08 December 2009

California Dreaming of the Lotto

 

It gets really boring searching Houston Real  Estate listings.  I mean – Houston, come on people!  We must have the ugliest houses in the world.  Seriously.   I can search for hours and find only two or three really cute houses to “ooh and aah” at, which then forces me to go search other cities and states.  California has great real estate surfing.  You could finds hundreds of worthy houses up and down the state; houses that you would move into tomorrow - fully furnished.  If you had the money that is.   Real estate in California is so insanely expensive I don’t know how anyone besides Madonna and Oprah can afford to live there. 

I was once told by a psychiatrist that a good way to beat the blues is to imagine you just won the lottery.  OK – let’s beat the blues!      Below are a few houses for sale in California that look good -  inside and out.    I chose them at all different price ranges.     The only criterion for picking the houses was I pulled from the section of Los Angeles to Santa Barbara – and the house had to be furnished in a way that one could move into it tomorrow - without having to change much.  Play along and pick your favorite or you might not like any of them!

 

 House #1

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From the front side, the first house doesn’t look worth the huge price list.  But just wait.  Overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Montecito valley, the view is gorgeous.    The estate was built in the 1920s and is on seven acres;  recently remodeled it has seven bedrooms.  The brochure calls this estate “manageable” whatever that means.  I suppose if you have a staff of only 2 – it is manageable.  

 

 

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Here’s the view of the Montecito Valley and the Pacific Ocean from the back side of the house. 

 

 

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Looking up at the house from the pool.  A charming vine covered pergola is on the left.  On the right is a another pergola placed for symmetry. 

 

 

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There is an adorable ivy covered “guest” house.    I’d move my blogging headquarters there immediately. 

 

 

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A closer view of the back of the house with the arched covered terrace.      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

imageThe double door certainly looks original to the property, as do the floors.  

 

 

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The main living room was a surprise.   It actually looks like it was decorated by someone young for someone young.    Most houses in this price range are furnished rather theme-like and matronly, either heavily Tuscan-inspired with lots of chenille or sappy French with frothy silks and brocades.   This house looks like it was designed by someone who might occasionally look at a trendy magazine or two.   And it looks extremely livable, warm and inviting.   Though very large – I can imagine watching TV in here after dinner with Mr. Slipper Socks Man.  This room is not dressy, it is relaxed and comfortable – perfect for a young family with lots of children.  Do you have any idea what a house like this might cost?

 

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The arched balcony off the living room with wicker and stone furniture instead of fancy iron furniture purchased in a set.  I love the portieres that soften the arches.   Did you come up with a price yet?

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imageThe dining room.  The nice thing about houses of this caliber is all the fireplaces.  I love dining rooms with a fireplace – they are so romantic.   I don’t really care for this decor – the curtain and chair fabric, the chandelier, the demilunes – but I do love the table, the room just needs a little fine tuning, IMHO.   Out the door is the gallery pictured below:

 

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The gallery with groined ceiling, stucco walls and French doors.    These chairs look like they were borrowed from the living room for this photoshoot. 

 

 

 

imageThe kitchen is charming with its bank of windows overlooking the Pacific Ocean.   Totally remodeled, I like the built in banquette in the breakfast area.  

 

 

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The study – what a great space with the built in wood shelves and French doors leading to the outside arched covered patio.    I don’t care for the sofa’s fabric at all and would have preferred a white slipped one, but my favorite thing in the room?  The andirons!   They are so beautiful!  The mirror is pretty great too.

 

 

 

 

imageUpstairs, the master bedroom has a view of the ocean through the wonderful steel casement windows.    Windows are so important to a house, it’s a shame everyone can’t afford beauties like these!  I would love to get rid of my windows and replace them with steel ones.  But, that will never happen!  Notice how the doors are all stained a dark brown throughout the house.   Again, there is another wonderful fireplace in the room.  

 

 

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A guest room off the fabulous upper floor balcony.   How charming!   I wonder where the window above the night stand leads to?  The bathroom?   

 

 

 

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Guest bedroom – bathroom:   Beautiful blue and white tiles with ikat shower curtain.  I like the way the bathroom was sensitively updated instead of just turning it into a white marble room with frameless glass and polished nickel faucets.

 

 

 

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Can you imagine eating breakfast out here every morning?   Must be magical!

 

 

 image A private walled garden and fountain.  I wonder if this fountain is original to the house?

 

 

 

image On the property is a Japanese Tea House and garden.   Wouldn’t this be a great place to have a wedding or a party?   OK, ready?  $29,000,000.  Yes.  You read that right!

 

 

House #2

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This house is listed at $22,000,000 less than the first house!  Amazing.   But of course, it doesn’t have the view or the acreage or the age or the quality.   But, at close to $7 million it is not cheap either.   I love the French inspired exterior with its gravel driveway.   The surprise is a front loading garage on a house of this caliber.   Amazing – you would think the garage would be placed somewhere else in a house with this price tag!    But – there are other upgrades – tiled roof, stucco and charming shutters.  The house is in Montecito with five bedrooms and baths.    No information on square footage or what year it was built, but it looks relatively new. 

 

 

 

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The backyard with its beautiful pool and poolhouse.   I could be very happy here – if I could only afford it!   In Houston, a house like this might be around $1.5 or 2 million – not $7 million unless it was on some extra special lot which would might make it around $1million more perhaps, still far cheaper than this house in  California. 

 

 

 

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Cute dogs!    I love the pool pavilion with the portieres and a fireplace.   The property certainly looks very secluded and large which probably accounts for the expensive price of the house. 

 

 

 

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The floors are typical of many Californian houses – dark, dark hardwoods.  Seagrass covers the stair steps with the understated iron railings.  In so many of the houses I saw in the Californian real estate sites, the iron work is so extreme – very ostentatious.   The more scrolled and busy the ironwork, the more Californians seem to like it.    These simple rails show here are an exception to the rule. 

 

 

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The family room overlooks the back yard.   Nicely furnished with simple linen curtains and white linen slipcovers.   I love the painting of the St. Bernard.   Seagrass and white slips – my favorite!

 

 

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My favorite room in the house is the dining room.  After seeing the Portrait House and now this, I am loving rattan and wicker chairs in the dining room.  This room seems so Belgium inspired!  Love the cabinet with the brass chicken wire and what a charming view out the window of the gravel drive.   Dutch door to the kitchen adds more charm.   If you like this look – it would be very reasonable to emulate it for a bargain price.   Chairs like this are cheaper than traditional dining chairs.

 

 

image The living room/library.  More seagrass, more white linen.  The walls in this room are painted darker for contrast.  I love these kinds of doors – with the glass only on the top.    A nice change from the usual French doors with panes top to bottom. 

 

 

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The kitchen is really charming with wooden ceiling, white marble,  and open shelving.   Instead of an island there is a great concrete table and the same dining room chairs.   Hmmmm.    ?????   More French doors lead out to the back yard. 

 

 image The master bedroom over looks the pool with an iron balcony.  Simple linen curtains that are found throughout look very much like the ones from Restoration Hardware.   Do you use curtains from RH in a house that cost 7 million?    Actually, I think that is why I am attracted to this house – it’s so casual and totally unpretentious!

 

 

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A pretty guest bedroom with wallpaper and matching curtains.   I love the fabric!

 

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 LOVE THIS!!!!!   I don’t recognize this paper – does anyone?   I love the bed, the desk, the rug – just everything.  What a great bedroom for a young girl.

 

 

HOUSE #3

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This house is located in Los Angeles, with a view of the ocean and the city.   Recently added to and renovated throughout, the house has a different kind of decor than the others – it is English inspired.  I chose it to address critics who say I only like white slips and seagrass!   Its lot is extremely large which probably accounts for the price tag of $5 million.   Again, a highly, highly inflated price due to the view.

 

 

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Looking back at the front gate.  The trees form a canopy with lanterns and lights hanging.  I love the urns too!

 

 

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So charming, so East Coast!  The front porch is a focal point, and obviously is a later addition.

 

 

 

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Dramatic night lighting.

 

 

 

 

image The living room looks like it is in England, not California.  Slipcovers made of faded English linens.  Oil paintings line the walls and add to the purposefully cluttered feel of the house.  The furniture throughout is of a much higher quality than the other two houses.  All the pieces appear to be pricey antiques from England, of course!

 

 

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The other side of the living room.  Notice the seagrass – correctly custom cut.   The pool area is seen outside the French doors.  This house is so warm and cozy, it makes you want to grab a book and a throw and cuddle up in front of a roaring fire.

 

 

imageThis looks like another part of the living room – it must be a large room or this might be a music room!  Love this!

 

 

imageThe dining room is totally traditional with a marble fireplace and table with a mix of chair styles.  Love the bookcases – books + dining rooms + fireplaces = wonderful! 

 

 

imageThis kind of paneling always reminds me of Rose Tarlow – she loves it and uses it a lot.   This is another beautiful room with a canopy bed and patterned fabrics mixed with white slipcovers.   Two toned patterned carpets are my top choice in bedrooms – after seagrass.   Patterned carpets are a great alternative to plain weaves and the two tones are preferable to tone on tone, IMHO. 

 

 

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Another view of the beautiful master bedroom – notice the wonderful antique chair with five legs.   This house reminds me of Michael Smith’s L.A. house – does it you?   Just beautiful!!

 

 

Exquisite traditional with sweeping view

The bathroom was updated but it still matches the feel of the house.   Again, it’s not an all white marble room – this one fits in with the decor much better. 

 

 

 imageThe guest room, with its four poster bed and pin striped fabrics.   Notice the closet doors with glass and curtains.   What a wonderful way to turn an average closet door into something special.   

 

 

Exquisite traditional with sweeping view

The kitchen, also updated, is great.  I love the silver collection in the bay window.  This room looks like an authentically old kitchen you might find in a English mansion – the kind where the servants are the only ones that enter it!! 

 

 

Exquisite traditional with sweeping view

The media room – more stripes, patterned carpets and black walls.   The bar area is hidden behind the plaid curtains.  I wonder if the owner is an interior designer?  This room is very nicely done, as is the entire house.

 

 

 

Exquisite traditional with sweeping view

The balcony with charming railings.   Love this – I wish I had a balcony like this – who wouldn’t?? 

 

 

Exquisite traditional with sweeping view

The view looking over the valley and the main reason for the price tag.  Views like this don’t come cheap.  More checks – the chairs surround a firepit. 

 

 

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And more romance at night.  I’m not sure if this is an outdoors room or not.   I’m thinking it might be indoors.   I wish the pictures revealed more of the house than these do.   It’s hard to get a feel for how the backyard looks or what the layout of the house is!

 

 

HOUSE #4:

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

The cheapest house at $3,250,000.   Pacific Palisades, 5 bedroom, 5 bath, 4ooo sq. ft.   Front loading garage, again – a surprise for a house at this price.  But, this price doesn’t seem high for this area of California.  What would a house like this cost in your town, your neighborhood?   The roof is just a regular composite, the house is shingled.    In my neighborhood, I would think this house would go for about $800 or 900,000.  In a suburban neighborhood a little further out – it would probably be $500,000.  Certainly there is no place in Houston, except maybe on a large acre lot in Memorial, where this house would cost anywhere near this price!

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

It is very cute – I love the romantic Cape Cod look of it with its bright white trim and brown shingles.    The walkway is nice too.  

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

Inside the house is all bright white walls and dark hardwoods – as typical for most houses in California.    The centrally located staircase is the focal point of the house and is quite pretty.  I like all the dark wood furniture – a nice change from gray, gray, gray.  

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

Another surprise for a house of this price is the shared fireplace!  But notice how charmingly the house is decorated for a young family.  I really like the red and white mixed with the blue and white striped curtains and bamboo blinds.  It’s all very warm and cozy, though a rug would be a good addition.   The chandelier is the perfect touch.  I just love this room!

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

In the dining room- the blues are continued in here as are the same window treatments.  The chandelier is a nice foil to all the brown wood.

 

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

The kitchen does seem in keeping with the price – nice appliances, white and black marble and granite.  Very attractive, bright and light.

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

The family room is furnished for children – with blue jean denim slipcovers and leather chairs.  Functional for a young family who will probably dress it up a little more once their children are somewhat older.   The built in desk looks a little out of place to me and something you would find in a tract home rather than one this price.   But again, the real estate values in California are totally of out reality.  I think the only thing Ben and I could afford in L.A. would be a two bedroom condo!  Maybe!

 

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

Large master bedroom, nicely furnished, but again – I would have put down a rug – it would greatly improve the look of the room.   I do like how she handled the window with the obligatory faux  palladium – ignore it!  Wouldn’t the large ceiling expanse look so much nicer if it were planked in white wood  or bead board?

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

Here is an appropriate white marble bathroom for the house’s style.  The bathroom is lovely with the white subway and white carrara marble.   Exactly what you would expect in a Cape Cod ala California!

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

The powder room is another youthful room – with bead board and a new overscaled paisley paper.

 

Exquistely Designed Cape CodThe back of the house – rather small,  with a pergola and a balcony that leads off the master bedroom.  The pool is childproofed.     

 

 

House #5

 

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This cute beach house is right on the sand, of course!   A shack really, but you are again paying for the land, which is awfully expensive.  Can you guess what price this might be?  It’s located in Santa Barbara – to the right is a creek which means no neighbors.  Plans call for a huge exclusive home to be built here if you wish.  The home has never been sold in its 100 years and the grandson of the original owner is selling it now.  Lucky man.   Currently it rents for $500. a night/3 bedrooms.  

 

 

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The creek with the tiny beach house with its red chimney is on the far right.

 

 

image The owners have done much with the 100 year old shack.  The ceiling has been raised to the rafters.  The fireplace retiled.  The furniture is all smartly slipped for ease of care.  To the right is an alcove which closes off with a curtain.

 

 

imageThe closed off area – this must be considered one of the three bedrooms.

 

 

imageThe kitchen could use a little updating – new appliances at least, but it does have a charm with the beadboard cabinets. 

 

 

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The second bedroom has three beds stuffed into it.  But still – with a small amount of money, this could be so darling.

 

 

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The huge master bedroom!    I think i would paint all the floors to match the walls.  I would love to update this house just a little bit. 

 

 

 

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The front deck overlooking the beach.   Somehow, despite its tiny size and need of some updating, I could be very happy here in the summer, that is if I could afford it!

 

imageThe side deck – not quite sure what this is – it almost looks like an outside bathtub in the corner???? 

 

  So, you’ve just won the lottery.  Here’s you chance to buy your dream house.    Of course – we would all give away money to charity, family, friends, etc.  But imagine you still have $30 million left over to play with:

 

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Do you buy the historic 90 year old mansion in Montecito for $29 million and pocket the one million left over?

 

 

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Or do you go for the $7 million house down the road without the views or the acreage or the age?

 

 

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Do you buy the renovated $5 million  house in Los Angeles, with sweeping views of the ocean and the valley and the wonderful English decor?

 

 

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For just $3 million, this house in Pacific Palisades is new, with a small yard and no views at all.  You’d have more than enough change to buy another house WITH a view!!!  Or better to give the rest to your family so everyone could buy their own dream house.

 

 

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OR, do you buy the small, 100 year old beach cabin, for $7 MILLION!  Live there for awhile while your leftover 23 million gains interest,  then rebuild your dream house here.

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Or, do you do what we all probably would do – fix up our own  homes, give the rest to our children and family to do the same, and start some wonderful charity, like a free spay-neuter clinic in a poor neighborhood? 

95 comments:

  1. In today's financial climate, we would fix up our old house ... give some to charity and to children and family. We just might purchase a secondary home someplace for a retirement get a way for 6 months of the year but nothing extremely expensive.

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  2. The 29 million mansion is the way to go- so much cheaper to heat than my monstrosity in Maine!!!! Love your posts!!!! So fun...

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  3. Assuming money is no object, I'd go for #1 simply because the location is THAT fabulous. I gotta say though, #2 is really speaking to me though and might win out on pure emotions.

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  4. House # 3, no contest!! But the last one could be my dream retirement cottage.

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  5. Too fun, only you! OK, I must admit I love House #1, I am admittedly smitten with Spanish Colonial homes from the 20's though so not too much of a surprise there, but additionally that VIEW is amazing! Having said that, I prefer the decor of House #2. And the Media Room in House #3 is great, one of the most well appointed media rooms I have seen as usually they are just the most hideous sights ever, Barca lounger central, even worse when the dreaded cup holder is present. Ugh. Not sure if I spelled Barca correctly, gratefully I have never had to work around one much less order it! Thanks Joni, a fun break in the day...now back to my itty bitty condo...sans media room;)

    Best,
    Jaime

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  6. hmmm! tough choice due to the fact that the views and locations were amazing on some. But my choice will be on how they decorate. I loved House 2 and 4. As far as Best view would be house 1 with that cool pool and view of the ocean. Smile

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  7. House No. 1 has my favorite exterior, but very disappointing interior design. Perhaps the issue is if you can afford the property, you have no money left to decorate it properly. I vote the L.A. house for it's interior - not location.

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  8. Thank you so much for the most delightful diversion of my week so far! It was a whirlwind tour of these properties, made all the more enjoyable by your thoughtful commentary.

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  9. Joni
    Gorgeous houses all of them. Thank you for every fabulous post. You are my first click of the day. I am sure you know this, but the first house belongs to Diandra Douglas. It is featured in Diane Dorrans Saeks' book Santa Barbara Living. The wallpaper you mentioned I believe is a Peter Dunham fabric.
    Mary Margaret

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  10. What a visual treat. The pictures almost make me stop crying because Southern Accents is no longer in publication or Western Interiors. I would have to say it is a toss up with #1 and #2. How inviting and serene they both are. Alas, serenity might cease when the property taxes came in the mail!

    Thanks for a visual treat each day.

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  11. What a fun post! I love the exterior and balconies with the views on the English inspired house. I might change some of the interior decor but those city views are amazing!
    However, the tiny cottage on the beach is so cute and to live on the beach would be a dream!

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  12. i was having such a bad day and these images totally cheered me up. Thanks! :) Susan @ http://peanutpetunia.blogspot.com

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  13. My favourite it number 3, no contest. In fact the master bedroom reminds me very much of my own! But really, I'd keep the 30 mil and travel. I can always dream about these houses on your glorious blog!!

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  14. I'd take #1...except I couldn't afford the property taxes by year 4. Actually, it would feel like living in a hotel. Just the other night I was thinking how great it was that my office is only @ 9 X 9...everything is within reach! Money doesn't go far in California real estate. Any room left in Texas? XO Trish

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  15. Ok, though decision, but I would probably take number 2. I like the kitchen. The ceilings in the first home's kitchens looked low... I also liked the decor so much in the second one. I'm ready to move in!

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  16. Well, I have had the second home.
    Next time RENT and walk away.
    You don't think of caretakers, the Ins. maintance etc. There is always a problem.
    The same thing for the yacht
    you are better off to hire a captain and use his, Then everyone can relax. Leave the mess and problems with him.
    I see people bite off more than they can chew.
    I better sign off and get down from the box. SHUT MY MOUTH!

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  17. These photos along with all the glorious weather make me want to move back to California...

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  18. Karen @JunkinginGeorgiaDecember 8, 2009 at 4:42 PM

    sorry to whine.. it is a dark winter night here in Atlanta about 40 degrees .. I have had a knee replaced and been stuck in my house for 4 weeks and now I see this beautiful post full of wonderful houses and views..and color ... it is a good thing I can't get to any matches as I might just burn my dump down.. (of course I am kidding)

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  19. I would take my lottery winnings and design and build my own in Texas. I wouldn't mind renting #1for a short time. Just to get a feel for that kind of money.
    Lee

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  20. Oh, would have fun decorating that tiny cottage.

    Favorite kitchen - house #2, best gate - house #3.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  21. Ooooooo! The Five Million!!! Jumping up and down just thinking about that wonderful renovated English-style home! Very elegant and charming! I adore every inch of that home! Zipping out to buy more lottery tickets!

    Thanks for the dreaming time!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

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  22. I would probably give to family, charity, set up my children etc...and build a dream home probably in TX bc that's where I'm from and where family is at.
    lol..but if I HAD to choose a house (in CA) hehe..I LOVE #1 and #3...and would choose 3 so that I could still give to family charity, set up the kids etc haha :0) Great post Joni!

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  23. I live in Montecito and recognize all of them. Several are celebrities homes.....shhhhhhh.
    The weather here is the best in the entire world. So, those prices I have to say are pretty much worth it!
    I live on the beach and thank God everyday for this is truly "paradise"!

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  24. House Number 3!

    Where do I send my suitcases?

    Perfect way to end a long day.

    Really good Joni!

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  25. Is the last picture yours? If so, I love your doors that open to that patio ~ very welcoming and inviting. I did like #1, but then after looking through them all, I really don't want anything that big. We are looking to down-size, so I guess I'd want what works for us realistically, get something for my son and daughter and put the rest in the bank for my old age.

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  26. Oh my! Joni, I want to know....which real estate site do you find all of these yummy gorgeous houses? WOW, WOW, WOW! I have to confess, I think I'd be more comfortable with your last option....give my own home a face lift then sharing with children, family and charities....yep, that's what I'd do. :)

    Thanks for the DELICIOUS eye candy!
    Hugs~

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  27. I'll take the 5 million dollar English-style LA house with the killer views, give my current house to my daughter (after I pay off the mortgage of course), gift an equivalent amount to my stepdaughter so she and her (possibly future husband) boyfriend can buy something wherever their careers take them, and stash the rest while I consider how to make the best use of it. A large chunk would definitely be allocated to gardeners and housekeepers because, if I have such a great house, I plan to enjoy it and not spend one minute of my own time cleaning it or clipping topiaries!
    You're right that real estate prices here are ridiculous... even out in the burbs 40 miles away from LA. Truthfully, if I had 30 million to spend, I'd probably buy something much nicer nearby where I already live. And a cabin near a lake in the mountains. And a premium beach timeshare... all for far less than the 5 mil I'd have spent on one house in LA!

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  28. Joni,

    Since I live in Northern California, I can attest to the scary real estate prices. All of the homes you profiled were just beautiful. I was particularly partial to the first one because that view of the Pacific made me swoon. But, somehow, I've misplaced my $29 million in pocket change, so I'll have to forego purchasing it.

    Frankly, the last picture (of your pup out on your brick patio) was still the most inviting.

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  29. The only bad thing about that depression lifting theory of imagining winning the lottery is...in short order, you have to come back to reality! ;-)
    These were some spectacular homes! I'm weird, though...don't like ocean views because I don't care for water...that goes for lakes, too. And, I don't like views that overlook cities and buildings, even with their twinkly lights at night. My ideal view is to gaze out over a mountain top and see glorious trees...everywhere...without a house or car in site! Now that would be my ideal view! I love the interiors of the "English" style home...and the guest room in the first house was, WOW! Once again, Joni, I want to thank you for all the work you put into your post! I can live with all the magazines going kaput, but I would seriously need to imagine winning the lottery if your wonderful blog ever vanished!
    Susan

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  30. that little trip to ca. was really fun as i sit in a chicago blizzard.

    LOVE #3, english, charming, to die for landscaping and a view to swoon over.

    now, i will begin to plan on spending the rest of my winnings.....taxes perhaps? :-)
    debra

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  31. Unbelievable post Joni! You really are the master of great posts. I love all of them. Love the wicker myself and just purchased six wicker parsons chairs for my dining room. Thanks for the constant inspiration.

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  32. Hi Joni: I live in Houston too. I pick House #1 because I stayed in a house similar to it about 20 years ago in Northern California (Hayward to be exact). The picture of the gallery looks exactly like the foyer of the house I stayed in. It was nice because the house was also built on a hill where you could see the Pacific Ocean in the distance. Breathtaking!

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  33. What a FUN post, Joni!! I would definitely take the small cottage on the beach...no need to change a thing for me to be happy. I always gravitate toward tiny houses with lots of charm. I DO love that private drive at Home #3, though. Thanks for a great 20 minute escape!

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  34. I'm so glad to see photos of real estate that has been so beautifully furnished here in CA... You asked: "Do you use curtains from RH in a house that cost 7 million?" Restoration Hardware ain't bad--I am always amazed at how many multi-million dollar homes I've seen here that are completely shabbily furnished. I guess they spent all the money on the house! I'm happy to see a few examples that break the rules. BTW, I'd chose house 1. : )

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  35. I love house #2 because of the kitchen (love those tables and wicker chairs) and backyard (the pool seemed more accessible than house #1.) But I'm being picky! Here in San Francisco there are some nice homes. In fact, we are considering listing our home in the Spring! What do you think? I can send photos! Just kidding.....Anyway, we will take the money and run, run, run! Great post--and what site do you get such gorgeous pictures!? --Delores

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  36. How about the following mashup: House #1 with the girls room from house #2 (I believe it to be a Peter Dunham textile) and the entrance and kitchen from house #3. Thanks SO much for the diversion this evening Joni. Lord knows I need to get over some blues!!

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  37. Like some others, I loved the $5 million dollar English decorated house with the great views. It is delightful.

    If we did win a lottery, we would not spend that much on a house!

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  38. Evening, Dear Joni, Most Famous One! Oh, this was so much fun! What gorgeous homes you found. As much as I love the Santa Barbara area I have to say I love house #3. The entrance is so olden 1940ish looking, there's a music room where I can play my Note Songs and in the chair in the bedroom sits a little Schnauzer - Chloe Dawn's cousin! So I'll take this one!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

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  39. I am still swooning over the "looking back at the front gate" photo of house #3 with hanging lanterns, fig ivy covered walls and potted urns. Very simple, very elegant! Albeit, given the options of CA earthquakes, mudslides and wildfires - I would take the lottery money for Texas real estate plus dear Joni to underwrite your first book and future blogging empire! xoxoxo

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  40. Hi Joni, I would go for the 5 million and the Beach "shack". I love the English interior and the charming outside of the 5 million home. To have access to the beach is priceless in my book. This is all in Southern Calif so it is much higher priced than in Northern Calif where I leave. Trust me I live in a 1970s ranch and it is not even remotely close to these homes but if you are going to dream big,why not,I will be glad to join you ,Joni!! What a fun post. This is how the other half live,that is for sure. Kathysue

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  41. Joni - didn't you know I was exhausted tonight, and I was just going to pop into my own blog and see if anyone left new comments. Didn't you know that I wasn't really planning on reading anyone *else's* blog tonight because I'm so tired and really need to get to bed. Here I sat, for a good 30 minutes, reading your post and looking at all of the lovely pictures. Woman - don't you know this mama needs REST?

    Gorgeous. Number 1 for sure, and I would spend nearly ALL of my time outside in that amazing 7 acres.

    Now, good night!

    XO,
    Jacci

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  42. sweet joni...
    i always know i am going to laugh when i come to visit you... and i want to hire you as my real estate agent... any great finds in seattle you want to uncover? x pam

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  43. Number 2! Although I'd love to curl up in #4 as well. I'm only a few million short, so I should be ready to move once I go through the sofa cushions...

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  45. I choose the last option- the beach "shack" and build later! I'm already in Cali and your right the prices are ridiculous! I'm an hour outside of L.A. and for our 2600 sq foot 40 year old home in an upscale neighboorhood cost $600,000 and it was a COMPLETE fixer upper!! Just realized something funny though- I used RMS a lot when we first bought the house 2 years ago to help with inspiration to decorate- Your patio photo is one I saved for right outside our french doors!!!

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  46. Joni
    What a terrific post! Some pix of the first house were published in Town & Country several years ago in a piece about Diandra Douglas. I have to say I would choose the first house. I adore that blue and white bedroom. (But in reality I would fix up my own condo, give money to children and charity.)
    Marion

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  47. Thank you for this dreaming post ! I choose de cottage in California, so lovely...

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  48. So, I just won $30 million dollars....the fantasy starts as I click on your first house and ....OMG I gasped...that view... the architecture, the windows...I am moving in and leave my old life of cedar roof in need of much repair, leaking windows, cold winters behind...but then reality sets in... I can just check intom any 4 Seasons with a magnificent view or any Aman hotel for a few weeks a year, repait my roof, enjoy my kids when they visit, play with my muts, give my kinds a nice trust fund, buy my parents a beach house in France and give away the rest, especially to the Orangutan Foundation who is so in need of cash ...
    Thanks for the dream..

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  49. I really liked this game, although, now I have to come back to reality... Even thought I gasped and said "Oh my God" at every picture from house number 1, I think I would go for house #3 - I find it so very charming!!

    This is an excelent post Joni... thanks for the opportunity to day-dream a bit :)

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  50. Joni - I absolutely loved this post! I may have spent an hour here just gawking at the photos (along with a really stout latte). You have a real talent have replaced my morning paper!

    Best,
    Steve Rogers

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  51. The house on the sand in Santa Barbara and the LA house in the hills for a quick commute to the city during the week, because I would have a wonderful textile showroom in the PDC...for fun...;)

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  52. If I just one the lotto...I would pick the beach house...leave it the way it is...well, Joni...i would have you come put your stamp on it! and then I would travel the world!

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  53. Joni, that was the perfect little diversion on the morning of what is about to be a rushed and hectic day. Now I can start off smiling and refreshed. Thanks so much.

    By the way, if you can find me a house in Houston like #4 for $800 or $900K, I'll buy it!

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  54. Love the post, thank you! Love, love, love house #3. That would be my pick without question.

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  55. I would go for the outside and view of house N°1 and the inside of house N°2! Only if had.....the budget!

    Great post Joni!

    Greet

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  56. I want YOUR house! :-)

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  57. Are you freaking KIDDING ME!?!? I barely even looked at the others. The first one, please! SOLD! TO the lady who writes a blog for income and just won the lottery! Hey, it could happen!

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  58. You are the best the absolute best. Now, my selection. Not the expensive house with the pool because I just know the neighbors are snotty and forget that view. I used to live in LA and the haze doesn't burn off until noon and after that you can't see until a Santa Ana wind blows the smog out. Forget houses with front loading garages. ugh Now my choice is the English house because of the warmth and taste. So I will take it and the beach house because I believe in variety in life. I actually have three different houses now. One of them is an unreconstructed pre Civil War log cabin. One thing I can say about investing early and living close for the middle years, when you get in your seventies you can have what you want. Thank you so much for the house tour, you are just great. Ann

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  59. Joni

    I loved starting my morning off with reading your blog-- all the homes even the cottage had beautiful elements to them,,, but I especially like your comment best giving to charity supporting a free spray - neuter clinic Martha Steward on her Dec 8th on her TV show featured Adopting Pets with Dr. Andrew Kaplan and some adorable animals in need of adoption and discussed The Toby Project.
    * tobyproject.org

    Sorry for the long post but we do not have to wait to win the lottery to end needless suffering..we can support this one or one in our own cities across America --- Joanny The Dowser's Daughter now that would be a Merry Christmas

    The Toby Project will end the killing of tens of thousands of adoptable dogs and cats each year in New York City's municipal animal shelters by preventing the births of unwanted dogs and cats.

    We will make New York City a true "no-kill' city by delivering free spay/neuter services to all five boroughs of New York City using mobile surgical vans specifically equipped for this purpose. By reaching out to targeted communities, our aim is to prevent the breeding of the very dogs and cats whose offspring account for most of the animals relinquished to our municipal shelters, where they are often killed.

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  60. LOVED your post! It is true the housing prices in California are insane. I live on the SF peninsula and can get a nice starter home (3 bed / 2 bath / 5,500 SQ ft lot) in my neighborhood for $1.5 million. Yes, starter home - most need a good remodel!!! I dream of owning a home on a large lot in Woodside one day, but may need to win the lottery too. A girl can dream can't she?!

    xo,
    cristin

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  61. Not that I ever lived in anything close to these but you sure make me miss California! The WEATHER is one thing that makes these houses "worth" what they're asking, not to mention 7 acres, or being on the ocean. Just the building costs of recreating any of them would be QUITE a bit.
    Ann

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  62. ok, i just cannot get over that POOL in house #1.... i would be in heaven to have something like that on my property... i would feel liek iw as in another ear. Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown has one like that and I just go there & stare at it.

    BUT i'm loving the canopy-entry & vine-covered English feeling home from the outside.

    and i would say house 3 has some amazingly done rooms like that guest bedroom... and the location of the beach cottage is perfect.... it would be hard to decide.

    if i really had the money i would move a street over from where we live now & buy one of the gorgeous historical homes & fix it up. (and that would SO not take 29 mill! so i would still have lots to share!)

    and if you think houston realestate is bad, try northern virginia. it's TERRIBLE. AWFUL. remember what we were looking at? no joke you can spend $700 and live in a teensy outdates 50s box that needs to be renovated.

    eeeek
    xoxoxo

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  63. Hi Joni, The last option sounds pretty good to me!!!
    Love your baby.

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  64. Geeez, talk about a tough choice!
    I have to go with House #2 with #1 being a close second, although each home offered their own unique qualities...so really, I'd like to take rooms from each and create my ultimate dream house, which these provide plenty of amazing options in which to do that.
    Great post, Joni!
    Way too much fun!
    I just love California dreamin...

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  65. Wow! Joni, these are some incredible homes. Win the lottery? I'm ususally not lucky that way, but if I were I don't believe I would choose an ocean viewed home. My daughter on the other hand would.. I prefer seeing mother nature and alot of it outside my windows. I love the English style home and the kitchen in the first post, the media room was a bit on the wild side for me. lol. Thank you for taking us along for the tour of these fabulous homes and being able to live outside the box for just a bit..hugs ~lynne~

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  66. house #1: OH MY! OH MY! OH MY! I will live in the guest house by the pool and do whatever is asked of me...
    house #2: I could DEFINITELY move right in...
    little beach cottage: JUST RIGHT. I know how Goldilocks must have felt.
    Oh, to dream...
    Thank you for this blog!
    annie g

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  67. 100 year old beach cottage for $7M.
    I know exactly where that house is. The location is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Besides, how much room will Steve and I really need once the kids move out? Maybe we'll win the lotto by then....

    Oh, and that wallpaper is by Peter Dunham.

    Fantastic post Joni.
    xo
    Brooke

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  68. Hi Joni,

    Forgive me if someone already mentioned this, but house #3 was decorated by the fabulous Virgil McDowell. I've been lusting after it for a while now. You can see more at virgilmcdowell.com.

    Warm wishes this holiday season!

    Coleen

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  69. That California sunshine! I almost had to put sunglasses on to read this post, since it is already dark and a little dreary here in Boston. Anyway, I would choose house #2 as my favorite rooms are the dining and kitchen areas. House #1 is beautiful, but would it would overwhelm me.

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  70. Reno my own house--pay someone ELSE to do it, and to do the additions for my parents to retire in, too! I'd save a big chunk for my children--and adopt more than I have now from the foster system (sibling groups and/or special needs). The rest I'd donate--not to a spay/neuter clinic. One of my pet projects are midwife education programs for third-world countries. I'd rather save humans than pets.

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  71. Oh, what a fun post!

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  72. great post, Joni! You always surprise and delight. I would go for number 1 or 2... probably 2 but I really love number 1. And hooray for a spay-neuter clinic! I'd likely do a farm for old and/or unwanted animals.

    (PS- note all the dogs in the houses shown?!)

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  73. House #2 is owned by Paul Hogan. The one and only Crocodile Dundee.

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  74. Joni,
    Excellent houses all, but I'll take my own home and use the cash for trips with my family to visit my friends in La Rogue FR, Greece and for summer beach rentals. I'd have enough left over to fund scholarships for kids in need.

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  75. Hands down #1, although it wasn't until I got to the very end that I noticed I had picked the most expensive of the lot!! Oops. The garden and pool do it for me, absolutely gorgeous :)

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  76. Oh my. Now I'm California dreaming. I cold live in the kitchen of the Montecito house. It's my dream. But I'd have to take the one down the road and try to remodel it as close as possible to have some money left to pay the bills.

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  77. What's your opinion on electrical cords? I see them all the time in these high end houses. I always use twist ties to attach them to the table leg so they aren't seen-- but does it look odd to have a lamp with no cord?

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  78. Joni:
    What a GREAT post. As a (Northern) Californian, it's always fun to hear about other people's sticker shock. If I told you what my husband and I paid for our 2000 square foot "fixer" in San Francisco you would have a heart attack! (Believe me, when I write the mortgage check every month, I have one, too!)

    I think the first two homes in particular are indicative of a more Southern Californian aesthetic - with the ironwork, the dark woods on the flooring and the light walls, and the expansive great rooms. Similar price points in San Francisco might get you a slightly different look - but not the acres of land or private island that you would expect for the price. I would personally pick the Los Angeles house - much warmer and more lived-in than the others. What do I need with ocean views when I can have a working fireplace and bookshelves in my dining room?

    xo

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  79. I love #2 and 3 the best..but #1 is beautiful also. You have great taste Joni:)

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  80. I'm going to have to start purchasing lottery tickets, thats for sure.

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  81. Put your barefeet up, snad on the floor beach cottage ANY DAY!

    Love the first home...But I am really in a teensy beach cottage mood right now!

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  82. Being a neighbour to your North, I would be contented with any of the properties namely because of all their locations.... where it is WARMER! I am a 'summer kind of person' even though I am a December baby. :)

    Wonderful homes and a wonderful Real Estate tour. Thanks Joni! -Brenda-

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  83. What a fun post! House #3 was by far my favorite - I just loved that kitchen!

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  84. Tough Call, but I would opt for #2 or #3 depending on my mood that day or maybe I could just get both...we are dreaming, right?

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  85. Wow - I missed this post first time around. I must say, the house #1 is calling my name simply because of the sheer beauty of the lot and the magnificent views!

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  86. Joni, you tickle me so much:

    "Most houses in this price range are furnished rather theme-like and matronly, either heavily Tuscan-inspired with lots of chenille or sappy French with frothy silks and brocades. This house looks like it was designed by someone who might occasionally look at a trendy magazine or two."

    LOL! And you're always right! :-)

    I love things about each house. Who could not love that first house right on the Pacific! The views are incredible. Like you said, some of the furnishings are questionable. I like the same things you do, and I would add that I like the Persian rug in the study. Why do they have that unfortunate choice on their sofa? A slip would have been SO much better with that look. I also ADORE that guest bathroom, and I like the guest room much. I like it better than the master. Love the "groined" ceilings in the gallery.

    In house nummber two, I like the colors, the slipcovers, and those wonderful wicker chairs. Not as crazy about this house.

    The third house has wonderful antiques and BEAUTIFUL oil paintings. I could move in easily. I'd like to see some of those pieces in House number one.

    The fourth house has that nice capey feel, but I can't get past the high water slipcover on the LR sofa. I'm wondering if it shrunk at the cleaners, or was it made to be that way. If so, then why is the front longer? I sent my DR chairs to the dry cleaners, and they came back a wee bit smaller. We were not amused, particularly since they dragged the ground before. I had the seamstress do that in fear that she would make them highwater on our hardwood floors. I am convinced the dry cleaner washed mine instead. They came back looking like they had been laundered instead of dry cleaned. I'm getting sidetracked. This house was okay, but even for a young couple, they could have done better.

    When you commented on the two French chairs in the foyer, I was thinking of all the fabulous foyers in magazines, and they needed some important pieces in there. Important, but not French armchairs which didn't seem to work. That house was also crying out for wonderful lanterns.

    I vote for house number one. I think I would do something to the beams in the DR which looked like they weren't original. I think I would import some lighter colored ones from France or have some decorative artists go to work on the ceiling and create something really wonderful. And with that kind of money, you could afford Micahelangelo himself! ;-)

    XO,

    Sheila

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  87. I wish a friend of mine would permit me to film her ceiling. It is without a doubt the most incredible thing I've ever seen. She had a world class faux artist in charge of doing it, and I am in love with it.

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  88. g;day joni, I hope you don't mind, I borrowed your pic here of the home theatre (wowza) and put it in my sidebar, of course it links to this post too! ta luvy!

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  89. Someone has probably already mentioned the print in the bedroom in house #2 is Peter Dunham.
    To add (I'm sure) for the millionth time, fantastic post Joni! I go back to it frequently to look at the chippendale style entrance added on the the ranch style house (#3?) and admire how much this changed the look of a quite average looking abode.
    best,
    Wendy

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  90. Do you have any idea where to buy that amazing wallpaper featured in the powder room of House #4? I am looking for that paper to use in our powder room and can't seem to find it. Help!!

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  91. The wall covering in house #2 is Samarkand fabric by Peter Dunham - my absolute favorite designer. DMG: Not sure what exact paper that is in house #4, but Farrow and Ball have similar designs. Great houses! Thanks for sharing.

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  92. Wish I knew the paint color used in the bathroom of House #4 - love that blue!

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  93. Totally agreed with your comments on house #4 as to how to improve the master bedroom with the changes to the ceiling and the added rug on the floor.

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