Tag Archives: New York

Louis CK’s Shelter Island summer retreat

I have a secret crush on Louis CK. And now that I have seen the new house he bought, even more.
It’s located on an actual island in the far end of Long Island, nestled between Gardiners Bay and the Shelter Island sound. It can only be reached by ferry, and is a good 3 hours drive from Manhattan. The location alone is worth it, but look at this house. It’s gorgeous!

Louis CK’s Shelter Island retreat / Photography Daniel Gale / Sotheby’s International Realty via Curbed/Real Estalker

He reportedly paid $2,440,000 for the 4,957 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 3.5 bathroom mansion. It looks like it was designed by a German architect who liked Tudor style and watched the Adam’s Family. And it somehow even looks Eastern European. But I love it; both inside and out.

Louis CK’s Shelter Island retreat / Photography Daniel Gale / Sotheby’s International Realty via Curbed/Real Estalker

Louis CK’s Shelter Island retreat / Photography Daniel Gale / Sotheby’s International Realty via Curbed/Real Estalker

Look at that amazing sun room! Or that vintage kitchen. I hope Louis won’t rip all that character out. He seems pretty mellow and down to earth so I wouldn’t be surprised if these characteristics are what attracted him to the property.

Louis CK’s Shelter Island retreat / Photography Daniel Gale / Sotheby’s International Realty via Curbed/Real Estalker

I want a private dock too 😦

What do you guys think?

How LED suffers from a bad rep without deserving it

It was as if we were forced to say goodbye to our good old lightbulbs. From one day to the next, or at least it felt like it,  the cosy glow, lamps that actually lit up right away, were harder and harder to find on the shelves. We were all a bit confused why they were bad for us all of a sudden. And even more frustrating, in return we were given weird shaped fluorescent lamps exuding harsh and unfriendly light. And it took forever to actually exude anything. Sometimes it took minutes to light up completely. The dissatisfaction we felt might be part of the reason why we are not all loving LED bulbs. Because LED bulbs  offer all the good things we liked in our good old bulbs, yet without compromising on our demand for green and eco-friendly. The light is warm, cosy or bright if you need it, and the bulb lights up immediately after its switched on. And what’s best; LED light comes from computer chips. Companies like Philips have already developed special products  and apps that allow you to control the colour or brightness of lighting from you smart phone or tablet. Imagine the possibilities!

Example of an interior design making use of LED lighting

Designers were the most adamant opponent of LED. Yet they are now also the group embracing LED because of its sheer endless stream of opportunities. More and more architects, designers and artists  choose to use LED in their work. The CN tower in Toronto for instance was relit in 2007 making use of LED. Before that the tower was sparsely lit to save energy. LED allows to illuminate the tower fully, with even less energy. And this is just one of many examples of the last few years.

The CN tower is lit with LED since 2007

After a long refurbishment, the Dutch Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam decided to commission Philips to light up the building with LED

Slowly but gradually consumers are embracing LED too. People from the industry expect LED to be responsible for 16% of sales in the residential sector by 2015. Since it’s introduction, LED has grown in popularity and has shown to be in increasing demand by consumers. Interior designers, lamp manufacturers and home/deco stores believe in LED too, and are eager to tell their customers why. A representative of New York based Oriental Lamp Shade Company  commented on how consumers can benefit from LED. “LED lasts a lot longer than regular incandescent lighting. Not only does this mean customers save money, but it also makes LED more eco-friendly. We find that to be an important consideration for customers when they buy lamps and lighting. The rather steep investment pays itself back in more ways than just the longevity. LED uses far less electricity too. Something consumers are beginning to realise more and more. We think eventually LED will be the main source of light we all use”.

A stunning wine cellar with LED lighting as part of the main design


What $2.950.000 buys you in New York.. and in Amsterdam

A recent post on one of my favourite blogs, The Real Estalker, featured a modest two bedroom apartment in NYC. I am no newbie to international real estate so know that prices tend to be, well, insane there, but this surprised me. The 1,486 square feet apartment is listed for $2,950.000….

Don’t get me wrong.. it’s a nice place, but $2.950.000? really??

Granted; the views are amazing, and having windows in both the bathroom and kitchen are rare in this city, but still…. $2,950.000???????

Let’s stop and have a closer look. First, let’s get this in metrics; $2,950.000 equals about €2.225.000 and 1486 square feet is about 138 square meters. I am actually wondering if, based on the floor plan, that figure is not a bit of a fib, but let’s say that square footage is a hard fact. Now come join me and find out what that price tag gets you in my home town Amsterdam, shall we?

Schermafbeelding 2013-09-11 om 11.40.38 AM

I give you, the floor plan of just one floor of our soon to be revealed mystery home

I wish I could get a sharper image, but I am confident that you can see that this home (yes home, not apartment) is a tad bit bigger than the NYC listing. It is situated on one of Amsterdam’s famous canals; Leliegracht. It’s listed for exactly €2.225.000 and for that you get 13 rooms spread over a total of 500 square meters (5382 square feet). But the real treat is the garden! The back of the house is double width so the garden is huge with a lot of privacy. It borders the neighbouring gardens so the city seems far, far away.

The House is situated on a lovely, treelined canal

The House is situated on a lovely, treelined canal

The home would not be fully available for use though. The second floor consists of two self-contained studio apartments that are rented out. But this, in turn, gives you a bit of cash each month, lowering the monthly payments. And the current tenant is willing t discuss a move. That’ll cost you a so called ‘oprotpremie’ (severance pay). Mind you, there is still more than enough private space, and the studio’s make use of their own separate entrance. The one downfall really is parking, or rather, the lack there-off. No private parking means you are subjected to the bureaucratic hell that is parking laws in Amsterdam. If you did not leave behind a house in the same area, you might be looking at a waiting list for one spot. But then again, the building fees of the apartment in NYC are a staggering $2668 a MONTH, which is more than enough to rent two parking spots somewhere nearby.

The main floor boasts a wonderful formal living room and eat-in kitchen with doors leading to the garden

The main floor boasts a wonderful formal living room and eat-in kitchen with doors leading to the garden

Lush gardens, with several spots to follow the course of the sun

Lush gardens, with several spots to follow the course of the sun

The house is old, built in 1900. Which is actually relatively young for its location as most homes on Amsterdam canals are from the 18th, sometimes even 17th Centuries. It’s a monument, which does mean that you are limited in what you can change or do with the home. But anything you do, you can do subsidised! Ahhh, the joy of living in a socialist state 😉

The house actually looks older than it's 114 years.

The house actually looks older than it’s 114 years.

So, I guess it’s safe to assume living in NYC comes with a price. A high price. And here we are, Dutch ‘disgruntleds’, complaining about the price of real estate in our capitol…… I dare not compare the other way around; checking to see what a private residence with garden on Manhattan would cost. I guess it’s more though.

Brooke Shields sells off her NYC pied-a-terre

Classy model/actress/writer Brooke Shields and her equally successful hubby are selling of one of their properties. It’s a 2600 square feet which measures up to about 260 m2, but quite frankly, the floor plan begs to differ…It is nice enough though, and in a prime location in NYC’s trendy SoHo district. The property comes with three bedrooms, two full baths, ample storage space and my personal favorite; an elevator opening up into the actual apartment! How Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan Morell!

It was sold for $2.950.000

Images courtesy of The Real Estalker

What can one buy across the globe for €100.000

They used to have this feature on a show I used to watch or in a magazine I used to read. Or I still watch the show or read the magazine but they just stopped with this specific feature. I for, but I do remember loving it; comparing house prices across the globe.

I thought I’d make it interesting and start with a figure so low that in some cities likely nothing can be bought with this kind of money; €100.000,-. My search starts in my home town Amsterdam. Online real etate search engines come back with mainly garages and parking spaces. A garage here can be on the market for as much as €85.000,-, depending on the area.

One house in particular caught my eye. It’s a 60m2 (650 square feet) one bedroom flat in a leafy southern suburb of the city on the market for €98.000,-.  The flat has hardwood parquet floors throughout and has a two south (!) facing balconies. With its proximity to public transport, one can be in the city center within 20 minutes. Also, local shops and facilities are excellent with a popular shopping center a few minutes walking away. Across the hall from the apartment is a separate storage room that can double as a study or guest room.

nice floors!

nice floors!

The catch; the apartment is fo sale only for those above the age of 55 and is what they call a service flat. This means that a communal charge of €375 one gets security, a 24/7 service desk, access to communal recreational areas, window cleaner, medical assistance etc.

Further to that, very little to be found in our price bracket in Amsterdam…..

Moving on, across the North Sea, to London! Now there’s a city notorious for it’s insane house prices… Because I feel that at least the address should still officially have London in it, I limit myself to areas within the main circular roads.

Oddly enough, online searches in London result in many surprising finds. One of them is a houseboat in Ice Wharf Marina on the border of King’s Cross (bad) and Islington (very nice!) It therefore has easy access to public transport and is a short walk away from fashionable Upper Street. It’s tiny, with a maximum width of 1.83m, yet offers romantic potential.


It's very pretty, but I wonder how high the ceiling is...

It's very pretty, but I wonder how high the ceiling is...

All in ll it’s more or less 19m2, which is a little over 200 square feet. Small? Yes. Charming? Yes. And all this for £80.000,- which is £500 under our budget!

That bedroom would not fit MY bed..

That bedroom would not fit MY bed..

The bedroom is hardly that. And I am not sure why there need to be two loos though… Maybe create one small bathroom and create a cupboard bed where he extra loo is now?”

I had to share this one with you by the way. It’s a tiny studio flat in posh and swanky Hampstead for a little over our budget at £99.800,- It measures less than 10m (110 square meters), with the main room measuring 2m40 2m70. It can do with some good decorating tips to make this a dream home. Maybe the tiny homes feature of Apartment Therapy can help the buyer with that?

2.4x2.7 meters....


Moving on to New York City.. the city that never sleeps and according to some that is because too many people can’t afford to sleep there. 

I will never forget one of the bachelors in the first series of he Bachelorette inviting Christa to his studio flat in Manhattan. The horror on her face at such tininess was classic.

I am very curious what NYC has to offer for up to €100.000, which is approximately $129.000. The first couple of sites either tell me that unfortunately my search has not shown any results. On another site the first studio apartment I stumble across is on the market for $685.000….. so far not so good.

I decide to try to look on the real estates listings site of the New York times. There are actually a few available options for this money. Even on the island of Manhattan proper. On the most Northern tip, in historic(as the agent calls it) Hamilton Heights (I think that might be realtor’s lingo for gang ridden). It’s a 2 bed, 1 bath apartment comprising 820 square feet (about 72m2). There is a sitting room, separate dining room, kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms. The main parts all face south to allow lots of sun to enter. It’s on the market for $125.000.

With the same agent a 2 bed, 1 bath is for sale in the same building. The building is a low income co-op with strict income restrictions and does not allow buyers with more than 120% median income.Unfortunately there are no pictures of the properties but this is a street view.

Looks a bit West Side Story-ish don't you think? Isn't that where Tony got shot?

Looks a bit West Side Story-ish don't you think? Isn't that where Tony got shot?

I’ll go more exotic next time. But for now, this will do.

Landmark buildings; The Dakota

The Dakota building is best known for a dark and sombre episode in pop history. It was here where John Lennon lived with his wife Yoko Ono, and it was in front of this building where Lennon was shot. But the building has played parts in many illustrous stories.

The Dakota around 1880

The Dakota around 1880

The building was erected in 1884 when the upper west side was still just marshland with farms. Real Estate king Edward Severin Clark wanted to target the extremely well-to-do New Yorkers and planned the most luxurious and extravagant building New York had ever seen. He hired architect Henry J. Hardenbergh to design his vision for him.
Before the building was finished, all apartments, each with at least 12 rooms, were sold. It was, and still is, one of the most prestigious places in the city. Over the years, famous people that resided in the building were Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney, Leonard Bernstein, Rudolf Nureyev, Boris Karloff and the Lennons to name a few. Yoko Ono still calls it home. There was a rumour that Tom Cruise was going to buy there too, but these were in fact rumours and not true.

Long before the Lennons bought their apartment, or rather, apartments as they bought several, the buiding was used as filming location for the intense adaptation of Ira Levins novel Rosemary’s baby. In the movie from 1968, the building was portrayed as  The ‘Bramford’, the brooding Gothic building where newlyweds Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse (played by Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes) set up home.

Farrow and Cassavetes at the entrance gate

Farrow and Cassavetes at the entrance gate

John  Lennon was not the first murder victim of the Dakota. In 1978 Oscar winning actor Gig Young first shot his wife to death, before shooting himself. Ironically, he won an oscar for his role in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They in 1970. A year after Ruth Gordon picked up an Oscar for her performance as the Woodhouse’s neighbour in Rosemary’s Baby.

Still today an apartment in the Dakota is something only the immensely rich can afford. This 6,5 room apartment (half of an original) is on the market for a mind blowing $7.500.000…..

for sale for $7.500.000

for sale for $7.500.000

You do get your money’s worth obviously as Central Park is just across the street. The apartment itself is not too big though. The kitchen could even be referred to as small-ish. And I always wonder why Americans often don’t have separate toilets. Here you have to go through either the master bedroom, or the library which will likely end up being used as 2nd bedroom.

And I am not sure if Yoko Ono as a neighbour is a selling feature.