4305 Arcady ext frontThis is Valentines week, and we are committed to bringing you the most romantic homes in town every single day. Like 4305 Arcady. This strong, sultry Tudor has it all including something money cannot buy: class. (It also just hit the market!) Perfect location on one of Highland Park’s French Streets, it was built by the greatness that is Tatum Brown Custom Homes, a CandysDirt approved home builder  in 2006, one of the tip top home builders in town. (Who is currently building out two dynamo celeb homes in Bluffview.) Perched on a whopping 90 by 167 lot, the home is as pristine as it was the day Mark Danuser did his final walk-through.

But the story is even more beautiful than the home. It is a story about love and homes. Liz met Robert In January of 2010, and they were married a year later. Robert adored Liz from the moment they met. Robert was everything Liz had ever wanted to find in a husband, but she was concerned over four precious things: her four children. Most men, she says, do not want to marry women with an entourage.

But Robert is not most men, and marry Liz he did indeed, and then brought her and the children home to this beautiful dream home with five bedrooms, six full baths, to house their new family of six!

4305 Arcady LR2 4305 Arcady foyer 4305 Arcady dining roomWalk into custom millwork that lends the feel of The Lanesborough in Knightsbridge, with rich hand-scraped oak hardwoods, herringbone and limestone accents, arched doorways and ironwork. The 18th century front door leads you into the foyer and adjoining open formal living room with a large cast stone fireplace and a wall of windows to enjoy the street view, which you will with the expansive front yard. The dining room has a cross beam ceiling, a 350 bottle wine room with iron gate, and French doors to a front terrace. A large walk-in wet bar is conveniently located between the dining room and family area. The kitchen is well-equipped with Viking appliances, granite countertops, a deep sink and platinum designer fixtures, an island with room for seating, European wood inset cabinetry, and a full breakfast area loaded with built-ins. The kitchen also has a large pantry. Off this is the large family room, both rooms enjoying views of the backyard. The family room features oak beamed ceiling, an entertainment system, full surround sound and three pairs of European-style arched doors leading out to the covered terrace and outdoor living area.

4305 Arcady kitchen 1 4305 Arcady kitchen 2 4305 Arcady kitchen 3 4305 Arcady breakfastThere is a gallery hall with groin ceiling accents leading to a study covered with millwork — very British regency. You really do expect Lord Grantham to stroll in and ring for tea. Also downstairs is a guest room with en suite bath, built-ins and doors to the covered terrace. Liz, a talented artist, has been using this as her art studio.

Walk the grand stairs, front or back, or take the elevator up to the grandest master suite on the French streets. This one has a sitting room, private balcony, and of course his and her baths, both a sea of white carrera marble. Each side also has a separate walk-in closet. (Separate potties, too, keeps that love humming.) Upstairs are three more large bedrooms with tray ceilings, walk-in closets and en suite baths.

4305 Arcady family 4305 Arcady elevator 4305 Arcady study 4305 Arcady master 4305 Arcady master sitting 4305 Arcady master bath 4305 Arcady master bath 2Do you ever have that argument about where to have the laundry room, first floor or second? How about BOTH floors? (That solves it!) The media room is on the third floor with full bath, coffee bar and additional storage.

Now let us wander outside, to the covered terraces spanning the back breath of the house. This entertainment area overlooks the pool with attached spa and water features, a full outdoor kitchen area with built-in grill, drink cooler and seating area. The port cochere allows easy drop of groceries or catering goodies, and there is a three car garage above which you have another 1,000 square feet of elegant living space, perfect for two teenagers, a nanny or the help.

4305 Arcady pool 4305 Arcady guest houseAs Lady Mary said in the most recent Downton, “we may be aristocrats, but we like to get our money’s worth.”

Get your money’s worth you will, here at 4305 Arcady with 6837 square feet on one of the most romantic streets in Old Highland Park. Asking is a mere $4,795,000, listed with Christine McKenny, Dave Perry-Miller, who lives nearby.

Back to our love story. Where are Robert and Liz going? On a recent trip to the beach in northern Florida, Liz fell in love with a home and, well, Robert bought it for her. Just like that. He’s perfect, no? So is she, They are meant to be. The couple plan to divide time between their second and third homes.

And that’s what we call true love around the house.Wedding-Canopy-WaterColor-Beach

 

 

 

I almost did not post this foreclosure, and while I have some issues with the kitchen — what in bejesus were they thinking with those wood cabinets, all beach house kitchens need to be white! — and the master bath looks like it might get you a good bash on the head if you get in after a few too many Mojitos, I will fix said issues for that Bay view right from the porch. (Not giving up the Top Shelf.) Mix me up a pitcher of anything with booze in it, rustle up some cheese and Carr’s wafers, and let’s enjoy the sunset. One acre, across from beach, 2420 square feet, three bedrooms, two baths, garage and bonus room with bath. Bank-owned at $252,000.

OK, painting party on Saturday — that green gives me indigestion! But man oh man, let the bank throw in some Sherwin Williams and camel hair brushes, I am so signing on the dotted for this number.

Oh my, now Jupiter Island is lovely, and I could tan myself into some basal cells on that private beach, but this is the place Elin should make Tiger pony up for her and the kids: the Cooke House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Virginia Beach, VA. See, everyone dreams of having perfect homes. And everyone who has ever built a home since the dawn of time has gone over-budget and square footage. The rich today and 50 years ago are no different from you and I in that regard except that they can, ah, afford them!

In the early 1950′s, Maude and Andrew Cooke had a dream: live in a house designed by the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.¬† Mrs. Cooke wrote Mr. Wright in 1951: “Dear Mr. Wright, Will you please help us get the beautiful house we have dreamed of for so long?‚Äù

A rendering was not up until 1953, which means a lot of planning and research must have been going on. Plans were delivered in 1957.¬† Construction was begun in 1959, two weeks before Wright’s death.¬† The home is a hemicycle design of soft yellow brick built into a sand dune. An arcing wall of windows faces south to soak up light and heat and look over Crystal Lake, a deep-water lake that feeds into Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. A copper, cantilevered roof tops the home, which follows the shape of a question mark.¬† The 70 foot long Great Room still has Wright’s originally designed furniture, cypress beams, a heated Cherokee red concrete floor, and huge hearth cleaved into the masonry. Typical of Wright’s linear design,¬†a long wing off of one side holds four bedrooms three bathrooms. After Wright’s death, the home was completed six years after its design. The total square footage is about 3000.

The house was completed¬†in 1960, and it was completely Wright’s rendering save for the pool surrounding the patio, rightfully thought to be a hazard to the couple’s three young children. Besides, they wanted to see the lake.

Here’s a shocker: the Cook’s original building budget of $40,000 had grown to over four times that amount; they actually asked Wright’s firm for a smaller re-vision of the home, but ended up building the larger, original design. Great lesson: the Cooke family lived in their dream house for 23 years and loved every¬† minute of it.

In 1983, Maude sold the home — it must have killed her, my mother also sold our family home in the mid 1980′s — to a Daniel and Jane Duhl.¬† The house needed TLC, and this couple dug right it. The restoration was stunning and received an award for preservation from the AIA of Hampton Roads.¬† They undertook a green construction with passive solar design. Since air conditioning was not standard in fifties era homes (nor in Wright’s — can you feel him rolling in his grave?), the Duhls added two central air conditioning systems, ostensibly to protect the house from damage of heat and humidity. A/C preserves homes and helps them last longer.

This time, a A 14 foot swim spa was installed in a terrace overlooking Crystal Lake.  In order to accommodate the mechanisms needed to operate the swim spa, a large underground bunker was built into the dune above the lake.  This included a sauna and an exercise room.   Also at lakeside are two docks; one floating for launching small boats and a larger dock which can accommodate two large yachts.

I mean, it doesn’t get much better than this:$4,513,783 including half a million for Wrights’ artistic value, and $150,000 for his furniture, which is a steal. STEAL.

Ask Santa to put the deed under your tree.

This post in Brick Underground got me thinking and of course, I’ve emailed it to my Manhattan-dwelling son who is coming home this weekend without, I sincerely hope, any critters in his luggage. He is upset that I bought him one of those canvas-cooker deals to kill off any bedbugs that might stick to his shoes or a backpack/briefcase. (Upset because he has no room in his studio apartment for it.) I’ve been freaking about bedbugs ever since he and I attended a movie near Times Square July 31 and the theater closed shortly thereafter due to bed bug infestation.¬† People in New York are being told to not use their beds to store guest coats or purses during holiday parties, even the minks!

You know how it is living in those old, cramped flats. What we call a Sam’s closet is basically the entire apartment in Manhattan. Come to think of it, I have a large home, and we don’t have room to hang up every guest’s coat in our hall closet. People usually stash them in our library on a leather chair, which I can vacuum and wash. But I am thinking of buying a coat rack that can be assembled just for parties.

Which is what they are encouraging in the bed bug-ridden cities. You are also to keep people off your sofas and encourage everyone to stand up. How inhospitable, but of course, I cannot blame any host who does this in the name of keeping a sofa critter-free. I love the idea of handing folks a large zip-lock baggie to store purses — I’d need a SpaceBag. But that got me thinking.

When I was growing up in suburban Chicago, I would go play at a neighbor’s house that I used to call the plastic house. Everything was always covered in plastic: the sofas, the chairs, the lampshades, even the tables. I found this a bit strange and asked my friend, Margaret-Ann, why her mother covered everything in plastic in their house.

She doesn’t want it to get dirty, my friend explained.

Oh. Does she cover you in plastic, too? I asked.

Sometimes, said Margaret-Ann, matter of factly.

I thought about Margaret-Ann many times after I started living on my own. Yes, my family make fun of her plastic-covered home, but sometimes, as I was scrubbing gross stuff off a sofa or a chair into the wee hours of the night, I would think of Margaret-Ann’s mother and admire her for covering everything in plastic.

Maybe it made her life easier; I’d wonder where she found those plastic covers for her sofas. They must have been custom made.

Maybe those would protect sofas from bedbugs. You could encase your entire sofa in a plastic slip-cover that was then sealed on the bottom, and zip it up. People could sit at your house, no bedbug worries. Hell, I may want some in my family room to keep the dog hair off my sofas.

I think we need them at the beach house, too. Our beach house is like a family time share and the sofas are so old, and so used by everyone, I sometimes spread out a towel to sit on because I am slightly OCD. You really are supposed to cover furniture at a second home — recall the movies where everyone walks into the summer home and everything is draped in sheets to protect from the dust?

In fact, I think we’ll be seeing a comeback in plastic slip covers thanks to this bedbug epidemic.

Which will just remind me more and more of Margaret-Ann. This is kind of a sad ending, though: she’s no longer with us. Her mother died of cancer, and then Margaret Ann died of cancer.

Please don’t tell me it was the plastic.

You do recall former NBA champ Michael Jordan.¬† Not only is he known as “the greatest basketball player of all times” but he is gaining a rap as the greatest home builder of all times! Jordan is completing a 28,000 square foot mansion in The Bears’ Club, Palm Beach County, Florida, near where Tiger Woods just completed his grand estate. The builder: Lavelle Builders out of Jupiter, Fla. Of course, Tiger’s estate is surrounded by water on three sides to,¬† perhaps, keep the paparazzi (among other things) at bay. Jordan’s mega-mansion, which is still under construction, is not even close to the water. But it now goes down as one of the largest, most expensive homes ever built in Florida that is not on the water, says real estate agent Jeff Lichtenstein of Christie’s Great Estates and Illustrated Properties. Lichtenstein knows of what he talks: he sells real estate in the Palm Beach area, which is notoriously filled with high net worth people who like to enjoy a second or third home here because here they have it all: a backyard marina for their yachts, sea, beach, and plenty of gorgeous Florida sunshine.

Oh yes, and I almost forgot: golf.

Though waning with the general population, the wealthy still love to tinker on the greens. Jeff’s father, Cary Lichenstein, was a golf rater for GolfWeek Magazine and has been playing since he could walk. In fact, he lives so close to Jordan — in Admiral’s Cove – the elder Lichenstein could lend a hammer or nail to the twenty million dollar project.

The Jordan home will have 11 bedrooms, sits on a three-parcel site right in the backyard of the uber exclusive (and hard to get into) Bear’s Club. Let me put it to you this way: it costs $350,000 just to call yourself a member of the club. The area is loaded with courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, but he personally plays at Bears Club — so basically this area is golf nirvana and the membership list is a regular Who’s Who…¬† stars, Fortune 400 execs, and the Nicklaus family.There are 55 residences ranging from $4 million on up to, well, probably Jordan’s home. When complete, Jordan’s mansion will be a contemporary with Spanish-style roof — this I have to see. It will have four separate structures: A main house, a guardhouse, a guesthouse and a poolhouse for the mammoth swimming pool. In other words, the largest spread in the ‘hood.

Neighbors once included chanteuse Celine Dion, who ran into a few problems with her HOA over her desire to add a commercial recording studio or music room to her property — deeds are so tough in this ‘hood that even if a home burns down, you have to re-build it to look just like the original home. I mean, can you imagine the disaster if a Mediterranean went up right next to — another Mediterranean?

Jordan paid $4.8 million for the land and is spending an estimated $7.6 million for the construction. The Lichtenstein boys estimate that the total booty will top $20 million, and they worry a bit about re-sale value:

“It would be interesting to see what the Jordan home resells for, being that its location, while great for MJ’s privacy, is not ideal for resale to the usual trophy-and-yacht buyer,”says Jeff.

Only his banker knows for sure!

I’ve never really told you why I started a blog called SecondShelters. Truth is, I wanted to call it SecondHomes, but the URL was already taken. I like the word “shelter” because that is the purpose a home serves — it is really a shelter from the elements, from the big, bad world. As a real estate reporter, blogger and now agent,¬† I saw several trends emerging that I thought would serve such a highly-focused blog well. (And I know a little about blogging.) Ultimately, I hope to serve up mainly Second Home House Porn and information here once I find a place for my “Dallas Dirt”.¬† And my husband has put in a request for a tab on boats and yachts — apparently the prices are way down now due to the higher cost of petrol? But the trends I found were conceived from what you see going on in this photograph taken after my daughter’s wedding in September, 2009. This is the porch of the family beach house in Maine that my husband’s grandfather bought for his family to enjoy back in 1947. Today, it’s like a family timeshare that has spawned so many wonderful memories and gatherings being there is instant comfort and has spoiled me hopelessly to what the perfect beach should be. Second home ownership, you see, is not new. It has been around for ages in America as people escaped the heat and “summered” on the shore — Long Island, the Cape, Maine. In Europe, the gentry lived in the city and escaped to the country on long, restful weekends. We visited summer homes — and palaces –in Japan. With the advent of air conditioning, some perhaps thought this trend would end — people would stay put in their Bauhaus, egalitarian, 1500 square foot homes year ’round. (Of course, comrad!) Second homes in the 1950′s and 1960′s were lake cabins, or Winnebagos or Airstreams. But then came the developers who decided to “fractionalize” ski resort home ownership to get more paying bodies out on the slopes. If one family owned a chalet, but only skied a few times a year, the lifts were pretty sparsely populated. Fractionalize that chalet, bring in warm, credit-card carrying new ski bodies each week, and that resort revenue started looking fine.

Then came that dirty little word we do not use on SecondShelters lest we get our mouth washed out with a very finely milled soap: time-share. No, dear readers, I care about you too much to let this word slip in. Time shares are NOT good real estate investments, and I would not recommend them on this blog.

My jury is still out on Condohotels — stay tuned.

We may fractionalize, we may buy into an equity fund that invests in real estate, we may buy for fun or to lease. Whatever we do, we buy for value and future appreciation.

Those trends? Next post!

So, just finished reading an article in USA TODAY about Roatan, that beautiful 37-mile long island off the coast of Honduras that is a paradise for scuba divers and snorkeling, because it holds the world’s second largest barrier reef. I know I was out there last April. I‚Äôm reading along ‚Äì yeah, yeah ‚Äì full of ex-pats, English spoken almost everywhere, diving paradise, first golf course under development, great food in some areas, and a definite Bohemian culture like the Bahamas I recall from my youth ‚Äì not what the Bahamas are today. There are really no big, huge fancy hotels on the island ‚Äì yet. But the real estate market is booming and yes, you can buy there now and get beachfront property for a fraction of what you‚Äôd get in the states.

But then I continued reading and thought, OK, this is scary. They are not telling the full story here. And Second Shelter readers need to know the truth!

Let me tell you about our trip: we stayed in what was one of the most beautiful townhomes we‚Äôd ever seen right on the water, in a great development called The Meridian at Lighthouse Point. Very well-built — even the walls are made of cinderblocks. I was dying to buy a second story unit that had just come back on the market (distress sale) because we had a view of the mainland and water that was unparalleled — see for yourself. We were on the West End of Roatan, and that is where you want to be. No. Where. Else.

But Roatan is primitive. That’s what charming means, usually. We arrived and the young man, Jimmy, who works as a caretaker for Dallas friends who have a home there met us at the airport. He helped us get a rental car. It sure wasn’t Hertz. The cars were filthy and all stick-shift. An hour later, we were off to get groceries, bumping up the cliffy hills in our Kia. Jimmy drops us off at The Meridian and proceeds to back his car into a cement barrier left over from construction. His tire rim is history. We feel sorry for him, so my husband takes him to a gas station to get his car fixed. Next, we head for dinner on West End – great restaurants – but my husband warns me, this car is acting funky. Funky all right: it dies on the way home in the middle of the road, bottom of a steep hill in the heart of the jungle. We start it – horrible cranking noises – and miraculously make it to the nearest hotel. There we ask a security guard, who finds us the Roatan police. Suddenly we are surrounded by Honduran police who are very nice, pose for photos, and end up driving us home. (Though I worried for a moment we’d been ambushed.) We leave the car for the next day.

After we switch cars, we enjoy the island swimming, snorkeling, kayaking. Warning: you may need a wet suit: there is so much coral around the island, and you don’t want to touch it because it’s bad for the coral and bad for you, too. I got coral poisoning. And you will need something stronger than Skin So Soft, at least I did, for the bugs. The tiny, invisible mosquitos on the island just loved my legs , so much it took the bites months to heal after getting a strong cortisone ointment from my dermatologist.

We met and chatted with many locals who gave us the island low-down. A developer had had his legs broken by a real estate partner, and there had been a recent shooting on the island: drug lords. Oh. My. God. Yes, we were told, stay away from Port Royal on the East End – the drug lords have taken over the entire town.

One day Jimmy takes us on a tour of the island. We are having a great time driving, sunning, visiting developments and enjoying the views. Roatan is a raw island. The huge cruise ships pass through and supply most of the tourist trade, and developers are counting on the fact that many of them like what they see and will want to come back, buy real estate. I’d like to sell real estate here — the commissions are great. Hence many developments and real estate is a major industry. Which scares me: will Roatan be the next Phoenix?

I see a sign that says Port Royal – ahead. Freaking, I make my husband turn the car around and head back. But it’s a pirate cove, he tells me, I wanted to see it. Jimmy, too, says no. They have check-points, he explains, and they have guns.

I ask if the police cannot handle these drug lords? Jimmy says, well, their guns are bigger.

That was six months ago, and things may have changed. Maybe the drug guys went swimming with the fishes. But if you go back and buy, I’d stick to the West End until Port Royal manages to flush itself of the new-age pirates, the drug lords. Seriously, I do think the place has potential but it’s a foreign country a hour’s boat ride from Central America: anything’s possible.

Roatan, Honduras – Second Shelters Rating: 8 out of 10

Who is buying: Kelcy Warren, Dallas billionaire.