When shelter editors and interiors photographers are tasked with capturing famous people's very expensive, professionally decorated homes, everybody wins: magazines such as Architectural Digest and Elle Decor enjoy increased Web traffic, as celebrity abodes always track well on these sites; readers enjoy a voyeuristic, if unattainable, peek at the way their favorite A-listers live; and the celebrities themselves bank the best possible crop of listing photos for when they inevitably decide to put the property on the market, at which point, as a New York Times story this weekend points out, brokers are forced to "scrub the home of any hints, like photos, statuettes or memorabilia, that might provide clues as to who scuffs down that hall at night in slippers."
That's not always the case, of course, as sometimes a magazine feature is simply that: a feature about a never-before-seen space. Take Prince Charles' Scottish country estate (above), splashed on the February cover of Architectural Digest. Designed by architect Robert Adam in the 18th century for the fifth Earl of Dumfries, Dumfries House sat empty for the better part of 150 years until 2005, when its then-owner first tried to unload to the Scottish National Trust and then, when that failed, sell off its contents through Christie's. It was Prince Charles, ever the preservationist, who swooped in and bought the place just weeks before anything went to auction. "Anyone who goes into a house often puts something in about themselves and not about restoring it, and what's interesting about this house is is that right now it exists exactly as it was in the mid 1700s when it was finished—all the furniture is in the rooms that they were designed for," said editor in chief Margaret Russell.
Photos by Eric Piasecki/Elle Decor; click to expand!
? Sandra Lee's Westchester County Colonial graced the cover of the July/August issue of Elle Decor, which the Food Network's best dresser and burgeoning housewares designer shares with her boyfriend, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and his daughters. Lee found the property, nicknamed Lily Pond, in 2009 and immediately set to renovate it, doing away with the "decidedly aggressive ’70s interior" and things such as "robin’s-egg-blue bunny wallpaper." She did all the decorating herself, choosing paint colors, fabrics, and accessories over a two-year-long process she remembers as "so much work and so overwhelming." Save for some choices in the dining room (which Lee has termed the "Founding Fathers Room"), Cuomo didn't offer many opinions, but there is an exercise room with a Jim Morrison poster that is most certainly a man cave.
Photos by William Waldron/Elle Decor; click to expand!
? Libbey Ranch, Reese Witherspoon's country getaway in Ojai, Calif., was featured in the Sept. issue of Elle Decor. The home had previously been owned by Million Dollar Decorator Kathryn Ireland, who added colorful textiles to the original 1920s stonework, arches, fireplaces, turrets, exposed beams, century-old hardware, and Spanish tiles. Around the time when House Beautiful featured the jazzy digs (March 2008), Witherspoon bought it from Ireland for $5.8M and swiftly achieved a neutral color palette and low-key aesthetic with the help of designer Kristen Buckingham. Inside, Buckingham added antiques, ikat pillows, Turkish rugs, and traditional seating, not to mention "animal-themed art" that appeals to Witherspoon's Doolittle sensibilities: she keeps donkeys, goats, pigs, chickens, dogs, a horse, and a pony all on the grounds. Outside, there's a pool, barn, horse paddock, and two standalone guest cottages, each with a fireplace and private bath. Says the actress: "It's meditative and restorative. [...] Time slows down. [...] It's like having a little bit of Tennessee in California." Surely Robert Pattinson would agree: the Twilight actor sought shelter here after his on-again girlfriend, Kristen Stewart, was caught cheating on him this summer. That it's something of a refuge didn't stop Witherspoon from listing the property, however: she put it on the market for a nice, round $10M in mid-September.
Photos by Joshua McHugh/Architectural Digest
? Interior designer and ceramicist Jonathan Adler opened the doors of the Shelter Island, N.Y., retreat he shares with husband Simon Doonan in the June Architectural Digest. The second property the couple has owned here—they listed their first, much smaller, place in 2008—the house was designed by Gray Organschi Architecture to be a "low, sculptural, rectilinear dwelling" that's "part modernist fantasy, part rustic beach retreat." "Our choice [to paint it black] got the whole island talking," writes Doonan. "One neighbor likened the result to Darth Vader’s coffin—finally, a frisson of unscripted scandal!"
? Diane von Furstenberg's phenomenally cool Manhattan aerie was featured in the March issue of Architectural Digest. Although "everybody told me when I came to this neighborhood [the Meatpacking District] that I was crazy—that it was full of drag queens, that it smelled awful because of all the butchers," the reigning queen of the wrap dress and, more recently, home-goods designer stridently purchased two redbrick Victorians in 2006 and had WORKac—two guys that formerly worked for Rem Koolhaas—conjoin them with an 80-foot concrete staircase made sparkly by 8,000 Swarovski crystals. Her personal penthouse sits atop her design studio and flagship, and it's filled with "just odds and ends, all the things that have happened throughout my life," says von Furstenberg, who believes she is more "bohème" than "bourgeoise" despite the fact that she once used to live in a "baronial Park Avenue apartment." "When I was young, I lived like an old woman, and when I got old, I had to live like a young person."
· Inside Prince Charles' Spectacular Scottish Country House [Curbed National]
· Inside Jonathan Adler's "Modernist Fantasy" Beach Retreat [Curbed National]
· Inside Sandra Lee and Andrew Cuomo's Westchester Home [Curbed National]
· Inside Reese Witherspoon's Rustic California Country Home [Curbed National]
· Inside Diane von Furstenberg's Phenomenally Cool Penthouse [Curbed National]
· All Celebrity Real Estate coverage [Curbed National]
· All The Printed Page coverage [Curbed National]
· All Year in Curbed 2012 posts [Curbed National]