1800s Estate Proves History Is Anything But Drab – House of the Week

Steven Favreau is the type to go big – and go home.

When he set out to put down roots near his hometown of Boston, Favreau fell in love with an old country estate in quaint Chelsea, VT. It was the perfect place for this interior designer to escape from the hubbub of big city life after working with celebrity clients and more.

“It was a quintessential Vermont house in a quintessential Vermont town,” said Favreau, about spotting the house in 2012. “I hopped on a plane and bought it the next week.”

Built in 1832, the house was once owned by a man named Aaron Davis, whose family lived in it for at least 100 years. Davis’ granddaughter eventually sold the 23-acre property in the 1980s, and the new owner converted it into a bed and breakfast. (There’s still a portrait of Davis above one of the home’s five fireplaces.)

After Favreau purchased the 5-bed, 5-bath home, he sought to restore it to its original grandeur – at a frenetic pace. A contractor brought in a crew to rework everything from the wiring (it was a fire waiting to happen) to the wallpaper (there were 8 layers throughout the house). The workers even put in a massive new beam to support the house and keep it from sinking.

“The house sprung back to life and all the old Lally columns fell to the ground,” Favreau remembered. “They heard, ‘Bam-bam! Clank-clank!’ as they jacked it back to life.”

Up next on the designer’s list: keeping the look, feel and integrity of the antique touches, while updating the space to accommodate today’s trends. He tore out a downstairs wall to expand the kitchen to 700 square feet; the master suite got a modern bath with a soaking tub.

Favreau painted walls in his signature bright colors and added bold wallpaper. In a tip-of-the-hat to the history of the Green Mountain State, he lined the master bathroom with tree-print wallpaper. The dining room got a splash of flamingo pink with a print of Victorian-looking cake plates – a nod to the era in which the house was built.

“What I wanted to use for inspiration was the house and the period of the house, so nodding to the period and updating it with a contemporary aesthetic,” Favreau said. “It says today, but it also says yesterday.”

Some things are distinctly New England. A wooden footbridge connects the main property to 22 secluded acres on the other side of the White River. On warm summer nights, Favreau’s family will pull a dining room table out onto the bridge and dine al fresco.

In the winter, the adjacent land allows for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

There’s also an old wood barn, which Favreau envisions becoming an event space for weddings or storage. The possibilities for the next owner are limitless, he said.

“It’s a big glorious house, and my family is a big glorious family. We’ve enjoyed it,” he added. “I feel like I’ve loved my time being there and up in Vermont, but it’s time to find the next one. Maybe an oceanside property.”

The home is on the market for $695,000. Zoe Hathorn Washburn of Snyder Donegan carries the listing.

Interior photos courtesy of Jim Mauchly of Mountain Graphics Photography. Exterior photos courtesy of Andrew Holson with Snyder Donegan Real Estate Group.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/historic-vermont-estate-221014/


Van? RV? School Bus? 6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Home on Wheels

We’ve all seen photos of the perfectly manicured home on wheels: the reclaimed wood-lined walls, the occupants dreamily sipping coffee and watching a sunrise. People of all ages are asking themselves, “Can I do that, too?” Myself, included.

When I first saw the van that would one day be mine on Craigslist, I thought it was perfect for me. The 1986 GMC vandura had a comfy bed, turquoise cabinets and twinkle lights that made me weak in the knees.

But a mobile life can involve just as much work as a stationary one – sometimes, even more. You won’t have to pay a mortgage, but you might need new brakes. You won’t have to rely on neighbors to water your plants when you travel, but you will have to keep a tiny space organized and livable on the road.

If those things don’t scare you off, the rewards can far outweigh the work. Here are some important questions to consider, first.

Which home is right for you?

There are various names for homes on wheels and recreational vehicles, along with more unique and specific categories like Westfalia campervans.

The RV is a self-contained, manufactured home on wheels. It typically contains a bathroom and kitchen and, depending on the version you choose, it can be driven or towed. If you own a vehicle with towing capacity, a towable RV allows you to park and move around more freely – without dragging the kitchen sink.

Campervans are more compact but offer fewer amenities. They might have a small kitchenette, but rarely contain a bathroom. If you’re willing to rough it on the road, the campervan can be a more affordable option.

Then there are the more creative approaches to mobile living. People have converted school buses, vintage Airstreams and even a mail truck into living quarters. Choosing the vessel for your life on wheels is an important decision, so weigh your options carefully.

How will you use it?

Once upon a time, people bought mobile homes when they retired. These days, the options for remote work allow younger people to embrace a mobile lifestyle, with many variations. Some people want to travel regularly, while others park their homes and only occasionally switch locations.

My motivation for buying a van was the freedom to spend month-long stints on the road and rent out my house whenever I left. As a freelance writer, I often travel in search of stories and this seemed like a perfect way to do so. I could have the comforts of home and the freedom of wheels.

However, since dropping $5,500 on the initial purchase and about $1,000 in repairs, I’ve landed a full-time job. It’s now more of a weekend camping vehicle than a home. The extra headspace that once seemed luxurious now feels cumbersome, especially when I’m driving over windy mountain passes and spending $60 to fill up my tank. Also, the $80-per-month insurance has come to seem extra expensive since I’m paying for something I don’t often use.

I’ll travel regularly in my van someday, but my experience illustrates the importance of knowing how your van will facilitate the life you wish to lead. Where will you go, how often will you go, and what will you do? Looking back, I would have gone for something a little smaller and lower maintenance.

Freedom can become debilitating if you don’t know how you’ll use it.

Where will you park?

Campgrounds, RV parks, Walmart parking lots and city streets have all become temporary homes for people who live on the road. But you must consider parking laws, safety and cost – every single night.

RV parks and many campgrounds offer hookups for electricity and water. If your home is designed to accommodate those amenities, they’re nice to have. It helps to research campground details before you hit the road. 

If you’re freeing yourself from rent or a mortgage, you might not want to dump that money back into parking each night. National forests offer free camping, as long as you’re 100-200 feet away from any road, trail or water source. Ask local ranger stations about access to dispersed camping and local regulations. 

While mobile life is often celebrated with a backdrop of ocean beaches or beloved national parks, cities are something to consider, too. They just require a little extra consideration.

Vans have a leg up on bigger, flashier RVs when it comes to cities, especially if your van doesn’t look like someone lives in it. Urban van-dwellers go to great lengths to keep their living quarters quiet to prevent curious visitors and theft.

The most important piece of advice when considering where to park: do your research. Reserve a spot when heading to popular parks, call ranger stations for information about parking in the area, join local forums, and always collect information ahead of time so you you’re not searching for a place to sleep when it’s dark and there’s no cell service.

How much does it cost?

Simplifying your life by paring down your belongings can be a great way to save money. But, don’t be fooled into thinking that mobile living is always cheap.

First, there’s the cost of your vehicle, which can vary considerably. If you go for a van, the Ford E series is a popular option. Donovan Jenkins, a nursing student and outdoors enthusiast bought his Ford cargo van for just $2,700 and spent about $2,500 more converting the bare interior into a cozy home. His carpentry skills allowed him to save big bucks on labor.

Conversions – van, Airstream, school bus, etc. – can be expensive, even if you’re doing the work yourself. For example, this stylish Sprinter van conversion cost $64,120You’ll see a huge range on RV prices as well, from several thousand to millions of dollars.

Once you find a home that’s right for your budget, you’ll need to consider living costs, too.

Camping fees are about $20 per night, which can be alleviated by free parking. But, you won’t get water and electrical hook-ups unless you pay for them.

Vehicle insurance will add a few hundred to several thousand dollars in yearly costs. Comprehensive auto insurance, while more expensive than bare-boned liability plans, will protect your home and belongings from vandalism and theft.

I learned the hard way that an RV insurance plan is required of any vehicle that’s been converted into a living space. Even though my van isn’t technically an RV, AAA initially refused to tow me when I broke down in Seattle because I didn’t have RV insurance. I’ve since upgraded, which has been worth it for the peace of mind. AAA’s premier RV insurance includes unlimited 100-mile tows, and once per year, you can have your vehicle towed up to 200 miles.

Depending on the age and condition of your vehicle, you’ll also need to factor in regular repairs. And, don’t forget gas money! You’ll spend a lot more on gas for your mobile home than you will on filling up your regular car. And the more toys you carry with your mobile home, the more your gas bills will climb.

Where will you go to the bathroom?

Unless you’re able to find a mobile home with a built-in shower and toilet, personal hygiene can be a challenge on the road. But there are plenty of creative ways to make it work.

A membership to a gym chain with locations across the country, like Planet Fitness or L.A. Fitness, will allow you to access showers and bathrooms – not to mention a workout, which can be vital when your living space only allows you to walk a few feet in either direction.

Campgrounds and truck stops also provide facilities to the traveler looking to freshen up.

If you don’t have a toilet, you’ll likely find yourself using truck-stop and Starbucks bathrooms. But a late-night bathroom break could mean toilets aren’t available, and you’ll have to make due with whatever is around.

Can you work on the road?

Remote work opportunities have freed many people from the constraints of a typical office job. But working from a mobile home is much different than a home office.

First, consider how often you’ll need to work, and where you’ll be able to do so. It might be helpful to stay close to developed areas where there are plenty of establishments offering free Wi-Fi.

If you can work comfortably inside of your mobile home, you can use your mobile device as a Wi-Fi hotspot, or purchase a dedicated Wi-Fi hotspot for $100-150. Whichever option you go with, you’ll need to sign up for a service plan with data. Check on the coverage area of service providers before you pick one – they’re no use when you’re in a dead zone!

Working from the road also means you’ll need electricity, which is nice to have for other uses, too, like charging your cell phone or running a fan to stay cool when your engine is off.

Solar panels are a convenient, rechargeable and environmentally-friendly energy source. And, this portable power station will let you plug in all sorts of devices.

I can see my van parked on the street, from the window of my house right now. I’m still not entirely sure what a mobile life will look like, but figuring it out is half the fun.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/home-on-wheels-tips-220828/

Katharine Hepburn’s Lifelong Connecticut Estate Finally Sells

UPDATE: After years on and off the market, Hepburn’s famous Long Island Sound residence has finally found a new owner. The property — most recently listed for $14.8 million in 2015 — sold for $11.5 million to an unknown buyer at the end of August. Despite being known as Katharine Hepburn’s beloved lifelong estate, architect and construction CEO Frank Sciame has actually owned the home since 2003. Sciame renovated the 3-story mansion in 2005 and has been attempting to sell it since 2011.

ORIGINAL POST 5/22/2015: The Connecticut seaside home where Katharine Hepburn spent family vacations and returned often throughout her life, and where she spent her final days, is on the market for $14.8 million.

The acting legend’s parents bought the property in the Fenwick section of Old Saybrook, CT, around 1913, when Hepburn was a child. The home was washed away by a hurricane in 1938, several years after she’d won her first Academy Award. The actress dug her mother’s silver service out of the sand and rebuilt the home, creating the brick structure that still stands along the banks of Long Island Sound.

Photos by Peter Harron, courtesy of William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty.

According to the listing from Colette Harron of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty, Hepburn used a large set of building blocks from FAO Schwarz to construct a model of the house.

Bathed in white with stunning water views, the home’s interior encompasses 8,368 square feet over three floors. It has 6 bedrooms, each with its own bath, plus 1.5 more bathrooms and 7 fireplaces.

The current owners renovated the home and lifted the structure 5 feet to protect it from water damage. The estate has been on and off the market since 2011.

The home sits on 1.47 acres with a private beach where The New York Times says Hepburn took a daily dip no matter the season. There’s also a private dock and pond.

Top photo by Aaron Thompson, courtesy of William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/katharine-hepburn-estate-176656/

Iggy Azalea and Nick Young Have Unloaded Their ‘Fancy’ LA Home

Photo: ShutterStock

UPDATE: Breakups can be costly, but Nick Young and Iggy Azalea’s is more expensive than most. After more than four months on the market, their joint property finally found a buyer for $3.25 million – nearly $350K less than their original ask, and $200K below what they paid back in 2014. While Nick and Iggy seem to have already moved on, the sale of their shared home solidifies their split. 

ORIGINAL POST 4/6/17: Iggy Azalea and Nick Young have been making a lot of headlines over the past year. This time it’s for listing the Los Angeles home they shared.

The “Black Widow” singer and the Lakers shooting guard bought the property from another high-wattage star, Selena Gomez, in 2014. With a listing price of $3.595 million, the couple is asking for just $100,000 more than they paid nearly three years ago.

The 6,630-square-foot pad is located in Los Angeles’ affluent Tarzana neighborhood.

Photos by James Moss, provided courtesy of Kofi Nartey

The sprawling home boasts a rare single-level floor plan with 6 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms and a half dozen gathering spaces. In the master suite, a separate seating area with a fireplace and double doors that open out onto the back patio set the scene for relaxation.

In addition to lush landscaping, an outdoor kitchen, fire pit, and luxurious in-ground pool grace the dreamy backyard. There’s even a basketball court for Young to keep his skills sharp during the NBA off-season.

Kofi Nartey, MBA, of The Nartey Group/Compass holds the listing.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/iggy-azalea-nick-young-selling-214558/

Country Girl Miley Cyrus Buys $5.8M Tennessee Mansion

Miley Cyrus might be singing about ‘Malibu,’ but she’s done buying houses there. The Disney-actress-turned-pop-star just picked up a new $5.8-million pad in Franklin, TN.

This is Cyrus’ first home purchase in her birth state, but she’s been on a shopping spree in California over the past couple of years. In 2015, she bought a horse ranch in Hidden Hills, and 2016 called for a Malibu bungalow.

The latest addition to Miley’s collection is a sprawling 5-bed, 6-bath manse nestled on 33+ acres.

Photos from Zillow listing.

The home boasts classic Southern features including a wraparound porch and a screened-in sun room (with an indoor porch swing!). Inside the 6,869-square-foot estate, hardwood floors, a soaring stone fireplace, red brick accents and vintage exposed beams contribute to a rustic vibe.

A pool and mini-golf course dominate the fenced-in backyard. If you’re not taking a dip in the pool, then the yard is really best experienced from a second-story deck that sits atop the sun room and overlooks the property’s private 33 acres.

This home purchase comes hot on the heels of Miley’s announcement that she’s releasing a new album — one that many are speculating might be a return to her country roots. While a home purchase is hardly definitive proof, it is another signal for fans anxiously anticipating her next move.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/miley-cyrus-tennessee-220465/

Attending Bachelor Parties Adds Up – to More Than a Third of a Down Payment on a Home

Destination bachelor and bachelorette parties are becoming the new norm, especially among millennials who prize experience and grew up with The Hangover’s depiction of pre-wedding adventure. While flying off to Vegas with your closest friends can certainly be a trip of a lifetime, big ticket vacations can add up quick– a lost faster than a $19 avocado toast.

A new Zillow report found that millennials who attend just nine of these trips in a lifetime will have spent up to $13,788, or 35 percent of a down payment on the median home.

Owning a home is important to millennials, yet many of them are struggling to save enough money for a down payment. To help first-time buyers, Zillow calculated how much cash is needed for a 20 percent down payment on a home, and how much of it may be going toward bachelor or bachelorette parties instead.

Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties

A destination bachelor party costs on average $1,532 ($1,106 for a bachelorette), according to wedding website, The Knot. If the average person attends nine parties in a lifetime, or three a year for three years, they will have spent up to 34 percent of the cash needed for a down payment on the median home.

In some metros like Cleveland and Pittsburgh, millennials can spend up to half (51 and 50 percent, respectively) of their future home’s down payment on bachelor parties and well over a third of a down payment on bachelorette parties. However, in hot and expensive markets like San Jose or San Francisco, nine destination bachelor parties equates to only 5 or 6 percent, respectively, of the down payment on the median-priced home.

The Wedding

Bachelor and bachelorette parties are not the only expense associated with attending a wedding. On average, bridesmaids and groomsmen spend an additional $1,154 for things like wedding day attire, a gift for the bride and groom, as well as travel and accommodations for the wedding day. Guests not in the bridal party still pay $888, on average, to attend each wedding.

Help with Budgeting

Buyers can use Zillow’s affordability calculator to see how much they can actually afford to spend on a home, based on their income, debts and savings. Zillow’s mortgage calculator can also provide custom down payment estimates based on home price and interest rates.

Curious where bachelor and bachelorette party expenses make up the largest portion of a down payment on a home? Check out the full report here.


from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/partying-or-down-payment-220289/

Quiz: Can You Guess the Price of These Homes?

Note: There is a widget embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s widget.

Top image, as well as the first and last quiz images, from Zillow listing.

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from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/home-price-quiz-220272/