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Monday, June 30, 2014

Castles Magazine Live

The very first full episode of Castles Magazine Live is on the air! Stay tuned for more exclusive luxury listings!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fail-proof Ways to Boost Curb Appeal

First impressions mean everything, and when prospective buyers or realtors take their first look at your home, they’ll immediately study your home’s facade and front lawn. While an overhaul such as new siding can cost thousands, there are plenty of budget-friendly ways to improve the look of your home.
Though you might not be able to force your flowerbeds to bloom, you can still amplify their aesthetics by heavily mulching it at the start of each growing season. Organic mulches that are colored with vegetable dyes, like red cedar bark, create the biggest ‘wow’ factor, but the color can also fade quickly, especially if you live in an area with plenty of sunlight and rain. The solution to this depends on your budget. If you can re-mulch twice per year, feel free to indulge in the higher-quality varieties. If you’re on a tight budget, opt for something more durable, like pine straw or wood chips, or even entertain the notion of thoughtfully landscaping with fine gravel.

One of the easiest ways to create a more chic and modern exterior is to build a contained rock garden. Set a border that visually defines the area you want to create, clear it of all debris and plants, lay down landscape fabric, and cover the area with an attractive gravel, like decomposed granite or Russian river cobbles. By placing an odd number of eye-catching, vertical decorations like planters or blooming plants, you can visually hack the appeal of the garden. Try either one, three, or five planters. However, beware of placing this too close to deciduous trees, as the leaves it scatters will decompose into the soil, causing a weed problem within the rock garden.

Beyond landscaping, curb appeal can be boosted by amplifying trim and molding on the windows and doors of your home. If you don’t want to remove the existing molding, a layer of crown added to the top can be added, with styles ranging from simple Craftsman to ornate Victorian. If you’re willing to remove the existing trim, your options abound. An elaborate look can be created by adding fluted trim, topping it with rosettes, and sandwiching these between layers of crown and base molding. Remember: trim is like adding accessories to an outfit – it can elevate something basic into looking far more luxurious and expensive than it is.

Depending upon the architectural style of your home, shutters might be the missing link to a fantastic curb appeal. Historically, shutters were used to protect homes from inclement weather, but more and more they are being used as decorative elements to add texture and dimension to a home’s facade. Styles range from traditional louvered rectangular shutters to far more decorative board-and-batten styles.

Some homeowners have the good fortune of owning homes that are built from bricks, such as old clay-fired red brick from the early 20th century. But if you have a cookiecutter brick exterior, try a layer of paint to freshen it up. Depending upon the desired look, you can try white for a more modern yet classical feel, or a more daring shimmery grey. If your home is clad in something other than brick, try adding a fresh coat of paint to the front door. The “red front door” has become very popular in recent years, and works very well on neutral-colored houses, adding a much needed lipstick-red pop. A more conservative home should opt for muted shades like sea-blue, sage-green, or black.

Finally, an upgrade that is friendly for all budgets – replace your house numbers. Humdrum text doesn’t announce your address like a unique typeface can. Try art deco, cursive, or a modern sans-serif for a new twist.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

New Luxury Listings in Brookline

 List Price: $3,950,000
Close to Boston, this beautiful 1902 Neoclassical residence is sited on .76+ acres at the end of a private road in Brookline with seasonal views of the Boston skyline. The house's hilltop location and high ceilings afford natural light to fill the house. The floor plan is excellent for entertaining and the chef's kitchen is ideal for the serious cook. At 8,939 square feet of living space, the house offers generous rooms and graceful living. With four fireplaces, crown moldings, exposed beams, pocket doors, quarter-sawn oak flooring, and stained glass windows. The house consists of five (or more) bedrooms, five full baths and two half-baths, separate au pair living quarters and a two-car garage.


 List Price: $1,100,000
Stately 10 room, 5 bedroom Brick Colonial in South Brookline. First floor has a gracious fire-placed livingroom with adjacent den, updated kitchen/family room, guest lav and laundry room/office. There are three bedrooms on the 2nd floor including a spacious master bedroom with generous closets and bath with double sinks, tub and shower, two additional bedrooms and bath. Great 3rd floor with 2 bedrooms and bath. The two car garage is being used as an in-home office space and can easily be converted back. Convenient to Baker School, Putterham Shops, 51 bus and the commuter rail.

List Price: $3,495,000
Prestigious Fisher Hill. This stately seven bedroom, five full and three half-bathroom brick and stone English tudor-style residence with a slate roof is set on nearly 43,000' of land with sprawling lawns and specimen plantings. Beautifully appointed rooms showcase the exquisite architectural detail including four fireplaces. The gracious reception foyer leads to a library with oak paneling and 1st fireplace, and to an impressive 30'X19" step-down living room with nearly 10' ceiling height featuring a wall-of-glass, and an oversized fireplace with intricately carved mantel detailing. The living room accesses the yard, sun room and home office with separate outdoor entry. The pretty dining room has large bay windows and French doors. A modern kitchen with south-facing glass, overlooks the glorious yard and in-ground swimming pool. The family room, laundry room and three powder rooms complete this level. The elegant, curved staircase with period iron work ascends to the bedroom level.


New Luxury Listings in Newton

 List Price: $2,495,000
 Come home to the sophistication and elegance of this gorgeous circa 1917 brick colonial home sitting handsomely on the carriage lane of Commonwealth Avenue's Heartbreak Hill. This meticulously preserved home mixes the excitement and convenience of its marvelous locale, with the privacy and serenity of an inviting backyard retreat, complete with in-ground pool, jacuzzi and cabana. The home is trimmed with period wood detailing throughout and was built to entertain with an expansive living room, formal dining room w/fireplace and spectacular year-round sun room with direct access to the covered patio and lush gardens. Preparing meals is a joy in the custom-built gourmet chef's kitchen complete with dining area and butler's pantry with 2nd dishwasher. The home features five bedrooms including two potential masters' on the second floor and a sixth bedroom with sitting area and full bath on the third. The generous lower-level offers finished family and play rooms, built-in sauna & more!

List Price: $3,850,000
Situated atop the beautiful Ledges of Newton this Bauhaus masterpiece by legendary architect Walter Gropius is the definition of special. With 5 bedrooms, and 6 full baths; step down living room with original paneling, and a grand staircase; this spacious home also boasts a sun splashed sky lit indoor pool with a full wet bar. Completing the Hamam are a steam shower, and a four person sauna. The en suite master bedroom boasts a huge wrap around deck, and a private staircase leading you to the "Crows Nest" balcony with spectacular views of Boston, and the acre plus landscaped grounds. The home is steps from Newton center as well as all of the Chestnut Hill area amenities.

List Price: $1,279,000 
 Extraordinary Victorian home sited on a dead end street in Newton Corner's coveted Hunnewell Hill neighborhood. Soaring 10' ceilings, spectacular wood work and sumptuous moldings throughout. First floor offers double foyers, French doors to side porch, butlers pantry, kitchen with mud room and powder room. A elegant stairway leads to the spacious landing on 2nd floor, consisting of the master suite with a walk in closet and renovated bath, 2 bedrooms, laundry room, family room and additional updated bath. Third floor boasts two additional bedrooms - as well as a bonus room currently used as a home office with a full bath, and could easily convert to an Au Pair/In Law.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Trump Makeover for Washington's Old Post Office

The landmark 1899 post office tower on Pennsylvania Avenue — the second-tallest building in Washington — looked out of place in the Federal Triangle of neoclassical government buildings constructed mostly in the 1930s.

In order to architecturally harmonize the Triangle, the government wanted to demolish the majority, leaving only the clock tower to rise above its replacement in homage to the previous Richardsonian Romanesque structure.
The 1970 reconstruction plan gave rise to "Don’t Tear It Down", an organization (now the D.C. Preservation League) that successfully fought the demolition. However, efforts to reuse the old building as offices for other federal agencies, with a ground-floor food court pavilion below the soaring nine-story atrium, also failed. The Old Post Office, a preservationist success, was a governmental flop, a federal white elephant saved from the wrecking ball — but for what?

In 2011, the General Services Administration, which owns and manages federal properties, invited interested parties to consider the prospects. More than 80 initially showed interest. Ultimately, 10 firms made formal proposals.

Last August, the agency signed a 60-year lease with the Trump Organization to renovate and convert the iconic building into a luxury hotel. Trump formally took possession on Saturday the 31st of May, allowing work to begin on a $200 million makeover. The deal also includes two 20-year lease renewal options.

“You just couldn’t build something like this today,” raved Ivanka Trump, executive vice president for development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization and Mr. Trump’s daughter, who is perhaps better known for her lines of women’s jewelry, shoes and handbags. "Having a nine-story glass-top atrium, having solid granite turrets, the level of detail carved into the stone. There is unbelievable wainscoting detail and incredibly intricate molding.”

The main building will have 271 rooms — prices to be determined — including two “presidential” suites in the former postmaster general’s office, 3,600 and 5,000 square feet in size.

The Trump Organization has been involved in other renovations of historic properties, including the Hotel Delmonico in Manhattan and the former Mar-A-Lago estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post in Palm Beach. The lease with the G.S.A. for the Old Post Office calls for Trump to pay the government $3 million a year in rent from the hotel’s opening date, with additional payments tied to the Consumer Price Index.