Paris round 2, Air BnB I love you…

Posted In:
February 8, 2017

I am officially obsessed with Air BnB! Whoever created this site (hey rich guys I’m talking to you) is a genius. My best friend Danny and I decided we needed a little birthday get away to break the monotony of winter and since we both have a birthday on the same week, it was a match made in heaven, Paris heaven to be exact. Since it was my 3rd time to France and his first time to Europe (which is crazy to me, Europe is everything you need and more, if you haven’t been – drop what you are doing RIGHT NOW and run away to Europe) I decided to try out the famed Air BnB that everyone talks about. I know I probably should have gotten on this train sooner given how much I love to travel and how much I love to check out other peoples houses, (duh hillary, you are so behind the times) but I was always so skeptical that I would end up in some creepy axe murderer house filled with bugs and dirty pillows. Whelp, I admit it – I was wrong!

Air BnB has really got this niche market locked down and done right. They have all the reviews you could need from other people, solid pictures, and good feedback so you end up getting exactly what you expect. I was in Paris a year ago and stayed at the really beautiful hotel Notre Dame Saint Michel and it was great, but the room was tiny and it cost a zillion dollars. So since I didn’t want to share a tiny room with my best man friend (love you Danny, but you snore) I decided we needed to upgrade to an apartment. Air BnB had so many great options all over the city, with great photos etc. I was pretty set on staying the the Latin Quarter/ Saint Michel because it’s close to so many things. I found us an amazing 2 bed apartment, for less money than a hotel. Needless to say – we lived it up in this awesome apartment. I checked some local real estate offices while I was there and figured out that the place we were staying in was probably a million dollar 2 bed flat, for $345 a night (High season it’s $500). Um yes, please!

Here it is:

Living room

Dining room

Kitchen!

My room with private balcony!

exterior we had the Triple private balcony in middle, perfect for wine thirty.

So we pretty much had the best birthday ever! Dancing the night away at every gay bar in town (well I danced, Danny hit on cute guys) wine, baguettes, touring around, and all that Paris has to offer. But Danny and I both agreed that our apartment was one of the highlights. It’s amazing how when you travel your “home base” can really set the mood. Having space to spread out, have a little dinner party, make espresso, drink wine on our private balcony, etc. really made it extra special. So in conclusion… AIR BnB for life!! I’m drinking the Kool-Aid!

Walking the streets of Paris

Rose De Paris, huge ferris wheel that we rode, I had a panic attack at the top...good times

We went to the far North of the city for the Paris Flea Market

Birthday buddies on the Seine!

 

 

 

 

Charleston, SC & Porch vs. Deck vs. Patio…

Posted In:
January 21, 2017

I recently took my Mom on a 70th Birthday trip to Charleston, SC. I had been reading in Travel & Leisure magazine that it was the “Coolest City in America” and really had to prove this somewhat drastic statement for myself. As with anything opinions can vary from person to person but claiming a small town in the South was that amazing seemed a bit of a stretch. I’m always open to proving myself wrong so hopped on a flight with my favorite lady and headed down.

Initially I wasn’t all that impressed: small airport, lackluster developments, a lot of beige, and an overwhelming feeling that I had been mislead. After we arrived at our hotel we hit the town in search of a cocktail and that’s when I really started to get a feel for the city. All of the locals were extremely nice and willing to give suggestions, directions, and general information which is always appreciated when you want to get right to the good stuff. The downtown was lovely with a lot of shopping and restaurants to explore as well as some small parks and historic monuments. One of my favorite aspects is the bar scene (not just because I love a good drink) but because there are some really unique settings for bars, a church that has been renovated into a bar, old houses that have turned into restaurants, and roof top patios. I was impressed with a social scene and would certainly recommend Charleston as a Bachelorette destination for anyone.

My Mom suggested we take the “Old homes tour,” and never one to miss an opportunity to wander through a strangers house, I was immediately ready to rock. It was a great way to get a feel for the interiors of some of the beautiful mansions and historic homes that give Charleston its unique feel. Many of the homes have what’s called a “Piazza” which is basically a long open air porch that runs the length of the house and has multiple entries into the house, it’s usually held up by columns which provide a grand feel to what I would consider a gorgeous side porch. The original design plan was to help with the heat of the South by capturing the cross breeze and providing ventilation on a large scale to the house. Charleston is a lot of things, but in my mind it is the land of amazing porch/patio/veranda/decks…

Which got me somewhat confused; what really is the precise difference between all of these exterior sitting spaces? I always say deck when I mean porch and porch when I mean patio and patio when I mean veranda and then I think, “what am I even saying?” Well here it is to clarify for all of us;

Porch: First off it is COVERED (has a roof) and is external to the building, usually it is at the front or back of the house and can be enclosed with screen, glass, windows.

Deck: A deck is flat and has no roof, usually elevated or just above the ground level and has a railing, a place you would imagine having a BBQ grill, can many times connect two spaces or provide access to multiple doors. Usually made of wood construction.

Patio: Patios are on the ground and are a paved like area either made with stone, brick, slate, etc. It is a space in the grass that is made for dining and entertaining at ground level. Can be attached to the house or detached.

Balcony: These are always attached to the house and elevated. They can be covered or not covered and can protrude from the house or not (which would be a Juliette balcony).

Veranda: I find these difficult to distinguish from a porch because they are described in almost the same way many times. Basically they are a covered porch that starts at the entrance to the house and extends around the sides, they are also for the purpose of cross ventilation in the house and are more commonly seen in the South.

Got it? No? That’s ok, I’m still confused too. Anyway here are some pretty house pictures from Charleston, SC. Final analysis; an awesome town, good food, nice people, I wouldn’t call it the “Coolest City in America” but it gets a solid 4 stars.

Classic Charleston Piazza!

A beautiful Victorian style house.

Dying for this house by the water

Beautiful brick houses, elevated Piazza.

Double porch but made of iron handrail. So amazing.

I loved this kitchen, brick floor and built ins - and those windows!

There were also amazing gardens, I'd like to go back and take a garden tour.

Reykjavik street art

Posted In:
January 3, 2017

I was recently in Iceland for a week or so and spent a fair amount of time wandering through Reykjavik, the capitol. It’s a really hip city that surprised me with how awesome it was. The city itself is very walkable with all of the shops and restaurants in close proximity, accessed by a pedestrian walk way and small streets. Throughout the downtown there are a ton of amazing  restaurants and pubs, and even more shocking is how awesome the food is. It was a total surprise to me but honestly, I didn’t have one bad meal in Reykjavik – they have their food scene locked down! Even if you go into what might seem like a seedy dive bar, it’s pretty much the best burger and fries you’ve ever had. Needless to say I spent most of my time eating and drinking, I find it’s best to stick to what you’re good at, ya know?

While wandering downtown I noticed there are a ton of amazing building murals painted on the sides of buildings. Not just terribly thought out graffiti, but gorgeous pieces of art on the ENTIRE building. It turns out that about 10-15 years ago the city didn’t really pay much attention to unauthorized graffiti but in recent years (I assume with the influx of tourism) have started policing unapproved graffiti. In order to continue the tradition and keep the art scene alive many artists have begun to get approval from building owners to paint the murals, which in my opinion makes it even better. This way they get to spend the time planning and executing their piece and it also ensures that only talented artists get to graffiti the streets, win-win, if you ask me.

I should have taken more photos because there were so many unique murals, here are some of the ones I loved;

In a construction site so I couldn't get closer

Blood suckers!

Corner building covered

Because I'm ALWAYS on the hunt for Feminist propaganda.

This was pretty cool

This was on a cute side street

This was next door to our hotel on the waterfront

So cool

Loved this one too

And since people go to Iceland for scenery, here I am in naturing...

 

 

Paris is my heaven

February 25, 2016

Was just recently in France and Italy for a couple weeks, exploring, shopping and mostly eating, lots of eating. Europe as you probably know is amazing for many reasons, with so many countries so close to each other there is such a unique melding of culture, food and fashion. Europe also features some of the most jaw dropping architecture you could ever want to see. My creative vibes were flowing at an all time high while in Paris. I literally would LOVE to move to Paris, but really what would that cost me??? Well naturally I had to find out:

After a solid research session I found that in 2015 prices in Paris were on average: €7,880 (US$ 8,868) per sq.m. So If you calculate that out into feet, it’s approximately $824 sqft. Compared with Boston which has a Median price of $533 sqft. It looks like I’ll be living in a miniature apartment in Paris! But that’s ok because Tiny houses are in! It is important to also consider that all cities cover a large area and a multitude of neighborhoods – so it really depends on what neighborhood you want to live in.

I want to live in the Latin Quarter of Paris which is where ALL the food is (well it’s everywhere) but I love this area, bars, restaurants, shops, and food, food, food.  Yeah well there is NOTHING in that entire area for less than $1,000,000.00 Soooo Moving a long.  Here are some of my Paris Photos!

 

Eiffel Tower

I love all these little doors and store fronts.

Inside the Notre Dame de Paris

Random alley way shopping area, I'm obsessed with black/white tile.

luxembourg gardens

Exposed post and beam structural elements left visible

I love Carbs!!

I’ll post some Italy photos soon. Paris is the best!!!

If Donald Trump is elected President of the US, I am moving to Paris and going to overdose on pastry and coffee, you heard it here first!

2015 Met Gala looks

Posted In:
October 19, 2015

Although not technically a real estate event, I thought it was absolutely necessary to discuss last nights Met Gala and some of the must see looks. What is the “Met Gala” you might ask?

The Met Gala or Met Ball is a huge fundraising event to benefit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. It’s held every year in NYC and pretty much every celebrity you can imagine comes to it and it’s ALL ABOUT the Fashion.  The building itself is pretty spectacular and was built between 1910-1914.

http://www.metmuseum.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now let’s talk fashion -

Here are the good and bad..

Grecian inspiration

February 25, 2015

 

I recently took a trip to Greece – Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini and it was TO DIE FOR. We’re talking totally amazing, knock your socks off gorgeous. The architecture is so unique and bright when juxtaposed against the dry desert like climate and geology. 

Check out some of my photos:

The colors, the light, the people – gahh I want to live there forever! It was an amazing trip with some really beautiful spots. The hotels we stayed in were so unique and had gorgeous design elements to them. I’m channeling my Grecian woman in all houses I look at from here on out.

Here are some Grecian inspired design ideas I’m feeling lately:

Wood rafters painted white, with royal blue accents.

Classy and modern all in one. Need these in my new room.

Everything about this bathroom ... I want.

For those winter days in Boston that you want to feel glam.

I'm dying over here. I need THIS, now.

Modern and gorgeous - GOLD is a must.

I’m really glad gold is coming back into fashion. The 90′s brassy/gold hardware really killed the look for quite some time, but fortunately people are moving back around and reusing true gold toned fixtures and hardware – PERFECT for my Grecian dreams. YES YES YES. I could sit here all day foaming at the mouth over how much I love Greece and it’s style.

 

Custom Molding created locally

Posted In:
November 6, 2014

Have you ever gone to Home Depot looking for something unique and just can’t find it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m obsessed with Home Depot just as much as the next DIY woman, but it’s generally all stock material and it can get boring if you’re looking for something different. I was lucky enough to ride along with a contractor the other day and discover and amazing hidden gem right here in MA that I wanted to share with you. Anderson McQuaid in Cambridge is a super cool local business that creates custom moldings, trim, lumber, flooring and what not. Which is basically like finding someone who can build you your own custom unicorn!! So cool. You can pretty much design any pattern you want and they can make it for you. Or if you travel somewhere and see some amazing trim that you want to recreate…Anderson McQuaid can do it (if you’re not on a Home Depot budget).

Moldings can really make a huge difference in setting your home apart from every other stock house, and working with a company like Anderson McQuaid it gives you the opportunity to really get creative. Plus, you can support a locally owned business which is really where it’s AT!

You can check out their website which is not that great (1997 called, they want your site updated) but they’re located at 170 Fawcett st. Cambridge, MA . Although, don’t be surprised if you get yelled at by the guys that work there. I was running around trying to snap pics and kept getting yelled at, which was obviously worth it so I could share a few photos!

Located in Cambridge

All kinds of lumber to choose from!

Nice Wood

Ok this is really cool. It filters out all the saw dust from the wood being milled and designed/cut. Basically a massive dust collector.

Cat Lady like you dream about

October 21, 2013

I had just opened my office when I got referred by a local attorney to help a client of his. His clients sister had sadly passed away suddenly and he was handling the estate which his client had now inherited. Since his client was out of state and unfamiliar with the area, he suggested she use me as her agent to get the property sold, knowing I’d go above and beyond to get the job done.

Being the bright eyed new entrepreneur that I was I jumped at the idea of getting a new listing in the highly desirable area of Arlington MA, just outside of Cambridge and Boston. This area is not only highly sought after, it’s super close to downtown, filled with architecturally unique properties, rich people, and a lot of buyers on the hunt. The only down side was that with traffic it could take me an hour and a half from my office on the South side of the city to get all the way North. But when you’re young, hungry, trying to build a reputation of doing a good job, and in need of money, one tends to put themselves out there on the corner for the taking, and I did just that.

I had set to meet the seller at the property when she was up visiting and was prepared with area comps, recent sales, price per sq.ft, the listing documentation, a cute outfit and an attitude that I was going to sell the sh*t out of this house. So when I arrived in the area and saw the amazing houses on the street, I thought, pfttt I GOT THIS. Much to my dismay I pulled up to my potential listing and saw that the house was a little, well let’s just say it had “deferred maintenance.” Shrubs were overgrown, window shades were down, grass hadn’t been cut in months, abandoned BMW in the driveway, front door was half falling off, gutters were rotted, and the list goes on. I however am a BELIEVER, I do not give up at first, second, or even fifth glance.

I burned every "before" photo in hopes of selling the place, so here is one after a little touch up.

So I walked up to the front door with my can-do attitude and rang the bell, no answer. I rang again, nothing. I knocked, nothing. Waited, then pounded the door, and heard footsteps slowly approaching. Expecting to see an I love Lucy esq mother in pearls answer I smiled my real estate agent - please like me – smile. As the door opened an older woman smoking a cigarette answered. “Hillary, come in” she said, and I happily did.

From the moment I stepped I wanted to turn and run, I started gagging, but had to hide my gagging as to not offend my potential new client. It smelled like dead people, urine, trash, dust, and years of not opening the window molded into one scent and multiplied by 134. I was about to barf on the seller when she started to explain that she hadn’t visited her sister in 20 years and during that time she had become a cat breeder. Apparently, she kept hundreds of cats in the house that were very “special” and high end, and were the kind of cats that were on the Fancy Feast commercials. On a side note; why does cat food so closely resemble vomit? Like really? Is that necessary? Anyways, my potential client was a wreck because she didn’t realize her sister was living in such a terrible state, the house was covered in things, pictures, furniture, dust, dust, dust, wall paper was falling off, the ceiling was coming down, the floors were stained, nothing in the kitchen worked, and to top it all off, the place smelled as if these cats had taken over the house, peed on everything and then died on the floor and were left there for 10 years. Disgusting doesn’t even describe. It was as if I stepped into an episode of Animal Hoarders and Hoarders and Property Nightmares all mixed into one. I felt myself leaning in closer to my client so I could inhale her second hand cigarette smoke in hopes of masking my need to sprint outside and breath any air that wasn’t laced with cat urine and death. Fortunately, my potential client was so sweet, and as she smoked she pushed her oxygen tank along side her and described her health ailments and how she needed this house sold ASAP to help pay for her medical bills. Never one to leave a person in a lurch I sucked up my disgust and took a tour of the house. As I reached the second floor I was started to accept that despite the smell and cosmetic ailments, the house had good bones, a nice lay out, and potential. This wasn’t a project for the faint of heart, but it could be done, and done well.

 

The Stairs going up

Dining room after being emptied

And then I had to do it, I had to open THE ROOM. (I often think back on this moment and remind myself that money will get me to do a lot, but I don’t think I could go in that room again for anything less than $100K, also, why did I not take any pictures of this atrocity?). This room was wall-to-wall covered in cat cages, I mean like filled with cages, covered in cat hair, cat rags, cat urine, food, all kinds of nasty. My eyes started watering and I was getting dizzy from lack of oxygen, no joke, I had stopped inhaling and was living off my final breath. As I pushed the seller to show me the back yard I got to thinking, what is my plan? How will I get this sold immediately? This certainly isn’t for Suzie home maker and her first baby, I had to find a contractor or flipper that would look past the disgust and see that this house could be turned around.

About a week later I found him! It was half luck, half he knew the area and knew what he wanted. He walked through the property and in 15 minutes said, “i’ll have an offer to you tomorrow” and he did, and came through the whole time. My client was happy, the buyer was happy because he was in the business of taking drab to fab, and I was happy because despite multiple trips to dead cat world, I had gotten my job done and made my client very happy.

One afternoon just before closing, while waiting at the property for my client to swing by I took it upon myself to look in the freezer which was still functioning. Hoping to find a stray Choco Taco I rashly opened the freezer. And there sitting patiently and kindly wrapped in plastic, were 8 dead cats, frozen for later genetic use… or perhaps dinner.

Pictures of the AMAZING, JAW DROPPING, New house, courtesy of Olde New England Properties. If you’re looking to buy or sell in the Arlington area, I can not recommend Jonathan of Old New England Properties enough! This man is a miracle maker, check out his after shots:

 

Adorable, added garage, redid exterior

Exterior

Hello beautiful

Added a second Bath

Pocket door to living area

You have no idea what a transformation this is!

Love, Love, LOVE!

Refinished the attic and also made some rooms high ceilings

Another Bath

Hello New world!

I am so happy that this home had new life breathed into it! It’s amazing what some ingenuity and hard work can do to make something totally DRAB go to totally FAB.

 

Let’s talk about jealousy…

October 7, 2013

There are VERY few people in the world that I envy, seriously, I like me. But then I opened up this months Architectural Digest and just about vomited.

Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen as if being gorgeous wasn’t enough, look at this effing house…

Cover...

Oh just being a super model at home.

Feels like the French Rivera, but just another day in LA.

UGH! I need a bear skin rug and some Tom Brady up in HERE!

Romantic doesn't even describe

Supermodels gotta eat!

I...I just...um...I...

Inside and outside living room

Heavy breathing ensues

Who do I have to kill?

ughhhhhhh

Really??!!!

beautiful bath

And there you have it. This is where beautiful people come from.

The end.

 

Beautiful Brick Mansions!

July 22, 2013

Brick, ahhhh.

I was just in Chattanooga, Tennessee for my beautiful cousins wedding. It was a wonderful weekend filled with amazing events and a lot of love. The South is certainly a different world then the North Land that I reside in, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, my southern People!

This wedding was full of spectacular events, the first of which was a “Welcome to Chattanooga” BBQ hosted by a family friend of the bride. I arrived via cab after flying in from Boston to find a GORGEOUS Brick Mansion, overflowing with smiling faces, gathered around a Keg…hello AMAZING, I’ve found heaven.

The house was TO DIE FOR, classic brick, large, well decorated with high ceilings and big open spaces. I didn’t get any interior photos because I was attempting to avoid being the trashy northern cousin who looked like she had never been in a nice house before (although, I REALLY REALLY wanted to snap pics because we know i’m obsessed with houses). But I did grab a couple of the outside:

Back side of the house. Love the roof line and the white trim with the brick.

Back side of the house. Love the roof line and the white trim with the brick.

Front entrance (sorry for the bad quality photo, I was a few beers deep at that point).

Front entrance (sorry for the bad quality photo, I was a few beers deep at that point).

When I got home to Boston I was really channeling my inner Southern Woman. I started researching some of the brick houses Massachusetts had to offer. Since we have a lot of history and historic homes here in New England I wanted to get a feel on prices of the brick mansion of my dreams, you know, for future reference. (Dear Mom & Dad, where the F is my Trust Fund? It’s ok, I grew up to be normal, you can give it to me NOW). :)

Property located at 11 Dellbrook Rd. Weston, MA. Listed at : $10,500.00 Listed By:   Carolyn King,  Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Weston

Property located at 11 Dellbrook Rd. Weston, MA. Listed at : $10,500.00 Listed By: Carolyn King, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Weston

 

11 Dellbrook Rd. Weston, MA $10,500.00

11 Dellbrook Rd. Weston, MA

11 Dellbrook Rd. Weston, MA

200 Pond Rd. Wellsley Georgian Colonial on 9 Acres. List Price: $6,950,000.00 List agent: Jill Boudreau Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Wellesley - Central St.

200 Pond Rd. Wellsley Georgian Colonial on 9 Acres. List Price: $6,950,000.00

200 Pond Rd. Wellsley Georgian Colonial on 9 Acres. List Price: $6,950,000.00

147 Main Street, Hingham, MA  List Price: $2,950,000 Listing Agent:   Martha Gentry, Hammond Residential

147 Main Street, Hingham, MA List Price: $2,950,000 Listing Agent: Martha Gentry, Hammond Residential

200 Pond Rd. Wellsley Georgian Colonial on 9 Acres. List Price: $6,950,000.00 List agent:  Jill Boudreau  Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Wellesley - Central St.

200 Pond Rd. Wellsley Georgian Colonial on 9 Acres. List Price: $6,950,000.00 List agent: Jill Boudreau Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Wellesley - Central St.

200 Pond Rd. Wellsley

200 Pond Rd. Wellsley Georgian Colonial on 9 Acres. List Price: $6,950,000.00

147 Main St. Hingham, MA

147 Main St. Hingham, MA

And then there is my end all and be ALL, bananas house crush. I grew up about 3 miles from this house and always would drive by it with my friends. In college during the summer I worked at the restaurant that the owners of this house also owned (located right across the water way). In the winter they have every tree on their property covered in white lights and it looks like a fairy tale. This place is so huge, their guest house is twice the size of my parent house. It’s legit:

49 Margin Street, Cohasset, MA

List price: 22,000,000.00

Listing Agent: Jonathan Radford, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. Newbury St. Boston

Brick covered in Ivy.

Brick covered in Ivy.

Aerial View

Aerial View

You get a private doc into Cohasett Harbor.

You get a private doc into Cohasett Harbor.

Back yard

Back yard

The only interior shot that I actually like. I'd have to gut this entire place. Shheesshhh totally unlivable in current condition! ;)

The only interior shot that I actually like… Honestly, I’d have to gut this entire place. Shheesshhh totally unlivable in current condition! ;)