Luxury Lifestyles | Living History

When considering exquisite luxury goods—paintings, sculpture, even fabrics, furniture and wine—we think of personal, highly curated items that make our living spaces distinctive and enhance the ambient experience of a particular home. In some cases, however, the home itself is the oeuvre d’art.

In the art world, older isn’t always better, but revered older works do carry additional prominence, specifically the prestige of age and history that newer art hopes to acquire with time. Similarly, as beautiful homes and estates begin to acquire the patina that only decades or even centuries can bring, they take on an unmatched nobility and grandeur.

There’s a certain class of buyer and homeowner—patrons, if you will—that places a premium on properties graced by time. To them, living in a historic residence is akin to living within a famous piece of art.

Italy1.300.000 € EUR | Como, Italy | Italy Sotheby’s International Realty

“Owning a property that stands out as a landmark or a testimony to a glorious past is like owning a unique piece of history,” says Diletta Carutti, of Italy Sotheby’s International Realty.

“Historic,” of course, means something different in each part of the world. The European sense of history stretches deep—enthusiasts shopping in Florence or Rome, for instance, will encounter residences that date to the Renaissance or Baroque, vividly reflecting the décor and ornamentation of those periods. In the U.S., it might mean a colonial-era farmhouse in New England or one of the famed “cottages” of Newport.

Rhode Island$2,995,000 USD | Newport, Rhode Island | Gustave White Sotheby’s International Realty

“I like to point out who was president at the time the house was new,” says Russell Firestone, of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in Washington D.C. “For clients, that really puts in perspective how old a property is, that John Adams or Thomas Jefferson was president when this house was built.”

WashingtonDC$2,500,000 USD | Washington, D.C. | TTR Sotheby’s International Realty

Firestone says what buyers are truly looking for in older homes is character, and in particular preserved character—the house must innately reflect the time and conditions amid which it was conceived. Houses must have a strong street presence and great façade as well as specific period interior features: traditional floor plans with high ceilings; formal living rooms with entrance halls; double parlors with fireplaces; original trim work and molding; staircases with handcrafted balusters, banisters and original treads; and perhaps most important, original wide-plank flooring.

Still, as much as owners embrace the way these homes offer glimpses into previous and more elegant eras, the archeological pride only goes so far. In fact, it typically stops at the kitchen and bathrooms.

Virginia$3,500,000 USD | Alexandria, Virginia | TTR Sotheby’s International Realty

American estate homes from the 18th and 19th century prioritized entertainment—hence the ornate and spacious public areas—but the bathrooms were usually rudimentary and the kitchens, designed for staff, small. As lifestyles have evolved these outdated spaces are no longer considered historically important (or desirable, or practical), and today it’s perfectly acceptable for vintage homes to feature fully remodeled and updated “private” spaces.

“You want to walk through the great history and character of the interior, the foyer, the dining rooms, the living room and hallways, and then after that buyers want to walk into a new kitchen and new bathrooms,” Firestone says.

Owning a famous or historic estate does bring with it a level of prestige, and that’s another part of the attraction. “There’s a social status associated with owning certain ancient properties,” says Diletta Carutti in Italy. “A lot of buyers we see are personalities in the public spotlight and they want to be able to say, ‘We own that.’”

FlorencePrice Upon Request | Florence, Italy | Italy Sotheby’s International Realty

It also brings with it important maintenance and preservation responsibilities.

American homes in this category often reside in historic districts with strict guidelines for improvements, often based on standards developed by the National Park Service, including what materials can be used during renovations and limitations on what can be altered. These factors not only inoculate historical residences from changing trends (something sorely lacking in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s) but also help uphold property values. Most European countries also have in place similar regulatory agencies to protect old and ancient structures.

Preserving historic homes is not for the timid. It’s a fact of ownership that, simply due to the age of these buildings, there will be issue to be addressed and remedied. Cracked or uneven foundations due to settlement, malfunctioning doors and windows, water damage, brick deterioration and warped or slanted floors are inevitable over a lifetime of hundreds of years. Owners must have a passion for conservation.

But those who undertake this level of ownership usually do appreciate and embrace it. Firestone recalls one client so determined to take his home back to its original state he had every plank of flooring removed and re-planed to repair water damage before being meticulously reinstalled. That’s not just dedication, but love.

Article provided exclusively to Sotheby’s International Realty, LLC. by Derek Duncan.

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Colorful Homes

Vibrant and unique, a colorful exterior is the perfect way to express your home’s individuality while making a captivating first impression. Full of character, these are some of the most colorful homes from around the world:

Lake Como REYW6VPrice Upon Request | Como, Italy | Lake Como Sotheby’s International Realty

Lake Como – This bright green waterfront villa is a 13,000-square-foot sprawling estate on Lake Como, Italy.  The property is comprised of a three-story main building, guest house, porter’s lodge, garage and small private harbor with three docks for boats.

Georgia Y23MJX$8,950,000 USD | Sea Island, Georgia | DeLoach Sotheby’s International Realty

Georgia – A Mediterranean and Moroccan-style home, this colorful residence in Sea Island, Georgia features a main house, detached guest suite, garage, lap pool and bocce court.  Originally owned by Colonel Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Hudson, co-owner of the New York Yankees in the early 1900s, the home was recently renovated and restored and includes replica stain glass Spanish windows, heated stone floors and an irrigation system.

Maine W4HCB7$475,000 USD | Willimantic, Maine | Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty

Maine – Aptly named The Pink Lady, this pink and white cottage is located along the shores of Sebec Lake in Willimantic, Maine.  With additional pink touches around the home, including pink Adirondack chairs on the dock, the home is move-in ready and available fully furnished.

Florida 2XPZ7P$6,650,000 USD | Naples, Florida | Premier Sotheby’s International Realty

Florida – Designed in a classic Bermudan architectural style, this bright home in Naples, Florida sits adjacent to the Naples Bay.  The four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom residence was recently renovated and includes tankless water heaters, whole-house water filtration, pre-conditioned mitigation systems, whole-house surge protector and a new high-speed boat lift.

California MKG46T$8,000,000 USD | Redwood Valley, California | Dreyfus Sotheby’s International Realty

California – This yellow Victorian-style mansion is located in Redwood Valley, California and overlooks the Mendocino wine country.  The classic home has five bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms, wrap-around porch and detached garage.  Situated on more than 1,745 acres, the property includes 24 miles of roads, pasture and free range cattle areas, camping areas and year-round springs and ponds.

Bahamas Y7LJDQ$3,495,000 USD |Nassau and Paradise Island, Bahamas | Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty

Bahamas – With blue touches both inside and out, this four-bedroom, four-bathroom estate is located in the gated community of Old Fort Bay in the Bahamas.  The property is comprised of a main home featuring more than 2,050 square-feet of covered porches and balconies, a guest cottage and an 80-foot dock.  In addition, the home boasts high ceilings, travertine and hardwood flooring, quartz countertops, multi-jet showers with rain heads and cedar-lined closets. Outside there is a swimming pool, hot tub, gazebo and two-car garage.

Colorado F2X96ZPrice Upon Request | Aspen, Colorado | Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty

Aspen, CO – Located in Aspen’s West End, this vibrant Victorian home sits on an oversized corner lot.  The property has historic designation and comes with additional buildable square-footage.  Currently comprised of four bedrooms and two bathrooms, the estate features south-facing Aspen Mountain views.


New & Notable Luxury Properties for Sale | August 2015

Beginning with a Modern mansion in Dubai to a historic summer getaway in New York, this month’s collection of exceptional properties for sale features homes in some of the world’s most sought after destinations.

Dubai185,000,000 د.إ AED | Dubai | Gulf Sotheby’s International Realty

Dubai – True modern-day noble living experiences come to life as one enters this Emirates Hills mansion. This home exhibits the most comprehensive collection of Ralph Lauren furniture, luxury finishes that include marbles of refined craftsmanship and meticulously carpentered doors, walls, cabinets and ceilings. Enjoy captivating views of the green fairways of the golf course and city skyline and relax in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Colorado$50,000,000 USD | Aspen, Colorado | Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty

Colorado – Gracing the banks of the Roaring Fork River, this thoughtfully designed and meticulously crafted estate is inviting and elegant. With enticing outdoor spaces, unobstructed Indy Pass views and river access at the doorstep, this home is an engaging environment in which to live the mountain lifestyle. Built by Brikor Construction and designed by Chabon Architects from New York City, the unique and appropriate architectural details mimic the mountain setting.

Domincan Republic$19,500,000 USD | La Romana, Dominican Republic | Holden Sotheby’s International Realty

Dominican Republic – Offering the ultimate in prime oceanfront locale, this is one of the most iconic estate in the Caribbean. Showcasing panoramic ocean views, this exceptional compound is situated on a rare oversized lot with an expansive private beach and dock. An architectural gem, this residence spans over 35,000 square-feet and includes independent tower pavilions that provide privacy and tranquility.

EnglandPrice Upon Request | England, United Kingdom | United Kingdom Sotheby’s International Realty

England – Constructed centuries ago and painstakingly restored, this sophisticated home is set in landscaped gardens and backing onto the Coombe Hill Golf Course. Cedar Court features abundant space for entertaining as well as relaxation. Sprawling nearly an acre, this period house is perfect for the golf enthusiast.

New York$37,500,000 USD | Southampton, New York | Sotheby’s International Realty – Southampton Brokerage

New York – Featured in Architectural Digest and Town & Country Magazine, this traditional and historic shingled house was a summer home for the Carnegie family. Featuring exceptional architectural details from the Gilded Age, this home has been preserved and amenities modernized. Built on a grand scale with perfectly thoughtful rooms and wide covered porches, this home is the epitome of sophisticated escapes.

View Newly Listed Luxury Properties for Sale >

Charming & Historic | Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is one of America’s oldest, most charming cities surrounded by the Greater Boston area, which is a unique mix of historic culture and innovation. Known for its rich history and architectural variety, today, the Boston area is one of the most desirable locations. Currently, the city is amidst one of its largest building booms yet, while walking down Beacon or Washington Street, you will still find Georgian and Federal Style homes.

The beauty of our city is in the preservation of rich history displayed in each of these fine homes. Despite these properties being in traditional Boston, they all have unique and distinct architectural varieties.

Like the Trinity Church in the Back Bay of Boston, Brookline is an area that is known for Romanesque Revival architecture, characterized by thick, roughly textured walls of warm-toned stone or brick. This stunning, French-inspired new construction in the Estate section of Brookline features soaring ceilings and custom wrought iron hand railings.

17 Yarmouth$7,500,000 USD | Brookline, Massachusetts | Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty

Beacon Hill’s cobblestone streets and brick rowhouses directly border the Boston Common and the Public Garden is prominently made up of Federal-style rowhouses. On a quiet street on prestigious Beacon Hill, this unique residence located at 5 Byron Street offers inspired modern living in artfully designed interiors by acclaimed architect Graham Gund. An architectural tour de force, the 2-story main living area combines monumental paneled accent walls, a fireplace and grid-motif balconies.

5 Byron LR$6,950,000 USD | Boston, Massachusetts | Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty

Although much of Boston’s old architecture and the Colonial tradition have been preserved, located just twenty minutes outside of the city, Belmont is made up of beautiful homes varying in style from Colonial or Tudor Revival to Mid-Century Modern. Often modern homes in Belmont and the surrounding area are characterized by large single-paned windows, roofs with slopes, and open floor plans. Peacefully secluded on 1.76 plus or minus acres in Belmont Hill, embraced by an 88 plus or minus acre wooded preserve, this serene country home is a refined adaptation of farmhouse architecture, melding the purity and precision of modern design with the warm traditions of a home.

275 Somerset$6,750,000 USD | Belmont, Massachusetts | Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty

One of the original colonial settlements, founded in 1639, Sudbury is just outside the city and has retained its quaint, bucolic feel. This 19-room hilltop estate evokes a 15th century Venetian villa with all the amenities and comforts of a luxury home today. Inspired by the architecture of the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum located in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood of Boston this beautiful estate grasps a sense of the intimate atmosphere in which the museum provokes.

Widow Rights Interior$3,200,000 US | Sudbury, Massachusetts | Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty


Many thanks to our guest blogger, Michelle Atkins, Staff Copywriter at Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty with offices in Boston, Westwood and Cambridge Massachusetts.

Historic Italian Renaissance Style Estate in Bronxville, New York | Video House Tour

$8,900,000 USD | Bronxville, New York | Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty

This historic Italian Renaissance style estate, built in 1911, represents an era of great style and opulence. Throughout the decades it has been beautifully maintained and graciously updated to preserve all of its architectural grandeur. With commanding views, beautiful stonework, and lush gardens, this remarkable property evokes the splendor of a European villa.

Romantic Valentine’s Day Getaways

From the magnolia lined streets of Charleston, South Carolina to the rocky shores of the Italian Riviera, explore homes we’ve collected in some of the world’s most romantic places as we approach the holiday of love, Valentine’s Day.

Charleston$1,595,000 USD | Charleston, South Carolina | Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty

Charleston, South Carolina

According to Fodor’s, Charleston’s pristine gardens, historic ambiance, and laid-back Southern charm make it an ideal romantic getaway. The Jacob Mott House, a distinguished 18th Century masonry home in the heart of downtown Charleston is a true historical gem.  Located South of Broad, this early Georgian 3 1/2 story masonry single house was built by Jacob Motte, who was a Huguenot and Royal Treasurer of the Province.  Considered historically important to the city, this well-appointed historic treasure offers gracious rooms, two prominent piazzas which provide beautiful vistas of St. Michaels, Charleston’s oldest church. Located in the perfect downtown location for a romantic stroll among historic homes and lush gardens.

ItalyPrice Upon Request | Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy | Milan Sotheby’s International Realty

Italian Riviera

Overlooking the sea on the Levante Italian Riviera between Santa Margherita and San Michele di Pagana, this villa boasts a luxurious oasis of peace and tranquility. The property covers approximately 2500 square meters of terraced land cultivated as a garden with illuminated plants and a panoramic swimming pool with beautiful views of the sea. From climbing the Cinque Terre trails, exploring the harbor villages and exploring endless vineyards, romance is abounding in the Italian Riviera.

Greece2.300.000 € EUR | Mykonos, Greece | Greece Sotheby’s International Realty

Greek Isles

Turquoise waters, endless mountain views, white sandy beaches and authentic Mediterranean food, there’s no question that The Greek Isles are a favorite for romance seekers. Villa Hypatia in Mykonos sits on a cliff facing the west to take in the most spectacular sunsets. With ample lounging areas, infinity pool and striking ocean views, romance will never be far away.

Paris 2Price Upon Request | Paris, France | Propriétés Parisiennes Sotheby’s International Realty

Paris, France

The City of Lights is synonymous with romance. Whether it’s a romantic photo in front of the Eiffel Tower or a stroll along the Seine, Paris is for lovers. This penthouse that sits atop a high standing Art Deco building built by Roux-Spitz, offers a breathtaking view of Paris and its monuments including the Grand Palais, Sacré Coeur and the Eiffel Tower. A raised terrace above the apartment features 360 degree views of the city below.

Historic Plantation in Madison, Georgia / Video House Tour

Originally built in the late 1880s, an impressive Greek Revival addition was later added to this country estate with historic redwood columns. Imported French solid mahogany doors, reclaimed Spanish marble floors, and a Murano chandelier decorate the stunning entrance. The historic fireplace mantle was imported from the French-German border and gives the home one of its many European influenced touches.

Madison, Georgia / Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty

The Patterson Mansion in Washington, DC / Video House Tour

This superb Italianate mansion, the only survivor of the many mansions that once ringed Dupont Circle itself, was built in 1901 by New York architect Stanford White for Robert Patterson, editor of the Chicago Tribune, and his wife Nellie Patterson, heiress to the Chicago Tribune fortune. It was built by Nellie Patterson, daughter of the Chicago Tribune owner, in 1901, when Dupont Circle was the hot new neighborhood for the nouveau riche, many of them also from Chicago. The grand Beaux-Arts edifice was inspired by the “White City” of the Chicago World’s Fair. “It was meant to entertain, and for Nellie Patterson to show off her wealth,” says historian Amanda Smith, author of “Cissy Patterson: Newspaper Titan.”

Washington, DC / TTR Sotheby’s International Realty

Historic Home in Westchester, New York / House Tour

Designed by William Bates and completed in 1896, Wildwood is located in Bronxville, New York and was extensively renovated in 2001 to luxury standards. It has the original Victorian-style windows, hardwood floors and 3 historic fireplaces.

Bronxville, New York / Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty

Federal-style Home in Charleston, South Carolina / House Tour

The Sword Gate House rests behind one of the most recognized gates in all of Charleston. This very fine Federal style home is grand with Adam detailed beautiful wood and plaster work. This home is positioned well back from Legare and Tradd Streets and is surrounded on all sides by a magnificent collection of Charleston gardens and patios.”

Charleston, South Carolina / Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty