For me, this picture summed up the party. A gorgeous family home as backdrop for a sumptuous evening with HGTV hostess Adrian Leeds and 83 of CandysDirt.com’s best friends. The family friendliness of this chateau-inspired home was emphasized by Leeds and her daughter, and of course builders Sam and Debbie Elchami.
Given all the recent, and seemingly returning rain, last Thursday was a blip of cooperative weather. I know everything that was supposed to be green certainly was.
Before the party kicked into high-gear, Leeds’ daughter, New York photographer Erica Simone toured the home snapping pictures of the staged property. In the background you can see builder Sam Elchami and CandysDirt.com staffers Karen Eubank and myself having a pre-party pow-wow.
Seeing the home furnished brings it down to a more understandable size for me. Even after playing with Candy for over a year, I still find very large homes hard to mentally navigate … and at 13,000 square feet, 9818 Hathaway is big. Of course, all that space gives you a chance to spread people around the many rooms.
As the time approached for Leeds’ presentation, guests enjoyed some pretty amazing catering from Texas Catering. In addition to the usual fruit and cheese — well at three-tiers each, not that usual — we enjoyed deviled eggs with caviar and my favorite seared tuna bruschetta with tropical fruit compote. For those needing some sugar there was another three-tiered display of brownies, cookies and my other favorite, strawberry shortbread cookies covered in strawberry cream … that really tasted like strawberries (because you know sometimes strawberries lack a little oomph).
At the bewitching hour — OK, 6:30 p.m. — we filed into the two-story theater to listen to Adrian Leeds educate us on the process, inventory and trials of investing in French real estate.
In addition to the 35 seated on the ground floor, there was a standing gallery and the second floor. It’s lucky that in addition to a traditional screen, we also were able to project Leeds’ information to the four large flat screen TVs above for the upper deck to see. This home has one fully kitted-out media room.
Leeds spoke about how a New Orleans gal wound up in Paris (took a year-long sabbatical and never left) and, not being a French citizen, earned a living. One of the first things she did was to open the Paris office for International Living magazine. From there she began helping readers purchase property as they relocated to Paris. From that accidental confluence, she started her own business and as she said, “the rest is history.”
Her business, the Adrian Leeds Group has a motto, “French Property the American Way.” You see, in France there is no MLS: property acquisition follows different processes based on different laws and different responsibilities … not to mention a different language. Depending on the type of property purchased there may be a need for renovations or decorating help. Without an Angie’s List, people like Leeds can offer the full spectrum of service.
Always dreamed of owning a chateau? One coincidental point Leeds made was that today châteaux are a dime a dozen — thousands and thousands of square feet for a few hundred thou. Many are abandoned and many have been abandoned by the tax evading wealthy leaving France. Earlier in the week on YouTube I saw, “Escape to the Chateau” (that YouTube now seems to have zapped). Part one of a four part program about a family leaving the UK, buying a run-down French Chateau for £280,000 and spending the next year fixing it up on a budget. According to Leeds, while these derelict chateaux are cheap, expect to budget three times the purchase price in restoration and operation of the home. I can’t wait to see how the show progresses.
After the event guests continued to roam around the 13,000-square-foot manse and enjoy the hospitality of its builders Sam and Debbie Elchami. Not one to miss a glass of champagne, I did my duty and helped our guests kill a bottle.
Further proof that it’s a small world, Leeds and the Elchamis have vacationed in many of the same European hot spots and even have friends one-step removed. I think a Nice rendezvous may be in the works … where’s my ticket? 🙂
We were all lucky to have made Leeds’ acquaintance. The rest of her weekend was spent up north at a family reunion, which it why we were so lucky to pick the brain of this international hostess to fuel our Parisian dreams.
Remember: Do you have an HOA story to tell? A little high-rise history? Realtors, want to feature a listing in need of renovation or one that’s complete with flying colors? How about hosting a Candy’s Dirt Staff Meeting? Shoot Jon an email. Marriage proposals accepted (they’re legal)! firstname.lastname@example.org