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Design Consultants

May 2009


REAL ESTATE

Deeds & Don'ts
By Lily Oliver

INSIDE STORIES BEHIND AREA REAL ESTATE DEALS

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IMUS SETS SAIL
Looks like the sassy-tongued radio host is yearning for a few moments of peace and quiet. We hear that Don and Deirdre Imus are asking a cool $30 million for their sprawling 10,000-square-foot waterfront home on Beachside Avenue. Foul-mouthed former resident or not, the house perches directly on Westport's clean and pristine Gold Coast. Briefly listed for the same price in 2005, the white-clapboard Georgian Revival is set on four acres and enjoys more than 200 feet of private waterfront, along with spectacular views of the Long Island Sound, reports the Wall Street Journal. Darlene Letersky of Fine Homes USA Connecticut in Westport has the listing, (203) 227-8787.

In Connecticut, the winter market matched our collective mood: dark, uncertain and a little depressing. But as spring's first flowers are starting to brighten our dun-colored meadows, Realtors are reporting an uptick in activity, a flood of new listings and even a sale or two. In Ridgefield, for instance, Realtor Karla Murtaugh has multiple offers on a two-bedroom cottage with three levels of decking overlooking Rainbow Lake. "My phone is ringing!" says Murtaugh, of Neumann Real Estate, who just listed a grand, circa-1890 Victorian that was built for publisher E.P. Dutton, also in Ridgefield.

A sign of better times to come? This month, we have officially given up guessing and, instead, are going to let the listings do the talking. We think you'll find them an especially eloquent bunch.

WISTERIA HILL
NEW CANAAN
$11,250,000
As a Gilded-Age summer home built for wealthy New Yorkers, this New Canaan Georgian had all the right names attached to it: Architect William Harris Cary set the mansion on 50 acres landscaped by Frederick Law Olmstead, whose credits include Central Park. Now sited on 8.6 acres, its current owners stripped it to the studs (we love this expression) and added yet another boldfaced name to its lore: Louise Brooks was called upon to renovate the now-gorgeous Georgian. Among its most spectacular rooms, there's a two-story kitchen with beamed cathedral ceilings, Gothic windows and a breakfast room with a pretty blue-tiled fireplace; a formal conservatory and library; and his-and-hers sitting rooms in the master suite, each with a fireplace. The exteriors are equally elegant, featuring brick terraces, fountains and water "follies," a swimming pool, a tennis court and, true to its name, arbors dripping with wisteria. In all, the home offers seven bedrooms, six bathrooms (plus three half bathrooms) and more than 11,000 square feet. It is co-listed with Carol Hollyday and Rita Kirby of William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty in New Canaan, (203) 536-2032 and (203) 948-7665, respectively.

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PINE CREEK AVENUE
FAIRFIELD
$3,875,000
This handsome Nantucket-style home with panoramic views of the Long Island Sound and Westport's Gold Coast was designed by an architect in 2005 with all the amenities needed for living on the water: a deck with a built-in grill, a dock that can accommodate a 25-foot boat and an outdoor shower. At 5,000 square feet, it offers five bedrooms and four bathrooms (plus one half bathroom), including a master suite with a fireplace, pretty master bath and private balcony. It's listed with Jessie Ferris of Coldwell Banker Riverside Shavell in Westport, (203) 259-8919.

HIGH RIDGE MANOR
RIDGEFIELD
$5,250,000
O.K., a word about High Ridge Avenue in Ridgefield for those who have never experienced its charms: It looks like the kind of Hollywood setting used to telegraph the message, "really rich people live here"—picture Bel Air but with pines instead of palm trees. Once called Publisher's Row (stop smirking, publishers used to make money, believe it or not), High Ridge is lined with antique estates: gracious Georgian, Shingle-style and Victorian manses, each one more jaw-dropping than the last. Number 63 High Ridge is a Queen Anne Victorian built in 1890 for that Man of Letters E. P. Dutton, who spared no expense on his summer "cottage." The 8,700-square-foot residence has 14 rooms on three stories and nearly three-and-a-half acres, the largest spread of any of the High Ridge estates. Beautifully restored by its current owners, the home has the most elaborate woodwork and fixtures we've seen: ornate Dutch doors, graceful balustrades, nine working fireplaces in marble, copper and tile, inlaid ceilings and leaded glass Tiffany windows throughout. Even the upstairs laundry room has an impressive wall of floor-to-ceiling cabinetry. In all, there are seven bedrooms, four full bathrooms (plus one half bathroom) and a cool third-story space with a home theater, billiards room and kids' playroom, all with sweeping views into Westchester County. The grounds feature a Har-Tru tennis court, a terraced pool and a pool house that includes a six-person hot tub, full kitchen and bathroom and dressing rooms. High Ridge Manor is listed with Karla Murtaugh of Neumann Real Estate, (203) 856-5534.

RESTORED ANTIQUE
ROWAYTON
$2.1 MILLION
Built in 1790 by a Revolutionary War soldier whose ancestors were among Norwalk's first settlers, the Gershon Raymond II House remained in the same family for more than 200 years. Then Rowayton took over the property and its fate was uncertain for a while. While its bones were strong, the home lacked basic amenities, including enough space to accommodate a family. That's when HOBI-winning Rowayton builder Frani Taylor came to its rescue. Taylor expanded the now-pristine interiors to more than 3,200 square feet, designing a lovely open-plan main floor with a gorgeous kitchen featuring a Bertonzonni range, Bosch dishwasher and Sub-Zero fridge. When possible, Taylor opted for eco-friendly construction, installing a Hydro Air heating and cooling system, American clay walls and energy-efficient windows. But most striking is her use of antique materials: wide floorboards, some of them original to the home; salvaged beams and hearths; handcrafted period lighting and door latches; and really beautiful 18th-century hand-carved garage doors, imported from France. The home is listed with Gwen Alexis of Wheeler Real Estate in Darien, (203) 656-6581.

OLD COLONIAL
GREENWICH
$1,295,000
This handsome Colonial welcomes a new family to Greenwich at the lowest possible price of admission. Built in 1952 and featuring a 2008 addition, the home now offers 3,214 square feet of well-appointed amenities: five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a new kitchen, a formal dining room and flagstone terraces on the half-acre lot. Edward Mortimer of Sotheby's International Realty in Greenwich has the listing, (203) 496-4571.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN WESTCHESTER
As in Connecticut, Realtors across the state line are offering seriously impressive properties at seriously reduced prices, some of which we feature here. All that's needed: some serious buyers.

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SOUNDVIEW CASTLE
ARMONK
$6,495,000
Wow! Short of wedding one of the Wales boys, this listing is your best chance of living in an honest-to-goodness castle. Built in 1907 for a military man and financier, this 8,500-square-foot stone manor greets guests with a life-sized knight-in-shining-armor positioned under the front portico. There's a marble foyer; a ballroom-sized living room with 14-foot ceilings; a banquet-sized dining hall with a massive crystal chandelier; a stone-walled kitchen with a pizza hearth; and a huge balcony off the master suite that overlooks the seven-acre grounds, with views to the gardens, pool and Long Island Sound. Best of all, for those of us who are not truly royal—and thus have day jobs in the city—the home sits just 38 miles from Manhattan. It's listed with Brian Milton of Houlihan Lawrence in Armonk, (203) 656-6581.

CARRIAGE HOUSE LANE COLONIAL
MAMARONECK
$1,999,000
This renovated Colonial, in the sought-after Scarsdale School District, offers 3,458 square feet of family-friendly amenities on a half-acre lot. In all, there are five bedrooms, five bathrooms (plus one half bathroom), including a master suite on the first floor. French doors from the living, dining and family rooms open onto the brick terrace, which borders the pretty pool. Sheila Stone of Sotheby's International Realty in Scarsdale has the listing, (914) 725-3305.

TEATOWN ROAD COLONIAL
CROTON-ON-HUDSON
$1,395,000
This new-construction Colonial, owned by its builder, is ideally sited: The four-acre lot abuts protected property and is within walking distance to Teatown Lake, but it's also just a six-minute drive to the town's railway station, which offers a 45-minute commute into Grand Central Terminal. At 5,000 square feet, the home is filled with lovely architectural details: panel molding, crown molding, French doors and windows with transom lights. The brand-new kitchen has granite counters, high-end appliances and a breakfast nook; the great room has an impressive stone fireplace. It's listed with Rose Marina of Sotheby's International Realty in Chappaqua, (914) 238-2461.

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