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The Hands-Down Most Beautiful Houses for Sale in 2014

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When one looks at thousands of houses over the course of a year, poring over listing photo galleries with almost Talmudic concentration, they can begin to run together. Then there are homes that stand out, often for all the wrong reasons, but occasionally for good ones: excellent decor, riveting architecture, or something hard to define that we'll just go ahead and call "soul." Here are the most beautiful U.S. homes put on the market in 2014; not necessarily the biggest, or the grandest, or the most expensive, but the ones that stuck with us.

A short run-down of our qualifications: said homes had to be beautiful and well-photographed inside and out (see the honorable mentions for homes that failed either category but were still quite nice). Only detached homes were considered, which means we left apartments, condos, and townhouses off the table, and didn't touch anything in New York City, which is just as well, because our colleagues at Curbed NY came up with this awesome list.

Location: Austin, Texas
Price: $4,500,000
A home that has received multiple additions from differing architects over the course of 35 years has no right to expect to remain a cohesive, pleasing whole, but this Austin showpiece manages the trick, in no small part because of the excellent landscaping by owners James David and Gary Peese.

Location: Los Angeles, California
Sold For: $6,250,000
Gah, Andy Samberg and Joanna Newsom's new(ish) home. They bought Moorcrest—the famed 1920s house where Mary Astor and Charlie Chaplin once lived—in an off-market deal, so technically it shouldn't even be on this list. Whatever, what a dream palace, here it shall stay.

Location: Rancho Mirage, California
Price: $2,300,000
This landmarked example of what one Curbed commenter called "pristine MCM at its classiest and finest" was commissioned by pioneering radiology cancer surgeon Henry L. Jaffe from architect William F. Cody, on land he bought from his patient, Groucho Marx.

Location: Palm Springs, California
Price: $2,195,000
Clark Gable's all-pink Palm Springs home is almost as studly as he was.

Location: Seattle, Washington
Sold For: $1,262,000
This immediately recognizable Tom Kundig work sold in less than a month.

Location: Palm Beach, Florida
Last Offer For: $49,500,000
Maurice Fatio's not-so creatively named Windansea taught us to appreciate classic Floridian homes.

Location: Beverly Hills, Calif.
Price: $8,995,000
Designed by Greene and Greene, the architects behind Pasadena's masterful Gamble House, this Beverly Hills dwellings "decorative period lighting fixtures, glasswork featuring Arts and Crafts design motifs, kitchen built-ins, exposed beams and rafters, custom ironwork, and dramatic tiled fireplaces" speak to the thought and care put into its construction.

Location: Urbana, Illinois
Price: $296,000
Champaign-area architect John Replinger designed this simple late-'60s dwelling, which was beautifully (and respectfully!) rehabbed by the current owners.

Location: Los Angeles, California
Sold For: $8,550,000
It's easy to see why John Lautner's storied Silvertop estate sold in a high-stakes bidding war (to Luke Wood, president of Beats by Dre, no less). Organic modernism at its finest.

Location: Sagaponack, New York
Price: $12,950,000
Architect David Scott Parker spent two years renovating this Hamptons estate, which dates back to 1797.

Location: Los Angeles, California
Sold For: $2,450,000
Bob and Naomi Odenkirk lived in a 2,882-square-foot '50s time capsule, which was renovated by Linda Brettler, the architect wife of Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. Someone took it off their hands earlier this month.

Location: Portland, Oregon
Sold For: $1,445,000
Fie on the "contemporary Craftsman." We'll take low ceilings and dark rooms any day. Unsurprisingly, this one sold in about two months.

Location: Dallas, Texas
Price: $27,500,000
It's been called one of Phillip Johnson's "campiest" creations. Eerily beautiful and very well renovated.

Location: Los Angeles, California
Price: $2,395,000
Damn, Ruskin Art Club, originally designed by L.A. architect Frank Meline as a Sunday school and rectory for a Methodist church. We cannot get enough of your Mission Revival charms.

Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Price: $4,900,000
Cigar magnate John Swisher's many-gardened Mediterranean Revival looks as good as the day it was built. Or maybe even better.

Location: Seattle, Washington
Price: $2,962,000
Gorgeously renovated. Protected by demons. Yes.

Location: Montecito, California
Price: $125,000,000
After being in this business for a while, you come to expect that anything listed for more than $100M is bound to be tasteless. The main house of the roughly 237-acre Montecito estate known as Rancho San Carlos (asking price: $125M) is absolutely stunning.

Honorable Mention

· Lloyd Wright's Samuel-Novarro House was on and off the market for years before it sold, so it's not being counted.

· Though you frothed in dismay at the kitchen island and the granite countertops, Frank Lloyd Wright's William Winslow House is yet another example of why 2014 was the year of Arts & Crafts craftsmanship (this beaut, for example) on Curbed dot com. Fun fact: Wright's proto-Prarie Style commission (his first taken independently) caused such a stir that it's owner "did not take his customary commuter train to Chicago for several months afterward, because fellow passengers kidded him about his avant-garde house."

· OMG this exterior shot.

· Any one of the many David Adler mansions that came onto the market this year. This one, with the really symmetrical face? Or how about this one, with the five-story medieval tower?

· The former Southampton home of Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan could have been a contender, but the interior is kind of blegh.

· A strange one, this. Rather fetching.

· We salute you, Valley of the Moon ranch. Though you are not quite up to snuff with the rest of our winners, you are pretty goddamn gorgeous, for something so odd.

· This 14,000-square-foot mega-Victorian was converted into eight apartments in 1940, and the interior has since been a bit over-modernized and watered down in places. It sticks with us despite all that. Come to think of it, so does this one.

· Commenters absolutely hated this overhauled Aspen Victorian, which looks so nice from the outside.

· Vincent Kartheiser's adorable little bachelor pad beats out Jake Gyllenhaal's and young Spock's, but sadly, still did not quite make the cut.

· As one might expect, Rhode Island's Brutalist brick mansions are a bit of an acquired taste.

· This organic-modernist mushroom home outside Austin is not one of Curbed's prettiest. So much soul, though.

· Sorry, Neutra! So many of your homes came on the market this year, and though most were really really nice, none made the cut. The one picture above is in Pennsylvania, of all places.

· Whaddduuuuup, Arts & Crafts Swiss chalet with a handsome black paintjob.

· This picture-perfect English-Country-style home in L.A. was built in 1927 by Oscar-winning silent film actor and director Charles Dorian.

· John Legend had a nice home.

· It still pains us to this day that there were no interior shots released of Bunny Mellon's Virginia estate.

· The Biltmore Estate's less-famous cousin was somewhat memorable. You called it "Nouveau riche dreck."

· Obligatory San Juan Island micro-home covered in grass.

· As one commenter put it, Virginia's Staunton Hill estate stepped "right out of Faulkner."

· Such Scandinavian.

· Very time capsule.

· That boulder.

· This kind of strange, kind of dated, and kind of awesome 1979 work by "Fire Island modernist" Horace Gifford.

· This ski retreat in Vail looks pretty choice.

· "Ooh, ooh, early '80s California-style organic architecture," said probably no one, when asked about their favorite kind of building style. Which makes this light-filled Redwood retreat by winery architect John Marsh Davis all the more surprising.

· All the Eichlers.

—Spencer Peterson and Scott Garner