased her residence on Red Oak Drive in December of 2005 for $1,505,000. Unfortunately for her this was just about the very apex of the now popped southern California real estate bubble. It only takes a few flicks of the well worn beads on Your Mama's beloved and bejeweled abacus to see that even if Miss Ricci and her real estate peeps manage to get a full price sale–which is certainly possible but unlikely in this era of bargain hunters and bottom feeders–she's looking at a stomach churning $255,000 loss. And that's on top of whatever fat fees and charges she'll be required to pay the real estate folks for their time and efforts.

Listing information shows the modest, Mellenthin-style ranch house measures 1,891 square feet and includes 2 bedrooms and 1.75 poopers. Presumably, only about 4 of the children know what a Mellenthin style house is so let Your Mama provide a wee bit of schooling on the matter. Starting in the 1930s, the Mellenthin Company built hundreds of homes in Los Angeles, mainly in the Sherman Oaks and Valley Village areas of the San Fernando Valley. Mellenthin homes are characterized by by a vague and idealized rusticity, small front porches, diamond paned windows and pine paneled kitchens. They are, some might argue, the architectural epitome of the real estate dreams of a typical 1950s suburban Los Angeles nuclear family: hard working daddy, stay at home mommy, a couple of kids, a Lassie and two boat-sized cars in the driveway. Some people love Mellenthins for their nostalgic charm and others write them off as uninspired tract houses with difficult to clean windows and cramped, country style kitchens.

Anyhoo, Miss Ricci's house may or may not be a Mellenthin House–and more than likely it is not–but it does bear some of the Mellenthin hallmarks including a low-rise hip roof, a teeny-tiny front porch and large diamond paned windows. The traditional exterior belies the in interior spaces which have been given a modern make-over with ashy, chocolate brown wood floors, boldly printed wallpaper in several of the rooms and more damn animal skin rugs than Your Mama cares to count. Miss Ricci's formal living room has a lovely wood burning fireplace and has been furnished in a casually eclectic hipster with some money manner with a sharp lined, deep sea foam green sofa, an upright piano for Saturday night sing-a-longs, an organically shaped glass coffee table, a dramatically long mid-century modern credenza and a glittery and glammy tubular chandelier.

Beyond the dining room, which orbits around a gorgeous and lavishly glossy Parsons style table sitting atop a deep cocoa colored animal skin rug, is a cozy, skylight lit den/family room. The children will note that the mantel and surround of the corner fireplace is pleasingly identical to the one in the living room. This kind of uniformity appeals to and soothes the constant chaos that infects Your Mama's mind. Furnished sparingly with little more than a beige sofa with a chaise kick out, a wee coffee table and a wall mounted flat screen television. Listen chickens, these wall mounted tee-vees that every Tom, Dick and Sally have nowadays can be a bit difficult to successfully incorporate into day-core unless the rooms entire focus is devoted to the damn tee-vee. However, here Your Mama thinks Miss Ricci–or her nice, gay decorator–has managed to minimized the tee-vee by making it appear to be part of a mis-matched collection and differently sized artworks. We're certain some of you neatniks will whine and complain about the cable box and all the exposed wire on the floor below the television. However, a far bigger concern for Your Mama is the lack of a rug. We happen to think something like this from Angela Adams might go beautifully in the Miss Ricci's den/family room, but our suggestion is really neither here not there since she's soon moving on to a new house.

A galley kitchen connects the dining room and the breakfast room where Miss Ricci has placed an Isamu Noguchi Cyclone table surrounded with four Eames Eiffel Tower wire base chairs. Gold and brown flecked granite counter tops sit on flat fronted white cabinets. The kitchen is outfitted with the sort of high grade, stainless steel appliances one can expect in a million dollar house, but those beige tile floors set on a 45-degree angle have got to go.

The modestly sized house has a surprisingly massive, three-room master bedroom with a sitting area, bedroom and one of the more decadent dressing rooms Your Mama has seen in a long time. The blood red dressing room, furnished with rose colored couch, a mammoth mirror propped up in one corner and another damn animal skin rug, is a shoe fetishist's wet dream. One entire wall has been fitted with custom, floor to ceiling shelves where Miss Ricci keeps and displays her extensive and enviable footwear collection. Given the graphic nature of the master bedroom's black and blood red wallpaper treatment, the master bathroom is surprisingly, uhm, let's be nice and say neutral. Twin pedestal sinks with small round mirrors flank the large window which allows for proper ventilation, and a sky-lit walk-in shower is constructed of frameless glass panels and sand colored stone tile.

A large covered terrace on the back of the house, accessible through the kitchen, the family room and Miss Ricci's dee-voon dressing room looks out on the swimming pool and spa which have been tiled in different colors. To be honest chickens, it would never have occurred to Your Mama to have the pool and spa reflect different colors but we rather love it. We also love the lights strung across the pool, a decorative outdoor lighting drama that we've always liked.

The bummer about this house, clearly, is that there are just two bedrooms which will undoubtedly turn off a lot of potential buyers. Even still, if Your Mama had to predict, we'd guess this house will get snatched up quick by a young, childless couple or a couple of queens who will pee their pants with glee when they see the dressing room. We shall see.

Not only is this not the first house Miss Ricci has owned in the star-studded Oaks neighborhood in Los Feliz–she owned a house up on Park Oak Drive which she sold in 2004–it's also not the first time she's taken a significant financial hit on a house in the Oaks. In June of 2006 the diminutive indie-film favorite sold the speck-tac-u-ler Lloyd Wright-designed Samuel-Novarro House on Verde Oak Drive for about $150,000 less than she paid for it just a year earlier in June of 2005. Here's hoping that Miss Ricci does better on her next real estate transaction.

The Oaks is also home to a number of other big name Hollywood types including musician Adam Levine and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. It's also home to Flipping Out's Jeff Lewis who occupies a house he was hoping to flip for a major profit but failed to do so due to the collapsing real estate market.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Little Holiday Reading...

...From our Friends at ShelterPop.

––The Jonas Brothers Leave Bel Air, Shack Up in a New House

––Rob Lowe Trades One Montecito Estate for Another

––Ellen Degeneres Dances Her Way to Real Estate Riches

––Lindsay Lohan's New Condo and the House She Left Behind

––James Franco Selling His L.A.Home

––Dixie Chicks' Emily Robison Selling Her Texas Home

––Speidi' New Nest

UPDATE: Villa Leopolda

The other day Your Mama prattled on about a recent report from the folks at Forbes which listed the 10 highest priced homes on the planet. Listed at number four was Villa Leopolda, international socialite Lily Safra's legendarily high-maintenance estate in the South of France, which the folks at Forbes reported had hit the open market with an asking price of $102,000,000.

But alas babies and butter beans, just as Your Mama suspected, the folks at Forbes got it all kinds of wrong. Somehow, the folks at Forbes managed to mix up Villa Leopolda with Villa Schiffanoia, another high-priced property in the South of France that is currently on the market with a one hundred and two million clam price tag. The Forbes folks rather shocking failure to fact check caused a feeding frenzy among all the global real estate gossips, including Your Mama who jumped in that pool eyes closed and feet first. We really should have known better, but clearly we didn't.

So listen up chickens, not only is the Villa Leopolda not currently for sale, a
ccording to a representative of Miz Safra, the palatial estate never was. Miz Safra's representative told Your Mama, "A purchase proposal was spontaneously–and repeatedly–made by one potential buyer and was finally accepted last year. However, the purchase was never completed. The residence is not being sold and was never offered for sale." Furthermore, according to Miz Safra's representative, the purported and oft reported price of the incomplete sale– a gasp producing $750,000,000– is quite simply, "pure fantasy."

So there y'all have it, straight from the horses mouth. Well, straight from the horses hired mouth anyway. While Your Mama understands Miz Safra's real estate doings ain't nobodies bidness but her own, it would be so much simpler, cleaner and more efficient if all the parties involved in the aborted transaction would just release a statement with the damn details. Then all this nonsense over Villa Leopolda could really be laid to rest and all us real estate gossips would move on to other matters at hand. Just a thought.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Halle Berry Lists Beverly Hills Hideaway

SELLER: Halle Berry
LOCATION: Benedict Canyon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA
PRICE: $5,000,000
SIZE: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: One-of-a-kind rustic & private Old-World Mediterranean graced by magnificent gardens, al fresco dining and seating area, fire pit and sumptuous stone spa in a verdant canon setting. The vibe is majestic but casual, with vaulted heavy wood-beamed ceilings, wide-planked wood floors, fireplaces, a dramatic staircase, banks of French doors/windows & a master suite tub carved out of stone. Gourmet cook's kitchen. State of the art Crestron system.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Former Miss USA contestant turned Academy Award winning actress Halle Berry has been on a bit of a real estate whirlwind the last few years. In October of 2008 the dee-lishus diva and her equally dee-lishus male model baby daddy Gabriel Aubry reportedly purchased a country getaway in St. Hippolyte, a teeny-tiny town in the Canadian boonies about an hour or so north of Montreal. A couple years earlier, in early 2006, the possibly preggers silver screen queen sold a Doheny Place property she shared with her professional bat swinging ex-huzband David Justice for $4,150,000.

Six months earlier, in July of 2005 she gave child actor turned race car driver Frankie Muniz $5,995,000 for his N. Doheny Drive domicile which she proceeded to gut and remodel. In October of 2004, the very well paid actress spent a reported $8,000,000 on a 5 bedroom and 4 pooper ocean front contemporary on Malibu Cove Colony Drive that records show she still owns.

But even before that, in October of 2001, shortly after she married that moe-ron Eric Benét who philandered his way to dee-vorce and virtual obscurity, property records reveal that Miss Berry bought a casa on lower Benedict Canyon Drive in the Bev Hills for $2,275,000. It's that house, my butter beans, Your Mama is gonna discuss this morning because thanks to Big Dave at Celebrity Address Aerial, it has come to our attention that Miss Berry has listed the secluded and serene property with an asking price of $5,000,000.

Listing information and property records show the pleasantly private property spans 1.33 hillside acres that climb up the canyon and includes a main house built in 1948 that measures 2,274 square feet. We happen to know–don't bother to ask why because Your Mama's lips are sealed–that it was not Miss Berry or her team of nice, gay decorators, ladee deeziners and smart architects who transformed this 2 bedroom and 2 pooper property into a rustic, elegant and ancient-looking Mediterranean with sand colored stone walls, wide plank wood floors, wood-beamed vaulted ceilings, antique wooden doors, and intricately scrolled wrought iron banisters. That was done some time before she snatched up the place. It's our understanding that Miss Berry now lives in the above mentioned estate she bought from Frankie Muniz so Your Mama is going to assume that the lovely ladee and her real estate people had this property staged because it's almost beyond our admittedly limited capacity to imagine that when Miss Berry vacated the premises that she left a lap blanket not so casually laid across a deep, upholstered chair on the terrace, stacks of books on the tables in the living room, jars of lotions and potions in the master bathroom or a bottle of wine sitting on the kitchen counter top.

A long, gated celebrity style stone driveway gently climbs the hillside and makes a hairpin turn before terminating in a large motor court and two-car garage. A pathway lined with lush landscaping leads to the antique wood front door and a gracefully curving and prom dress worthy staircase with wrought iron banisters. The modestly sized house contains a living room with a fireplace flanked by French doors that open to a terrace, heavy wood-beamed and wonderfully vaulted ceiling and a lot of comfortable looking beige upholstered furniture and knick-knacks that look like they might have come out of some remote and rusty Italian villa. It's all a bit fussy looking and reminiscent of what a decorator might think a modern day castle ought to look like, but it's also a well conceived with lots of beige and muted shades of red. See children, there really is a way to do all-beige or mostly beige day-core in a manner that does not scream suburban mcmansion in an over-priced and homogeneous gated community. Anyhoo, the slightly too narrow dining room, done up in a Gothic, Knights of the Round Table sort of thing, has towering stone walls, a row of windows that open to the property's gardens and a dee-voonly over sized chandelier.

The galley kitchen may be narrow and without proper windows for ventilation, but it's fitted with a granite counter tops, expensive commercial grade appliances and honey colored wood cabinetry that looks like it's been stripped and pickled. Besides that mac-daddy range, this isn't what Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter would ever choose to do with a kitchen, but at least it's not one of those cookie cutter numbers being oppressed with copious amounts of carved detailing, unnecessarily complicated corbels, and black granite or, jeezis help us all, one of those horrid tile murals of "Tuscany" installed on the wall behind the range. A cozy, nearby breakfast nook is lit by skylights.

There are more wood-beamed and vaulted ceilings in the master bedroom which has been did up all romantic-like with a fireplace, gold mirror, chandelier, and big bed, a real Utopian vision that's only missing rose petals and 100 candles. The amorous mood moves into the master pooper which mixes a monumental, free standing stone bathtub for two with a crystal chandelier and a view of into the tree tops.

The grounds and gardens of Miss Berry's Bev Hills hideaway climb up the hillside and are lavishly but comfortably done with stone pathways, potted plants, inviting terraces, an "L" shaped fire pit surrounded by a stone bench with comfy cushions and a half moon spa set up against the hillside and surrounded by verdant vegetation.

Although it's not clear to Your Mama when Miss Berry last occupied the residence–maybe this is where she shacked up while doing over her N. Doheny Drive digs?–some of the areas newest residents include Oscar nominated actress Amy Adams (Julie & Julia, Doubt, Sunshine Cleaning, Junebug) and her not nearly as accomplished but just as fetching fiancé, actor Darren Le Gallo, who recently scooped up a renovated ranch home on Benedict Canyon Drive for $1,825,000.

What's also unclear is if Miss Berry and her baby daddy have a New York City residence. The last Your Mama heard on that matter was way back in 2007 when our dearly departed friend Braden Keil wrote in his Gimme Shelter column in the New York Post that the comely couple checked out an $8,500,000 condo at at the Jean Nouvel designed 40 Mercer Residences in SoHo. It does not appear they picked up that condo but we would not be surprised to learn from Max Abelson at the NY Observer or one of the other New York City celebrity real estate watchers that Miss Berry bought something else.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Leona Lewis Settles in the Hollywood Hills

BUYER: Leona Lewis
LOCATION: Astral Drive, Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $1,850,000
SIZE: 3,946 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Stunning California Compound!...Security & Seclusion in a Private Gated Community! Designer Courtyard Entry has 4Bdrm Main House w/ Incredible High Ceilings, Exquisite Tuscan Details & Amazing Family rm/Kitchen! Across the Courtyard is a GuestHouse with its own Garage! 4 Separate Outdoor Entertaining Areas: Waterfall, Pool & Spa, Firepit, Garden Walkways, BBQ Kitchen, & Grassy Yard. Parking Galore!

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: First of all, Your Mama needs a damn nerve pill after reading that real estate description with all its damn exclamation points and Capital Letters! All that over emphasized punctuation and all those Capital Letters make Your Mama feel like the listing is screaming bloody murder right into our tender eardrums. All the real estates know that Your Mama does not care to bash and trash them. Heaven knows they get plenty of that from their clients. However, sometimes we just can't keep our trap shut. So listen up real estates, because Your Mama is about to offer you some unsolicited but sage advice: Stop Capitalizing Every Damn Word in Listing Descriptions and Stop Throwing Exclamation Marks Around Like They're Rice at A Damn Wedding! Lo-ward people, that kind of crap ain't nuthin' but distracting not to mention all kinds of aggravating to people who do not want to work in order to read a description the damn property.

Anyhoo, let's move on before Your Mama's blood really gets up on this. The last we knew of British singing sensation Leona Lewis, she was living in a leased crib up on Laurel Pass in the Laurel Canyon area of LaLa Land. Then, in early November we received a covert communique from Big Dave at Celebrity Address Aerial who pointed our nosy noggin towards a house in the Nichols Canyon area of Los Angeles which, according to property records, was purchased by the parents of the X-Factor winning and Grammy nominated singer. We did a little peeping and poking around ourselves and managed to turn up the listing for the property but Your Mama was so mortified and mentally mangled by some of the home's eyeball assaulting interior appointments that we quickly downed a gin & tonic and plum forgot all about the matter.

That is, until yesterday–or maybe it the day before that, we can't remember–when we heard from Mirakle Mike, another of our wildly well informed sources, who also directed Your Mama's limited attentions over to this same house in the Hollywood Hills at which Big Dave pointed. Then, another source, someone we'll call The Legal Eagle, turned our attention to a recent article in the Daily Mail–that's a tab in the U.K., children–that gushed about the "Tuscan-style villa" the songbird snatched up for £1,800,000.

In actuality, records and listing information provided by Babbling Babette reveal that young Miss Lewis did not pay 1,800,000 British pounds for the place–which, according to our currency conversion contraption, translates to $3,065,876US at today's rates–but rather 1,850,000 American dollars. Now that the money matters are cleared up, let's all have a wee look-see at the 3,946 square foot house which listing information shows includes 4 bedrooms and 4 poopers. The home's location near the tippy-top of Nichols Canyon, at the tail end of a private and gated street and up a long driveway should provide all the peace, privacy and quiet Miss Lewis might want or need. The unfortunately flesh colored, two-story, neo-contempo-faux-Tuscan compound includes a main house, a detached guest house, garaging for 3 cars and parking for 10 more.

The front door appears to open into an entrance hall/formal living room combination. We'd describe the wood floors that are so glossy Your Mama would not recommend a ladee in a skirt stand on them lest her naughty bits be reflected onto the floor and we'd discuss the marble tile staircase with the intricate wrought iron banister but our eyes are so harassed by those excessively pleated, draped and ass-uglee curtains that we're simply unable to see anything else. Your Mama can only hope that Miss Lewis has the decorative smarts to have those things ripped down ih-mee-deeuht-lee and let a nice gay, decorator replace them with something less desperate and more dignified. The unnecessarily dramatic curtain treatment continues into the dining room which also has marble tile floors laid at a 45-degree angle to the room, a crystal chandelier and a disturbingly off center window that looks out onto the gardens. We're not even going to attempt to describe the moldings in the dining room which we think might be–jeezis help us all–faux-gilded and have Your Mama hyperventilating with decorative upset.

As we would have predicted, the very beige eat-in kitchen has a chandelier over the breakfast table and a damn pot rack looming dangerously over the work island. A nearby family room has wood floors, off-center French doors that open to the back yard, a corner fireplace and more of that dining room molding that gives Your Mama the shivers.

Upstairs, the master bedroom has been fitted with wall to wall carpeting in the lightest of beige colors that blends almost seamlessly to the eggshell white walls. French doors open to a private terrace overlooking the back yard and there is another corner fireplace, the second of three on the property. The master pooper has a lot of beige tile work, a separate soaking tub and glass shower, and a light fixture on which someone appears to have hung all their pearl jewelry.

The property has, according to listing information, four separate entertainment areas: the swimming pool and spa area with its double rock waterfall, a fire pit surrounded on two sides by built in stone benches, a barbecue kitchen for outdoor cooking as well as a grassy yard where the kiddies can play and the pooches can piddle and poop.

The truth is Your Mama knows little to nothing about Miss Leona Lewis other than that with the help of star maker Simon Cowell she has become a wildly successful R&B pop music super star. And bully for her for that. We just hope that she has enough sense to hire a nice, gay decorator to help her work out some of the serious kinks in her new house. Listen Miss Lewis, Your Mama knows you're new in town so iffin you need some assistance finding someone to work over your new digs, just give Your Mama a shout and we'll hook you up with someone as talented with the day-core as you are with the singing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud Flips Out In Turin

SELLER: Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
LOCATION: outside of Turin, Italy
PRICE: approx. €19,000,000
SIZE: 175 acres, 40+ rooms
DESCRIPTION: The renowned Castel of Castagneto Po, located on the slopes of the famous Turin hills, is in a lovely towering position and offers a beautifully panoramic view. The dwelling is surrounded by an English-style park with age-old trees of more than 70 hectares. The Family Bruni Tedeschi started important renovation works and turned it into one of the most refined dwellings in Europe as well as the venue of exhibitions and events of special artistic interest...

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: All the international real estate columns and blogs are atwitter and abuzz over Saudi billionaire biznessman Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud flipping the childhood home of fetching French first ladee Carla Bruni-Sarkozy back on the market just months after he purchased the historic 40+ room beast in the hills above Turin, Italy.

According to previous reports, the lavish living Saudi royal laid out around $25,000,000 for the humongous house in early 2009. Although some parts of house date back to the 11th century, listing information reveals that over the last several hundred years the regal residence has been rebuilt, remodeled, restored several times. The property stretches across approximately 70 hectores while the manse measures approximately 2,000 square meters, according to listing information. In Americanese, that's a whopping 21,528 square feet for the house and 173 acres for the land which includes orchards, flowering terraces, vegetable gardens, ancient greenhouses, a caretaker's cottage and a farm building of one sort or another.

The Castel of Castagneto Po was purchased for around $1,500,000 by arty-farty Italian industrialist Alberto Bruni Tedeschi–who was also an opera composer–in 1952. The Bruni Tedeschi family, whose wealth comes largely from tires, vacated the property in the early 1970s fearing reprisals and attacks by Marxist guerrilla groups who, at the time, were scaring the buhjeezis out of rich Italians. The family decamped for Paris but hung on to the historic property until early in 2009 when Miz Bruni-Sarkozy's mother Marisa Bruni Tedeschi sold it because, according to one report, "Nobody went there anymore."

Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, who is worth more than a dozen billion dollars, clearly and quickly had a real estate change of heart after buying the castel because he reportedly never even moved a stick of furniture or a single dishdasha into the massive mansion before hoisting it back on the market with a reported asking price of around €19,000,000. According to Your Mama's trusty currency conversion contraption, nineteen million Euros translate to 28,396,070 American clams.

The Saudi prince lives like, well, a damn Saudi prince. He reportedly shacks up a 317-room palace complete with 1,500 tons of marble, gold-plated faucets, four kitchens, a 45-seat cinema and a bewildering 250 boob-toobs. The prince is said to own upwards of 250 automobiles and takes to the seas on arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi's former yacht, which he picked up when American real estate mogul and global blowhard Donald Trump went bankrupt for the second time. Apparently The Donald's 282-foot yacht is not quite big enough for the mustachioed mogul's platinum plated taste because he's reportedly commissioned a $500,000,000+ yacht expected to measure between 530 and 560 feet long when it gets dropped into the water sometime in 2010. Think about that children...that's almost twice as long as a football field which means it's not a yacht its a damn cruise ship.

The air travel options for the prince are no less mind boggling and booty clenching. The 50-something year old already scoots around the globe in a behemoth Boeing 747 custom converted to private use but he's also ordered an Airbus A380 to the tune of three hundred million smackers or more. For all the children who do know know, the Airbus A380 is a double-decker, wide body airborne beast that will seat as many as 850 people during commercial flights. Of course, Mister Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud's Airbus A380 will seat far fewer once he's spent $100,000,000 or more after having his over-hauled for private use. If rumors and reports are accurate, the flying mansion is scheduled to include a 600 square foot master suite, a game room, a desert themed lounge, and a damn whirlpool tub that can be emptied in seconds should it become necessary. Sorta makes this little castle in Italy seem like nuthin' but a little real estate child's play, don't it?

Oliver Hudson Lists West Hollywood Hideaway

SELLERS: Oliver Hudson and Erin Bartlett
LOCATION: Norma Place, West Hollywood, CA
PRICE: $1,035,000
SIZE: 1,438 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Priced to sell!! Romantic and elegant updated 2+2 Spanish Home with detached guest house. Gated entry with Flagstone courtyard and fountain. Beamed ceiling, authentic style arches, picture window and fireplace. Updated, light filled kitchen featuring Granite countertops and office area with French doors leading to grassy backyard. Separate studio with kitchen and bath.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: A couple of weeks ago, in late October 2009, Your Mama discussed the Los Angeles property recently acquired by Hollywood scion Colin Hanks, son of Tom. Today we're going to discuss the Los Angeles crib of another beneficiary of Tinseltown nepotism, Oliver Hudson. Mister Hudson is, of course, the son of Goldie Hawn and her ex-huzband Bill Hudson and the brother of Kate Hudson who is fast becoming better known for her dating activities than her acting chops. Anyhoo, about two weeks ago, the usually scruffy-faced Mister Hudson and his ack-turuss wifey Erinn Bartlett listed their West Hollywood, CA house with a price tag of $1,035,000.

For the past couple of years, Mister Hudson has starred in the silly sitcom Rules of Engagement opposite the diminutive comedian David Spade who, as far as Your Mama is concerned is one of the more spectacularly unfunny comedians making mountains of moolah in Hollywood. Mister Hudson previously appeared in The Mountain, Dawson's Creek and My Guide to Becoming A Rock Star, none of which Your Mama has ever seen. That's right butter beans, Your Mama never bothered to tune in to even a single episode of Dawson's Creek and we ain't afraid to admit it. Mister Hudson is married to and making babies with a blondie named Erinn Bartlett, a former beauty queen turned ack-tress whose rather lusterless resume includes one time appearances on the boob-toob programs Navy NCIS, Four Kings, How I Met Your Mother and Out of Practice as well as a bunch of petite parts in mortifying movies like Little Nicky, Raising Helen, and The Benchwarmer, a cinematic clunker in which she portrayed–the poor little lamb–the character "Salad Girl/Sarah."

Property records show the Norma Place property was picked up in January of 2004 for $912,000. The would have been, according to 411 we dug up on the interweb, just before the lovebirds made their engagement public. According to listing information, the Spanish casa measures 1,438 square feet and includes 2 bedrooms and 2 poopers plus a separate studio/guest house with another pooper.

The Hudson house is located in the tightly packed West Hollywood neighborhood known as The Norma Triangle. To the west is Beverly Hills, to the north the Sunset Strip and to the south and east the gay, gay, GAY city of West Hollywood. Your Mama loves nothing more, real estate wise, than a forbidding front facade and Mister Hudson's WeHo house presents a sufficiently and pleasantly unfriendly vibe with high hedges and solid wood gates that bar access to both the front courtyard and the back part of the driveway.

As in so many of the small casas in Los Angeles, the front door opens directly into the living room which has a huge arched window looking out at the fountain in the front courtyard, wood floors, a fireplace with a flat screen tee-vee mounted where there ought to be art, and a vaulted, wood beamed ceiling that is so dee-lishusly dark it almost looks charred. A trio of arches separates the living room from the dining room where a large arched mirror that mirrors the front window has been hung on the wall behind to the dining table which has been shoved up into the corner of the room. The dining area of the dining room is done up in a style that Your Mama might call "Mario Buatta goes to the Pasadena flea market" with mint green farmhouse chairs and built in benches lined with mint green and floral pillows.

Two walls in the dining room are covered with collections of mismatched framed photographs, presumably of the comely couple and their famous friends and family members. While we do think it's just lovely that Mister and Missus Hudson care enough about their peeps to have pictures of them in their home, we're is afraid all them bug eyed and smiling faces looking down towards the dining room table while we're trying to get our grub on would make Your Mama feel like an animal at the damn zoo. Perhaps this sort of homey photographic display is better left to a room where one does not eat...or evacuate, because let's be honest, most people don't care for an audience when performing that particular task either.

Beyond the dining room, a long kitchen has been fitted with blond maple cabinetry and flecked, black granite counter tops. Although it's all a tad country for Your Mama's particular decorative sensibilities and we loathe that freestanding piece of furniture in the middle of the room, it's really a nice sized kitchen for such a small house and we do love that baby Viking range and the French doors open the house to the back yard.

The ho-hum day-core makes a not entirely successful effort at sophistication in the cramped master bedroom and renovated bathroom where crisply white walls are set against chardonnay colored linens in the bedroom mottled champagne colored tile in the pooper. Someone rang up West Elm and ordered a $99 capiz shell chandelier for the ceiling and someone else thought it wise to mount a monstrous flat screen tee-vee mounted on the wall at the foot of the bed.

The small but cozy back deck has apartment house style wrought iron railings and leads down to a wee patch of grass dotted with swaying Queen Palms and the separate studio space which appears to be all done up like some kind of damn man cave. Lo-ward have mercy children, is there anything worse than the term "man cave?" Seriously, think about it. Mister Hudson's eyeball punishing "man cave" has putrid and patterned red wall to wall carpeting and a soul crushing butterscotch and brown vertical striped wall paper. Tucked behind a wall is a refrigerator and a stacked washer and dryer and pushed up against one wall is a poker table surrounded by six chairs with wheels–wheels!–that is lit by a stained glass light fixture so ass uglee Your Mama wouldn't wish it on the blind. It's all so damn tawdry and depressing it has Your Mama reaching for a gin & tonic and a big, fat nerve pill.

Listing information boldly declares the property is priced to sell at $1,035,000. We wonder if Mister Hudson knows that a beautifully renovated and similarly sized 3 bedrooms and 2 pooper house just two blocks away was listed on the 10th of October for $1,239,000 and closed just 19 days later at a significantly lower $975,000 negotiation? Something for him to think about when he gets his first offer. Presumably Mister and Missus Hudson are hunting for or have their eyes on bigger digs that will better accommodate their growing family. Your Mama wishes them all the best in their next home, wherever that may be.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Michael Kilroy's Great Palm Springs Sell Off

Listen children, we know we are tardy for the party today but now that we are here, buckle your seat belts because Your Mama is really gonna give it to y'all today with a triple whammy of architecturally significant properties in Palm Springs, CA. Grab yerselves a snack, pour a tall glass of whatever fortifying liquid it is that gets you through the day and let's get on out to Palm Springs, the scenic and hot, hot, hot promised land of gays, greys and grey gays.

Some people collect stamps, art, or maybe kooky salt and pepper shakers. Others, like our concupiscent confrere Fiona Trambeau, collect notches on their bedposts. And still others, those with deep pockets and enviable credit lines, collect architecturally significant houses. One of those property collecting people is California-based bizness man Michael J. Kilroy who has amassed an undeniably impressive collection of iconic properties in Southern California. Please note that Your Mama does not have any idea how Mister Kilroy made his moo-lah, so don't bother asking. What we do know is that Mister Kilroy's father is an aeronautical engineer from Palos Verdes, CA whose name appears on a multitude of patents for toys manufactured by Mattel, which may or may not explain a few things about the younger Mister Kilroy's finances.

Anyhoo, property records show that Mister Kilroy, a forty something year old trophy property pack rat if there ever was one, owns a good number of prime properties including an ocean front doo-plex on The Strand in Hermosa Beach, CA designed by legendary architect Richard Neutra in 1938 as well as a magnificent Hollywood Regency style compound on N. Flores Street in West Hollywood, CA that was created and owned by Oscar winning actress Loretta Young who, it might please some of y'all to know, leased part of the property to hunky Hollywood homo Rock Hudson back in the day.

But it's not Mister Kilroy's West Hollywood or Hermosa Beach properties Your Mama wants to dish and discuss today, it's his Palm Springs properties. In addition to the former Jack Benny estate on W. Vista Chino that prop records show the architectural connoisseur scooped up in March of 2001 for $1,775,000, the prolific property collector owns a trio of notable residences on swank Southridge Drive, all three of which he recently hoisted on to the market for a quite substantial combined total of $20,250,000.

SELLER: Michael Kilroy
LOCATION: Southridge Drive, Palm Springs, CA
PRICE: $13,890,000
SIZE: 8,901 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Literally one of THE most architecturally significant homes in all the wold. Known as The Elrod House, this John Lautner-designed home was commissioned by designer Arthur Elrod in 1968 and has been featured in numerous books, magazines and museum exhibitions. It is the iconic home perched at the very tip of the Southridge enclave, easily viewable throughout Palm Springs. Organic shapes, monumental construction and world class design create and extraordinary experience of space that Lautner himself described as "timeless" architecture.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: By far the most expensive of the three Southridge Drive domiciles that Mister Kilroy heaved on to the market a few days ago, listed with an eye-popping asking price of $13,890,000, is the monumental Elrod House designed in 1968 by superstar architect John Lautner for interior designer Arthur Elrod. Iffin any of the children do not know who John Lautner is, we suggest you get in your hoopdies and head on down to your local library or bookstore and start reading up on the iconoclast who not only pushed the boundaries of residential architecture way out of its comfort zone, but re-imagined the very notion of how private residences should look, function and feel.

Property records show that Mister Kilroy purchased the wonderfully weird and wacky and Elrod House on gated Southridge Drive from supermarket mogul Ron Burkle in November of 2003 for $5,500,000. As best as Your Mama can surmise from peep and a poke around the property records, when Mister Kilroy purchased the property from Mister Burkle it encompassed 5 lots totaling 22.25 acres. However, listing information indicates the 8,901 square foot architectural rara avis is being offered with just two lots that total 6.5 acres. We don't know why that discrepancy. Although The Elrod House was originally built with only 2 bedrooms, a large Lautner-designed extension containing a guest house and staff quarters was added in 1970 or 71 which increased the bedrooms to 5 and pushed the pooper count to 5.5.

The front door of the sleek, sexy and powerfully organic Elrod House, featured in the 1971 James Bond flick Diamonds Are Forever and–as y'all might imagine–used for a number of Playboy shoots of boobie baring babes, is approached along a curving path of bewitching, herringbone patterned black slate that continues right into the voluminous and intoxicating main space of the residence. The Elrod House is perhaps best known and most easily recognized by its epic, dome-like concrete roof, perforated by nine angled, triangular sections fitted with skylights that allow indirect light to seep into the soaring and circular two level living room area which has an astonishing 60-foot diameter. Two 25-foot wide glass curtains on the lower level of the living room slide open at the touch of a button obliterating any difference between indoors and outdoors and transforming the living room into the most decadent and dee-voon covered porch on which Your Mama has ever had the pleasure to focus our blurry eyeballs. Mister Kilroy has smartly and sparsely furnished the space with several sofas that follow the gentle curve of the architecture and lay low enough so as not to interfere with the glittery view of Palm Springs below and craggy Mount San Jacinto in the distance.

The long and narrow galley style kitchen is separated from the main living space by a long, curving wall and appears to have a number of yellow, flower-like Dale Chihuly glass sculptures affixed to the wall near the ceiling. Listen babies, Your Mama is definitely not a Chihuly hater. In fact, we often enjoy the obvious spectacle of his Medusa like glass chandeliers and sculptures. However, it gets Your Mama's blood up to think of one of those yellow glass flowers detaching itself from the wall while we're fixing the Dr. Cooter a bowl of ice cream and going all Edward Scissorhands on our face.

The massive master bedroom is defined and even dominated by by a monstrous boulder with custom fitted, seamless glass that follows the contours of the top of the boulder and allows the scorching light of the harsh desert sun to be gently filtered into the space. According to a recent article in Palm Springs Life–which has some a-may-zing photographs of the property, in addition to seating, sleeping and dressing areas, the master bedroom includes a bar and refrigerator hidden behind walls of meticulously matched exotic woods, numerous closets lined with cork and a bazillion pull out Lucite drawers, and a luxuriously appointed pooper with a gigantic sunken, T-shaped bathtub that sits in front of a wall of glass but is protected from view by a stand of bamboo and another big ol' boulder.

The free-form shaped, infinity edged swimming pool sits off the lower level of the living room space. When the gigantic glass curtain walls are opened up, the pool is outside and when the windows are closed, part of the pool is indoors. What Your Mama has always wondered about this type of indoor/outdoor pool situation is can someone just swim under the wall and into the house? That would scare the bejeezis right out of us to know that we could be sitting in the living room enjoying the soothing effects of a nerve pill mixed with a gin and tonic only to have a Speedo or wetsuit wearing intruder rise up out the indoor part of the swimming pool like the damn Loch Ness Monster and ruin our substance induced bliss.

The guest house and staff quarters are accessed via a spiral staircase from the pool deck that leads down to a concrete and glass lined space that looks to Your Mama like to most glammy bunker or bomb shelter we've ever seen. Although we would not recommend anyone follow suit, Mister Kilroy has used at least part of this section of the house to house his gym equipment. Surely there is a better location on the property for all these torture machines, like the garage. The lower level has a herringbone patterned floor similar to that in much of the house, a fireplace and yet another curving wall of floor to ceiling glass, Lo-ward children, just imagine the monthly budget for window cleaner in this house. Mister Kilroy must have a full time minimum wage gurl who does nuthin' but wipe the damn windows all day long.

While there certainly would seem no shortage of architecturally minded individuals who would happily pee their pants in public in order to own this house, it'll be interesting to see what prospective buyers might be willing to pay. Remember chickens, not only has the eternally young Suzanne Somers had to hack the asking price of her Palm Springs hideaway from $35,000,000 to a significantly lower $12,900,000, The Kaufmann House, another legendary and architecturally significant residence in Palm Springs, failed to bring in anywhere near as much as the $25,000,000 that was hoped for when it was put up for auction in the spring of 2008. Although a $19,000,000 contract was drawn up, the buyers backed out and the near mythic modern manse was later put on the open market for just $12,900,000. The pristine property is currently still for sale with an undisclosed asking price.

Your Mama's point is that there just don't seem to be that many buyers in the $10,000,000+ range who want to own high maintenance properties in Palm Springs regardless of their impressive provenances which means that real estate lightening is going to need to strike for Mister Kilroy to sell The Elrod House for more than ten million clams in an economy and property market that is, at best, still limping.

LOCATION: Southridge Drive, Palm Springs, CA
PRICE: $3,470,000
SIZE: 4,493 square feet, 4 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Previously owned by the famous actor, Steve McQueen, this home is a mid-century time-capsule of Palm Springs' past. Located high on the ridge above Palm Springs in the prestigious Southridge community, it has the seclusion, glamour, history and mystic of the 60s and 70s Hollywood elite. A double door front entrance with brass lion head doorknobs soars two stories. Inside, the split-level terrazzo foyer is adorned with hand carved, braided wooden and metal railings. The living room is a steel I-beam and glass Modernist box projected into the magnificent city and mountain views and is surrounded by a cantilevered wrap-around balcony with sliding glass door entries to the pool & private yard....

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Sometime in 2005, the property immediately next door to Mister Michael Kilroy's beloved Elrod House became available for purchase and records reveal that in October of 2005 he forked over $2,500,000 for the glassy mid-century modern house. It's unclear what, if anything, has been done to the property since it was purchased by Mister Kilroy, but Your Mama hopes that at least some improvements were made because it has hit the market with a substantially higher asking price of $3,470,000.

The property, perched atop a ridge overlooking Palm Springs on gated Southridge Drive, was once owned by Steve McQueen, the studly actor sometimes referred to as 'The King of Cool.' Mister McQueen, himself a devastatingly handsome specimen of masculinity, often played almost stereotypically manly parts in films like The Sand Pebbles, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award, as well as The Magnificent Seven, The Thomas Crown Affair–the original one, not that silly remake with squinty eyed Pierce Brosnan, Papillon, and The Towering Inferno.

Listing information shows the boxy house was built in 1964 by Palm Springs architect Hugh M. Kaptur for someone with the last name Griffing, whom we can't identify as anyone other than a guy with a thing for modern architecture. Property records show that when Mister Kilroy purchased the property, it encompassed two parcels totaling 1.98 acres and included a 4,493 square foot house with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. Listing information, however, shows a 4 bedroom and 5 pooper house that sits on a 1 acre parcel. We're absolutely certain there is a simple explanation for these discrepancies, Your Mama just does not know what it is.

Listing information states the property is a "time capsule" with all the "seclusion, glamour, history, and mystic" of Palm Springs' heydays when the sleepy desert communities of the Coachella Valley attracted visitors and property owners like Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, Christina Onassis and the lovingly flamboyant Liberace. And a damn time capsule it is children, with dark paneling and brown wall to wall shag carpeting in the family room, white laminate counters and an intricately patterned linoleum floor in the kitchen, and some freaky-ass carpeting in the master bathroom which is also, sadly, being punished with woven window treatments that Your Mama has quite happily not seen since sometime in the mid 1970s.

Listing information indicates the hillside house is entered through two-story tall double doors with brass lion doorknobs that open to a split level foyer with terrazzo floors and a spectacular towering wall of glass. We don't know about the children, but those front doors with those ka-razy lion doorknobs sound dee-voonly campy and very Palm Springs, a look that uber-decorator Kelly Wearstler might have "borrowed" for the Viceroy Hotel.

The fabulosity of the foyer is carried through the formal living room which is surrounded by a wide, cantilevered balcony and floor to ceiling glass on three sides. Like the rest of the day-core, the furniture in the living room isn't doing the space any favors, partick that putrid Holiday Inn-ish table and chairs. However, in the deft hands of a nice, gay decorator smart enough not to do up the house with as a silly, retro-vintage cliché of Palm Springs circa 1962, this living room could be the sort of space Your Mama would never want to leave except to eat and use the damn terlit.

Each of the bedrooms, according to listing information, has the luxury of its own private pooper, a situation that pleases both Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter immensely for obvious reason. Listing information also indicates there is a separate guest unit with a full bathroom, a situation we like even more than secondary bedrooms with private poopers. The master bedroom, which is, quite frankly, not done justice by the listing photographs nor the upsetting, hodge-podge and unsophisticated vintage day-core, stretches along the second floor with a long wall of floor to ceiling glass that looks down on the swimming pool below and out over the lights of Palm Springs.

The backyard, large enough to comfortably entertain a few friends and sunbathe in the buff but no so large as to require a full staff and landscapers be on the property day in and day out, has the customary swimming pool. At first we were a mite disappointed not to see a kidney shaped number, but upon second thought we realized that would be mid-century modern overkill or, as our good friend Virginia Slim so succinctly and cleverly says, flooding the car. Not that it matters because Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter ain't moving to Palm Springs a minute before we turn 70, but we really do think we'd expire from heat stroke iffin we didn't hire our volatile house gurl Svetlana a good looking assistant whose only job during the murderously hot summer months was to make ice cubes and dump them into the swimming pool to cool the water.

Obviously whomever buys this house will either need to go weak in the knees for faux-wood paneling from the 1970s or have enough money left over to strip the house of it's bad elements, modernize it and over-haul it with enough sensitivity and sensibility to leave the bones alone because, as fer as Your Mama is concerned, this place has all the makings of a wickedly sexy yet perfectly cozy winter getaway for someone with a few million to spare for desert digs.

LOCATION: Southridge Drive, Palm Springs, CA
PRICE: $2,890,000
SIZE: 4,400 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Truly a spectacular piece of contemporary architecture, located in the premiere Southridge community, and affording a magnificent 270 degree view overlooking all the Coachella Valley and the mountains around it. Commissioned by race car driver James Jeffords and designed by architect Michael P. Johnson, this architectural marvel is symbolically named The Boat House both for its shape and the way it creates the illusion that your are emerging from the hillside on a voyage across the valley floor below. From the infinity pool deck and inside the home, with its soaring 24 foot ceilings and high glass walls, the house appears to be projecting into the view....

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: According to property records, the third property that completes Michael Kilroy's real estate triple whammy along Palm Springs' gated Southridge Drive was purchased by the real estate maven and another gentleman with the last name Bishop in August of 2005 for $3,100,000. A couple of years later, in late 2006 or early 2007, it appears that Mister Kilroy bought out Mister Bishops stake in the property. At least that what it looks like to Your Mama. Or it's possible, given the records, that Mister Kilroy bought the house from Mister Bishop in January of 2007 for $2,300,000. Whatever the details and dates of the purchase, Mister Kilroy has listed the property with an asking price of $2,890,000.

The Boat House, as the aggressively geometric residence is commonly called, sits just inside the gates and directly across the street from Mister Kilroy's other two architecturally significant houses on Southridge Drive, the John Lautner designed tour de force known as The Elrod House and the linear mid-century moder formerly owned by actor Steven McQueen.

Listing information and property records show the triangular and difficult to develop parcel measures 1 acre. The 4,493 square foot modern masterpiece was commissioned by contemporary architecture buff and race car driver James Jeffords and designed by soo-blimely smart and accomplished architect Michael P. Johnson who, some of the children might like to know, has created a fair number of mouth watering architectural morsels including the Ellsworth Residence in Arizona and the Parr Residence on Shelter Island, NY.

Anyhoo, listing information indicates that The Boat House contains 4 bedrooms and 5 poopers including a lofty, mezzanine-style master suite on the second floor that has a hearth-less and mantel-less fireplace with a flat scree tee-vee mounted to it, a private patio, and a humongous hexagonal skylight, which glides open at the flick of a switch so that the owner need never leave their bed in order to search the sky for comets and falling stars. The master pooper is a serene–if unexpectedly ordinary–space with pink veined marble counter tops and a seamless corner window above a jetted bathtub that looks like it might be large enough to accommodate two good sized people. That is iffin yer into sitting in a giant vat of filthy water with another person, which of course Your Mama is not. Listing information and a 2008 article in Palm Springs Life indicate that the guest rooms are well separated for seclusion and each contains a private pooper. A first floor guest room also offers a sitting area and private terrace while the upstairs bedrooms have office and lounging areas which means house guests need never actually spend time in the rest of the house if they so choose.

The unusually shaped house is not a result of the architect trying to be clever or coy, but rather an solution to a problematic and queerly shaped lot. The odd lot defined the configuration and flow of the house, pushing and forcing the dramatic–or perhaps even melodramatic–24-foot high living room into a wedge shaped space to the front of the property where it can take advantage of its elevated perch high above Palm Springs. The living room, which has a glass fireplace, a sunken wet bar, a built-in modular sofa and tall walls of glass that are seamless at the corners, spills out onto the terrace where an infinity edged pool has been fitted into the tip of prow-like triangular space. Because of siting, the narrowing shape of the house and the continued narrowing of the terrace, an thrilling bit of eye trickery takes place that creates the dee-lishusly disorienting sense that the house is plowing, ship-like, across the the desert floor below. If listing photos are to be believed, the optical hocus-pocus is even more convincing and more theatrical at night as the glistening lights of the streets and houses below mimics moonlight on water.

Behind the living room and slightly elevated so as to share in the same ship-like view as the living room are the dining room and kitchen. The dining room, unusually shaped like the rest of the rooms in the house, has a terrifically tactile and organic stone floor, built in cabinetry and is open to the galley style kitchen which has rich, caramel colored cabinetry and a black porcelain sink that Your Mama finds to be sinister, uninviting and way to early 1990s for our delicate decorative sensibilities. Large sliding panels can be used to close off the kitchen from the dining room and rest of the house, which is nice because who wants the dirty dishes–or their glowering, temperamental house gurl Svetlana–staring them down while trying to enjoy a nice dinner. An adjacent family room offers a less dramatic and more cozy spot to wind down and watch the boob-toob.

Interestingly, each of Mister Kilroy's Palm Spring properties up on Southridge Drive–as well as those in West Hollywood and Hermosa Beach–are available for leased short term through Pure LA Villas. Although prices for Mister Kilroy's Palm Springs properties are not revealed, his Neutra designed doo-plex in Hermosa Beach is listed at $11,800-$14,900 per week and the the 6 bedroom and 8 pooper former Loretta Young house–which is really in West Hollywood and not Beverly Hills as it's listed–can be had for just $32,500...per week. Rent them while you can children because who knows if the new owner of Mister Kilroy's trio of posh properties in Palm Springs will be so generous–or, as one old Palm Springs queen told Your Mama, desperate–as to let virtual strangers bunk down in the houses.

Phew! That concludes our lengthy and exhausting spin through Mister Kilroy's real estate extravaganza. We suggest the children unbuckle their seat belts and get thee to the liquor cabinet.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nic Cage Has Another Newport Beach House on the Block

SELLER: Nic Cage
LOCATION: 24th Street, Newport Beach, CA
PRICE: $995,000
SIZE: 1,500 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Beautifully remodeled beach house close to the pier, restaurants and Ferry to Balboa...all the fun the penninsula has to offer. High vaulted ceilings, Granite kitchen with maple cabinetry, all the best appliances. Central heating and air conditioning, beautifully tiled bathrooms, attached to each of the three bedrooms. Bamboo and tile flooring throughout, fireplace in living room, ceiling fans, inside laundry, double payned windows, recessed lighting. Two car attached garage with a space behind to park as well. Covered front porch with privacy, private side patio, built in and attached stained glass and beautiful mosaic tiles and big paddle ceilings fans. Interesting and creative design makes this a fun and creative beach house to spend your leisure time.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We know children, Your Mama can barely stand another damn story about Nic Cage and his real estate drama either, but there are a couple of tidbits about the cash strapped Oscar winning actor that we need to get off our desk.

As it turns out, when when Mister Cage sold his Newport Beach bay front mansion in late 2007 for a whopping $35,000,000, that was not the only piece of property he owned in the area. According to property records and recent reports from behind the Orange Curtain, in December of 2006 Mister Cage forked over $1,700,000 for a 1,500 square foot cottage located just steps from the beach on Newport Beach's 24th Street. By all accounts, including that of the all knowing Lucy Spillerguts, the 3 bedroom and 3 pooper property was purchased for and occupied by Mister Cage's very recently deceased father, former literature professor August Coppola.

Like all of Mister Cage other many properties, this one was also put up for sale in an effort to cut his financial losses. The property was officially listed for sale in early July, 2009 with an asking price of $1,895,000. Lo-ward children, what was Mister Cage and/or his bizness manager Samuel Levin thinking when they priced all these dozen or more properties Mister Cage bought at the peak of the market for more then he paid even though the bottom fell out of the real estate market? Seriously, that was just asinine.

Anyhoo, a couple of weeks after hitting the market the price tag dropped to $1,695,000. One month month later it was chopped to $1,495,000 and six weeks after that, in mid-November, it plummeted to $995,000. Days later the property was taken off the market only to be put back on the very next day at $995,000. A quick flicks of the well worn beads on Your Mama's bejeweled abacus shows the current asking price is just 59% of what Mister Cage paid for the place.

According to listing information, the renovated cottage has vaulted ceilings, bamboo and tile floors, a fireplace in the living room, a well equipped kitchen with granite counter tops, and big paddle ceiling fans. Each and every room has been painted with a variety of colors that do not go together. Your Mama is loathe to speak ill of the day-core of the dead–especially the recently departed–so we will refrain from blathering endlessly about the unholy and upsetting paint combination of lemon and grass green in the bedroom or the completely bizarro window frame in the office/bedroom that is half red and half blue. Your Mama has never seen that done before and, quite frankly, we hope never to see it again. Fortunately that is just some paint, nothing a shirtless painter whose also a beach volleyball player can't have fixed in a jiffy.

Out back there is a two car garage plus an additional parking space which is really quite nice in this part of Newport Beach where people will get all kinds of nasty with you over a parking spot withing easy walking distance to the beach. A cozy, covered front porch runs the width of the front of the house and is separated from the sidewalk by the most unusual–and disturbing–swinging doors that Your Mama has ever seen tacked on to a house that was not a damn saloon.

Your Mama is not overly familiar with the real estate market in this neck of the southern California woods so we don't have any expertise to offer about the current asking price. However, we do know that the closer you get to the water in California, the more expensive the land. Given that this house sits just five skinny houses from the sand, it's worth way more than it would be if it were picked up Wizard of Oz style and dropped down in Kansas or some other landlocked location. Whatever it's worth, it's clearly not anywhere near what Mister Cage paid.

In other Nic Cage real estate news, his two-condo combo crib on the 48th floor of the Olympic Tower in New York City digs which had been listed for for a combined asking price of $9,750,000. According to the dee-voon listing aggregating site Street Easy (and the New York Post), the two Fifth Avenue units were sold for a grand total of...drum roll please...$7,500,000. Records show that Mister Cage paid $6,500,000 for both of the units in 2005 so, at least in this case, he's turned a profit on the transaction.

The detail that Your Mama finds interesting that wasn't mentioned in the New York Post's Gimme Shelter column today is that the limited liability company listed as the new owner of both of Cage's New York City condos happens to own five other units in the building as well, two on the 46th floor and three on the 47th floor. Based on the apartment numbers of all the units, it's unclear to Your Mama if they can be combined into one gigantic, 7 unit triplex.

Little by little and mostly with painfully enormous financial losses, Mister Cage is getting his properties sold...or sold at auction in foreclosure proceedings. As far as we know, both of his historic New Orleans mansions were taken in foreclosure and he's managed to off-load his Bavarian schloss, a townhouse in Bath (UK), his Manhattan pied-a-terre. It has been reported he's sold or in the process of selling the club-shaped Midford Castle in the UK and his primary residence on Copa de Oro road in the swanky Bel Air section of Los Angeles, last listed at $17,500,000, is currently in contract. We've heard from knowledgeable folks who dabble in the high end of the market in the better zip codes of Los Angeles that the deal is for just under $15,000,000. But don't anyone go quoting that like it's some kind of gospel because it's an entirely unsubstantiated rumor that slipped down the real estate gossip grapevine and into Your Mama's inbox. It appears that, like everyone else, we're going to have to wait until the deal closes to find out the 411.

That only leaves a private island in the Bahamas, a Paradise Island house, 27-acre estate in Middletown, RI that has a 24,667 square foot mansion, a large tract of land in the mountains above Malee-boo, and an ass-uglee mansion in Las Vegas. Did we miss one or two?

As the world now know, Mister Cage has filed a $20,000,00 lawsuit against his former bizness manager Samuel Levin claiming his money man led him down a path to financial ruin. Mister Levin has, of course, filed a counter suit claiming that Mister Cage created his own financial quagmire with his profligate ways and needed to bring in at least $30,000,000 a year to maintain his excessive lifestyle. Mister Levin's suit maintains that in 2007 alone Mister Cage bought 22 cars–including 9 Rolls Royces–12 pieces of expensive jewelry, 47 pieces of art and spent $33,000,000 on real estate purchases. And those are just the big money buys. Imagine how much was frittered away on smaller and less expensive items.

Now that we've once again–for the 100,000th time it seems–spent the afternoon wallowing in Mister Cage's real estate miseries, we're going to go make us a tall pitcher of gin and tonics and sit out on the back deck looking at the trees trying to think of pretty things.