Two mega-mansions, one in New York, one in Florida—which would you choose—if you had at least $30 million to burn?
Before we get to this month's goodies...
Let me share with you a "can't fail" teak cleaning secret:
Yacht owners know this secret, most homeowners do not, unless they also own a boat with a teak deck.
BTW, I just added this secret to our teak care guide.
In other words, you rarely clean it.
You will notice yucky black spots (mold and mildew).
Bleach, soap, and water (the proportions are in the teak care guide) will kill it. Period.
But the black, if it's been there for months, will remain.
So, here's the secret sauce to removing mold and mildew stains, or any stubborn stains!
Substitute the bleach for ammonia.
But do not mix ammonia and bleach together--because if you do, and breathe it...it'll kill you! Seriously. No joke.
One or the other. Not both!
And then, you scrub the teak. With the grain, using a hard bristle brush. Then, you rinse.
What you will notice, after the teak dries, is that the teak will miraculously show you its pristine, natural, just harvested color--without the stains.
Note: depending on how much ammonia you use, the teak grain will rise, giving the teak a somewhat rough texture.
You can then sand the teak with a fine grain sandpaper, or not.
Because, eventually, the teak will smooth out by itself.
Finally, if you want to apply teak oil (I don't, for reasons found in the teak care guide), go for it.
End of secret.
Now onto this month's grab bag of articles. Beginning with an opinion that might ruffle your feathers..
So here it goes...when it comes to home design, I jes gotta tell ya'... architectural modernism doesn't cut it for me.
It’s cold, minimalistic.
It’s glass, steel, and a bunch of box-like rooms connected to one another.
Ok, not always--but mostly.
However, if someone were to gift me this iconic masterpiece of modernism (below) designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1939, I’ll take it and say thank you very much.
Located about 90 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh, Pa., it's commonly known as the Fallingwater House.
The Fallingwater House
The house was designed as a weekend home for the family of Edgar J. Kaufmann, owner of Kaufmann's Department Store.
The estimated cost for building Fallingwater in 1939 was $35,000. The final cost was $155,000. Ah, the good old days.
In today’s money, however, adjusted for inflation, that’s a princely sum of about $2.8 million.
The house's restoration, completed in 2001, was estimated at $11.5 million.
So, as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to modernism the Fallingwater House is the exception not the rule.
A real-world, true-to-form example of modernism
This is a no-name, not famous, typically modernistic style home in Los Angeles, CA.
Photo courtesy of Cuded.com
But again, give me the house, and I’ll take it.
Then, I’d quickly sell it.
As I said, the characteristics of architectural modernism are clean, minimal lines, mostly square or rectangular. Basically, a box made mostly of glass.
There are no ornamentations or design flourishes.
Many modernist homes sport broad roof overhangs, walls of glass, and open floor plans (I actually like large panoramic windows in family rooms, and open floor plans. But modernism takes it to excess.)
Commonly used materials include exposed steel or iron, and concrete blocks. Which gives these structures that cold, institutional vibe.
Sometimes, however, there’s an occasional use of wood and stone (personally, I like lots of stone and wood)…
So, for my money, modernism is boring, ugly, and uninviting.
You may disagree of course. Different strokes for different folks.
Postmodernism, on the other hand (again, it's my opinion)…
Is architectural design gone batshit wild (as in the architect ate too many psychedelic mushrooms).
The Cat House
Photo by Dirk Altenkirch. Image courtesy of Phaidon
Or this really trippy weird home…
Photo by Jack Hobhouse
So, where are the two mega-mansions mentioned in the headline?
Glad you asked.
While perusing the web in search of something interesting made of teak…
Like this teak bathtub (teak is waterproof, of course—but who woulda thunk?)
Photo courtesy Techtona.com
I came across, surprise, surprise, a house (for sale) filled with teak.
But gimme a break. As you're about to see, this is too much.
Architectural modernism in the Hamptons where many 1% New Yorkers have weekend getaways
Now look closely at this home, and try to identify something in the picture that doesn’t look quite right. (Hint: it’s made of teak.)
No, not the outside walls.
Maybe you can see it better at night.
Do you see it?
Don’t worry, I’ll get to it in a moment.
First, let me tell you about the house—in case you want to buy it.
If so, contact the Corcoran Group, founded by Barbara Corcoran.
Yes, that Barbara Corcoran of TV’s Shark Tank.
List price: $52 million.
Looks like the corporate lunchroom of a Silicon Valley tech firm. Doesn’t it?
But, it’s a home. A residence. That just looks very corporate.
As does most modernist architecture in my uneducated opinion.
But like I said before—give it to me, and I’ll take it. And sell it.
Sitting on 2.3 acres, it has 230 feet of Atlantic beachfront, and boasts a…
“Flawless symphony of architecture, construction, landscape design, and interior composition."
Sure, ok, if you say so (gotta love marketing copywriters).
The listing also states, the residence is composed of “three pavilions.”
Now have you ever heard of a home that has pavilions?
Museums and county fairs have pavilions, not homes.
Nonetheless, these pavilions provide 11,000 square feet of living space.
That includes six bedrooms and 10.5 baths. I suppose incontinence is a requirement for ownership.
Am I being too harsh?
Wait, there’s more.
A rec room, a four-car garage, a gym, a spa, sauna, and a 72-foot pool.
On the “eccentrically shaped” (whatever that means) deck you’ll find an outside kitchen and a seaside living room.
It also has a golf simulator (which can be converted into a home theater) and two staff suites.
Now check this out...
If we’re talking eccentrically shaped—and we are…how about the home’s ceiling.
A massive inverted teak pyramid that looms overhead in the living room and master bedroom like a Damocles sword reaching down to just 9 feet above the floor.
Now I don’t know about you, but sitting, much less sleeping under that thing—even if it’s made of glorious teak—would make me damn nervous.
Now, let’s head south to Jupiter, Florida
I don’t know what you would call this architectural style…
Maybe Florida baroque, or neo-classical Mediterranean…
Or just…I got a lot of money and I don’t care what you call it.
Especially when you have a front entrance like this:
And a backyard like this:
And a grand stairway like this:
I also like Tuscan style kitchens.
And if you’re into cigars, trophy rooms and man caves…
Here ya’ go…
This is the home of race car driver Johnny Gray
And he doesn't want it anymore!
He’s selling it, fully furnished, minus the trophies, for almost half the price of the glass and teak mansion in the Hamptons. In other words, $32.5 million.
I’ll take it! And I won’t sell it.
Once upon a time, I actually lived in Jupiter. But literally on the other side of the railroad tracks from this palace.
And my house wasn’t 30,000 sq. ft., with 365 feet frontage on the intracoastal waterway—enough space to dock a cruise ship.
Plus, it’s got an air-conditioned 25-car garage.
Buy it and you get the car lifts—but not the cars, or Johnny’s 45-foot RV.
And how do you like the pool with a drop-down TV and a swim-up bar?
Other touches in this 6-bedroom, 10-bath adult Disneyland include:
A home theater built by an associate of George Lucas that doubles as a safe room (after all, Florida does get little wind gusts called category 4 hurricanes.)
A massive bar and game room with an aquarium, and a gym. But, alas, no teak anything.
So whadaya' think of this joint?
Ready to move to paradise?
So what's your preferred architectural design?
Leave your answer in the comment section below.
Until next month...stay safe, stay happy...and be nice.