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AOL Real Estate - Blog

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    kate bosworth pool
    Courtesy of Sally Forster Jones of Coldwell BankerAt Kate Bosworth's just-sold house, French doors lead to multiple outdoor areas, including a lap pool.
    2014 MET Museum Costume Institute Benefit Gala
    APKate Bosworth
    After just a few month on the market, Kate Bosworth has just sold her airy and Bohemian-esque Los Angeles home for $2,375,000. It's a little less than what she was hoping to get for it (original asking price was $2,499,000), but the blonde beauty has by no means sold at a loss. The 'Blue Crush' actress paid $2,100,000 when she purchased the three-bedroom, 2.5 bathroom place in 2005.

    This private pad is set behind a discreet gate that leads you down a long drive to this contemporary home on over half an acre. Inside and out, the home has incredible space for entertaining and casual living -- and it's decorated just as you'd expect from the fashionista actress, who has perfected the "minimalist chic" look. The floor plan is open and flowing, with the dining and living areas seamlessly connected. In the heart of the home, a chef's kitchen features professional appliances and huge windows that overlook the patio and views beyond.

    The home's three bedrooms and 2.5 baths include the upstairs master retreat with sitting area, two walk-in closets, spa-like bath with double Carrara marble vanity and a jetted tub. French doors lead to multiple outdoor areas, including a lap pool and an outdoor living room with incredible light and canyon views.

    See more photos and details on the Trulia listing.

     

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    Clean and white water closet in a bathroom
    ShutterstockThe easiest way to cut costs on a bathroom renovation is to keep the old bathroom footprint.
    By Teresa Mears

    Nobody likes a house with an outdated bathroom. Of course, you can use a blue toilet and bathe in a pink tub, illuminated by eight naked light bulbs shining on a stained 1970s laminate countertop. But do you really want to?

    Building the spa bathroom of your dreams may cost more than you want to spend. But you don't have to empty your wallet to improve your bathroom. A little bling and a few luxurious touches can give you a big impact for a small amount of money, and that's a good place to start. "One little thing creates that luxury instead of worrying about everything else," says Laura Redd, an interior designer in Greensboro, North Carolina. "I think sparkle is a big thing."

    The easiest way to cut costs on a bathroom renovation is to keep the old bathroom footprint. Keep the toilet, sink and tub or shower in the same locations, just replacing the old with the new. That saves the thousands it costs to add to the footprint of the house or relocate plumbing and electrical wiring. You should also avoid adding a $100,000 bathroom to a $200,000 house, Redd notes, because you'll never recoup your investment.

    [See: 8 Home Remodeling Projects That Are Worth the Money.]

    But there are other ways to save, too.

    "Paint is always, on a budget, your best quick option on a makeover," says Justin DiPego, senior editor of DoItYourself.com. And you can do that yourself.

    But with a bathroom renovation, you want to be careful about getting in over your head, especially if your home has only one bathroom.

    "Know your limits," DiPego says. If you've never laid tile before, a bathroom is probably not a good place to start. Sometimes, it's cheaper to hire someone who knows the ins and outs of the job. "You'll end up saving money in the long run because you won't screw it up."

    Hiring a contractor is usually smart for plumbing and electrical work, as well as for complicated tile jobs or ones that require tearing out walls.

    But, Redd says, don't let the contractor choose the materials. Shop for them yourself instead. You'll be sure to get what you want, and you won't have to pay for the contractor's shopping time.

    Here are 13 ways to save money while improving your bathroom:

    Bring in some posh accessories. Search for items that can change the look of your bathroom dramatically without anyone picking up a wrench. Those could include a new shower curtain, plush bath sheets, a new rug, a magnifying makeup mirror or perhaps a flower in a vase. "Don't cheap out on your towels," Redd says. "Bamboo towels are phenomenal. They last forever."

    Paint the walls. Avocado fixtures against white may look extremely dated. But change the walls to a complementary color, and "suddenly the avocado green is a player," says Mary Anne Brugnoni, a designer with Renovations by the Morton Group in Fairport, New York. "Paint is your best friend."

    [Read: How to Remodel Your Kitchen for Thousands Less.]

    Change the showerhead. You can buy a rain showerhead, massage showerhead and other models that will give your bathroom a spa look and feel as well as improve your shower experience. Most of the time, you can make the change in five minutes with a wrench.

    Shop around for vanities and fixtures. Compare prices online, in big-box stores, in specialty stores and even on Craigslist. Watch for sales and clearance items, too. You can find deals online on everything from faucets to vanities, and the online selection is much larger than what you'll find at any store.

    Use granite remnants for counters. Granite shops often have small bits of granite left over from bigger jobs and will sell you enough for a bathroom vanity counter at a discount. To find out what's available, call your local shops first then drop by to see the granite and negotiate the price.

    Shop around for tile. You can find nice floor and wall tile for $1 to $2 per square foot. Use that less expensive tile for most of the work, and then incorporate luxury tile as accents.

    Tile a smaller area. Instead of tiling all the bathroom walls, tile only around the tub and shower, and use drywall for the rest of the area.

    Create a vanity from a piece of old furniture. "If you want to get creative, and you have that creative gene ... you can create something unique," Redd says. If your vanity is wood, refinish or paint it rather than buying a new one. She bought a used piece of furniture for $45, a cultured marble top for $150 and two sinks on closeout for $50 each, creating a unique double vanity for just $245.

    Renovate just part of your bathroom. If you can't afford to tear the entire bathroom down to the studs and rebuild it, consider renovating just the tub and shower area. "It's going to give them the impact of a new bathroom," Brugnoni says.

    [Read: Which Home Remodeling Projects Are Worth Your Money?]

    Use a shower curtain instead of a glass shower enclosure. "A curved rod with a really cool shower curtain is going to save you a lot of money," Brugnoni says. Plus, a shower curtain adds color and can be changed out easily.

    Choose chrome rather than brushed nickel fixtures. It's cheaper, and there are more choices. And chrome is even making a comeback, Brugnoni notes.

    Buy a framed mirror or frame your existing mirror. That small change can quickly give your bathroom a more glamorous look. If your mirror is small, you may be able to buy a frame at a yard sale or thrift store. For a large mirror, use molding to build a frame.

    Have everything planned and materials in hand before you start. Changing course in midstream always costs time and money. You should know what you're doing and when you expect to finish before launching into any grand bathroom renovation.

     

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    By Fred Albert

    Like a blank page or canvas, an empty room can be either an opportunity or a challenge. With so many ways to fill it, how do you know where to start?

    I've taken some of the basic rules of furniture arrangement and distilled them into 10 simple tips. They'll help you figure out where to put things, where not to put things and how to prioritize the choices you make.

    These guidelines won't turn you into an interior designer overnight. But they'll steer you in the right direction and help you to achieve professional-looking results with a minimum of stress.


    Traditional Living Room by Wilmette Architects & Building Designers Boomgaarden Architects

    Function. Consider how the room is used and how many people will use it. That will dictate the type of furnishings you'll need and the amount of seating required




    Priority. Place the largest pieces of furniture first, such as the sofa in the living room or the bed in the bedroom. In most cases this piece should face the room's focal point. Chairs should be no more than 8 feet apart to facilitate conversation. Unless your room is especially small, avoid pushing all the furniture against the walls.



    Symmetry. Symmetrical arrangements work best for formal rooms. Asymmetrical arrangements make a room feel more casual.



    Traffic. Think about the flow of traffic through the room - generally the path between doorways. Don't block that path with any large pieces of furniture if you can avoid it. Allow 30 to 48 inches of width for major traffic routes and a minimum of 24 inches of width for minor ones.

    Try to direct traffic around a seating group, not through the middle of it. If traffic cuts through the middle of the room, consider creating two small seating areas instead of one large one.





    Contrast. Combine straight and curved lines for contrast. If the furniture is modern and linear, throw in a round table for contrast. If the furniture is curvy, mix in an angular piece. Similarly, pair solids with voids: Combine a leggy chair with a solid side table, and a solid chair with a leggy table.

     

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    Your house looks great, but how does it feel? If you think your home is falling victim to clutter and chaos, the Chinese practice of feng shui may be able to help! Feng shui incorporates age-old principles for maximizing positive vibes in the home. While some laws of feng shui call for more elaborate considerations, there are plenty of simple tweaks that you can try in just a few minutes!

     

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    By Becky Harris

    Creating a family room that could stand up to two young boys was "pretty easy" here, says interior designer Sophia Reay -- these clients are very down-to-earth, laid-back and fuss free. Bringing architectural interest and natural elements into the room was the bigger issue. "This is a subdivision home that didn't have much interior architectural value," Reay says. She remedied that by adding a fireplace, cabinets, windows, millwork, layers of texture and comfy seating. Here's how she turned a blank slate into a comfortable family gathering spot.


    Transitional Family Room by Salem Interior Designers & Decorators LemonTree & Co. Interiors

    Photos by Click Photography

    The clients' style is "traditional with a funky edge," says Reay, of LemonTree & Co. Interiors. They love midcentury modern pieces, and Reay wanted to create an organic feeling with the textures of nature.

    The house sits next to a large wooded area, and Reay brought in some of its feeling. "I don't think people can connect with a room without connecting the room to nature," she says.



    A fireplace, built-in cabinetry, baseboards, crown molding, leaded glass windows and a painted wood ceiling give the room the architectural details the owners were after. Reay extended the bulkhead all the way around the room; recessed lights in it illuminate the built-ins.

    Two new windows on either side of the fireplace bring in natural light; their placement and leaded glass preserve privacy. (There is another house close to that side of the house.)

    Woodwork: Van-Del Custom Millwork; wall paint: Revere Pewter HC-172, Benjamin Moore; sofa: Ikea, with legs from Etsy; Glass Waterfall Coffee Table: Buona Furniture



    The gas fireplace features a local Bruce Grey ledgerock surround and a long poured concrete hearth. Crisply cut hardwood logs aren't intended for the actual fire; they add a sculptural element and pattern that complement the stone.

    Reay flanked the fireplace with built-ins for media equipment, toys and the owners' books. One of the owners is very much into photography, so his albums are in there; the other loves to make books for each boy representing every year of his life. The cabinets have concrete countertops that match the hearth, and the hardware is oil-rubbed bronze.

    Cabinet hardware: Lee Valley; concrete work: Creative Concrete Designs



    Washable fabric on the cheery grass-green sofas stands up well to spills. Theglass coffee table keeps the view to the fireplace open, and those burlap laundry sacks underneath help keep the room tidy. Their built-in wiring makes them expandable, so the boys can collect their toys at the end of the day and carry them back to their rooms.

    Opting for a TV over the fireplace came with challenges. To keep a TV from taking over, Reay recommends that if it isn't concealed, it should not be larger than the fireplace box. "This is a tough challenge with some of my bachelor clients who love giant TVs," she says, laughing. The fireplace dictates the mantel, including how far a wood mantel needs to be from the firebox for safety, and how far it needs to stick out to protect the TV screen from the gas heat.

    "I hate wires, and I hate speakers," Reay says. The wires were framed in the stud cavities, and the sound system's three speakers blend into the walls and fireplace.

    Burlap laundry baskets: HomeSense; sofa: Ikea, with legs from Etsy; Glass Waterfall Coffee Table: Buona Furniture




    In addition to the room's clean lines and uncluttered feel, these leather reclining chairs nod to the couple's love of midcentury modern style. The chairs are very comfortable without being clunky, and the leather is easy to wipe up in case of spills.

    Reay has been helping the young family spruce up their home at a rate of about one room per year since 2009. See more of her work on this project.

    Chairs: Thayer Coggin

     

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    green room by timothy corrigan
    Roger Davies/Architectural DigestDesigner Timothy Corrigan says that he frequently uses green in his color schemes.
    Color has the ability to instantly transform the entire personality of a room. It's the reason designers spend so much time flipping through paint wheels and swatch books. Pinpointing the perfect hue and finding the right combination can be tricky, but when you nail the ideal palette, the results are guaranteed to be dazzling. AD asked some of the top talents in design to share their personal tips for mastering the art of color-from deploying punchy brights to creating golden glows.

    Click to read what designers such as Bunny Williams and Miles Redd had to say.


    See the full slideshow at ArchDigest.com

    More From Architectural Digest:
    Radical Houses Around the World

     

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    fire pit fountain
    ZillowEnjoy the combination of water and fire as long as you can safely run a gas line, or ensure fuel canisters remain dry.

    By Erika Riggs

    Once upon a time, fire pits were built out of necessity, for both warmth and cooking. But today's fire pits are more stylish than ever. The new fire pits -- including gas-powered versions -- add serious drama when it's time for s'mores.


    See more fire pit ideas on Zillow Digs.

     

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    By Mariana Pickering

    If you live in a hot climate, your air conditioner is probably your favorite major appliance. However, it can quickly become a major party crasher in the middle of your backyard summer barbecue. That same hulking, boxy piece of machinery that cools your house can be an eyesore in your garden. But don't sweat it. There are plenty of ways you can hide, mask, conceal and block your air conditioning unit so you won't even know it's there. Here's how to keep your cool.

    Modern Spaces by Montreal Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Sasha Newman

    First keep in mind how your air conditioner works and what keeps it happy and efficient. An A/C unit needs space to breathe. Because it works so hard to make the inside of your house cool, it needs to vent a bunch of generated heat. The reason that the metal casings of air conditioning units are perforated is to do just that. Keep this in mind when adding any sort of cover or obstruction near your machine. To be safe, check the manufacturer's recommended distances for any sort of enclosure.

     

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    By Becky Harris

    A few summers back, interior designer Bridget McMullin found herself without access to a family beach house at the Jersey Shore for the first time in her life. "I was so bored on the weekends; I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs," she says. Renting a house in the area for the season would have run her about $2,000 to $2,500 per week, so she got creative.


    Before Photos

    Always intrigued by a seasonal trailer campground that sat right between the bay and the coast in Strathmere, New Jersey, she decided to stake her claim.

    She hitched her design skills to a used 1998 28-foot Wilderness trailer, spending $5,000 to buy it and keeping to a budget of under $5,000 to renovate it. While she has to rent her spot, she doesn't have expenses like property taxes or pricey flood insurance.

    "When I told my parents about my idea, they looked at me like I had 10 heads," McMullin says. However, she convinced her cousin to get a trailer and join her that first summer, and they plan to hold court in the campground for years to come.

    For the first few months, McMullin spent most of her beach days toiling away, renovating her trailer. A water-hookup mishap caused a flood on the first day, so removing the soaked carpet was the first task. Next on the list was painting all of the oak to lighten things up.



    AFTER: "I just wanted it to feel kitschy, bright and over-the-top," she says. The result is a lively small space that serves as a true getaway. Including the porch, the square footage is about 400 square feet. "It's spacious by Manhattan apartment standards," McMullin notes.

    She removed the cabinet doors over the bed and painted what remained an electric cobalt blue, punching up the room even more with the hottest pink she could find. She didn't like the sofa, but she solved that problem by simple keeping it folded out as a bed at all times, covered in an Ikea duvet. When she and her friends and family gather here after a night out, everyone loves to hang out on it.

    McMullin's dachshund, Watson, inspired her to buy the so-bad-it's-good thrift store painting for $21. "I actually saw it and didn't buy it because I was so stuck on the idea of keeping to a budget, but then I realized my mistake and had to drive an hour to go back and get it," she says.

    A glimpse of the bedroom shows another clever touch. She loved the blue Ikea fabric you see on the duvet cover but it had been discontinued; all she could find were a few drapery panels. Her mother sewed them into a duvet cover for her.


    McMullin ripped out the soggy carpets and replaced them with vinyl flooring that looks like hardwood. Every inch of storage counts; baskets underneath the bed hold kitchen overflow and other items.

    Flooring: Mannington Vinyl



    AFTER: "Painting all of the oak light gray made the most dramatic difference in here," McMullin says. She used a self-leveling paint that dried in an hour and required only two coats, without primer.



    To open up the space, McMullin removed one of the banquettes. She covered the remaining one in a needlepoint cover she'd been holding on to for 10 years, knowing she'd find the perfect use for it someday. The backsplash is penny cork tile covered in polyurethane. She replaced the existing hardware with polished nickel versions and added a valance, and her work in the kitchen was done.



    A lack of options in ready-made futon covers drove the design on the porch. "Pretty much everything was hunter green or wine; I knew the zebra would serve as my neutral," McMullen says. The fact that these lively drapery panels were on sale at Ikea made that choice easy for her. Next came the black and white striped skirt under the mirror, sewn by her mother. The skirt conceals a beer refrigerator, her tools and bins for her guests' belongings.

    The existing porch pad flooring is cracked clay that gets slick when wet, and was causing constant sandiness inside the house. "I needed something that I could just sweep the sand off [of]," she says. She bought $200 worth of lumber, painted it in the trailer's new signature cobalt blue and bolted it over the existing tiles. Each season she has a gentleman take down the porch for her, and she disassembles the floor in about an hour.

    "A lot of my clients want their vacation homes to look completely different from their full-time homes, and that's how I felt too," McMullin says. The hands-on experience taught her to take risks. It also enticed those family members who originally looked at her like she had 10 heads: Now her cousin, her parents and other friends all join her in their own trailers just a few yards from the beach.

    More: Thrifty TLC Transforms a Beach Bungalow

     

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  • 08/01/14--23:00: 15 Small Living Room Ideas
  • Filed under: , ,

    By Laura Gaskill

    All small spaces present design challenges, but as the living room is where you probably spend the most time (and certainly the one guests experience the most of), designing a small one can be especially tricky. How do you strike a balance between making the room feel as spacious as possible while also squeezing in extra seating? What furniture should you choose, and where do you put it? Here are 15 design tips for making the most of your space, plus 10 specific furniture layout ideas for small living rooms. Let's get started.


    Home Office by Boston Interior Designers & Decorators Jamie Keskin Design

    1. Use mirrors and wallpaper. A small living room, especially if it's short on windows, can feel a bit boxed in. Create a focal point, boost light and add depth all at once by papering a wall and hanging a mirror on top. If you can position the mirror across from a window, all the better - the mirror will reflect the view outside, giving the impression of an extra window.

    The layout: Center the love seat on the papered wall, flanked by a pair of matching side tables and lamps. A large woven ottoman can work as a coffee table or an extra seat. If there's room, you could work in an extra (small-scale) chair or two across from the love seat in this arrangement. Seats: two to four.

    See more about what mirrors can do for a small space



    2. Add hidden storage. Pick furniture with built-in storage to limit clutter. A trunk or storage ottoman as a coffee table works well. Along the perimeter of the room, try a small chest of drawers or a small credenza instead of a console table to boost storage options.

    3. Choose small-scale furniture. There is more to living room furniture than full-size sofas and bulky armchairs. Antiques shops are a great place to look for small-scale furniture, because the average room size was typically quite small until the last half century or so. Look for small settees, love seats and chairs that can work for your space.

    The layout: The love seat is centered in front of the bay window, with petite tables on either side. A pair of Louis XVI armchairs sit opposite the sofa, with a trunk as a coffee table in between. An antique recamier is positioned on the wall diagonally across from the sofa, with a slim console table opposite it. Seats: six.






    6. Downsize the sofa. In some spaces a full-size sofa just won't do. Try a slimmed-down love seat or a petite sofa on for size instead. Choose one with clean lines and exposed legs for the airiest look.

    The layout: A small sofa floats in the middle of this open-plan space, facing a media center on the wall. One armchair and an upholstered ottoman (that can double as an extra seat) round out the group. Seats: three or four.

    6 Reasons to Float a Sofa


    Contemporary Living Room by Los Angeles Interior Designers & Decorators Caitlin & Caitlin Design Co.

    7. Try a backless sofa. In an open-plan space, sometimes the best position for the sofa is not on the wall but in the middle of the room. But unless your sofa is quite small (see previous photo), a couch in the middle of a small room can really gobble up space. A backless sofa is a very chic alternative and can be used from both sides - quite a bonus when seating options are limited. And if you want to use it in a larger room someday, it can act as a divider between two seating area.

    8. Add plants. Like wallpaper and mirrors, plants are a wonderful way to add depth to a small living room. Lush greenery softens corners and fools the eye into thinking there is more to the room than there really is. Plants are especially effective in corners and beside or behind chairs and sofas.

    The layout: A backless sofa floats in the center of this open-plan space. A pair of upholstered armchairs with a small table between sits beneath a bank of windows opposite the sofa. A small side table that can double as an extra seat sits beside the sofa - and during a party, the backless sofa can handle two people perching on each side. Seats: four to seven.



    9. Use multifunctional furniture. In a small living room, each piece of furniture should earn its keep. Think of using ottomans that work as a coffee table or extra seating, nesting side tables that can be moved around as needed or versatile little stools that can be seats or tables.

    The layout: A sleek, armless sofa floats slightly away from the wall; two large, low ottomans double as coffee tables and seats. Seats: two to four.



    10. Build in storage. Instead of letting lots of small pieces of furniture (a bookshelf here, a chest there) eat up space, bite the bullet and devote one entire wall to storage. A floor-to-ceiling storage wall can be customized to contain everything from books to a media center - perhaps even a pull-down desk!

    11. Keep a stash of spare seats. In a truly small space, it may not be possible to have as many seating options as you would like. One way to get around this is by storing a few folding café chairs or stacking stools in a closet (or under a bed), where you can easily pull them out when company is coming.

    The layout: This built-in storage wall has a hide-away TV, bookshelves and cabinets; a small-scale love seat is opposite. A low-slung plywood Eames lounge chair has been slipped in front of the media wall without blocking the storage. Seats: three.



    12. Shake up the sofa-and-armchair routine. This stylish, petite living room has a wood-frame daybed (which doubles as a guest bed), a little upholstered settee and a window seat, offering an array of seating options without a single traditional sofa or armchair in sight.



    Accent a built-in window seat with throw pillows, and set a small side table and ottoman nearby to turn it into a proper seating area.

    The layout: The daybed faces a settee, with a slender acrylic coffee table and a fur pouf between them; there's a built-in window seat beneath a bank of windows on the opposite side of the room. Seats: seven.



     

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    By Jeannie Matteucci

    Who wants to hang out at the mall? Not these teens. They relax with their friends in a colorful former family room off the entrance of their parents' updated Danville, California, ranch home. Designer Kristin Rowell and her team from ScavulloDesign Interiors used a smart high-low design approach to create a fun space that speaks to all the family members and their tastes, which combine loves of music, athletics, reading, design and travel. The teens and their friends can lounge and watch movies, and everyone can get together for jam sessions on the drums and guitars. Plus, the home's kitchen is way better than any food court.


    Kids by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators ScavulloDesign Interiors





    The edgy European silvery gray and lime-green wallpaper used behind the sofa was a splurge. "It's pretty powerful and would be too overwhelming to do the whole space in that wallpaper," notes Rowell. "It gives you that effect of texture, and you get its full weight of importance when you do only one wall."

    Wallpaper: Serie Limitee, Elitis; sectional, arching lamp: Crate & Barrel; assorted pillows: CB2; wall art behind sofa: Dolby Chadwick Gallery



    Neutral curtains dressed up with color-blocked segments (including green, orange and turquoise) hang from a hospital drapery track that runs around two sides of the room. The draperies block out light for movie nights and also hide the new pocket doors that separate the lounge from the home's entry (seen at the far end of this photo).

    Rowell says the arching lamp over the sofa provides both task and accent lighting. "When you turn all the lights off for movie night, it allows you to come and go from the room," she says.

    French doors lead to the pool and backyard.

    Window coverings: custom, Susan Lind Chastain Fine Sewing Workshop; round entryway mirror: Vernazza Mirror, Gregorius Pineo



    Candy-filled jars and flowers were inexpensive ways to add more fun color.

    Canisters, vases: Crate & Barrel and The Container Store




    A hanging bubble chair feels like the perfect finishing touch. "It adds that mod element," says Rowell. "You can tuck it into a corner, and it doesn't take up too much space."

    The design team consulted with a contractor to make sure the ceiling could handle the weight of the chair, which instantly draws the attention of anyone who enters the room. "Adults, kids, everyone wants to sit there," says Rowell.

    Chair: Eero Aarnio



    This floor plan shows the furniture layout and space planning for the lounge, and where the large drum set usually sits. The colorful touches and relaxed vibe make the space inviting for the teens but still comfortable for the parents.

    "For this space we were definitely thinking outside of the box," says Rowell. "We didn't worry about matching the rest of the house. We tried to make it feel custom, but on a budget."

    See more Rooms of the Day

     

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    view from pool of modernist home
    Roger Davies/Architectural DigestThe 7,800-square-foot house is organized around a central open-air courtyard.

    By Mayer Rus

    Perhaps Roy Lichtenstein and Architectural Digest can share credit for the fortuitous encounter that resulted in the creation of Sarah and Thom McElroy's striking home in Laguna Beach, California. Several years ago, the pair was en route to an exhibition of the Pop master's prints at the Palm Springs Art Museum when they wandered into a concurrent show on Los Angeles architect Steven Ehrlich. The name and his work instantly triggered a memory. It was Ehrlich who had crafted the contemporary residence featured on AD's October 1993 cover -- a story that made quite an impression on the McElroys at the time.

    "We loved that house's clean lines, big windows, and relaxed vibe," recalls Thom, a co-founder of the surf- and skate-wear company Volcom. (He devised the brand's distinctive logo.) "We cut out the article thinking that if we could ever build our own place, we'd have Steven Ehrlich design it."

    Fast-forward to the architect's exhibition in Palm Springs. It was a weekday morning, and the museum's galleries were lightly populated. As the couple surveyed the displays -- which included a model of the house that had so bewitched them -- they heard two men speaking knowingly of the work, one addressing the other as Steven. Could it be? It was. Sarah and Thom introduced themselves

    "The challenge was how to get the most out of this property, and that's where Steven really delivered."

    to Ehrlich, and a convivial lunch followed, with a parting promise that they would one day collaborate on a house.

    "People tell me all the time that they have a project they want me to work on, but the chances that it ever leads to anything are one in a thousand," the architect says. "This was that rare time."

    The McElroys, who met when they were both graphic-design students, always had a clear vision of the ideal home for themselves and their two (now grown) sons, Colin and Tucker. "We knew we wanted a house with an open plan, lots of glass, and a true indoor-outdoor connection," says Sarah. But to realize that vision they needed time and resources, both of which fell into place in 2005. "The day Volcom went public was the day we retired," Thom says.

    Of course, the McElroys' definition of retirement -- a mix of athletic, social, and philanthropic pursuits -- required a suitable setting, and they eventually found the perfect spot on a half-acre wedge-shaped lot in a private oceanfront community. "The challenge was how to get the most out of this property, and that's where Steven really delivered," Sarah says.

    Ehrlich and Takashi Yanai, the firm's principal in charge of residential projects, orchestrated a scheme that defers to both the magnificent site and the community's construction restrictions, which limit building heights to 11 feet in order to preserve the views of the Pacific for all. First, the architects excavated the plot, tucking the garage, mechanical rooms, and gym below ground. They then built the main level as a low-slung modernist villa, with walls of glass that frame swaths of sea and sky. A flat roof extending in broad overhangs -- Yanai refers to it as a "megaplane" -- underscores the compressed horizontality of the structure.

    The 7,800-square-foot house is organized around a central open-air courtyard, with the living and dining areas and master suite situated along the ocean-facing side to capture the best views. Three additional bedrooms -- each one accessible from an interior hallway and from the courtyard, via stepping-stones across a koi pond -- enjoy oblique ocean vistas, even from the deepest part of the lot. Throughout the home, Ehrlich notes, massive glass pocket doors can be pulled aside to give the McElroys a feeling of "basically living on a protected, shaded lanai." Marble floors continue from the primary entertaining spaces through to the courtyard, further erasing the boundaries between indoors and out.

    The rectilinear structure and its restrained materials palette of pale stone and stucco create a soothing backdrop for the decor, which Sarah conceived. "To tie the house to the site, I chose components that represent earth and water," she explains, referring to the preponderance of limestone, onyx, and marble, as well as fabrics with undulating textures and patterns. "And I kept the pieces low and understated to preserve sight lines and the sense of openness." Strategic shots of bright green -- her favorite color -- energize the largely neutral rooms, as do vibrant artworks, including a complete portfolio of Andy Warhol's "Myths" series.

    Good fortune and good taste have given the McElroys not just a dream home but a dream life. "We're at the beach surfing and swimming all day, then it's time for beers in the Jacuzzi," Thom says contentedly. "This is the best party house in Laguna."


    Read the full story at ArchDigest.com.
    See more photos at ArchDigest.com.

    Also see: Radical Houses Around the World

     

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    By Jeannie Matteucci

    You don't need all-new appliances, a completely different layout or a major addition to give a kitchen a fresh look and feel. Take this family's 400-square-foot kitchen in a sophisticated farmhouse in southern Connecticut. The owners liked the location of their sink and range and wanted to keep the breakfast nook. But they were ready to lose their dark counters and old-school cabinets with traditional feet. Quick and painless design moves like adding a pocket door to the dining room, new windows above the sink and custom cabinets helped deliver a powerful update.


    Before Photos by Millbrook Architects & Building Designers Crisp Architects

    The existing kitchen was attractive and functional but very traditional in flavor (notice the feet on the cabinets and dark counters). The owners and their architect, Jimmy Crisp, set out to give it a more modern look that still respected the home's architecture.




    AFTER: A custom island replaced the existing one; it includes a trash center with storage drawers on one side and storage cabinets, tray storage and a built-in recessed wine rack on the other. "We purposely planned it with seating on the outside of the island so the kids or anyone sitting there stays out of the way of the work triangle," Crisp says.

    Posts on the island are both decorative and functional (they allow legroom for those seated). Meanwhile, an extra-thick honed Mother of Pearl quartzite top has a 1-inch overhang that protects the cabinets below.

    The new custom cabinets add a sort of Shaker simplicity. The upper cabinets have larger glass fronts with lights inside that offer a better look at the collectibles on display. Meanwhile, the sleek new handles, knobs and pulls lend a more contemporary edge.

    Learn about choosing cabinet knobs and pulls

    The existing vintage oak floor from old-growth trees was in fine shape, but a refinishing provided a wonderful backdrop and a contrast that heightens the brighter details found elsewhere.



    Above the sink, new casement windows and a large picture window offer clear views of the yard outside.

    [Light fixtures: Sorenson Lanterns, Remains; faucet: Kallista; sink: Rohl; dishwasher: Miele]




    The new pocket door on the right replaces a cased opening to provide more privacy for the kitchen during dinner parties. Two refrigerators with panel fronts and drawers below flank the door. "It became an architectural element to surround the opening with the two refrigerators," says Crisp. "It also made sense for this family with kids."

    A new door with transom windows updated the pantry. A custom hutch on the side of the pantry gives the homeowners additional glassware storage.

    [Wall paint: custom cream color (similar to Benjamin Moore's French Vanilla); ceiling paint: custom white color (similar to Benjamin Moore's Bavarian Creme)]




    White Carrara marble tiles in a random brick mosaic create a textured backsplash behind the existing range. A niche provides a place for spices and bottles of oil. "A white kitchen becomes a palette, and everything you put into it is emphasized, from interesting lighting to all the little details that add the character," says Crisp.

    [Pot filler: Quincy Wall Mount, Kallista]

    Shallow drawers next to the range offer storage for lids, while deeper drawers below store pans and small pots. Storing pots and pans separately from the lids in drawers is a great way to keep things organized, says Crisp. It also eliminates having to search for lids in the back of a cabinet.



    This "before" floor plan illustrates how the previous kitchen had lots of basic components.


     

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    By Laura Gaskill

    If you work from home, having an inspiring home office to call your own is something you may wish for - but have you ever considered that it may help your career, too? Whether or not you have client meetings at home, a workspace that is not only functional but beautiful might just inspire and motivate you to go the extra mile. (After all, who wants to show up to work in sweatpants when your office looks like a million bucks?) Ready, set, let's get to work!

    Modern Moroccan. Glossy black walls, trim and floors create an opulent backdrop for a plush Moroccan-style rug and a hammered pendant light in this stunning home office.

    If your room gets good natural light, the high sheen of the black walls will actually help the room feel brighter than you might think -- but be aware that rooms without much natural light may feel too dark with black walls.

    In a mostly black and white scheme, it often helps to include a small touch of color, like the pink Mongolian lamb pillow in this space; a colorful vase or tray would also work.



    When we take a step back, we can see that this workspace has sliding glass doors. These are a great choice for a home office, because they provide privacy when you need it while still allowing natural light in from the next room.

    Elegant textures. Mixing textures is a great way to create an elegant look. Here a hemp grass cloth brings richness and depth to the walls, while a high-gloss lacquered table brings the shine. The elegant chandelier, table lamp with black shade and soothing color palette are refined and graceful.

    Tip: Have a cute vintage desk with a poor finish? Revive it by having it professionally lacquered in a hue you love.



    Bright and modern. This fun, sun-drenched workspace is built around simple basics: white walls, light floors, a Parsons desk and a sheepskin rug. Pairing a modern chair with a vintage Louis armchair is a great way to build creative tension. A single large, colorful piece of artwork, a bright cushion and a coral lamp add personality.

    Tip: Want to float your desk in the center of the room but need to plug in? If you're not planning to hire an electrician to add outlets anytime soon, simply place your desk perpendicular to the wall instead. You'll get the feeling of a centered desk, but your cord will be able to reach the wall.

    Laid-back chic. A simple desk, black pendant light, classic fretwork desk chair and kilim rug create a cozy, homey feeling in this office -- but then things take a less expected turn with a red zebra-print armchair and big botanical wall chart thrown into the mix.




    Neon pop. A simple space can be made current with just a few additions: a black and white striped rug, stools with neon painted bases and a bold canvas on the wall. If you use your office more for projects than computer work, consider going with a comfy settee instead of a traditional desk chair.

    Tip: Wish you had a great big piece of art for the wall? If you're artistic or adventurous, try making your own. Blank, prestretched canvases are available at art stores, and a simple design can be accomplished even by DIY newbies. Go freehand, or for a crisp look, mark out the pattern using painter's tape before applying color, and let each shade dry before adding the next to avoid smudging.

    Fresh air. An oversize pendant light from Ikea sets the tone in this delightfully charming space. A big, cushy ottoman in the center of the room can do double duty as an extra seat and a coffee table, and the love seat is perfect for welcoming visitors. A light, spring-inspired color palette and stylized floral motifs make for a fresh, feminine space.



    Posh eclectic. Blue lacquered walls, a zebra-print rug and antique armchairs mingle in this swanky home office. An oversize botanical art print and a bright orange table lamp have a youthful energy that helps the space feel fun and comfortable, even with all of the high-style glamour.



    Professional polish. Just because you're not in a big office building doesn't mean you shouldn't treat your workspace with the same respect you would if you were surrounded by colleagues. Try setting out your business cards on a glamorous tray; put matching pens or pencils in a gleaming metal holder; and use real stationery to pen thank-yous from time to time instead of emailing.

     

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    By Fred Albert

    Once you've decided what you want your home to look like, picked your colors, and figured out how much you can afford to spend, it's time to turn your attention to furniture. Whether you're fresh out of college or entering your golden years, chances are, you've already accumulated some pieces. But should you keep them or start from scratch? Where should you go to buy the rest of the stuff you need? And how do you avoid making a mistake?

    First, take a look at the furniture you already have. If a piece is cheap, get rid of it. If the style is dated, let it go -- unless it has sentimental value, in which case you might consider refreshing it with new upholstery or a new finish.

    If you're still uncertain about whether to keep things, consider hiring an interior designer, even on just an hourly basis, to help you sift through your possessions and tell you what's worth saving."The decorator will see things through a different lens," says Allison Caccoma of Caccoma Interiors.

    Once you've vetted your collection, you have one more step to complete before you hit the stores. "Don't purchase anything until you have the entire room worked out -- the rug, furniture, window treatments and lighting," says Caccoma. While it's not necessary to identify the precise pieces, you should have a sense of what you want each piece to look like. In fact, you might even want to assemble a project board, with clippings of the kinds of pieces you're looking for.

    "People often make the mistake of buying an item, and then are locked into decorating the room around that one item," Caccoma says.

    But how can you know what pieces you want until you get a sense of what's available? This is the time to do a little reconnaissance. Visit your local to-the-trade design center (most allow consumers to look, though not necessarily to buy) and get a sense of current styles, what's available and what you like.

    Spend some time on websites like Houzz, pick up a bunch of design magazines and visit stores and antiques shops. "People need to broaden their horizons and just see what's out there," says designer Claudia Juestel of Adeeni Design Group.

    Some designers advocate buying big pieces first. Whether you buy them first or last, it's usually a good idea to keep those furnishings understated. "Keep your fabrics a little on the neutral side, and then bring the color in on your walls and your throw pillows," advises Caccoma.

    Comfort is critical. Don't be afraid to sink your money into seating.

    "Buy the best sofa you can afford," advises Juestel. Try to sit or lie on the piece before you buy, and if you can afford it, upgrade your cushions from solid foam to foam wrapped in down. If you do most of your sitting in the family room rather than the living room, spend the money on those pieces, instead of on pieces that'll never get used.

    Upholstered pieces are a relatively large investment, so you'll want things that will last through changes in your lifestyle and taste. As a rule, it's best to go with simple, clean lines. And don't fret too much about whether furnishings will go together, Caccoma says. Generally speaking, if you like the pieces, they'll work together.

    "Pick something because you like it," she says. "Don't worry about why and where it's going to go.

    Where you should shop, Juestel says, depends on your style, budget and quality expectations - as well as the amount of time you have to devote to the project.

    If you're on a budget, consider shopping at secondhand stores, consignment shops, Craigslist and antiques stores, where you can often find top-dollar merchandise at bottom-dollar prices.

    If you don't have that kind of time, stick to furniture stores. Caccoma is not a fan of buying furniture from department stores, she says, because furniture is not their primary business, so the quality varies and the styles might not be current. Also, avoid fly-by-night operations. "Buy things from places where if there's a problem, you know they'll stand behind their product," she advises.

    How can you tell a good piece of furniture from one that's not so good?

    o. If you're buying an upholstered piece, lift up a corner and shake it; if it feels light or wobbly, take a pass. Likewise, the heavier the cushion, the longer it will last.

    o. When shopping for cabinets, look for drawers with dovetail joints in the corners.

    o. In the market for a mattress? Pay attention to coil count: the higher the count, the better the support.

    Juestel and Caccoma both say the biggest mistake they see homeowners make when they're shopping for furniture is misjudging its size in relation to the room and other things in it. A piece that looks perfect in a showroom with 20-foot ceilings may not look the same under your 8-foot ceiling at home. Before you buy, mark out the piece's dimensions on the floor with newspaper or painter's tape, or build an approximation from cardboard boxes. And by all means, measure every opening between the curb and the piece's final destination, to make sure it'll fit through doorways and elevators and around corners.

    More: How to Start a Decorating Project

     

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    tim lincecum home exterior
    ZillowGiants' pitcher Tim Lincecum's mansion might look serene on the outside, but inside it's full of fun and games.
    Reds Giants Baseball
    APTim Lincecum
    By Emily Heffter

    San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum turned 30 this summer, and he's putting his bachelor-friendly mansion on the market for nearly $4 million. The long-haired hero of the 2010 World Series bought the estate for $3.4 million in 2012 -- and it's a sports fanatic's dream home.

    The contemporary at 4793 E. Charles Drive in Paradise Valley, Arizona, has an indoor basketball court with a retractable batting cage and courtside, restaurant-style booths. That's all next door to the theater room with a bar and reclining seats. Outdoors, there's a pool with two waterfalls, a whirlpool spa and sundeck, plus a built-in grilling station.

    It's not all fun and games. The house also has a chef's kitchen with granite and glass countertops, a huge master suite, limestone flooring and sweeping mountain views. In all, there are more than 11,000 square feet, four bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms.


    You can take a video tour of the home here. Stacey Beck of HomeSmart holds the listing.

     

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    Faded Mansion
    Matt Rourke/The Associated PressLynnewood Hall, in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, dripped with silk, velvet and gilded moldings in its heyday a century ago.
    PHILADELPHIA -- A dilapidated 110-room, 70,000-square-foot estate is back on the market, but an architect says the $20 million price tag doesn't include the tens of millions more it needs in repairs.
    The 34-acre Lynnewood Hall estate in the Elkins Park community has been in decline since the original heirs sold it in 1944, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday. The home, completed around 1900, once held one of the nation's largest private art collections. In its heyday, the house was dripping with silk, velvet and gilded moldings, the rooms furnished with chairs from King Louis XV's palace, Persian rugs and Chinese pottery and the halls crammed with art by Raphael, Rembrandt and Donatello.

    But members of the Widener family who owned the property just outside Philadelphia died or moved away. The estate was first sold to an association that wanted to build a Protestant university. Then it was sold to a housing developer followed by a seminary and another church. The property went through

    "If it continues to be neglected as it is, it will be beyond salvage...."

    decades of bankruptcy proceedings and was repossessed, auctioned and sold for pennies to creditors -- all while descending further into disrepair.

    But those who have seen the interior in recent years said most of the house's fine, historic fixtures are still there, even though some of the rooms are destroyed by water damage and broken windows. Mary DeNadai, an architect who specializes in historic restoration, said it would take about $50 million to restore the home to its former glory, but time is running out. "If it continues to be neglected as it is, it will be beyond salvage" within five to 10 years, she said.

    David Rowland, president of the Old York Road Historical Society, said he has seen possible buyers come and go over the years. "It was always loved more by the people who'd never been inside it than by the people who actually lived there," Rowland said.

     

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    By

    There are many things to consider when embarking on the construction of a new home. Landscapes are complex, and it's useful to consider terrain, water, soils and existing plants as living systems when building a new home.

    Beach Style Exterior by Atlanta Architects & Building Designers,
    Frederick + Frederick Architects
    Setbacks. When siting a new home, you and your design team must first research the building codes that apply for your property. Most municipalities and villages have strict setback requirements for roadways, fences and more. An experienced local building architect will be well versed in the regulations and codes and will design your home accordingly.

    The design drawings -- signed and sealed by a licensed professional -- are submitted when the permit is applied for. The requirements vary by locality, but the permit application will specify the requirements for drawings that must be created by a landscape architect versus a building architect.

    In addition to building setbacks, there are federal and state setback requirements for wetlands, streams and water bodies. The good news is that water on your site has many aesthetic possibilities and creates a peaceful mood for the property. Oh, the sound of a running stream or a view of the sunset over a wetland!

    Beach Style Exterior by Wilmington General Contractors,
    Dewson Construction Company
    Wetlands. A wetland surveyor may need to visit your property to accurately identify and map the extents of wetlands -- this process is called wetland delineation. The surveyor will flag the wetland and create a digital file of the site showing the exact location and applicable setbacks of wetlands on the property.

    Areas with water are to be cherished and protected. Most water bodies come under the jurisdiction of a regulating body. Carefully considering areas with water early in the process of siting a building will no doubt save you headaches later in the design and building process.

    Temporary water bodies. Often overlooked are the ephemeral springtime collections and flows of water across the landscape -- these are called vernal streams and vernal pools.

    Vernal pools -- also called ephemeral wetlands in tropical areas of the world - are a common spring sighting in New England, where the snowmelt and early-season rains collect in small depressions in the landscape.Vernal pools provide a habitat for migratory wading birds, frogs and salamanders.

    As the season progresses to summer, vernal pools dry up and turn invisible to the untrained eye. Maine has a great overview of vernal pool regulations.

    Modern Exterior by Cincinnati Architects & Building Designers,
    Jose Garcia Design
    Flood plains. In properties near rivers or coasts, flooding is a real threat. In the United States, building codes stipulate that the finished floor elevation, or FFE, of a home must meet Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements. A handy fact sheet from FEMA explains this concept in detail.

    Microclimates. Regions in the United States can be broken down by climate type; there are best practices for siting structures based on the predominant wind and weather patterns. [Read more about building orientation and passive solar principles.]

    Ways to take advantage of topography:
    • In warm, humid areas: Place buildings on the upper slope of a site to catch breezes during the summer.
    • In temperate areas: Place buildings below the crest of a hill, facing south, for heat gain in winter.
    • In cold areas: Place buildings toward the bottom of a sloped site to protect them from winter winds, and buffer the northern faces of the buildings with windbreaks.
    • In hot, arid areas: Place buildings at the toe of a slope to expose them to cool night air.
    Soil. Aside from working around existing large boulders (or having them removed), you may want to avoid building in areas with expandable clay soils. These soils will expand when wet and shrink when dry, causing the foundation to settle and shift.

    A civil engineer can bore holes in the soil, test the soil plasticity (how much it expands and shrinks) and recommend a suitable foundation type based on the soil present. Many factors can be revealed by boring holes in the soil, like depth to bedrock, overall soil stability and depth to the water table. These factors can greatly influence where you will want to build a new home.

    Transitional Exterior by Austin Architects & Building Designers,
    Restructure Studio
    Trees. Protect the big ones. If a trunk is too big for you to wrap your arms around it, then the tree is certainly an old-timer. Some smaller trees may be young, slow-growing species that are still worth protecting (such as beech trees and hemlocks). The mightiest of large shade trees and conifers take decades - or a whole lifetime - to grow to maturity. Healthy, mature trees make your landscape feel lush and alive. I recommend protecting as many as you can.

    Have a certified arborist assess the health of very large trees. The arborist may suggest pruning weak or diseased branches. An arborist may also provide guidance on how to protect valuable trees during the construction process. At a minimum, the bark and trunk of trees need protection from being wounded, and the ground around the tree roots should not get compacted -- for instance, don't let heavy trucks roll over the tree roots repeatedly. Plan the construction access and future driveway access away from large trees.

    If there is an extra-special specimen tree on the site or a group of trees you want to save, do not perform any regrading within the drip line of the tree(s). Keep this in mind because it means that the tree needs a large area of protection. Foundation walls and major construction activity also cannot occur near the root zone of the tree. In the photo here, the home and deck are built around a lovely sculptural tree.

    Contemporary Landscape by Lexington Landscape Architects
    & Landscape Designers, Sallie Hill Design
    Terrain. Through a topographical survey of the site, a site surveyor can map out the contours of your property. There may be areas with steep slopes that are unsuitable or challenging for building. A good rule of thumb when looking at the terrain is that you want to minimize soil disturbance. Major regrading or cutting and filling of soil is not a sustainable practice, because it disrupts the biologically rich topsoil. Depending on the type of foundation you discuss with your building architect, there is likely a creative way to ground the building structure so that it touches lightly on the landscape with minimal disturbance.

    More: How a Site Can Shape a Home

     

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    You sent us photos of your porches, terraces, and verandas, and we've selected the best of the submissions. Browse our gallery of alfresco spaces:


    More photos of Outdoor Oasis finalists.
    Also see: Tommy Hilfiger's Incredible Miami Home

     

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    faye resnick living room
    Courtesy of The AgencyThe listing of decorator Faye Resnick's recently sold home describes the interior as "French/traditional."
    Best in Drag Show
    APFaye Resnick
    By Emily Heffter

    Interior designer and television personality Faye Resnick has sold her glamorously decorated Hollywood Hills home for $2.29 million. The two-story residence, off the Sunset Strip at 7424 Woodrow Wilson Drive in Los Angeles, has a long upstairs balcony overlooking the pool and mostly white furniture that gives it a chic, designer-done look. The listing, held by The Agency's Mauricio Umansky and his stepdaughter, Farrah Aldjufrie, says the exterior has a "Federalist/New Orleans" style, while the interior is "French/traditional."

    Anyone who tunes in to "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" knows that Umansky's wife, Kyle Richards, is friends with Resnick and the reason for her appearances on the series. Before reality TV stardom, Resnick was known for her role in the O.J. Simpson trial and later tell-all bestsellers.

    The home she recently sold sits on a private double-lot and spans 2,567 square feet with three bedrooms, four bathrooms and no shortage of chandeliers. The listing photos of the closet show off a very impressive collection of shoes and handbags.

    Resnick bought the home in 2012 for $1.605 million and redecorated it, replacing old-fashioned wooden cabinets and La-Z-Boy-style furniture with Carrera marble and formal furniture in white and gold. The buyer is not named in property records, but The Real Estalker at Variety, which first reported the sale, says it is actor Jack Huston.

     

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