Filed In: Real Estate

What You Get In Chicago For…

$450k Round Up


Mid-Century Dreaming

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 5.40.41 PM[Image via Curbed]

Over the weekend, I was watching HGTV (essentially the only channel I watch – don’t judge) and the show that happened to be on was Flip or Flop. For those not familiar with the show, Tarek and Christina are married real estate agents who buy houses (usually in foreclosure or at auction) and flip them for a profit over the course of a month or two. Despite the scripted drama, most of their projects seem relatively straightforward (they even refer to their “standard flip material”) and they aren’t my favorite HGTV couple, but I usually like their end results. This time, however, I was truly disappointed.

You see, I LOVE mid-century modern design and, in this episode, the couple purchased a home designed by Cliff May (apparently a prominent California architect in the early 1950s). After admitting that MCM design is out of their comfort zone, Tarek and Christina met with a fellow realtor couple who are experts in Cliff May properties and toured a comparable property.

The Cliff May experts recommended keeping the original birch features and indoor/outdoor flow to preserve the home’s character as they had done here:

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[Image via Doug Kramer]

Although I would go with more modern furnishings, keeping the original character and indoor/outdoor living design was good advice. Instead, Tarek and Christina went for a modern loft feel and painted over ALL of the original birch finishings and closet doors. Of course, the final product (shown below) looks nice (and I admit that it might appeal to a broader range of buyers than the home above), but they completely lost all of the mid-century modern character!

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[Image via Flip or Flop]

I saw the whitewash coming throughout the episode, but I was still extremely disappointed at the final reveal. (Although I did enjoy that they staged it with the white version of my couch.) If you’re interested, based on my DVR, it looks like the episode is set to air again on January 8.

Looking for some inspiration (to recover from my disappointment), I went searching for well-designed mid-century modern homes and came across a beautifully renovated Hollywood Hills home purchased in October 2014 by James Marsden (X-Men, 27 Dresses) for $1.8 million. Built in 1959 and designed by Edward Fickett (apparently another prominent California architect in the 1950s), the home was listed as a foreclosure — in need of significant work — in 2009.  THIS how you restore classic California Modern design.

What I love about this house (that neither of the two above were really able to achieve) is that they preserved the post and beam design and maintained the mid-century character while also making it feel bright and modern by using marble countertops and 1950s-inspired (but not actual 1950s) furnishings.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 5.40.18 PMScreen Shot 2014-12-29 at 5.41.16 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 5.41.39 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 5.42.05 PM[Images via Curbed // check it out for many more views of this listing!]

Yet another reason to love James Marsden.

What You Get In Chicago For…

What you get for $17mFor $17 million you get: A 14,260 square-foot 89th floor penthouse in Trump Tower (and an opportunity to rub elbows with fellow condo owners Derrick Rose and Patrick Kane).  Originally listed for $32 million, the unit was recently purchased FOR CASH by Sanjay Shah, founder and CEO of Hoffman Estates-based tech company Vistex.  It is currently Chicago’s most expensive residential sale ever.

The five bedroom, seven and half bath unit is currently raw — and Shah expects to spend the next 18 months and approximately $15 million building it out to serve as a downtown residence for himself, his wife and their two daughters. (Their primary residence is in South Barrington, in addition to homes in Mumbai and Germany).

So, if $17 million dollars doesn’t even buy you a kitchen, what do you get?  The second-highest residence in the Western Hemisphere. 360-degree views of the city and Lake Michigan. Access to building amenities including a full-service concierge, an outdoor lounge, the Trump Spa and Health Club, Sixteen restaurant and 24-hour room service.

Check out the raw space: