Homes to Stay

Stay: William Brown Cabin

Roscoe, New York
05.30.2012 | by: Meghan

A decade or so ago, Matthew Hranek (The William Brown Project) and Yolanda Edwards (Travels with Clara, Momfilter) bought a bunch of land two and a half hours from Manhattan. There was a mobile home and a barn. While temporarily living in the mobile home (which is now gone in lieu of a modernist-leaning prefab), Matthew designed this tiny one-bedroom cabin, which was built by a local carpenter using local hemlock and vernacular architecture. If you read The William Brown Project, you might recognize the landscape– homebase for many of his hunting, fishing, butchering, cooking, and general outdoorsy pursuits.

Decorated with the same no-nonsense masculine-rustic-vintage sensibility of The William Brown Project (you know, Hudson Bay wool blankets, stacks of firewood and an animal head or two), the space is exquisitely modest. Exactly how it should be. And here’s the kicker: The cabin, which is perfectly situated on 130 beautiful acres of  trails, ponds (both fishing and swimming) and good old fashioned grass, is now available for rent. There’s a covetable list of amenities (including a Japanese soaking tub and outdoor shower), but even more compelling is what they cabin doesn’t have (wi-fi, TV, phone, ipod dock, mini bar). To book, email Matthew at [email protected]com.

[All photos by Matthew Hranek]

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Stay: Dickebusch by Koskela

Potanga, Australia
04.25.2012 | by: Meghan

If you’ve ever admired Koskela’s beautifully-made furniture and home goods, you might recognize the understated modern simplicity of this little getaway cottage located on the bay at Patonga, about an hour north of Sydney (home to their company’s newly expanded showroom). Koskela is an Australia heritage company, which means owners Russel Koskela and Sasha Titchkosky take extraordinary pride in making their furniture in Australia and carefully selecting the materials. The retreat’s interior channels those same design principles and aesthetic, creating a pared-down, clean-lined ode to the surrounding environment.

While Koskela’s renovation–especially those cool plywood walls–is pretty fantastic, my favorite part of Dickebusch is the story that comes  with it. Originally a Hudson’s ready-cut home from 1929, it was in the same family through several generations. In fact, there’s a sweet handwritten letter on their site from the previous owner that details the history of the name (in honor of an uncle who died in war), the neighborhood (from backyard tin-tub baths to hall dances) and the area (which she refers to as an “isolated little haven”).

Stay: Garden Cottage

Santa Cruz, California
04.13.2012 | by: Meghan

I’m a sucker for a good road trip, especially one that ends at a sweet little cabin as magical as this. Texas-based writer/editor Shaunna Nygren recently met some friends in San Francisco and packed up the car for a coastal road trip along Highway One and  a few days in Santa Cruz. They managed to kill an entire day at the Bookshop Santa Cruz (highly recommended), but for the better part of their visit, it was all about the big rustic farm table in the backyard with a bottle of wine. Here, a first-hand report: 

We found a minimalistic one-bedroom cabin of sorts with off-beat charms and loads of character in Santa Cruz’s Westside. Michelle, our free-spirited hostess, greeted us donning a bikini and sarong offering up a home tour with tales of past drifters and travelers. She is an artist who works with brass, leather and bone— a hauntingly beautiful display of her creations are placed throughout the home. The result is a sort of gallery-meets-bed-and-breakfast. While we stayed in the studio out back, we had full access to the kitchen and bathrooms in the main house by way of a brick pathway. In the mornings, a freshly-baked poppy seed cake awaited us on the wooden kitchen table. The cabin out back is modest and fairly rustic with an antique brass bed, a distressed-wooden dresser and an old Decca record player (we packed our favorite records). It feels like your own secret hideaway. A big tin wash basin sits just outside the door but the most alluring feature is the claw-foot tub beneath a cascading willow tree. The gardens aren’t limited to flowers. Strange installations, found objects and salvaged lawn furniture are scattered among the greenery. It was an unexpectedly lovely stay. Every morning, we walked with our coffees in hand toward West Cliff, a path along the ocean, to take in the morning surf and fog. Rent it at airbnb.com.

[Photos: All photographs by Ashley Camper]

Rehab Report: Casa Civita

Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy
03.21.2012 | by: Meghan

Patrizio Fradiani can’t help himself. A full-fledged serial vacation house renovation junkie, he and his partner, Mark, were in Italy last summer at their amazing Tuscan farmhouse (which I’ve written about here loads of times) when they took a day trip to the storybook hilltop town of Civita di Bagnoregio accessed only by footbridge, fell into its charming clutches–all ivy-covered stone arches, cobblestones and etruscan ruins–and bought one of the original stone houses sitting on top of cisterns. The house is pretty dilapidated, but like Patrizio’s previous vacation house projects, it’s sure to be unfathomably stunning, designed down to the most intricate detail and full of heart. Below, these images of the place–an ancient wreck dating back to 1300s–make it hard to believe it will be finished in August and ready for guests. He has orchestrated an aggressive design, build and decorate schedule, and he just returned last week from the initial stages, including some pretty grueling work like ripping out the long-neglected overgrown garden (to find grottoes). From now until August–when I’ll be staying there for a week with my family–I’ll be posting behind-the-scenes reports of his progress. Not only is Patrizio the very best kind of character (funny, charming and passionate), he’s also immensely talented and hard-working and for anyone interested in architecturally significant renovation, the transformation will be a thrill to watch.

Stay: San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge

South Tyrol, Italy
03.13.2012 | by: Meghan

If I sound a bit moony, my apologies: I really love the story of this beautiful mountain lodge, which owners Stefano and Giorgia first bought as a holiday house before deciding to quit their jobs in the fashion industry, uproot their lives in the city and and move to the Italian countryside full-time with their three children. After rehabbing the 16th-century hunting house, the interior was thoughtfully decorated by Giorgia, who traveled around Europe picking out special pieces, both antique and modern. It has a humble farmhouse feel with lots of natural materials and a quiet, understated luxury. You have to rent the entire place; it’s not a bunch of rooms rented to different parties, and because they have kids, they understand how to design a space that truly caters to families (a big bunk room, outdoor whirlpool perfectly sized for kids, and activities like learning to chop wood). Guests come with loads of off-site plans, but once they see the place (and its steam room, ancient spruce sauna and magnificent grounds), Stefano says they end up ditching their itinerary to relax. And who’d blame them? Stafano and Giorgia are 100 percent-dedicated to doting on their guests–cooking dinner, picking out wine, leading mushroom-hunting excursions, and recommending hikes in the surrounding forests, mountains and meadows of the Dolomites. Rent it at welcomebeyond.com.

Stay: Casa Ninamu Revisted

Sayulita, Mexico
03.06.2012 | by: Meghan


Last week we got back from a week at Casa Ninamu, which I wrote about last year after meeting the lovely owners Anne Menke and Johann Ackermann and their three delightful, tow-headed boys. Staying there was a different kind of experience. It was less about the beautiful interiors–with built-in stucco sofas; colorful, handcrafted Mexican textiles; and cobalt blue walls that popped against the lush jungle surrounding it–and more about how we spent our time doing almost nothing at all.

There are so many things I love about the town of Sayulita that I never anticipated how much I’d enjoy staying just outside it. Aside from the thundering waves breaking on the beach (loud enough to wake me up on occasion), the insects and birds chirping up a storm, and the creature-rustling of the flora outside, there is absolute silence. It’s a quiet so deep, it makes a swaying palm frond sound louder than an ambulance hurtling down a city street. Most days, we wake up slowly–with a view of the ocean out the wide-open bedroom doors–and drink coffee, make breakfast and read, while our kids draw at the dining room table (also with a view of the ocean). By midmorning, the kids are swimming naked in the saltwater pool, chasing butterflies, hunting for iguanas and planning the day’s sandcastle design and fortification. We indulge in avid shell collecting, rock climbing, sand burying, crab chasing and jungle exploring, including a hike to a nearby town that was rerouted by high tide up a densely-forested Monkey Mountain over the course of six dreadful hours. Later we laugh about it. Much later. My five-year-old invented a game that involves throwing a fallen coconut into the waves and waiting for it to come rushing back onto the shore, prompting a highly competitive chase-and-grab element. And it’s not until day seven that I realize we never made it to those restaurants we wanted to try, or organized a tour of the nearby cliffs and hot springs we heard about. Instead our entire trip was an endless pleasure cycle of lazing about–pool, play, eat, nap, hammock, beach, repeat. The very best kind of travel, an actual vacation.

Stay: 714 Nicholls

New Orleans, Louisianna
02.14.2012 | by: Meghan

This time last year, we were planning our big road trip to New Orleans, where we stayed in an incredible set of historic antebellum homes with beautiful antiques, a slate pool, sprawling outdoor courtyard and secret passageways. We were in the city for a mere week, which gave me the itch to come back, to stay longer, to linger. New Orleans is the kind of place you want to settle into and make friends and develop some kind of routine–preferably one that involves daily walks down streets so thick with majestic oaks they feel like tunnels and visits to Satsuma Cafe (one of the yummiest, most laid-back cafes I’ve ever been to in the United States).

A lovely homebase for all of that, 714 Nicholls is one of the more unsung spots of the Coppola collection, perhaps because it’s a standalone house, not a hotel, and you have to stay for at least 60 days. But to me, that’s its charm. This French Quarter creole cottage forces you to create a temporary residence. It gives you time to spend long hours with a book on the leafy veranda and three kitchens to make grand dinners, instead of ticking away at obligatory tourist hit lists.

Inside, the decor leans toward an eccentric French style with peeling plaster, velvet sofas and plenty of antiques, and the aesthetic spills outside onto the lush patio that  could easily pass for a hidden Parisian garden. Billed as a perfect spot for long-term creative retreats or film execs, the space can be split up, offering two distinct suites (with full kitchens), plus four additional bedrooms.

Stay: The Robert Trickey House

Kehena, Big Island, Hawaii
01.26.2012 | by: Meghan

Inspired by my good friend Lauren, who is bananas about Hawaii and always stays in some out-of-the way gem (last time it was a treehouse in the north shore of Oahu) instead of a resort,  and Designtripper’s latest sponsor, The Hawaiian Islands, I’m excited to feature what just might be the granddaddy of all Hawaiian vacation rentals. I usually think of quaint, white-washed cottages filled with tropical bamboo furniture, but that’s exactly why this modernist beauty blows my mind — it bucks every expectation. Designed by Craig Steely Architecture, The Robert Trickey house (named after the owner, an interior designer/upholsterer from San Francisco) sits high on a lava flow overlooking the ocean. It’s crazy, right? A lava flow! Look at those hearty, sculptural plantings! There’s also an open-air lanai, glass-enclosed living room, cantilevered stairs made of mango wood, and the most spectacular pool setting I have ever seen. And it gets even better–if you’re the sort who appreciates a  good backstory. But here in the land of molten lava, the landscape isn’t seen as a con; in fact, almost every aspect of the house was designed to appreciate it. Robert keeps his furniture spare and simple, so as not to compete with the otherwordly surroundings, and from the lanai at night, the red glow from the Kilauea crater is visible reflected on the clouds.

The Details
You can’t rent the entire main house, but you can rent a guest room or the full, self-contained guest house, which sleeps up to four. Prices start at $470 or $645, respectively. Says the owner, about the area/landscape: “You’ll be amazed to find such a truly heavenly and unspoiled part of Old Hawaii… lush and green, yet drier and better for outdoor activities than other parts of Puna.” Rent it at vrbo.com.

 

[Photos via Craig Steely Architecture; This post is sponsored by The Hawaiian Islands, where you could be Living in the Moment on Hawaii Island.]


Stay: The Olive Grove

Malaga, Spain
12.02.2011 | by: Meghan

I have no plans to go to Andalusia anytime soon, but for the record, if I did, I’d like to stay here. Owner Alan Hazel and his partner Marc Wils bought this dreamy, rustic Andalucian farmhouse almost three years ago and spent about eight months renovating the property (George Michael was their first guest!). The same family owned and farmed these hillsides for many generations, and still maintain many of the surrounding vineyards. These days, Alan and Marc live in the Olive Grove when it isn’t rented. “It is very much our home and the renovations and upkeep a personal labor of love. We get regular visits from family and friends and we love to entertain… Christmas dinner is already planned for here with the family.”

Here, Alan gives a personal explanation about what makes the Olive Grove so special, beyond the obvious aesthetic beauty.

I fell in love with the location and the feeling of grandeur and majesty from the surrounding nature before I ever set foot in the house. I told my partner Marc that I wanted to live here when we made our first visit to see the property as soon as I stepped out of the car. The edge of the pool nearest the sea is one of my favorite places. You get a ‘top of the world’ feeling as the landscape drops away into the valley below and spreads out to the Mediterranean, while La Maroma, the imposing peak looming above and to the east at over 2000m, dominates the landscape and gives you a sense of permanence and power to balance the sea. With the enormous eucalyptus tree giving shade in the afternoon and a summer kitchen with barbecue giving shade at all times, there is always a comfortable place to take in the serenity. My favorite thing about the design of The Olive grove itself is all of the comfortable and serene indoor and outdoor spaces, each with a different feel, but all of them inviting; garden terraces surround the house (all on one level), while five reception rooms/lounges and two covered terraces ensure a luxuriously comfortable space at any time of day or night.

The courtyard is also very exciting for us. We added this ourselves and designed the planting scheme along with the pergola structures and hand selected, roughly cobblestoned flooring. Marc is the principal designer and he has carefully maintained the authentic Andalusian rustic nature of this old farmhouse, while updating and modernizing to add chic but simple luxury. I love the terra cotta floors, wood beam ceilings, the little ‘huecos’ (cubby holes built into the 20-inch-thick walls) and giant fireplaces, plus the wooden doors and windows with inside shutters. The hammam-style master bath is a standout design, also Marc’s idea, custom built and walled in with an archway to step through into the bath. The gallery walkway connecting one end of the house to the other through the courtyard is a clever design, and the indoor/outdoor combination of the drawing room and its covered terrace space makes for another of my favorite spaces. The outdoor space mirrors the indoor space and both have a fireplace, but with a plant bed growing colorful climbers up and over the natural cane roofing and many potted plants, the outdoor terrace blends beautifully from its connection with the house, to its connection with the wild landscape beyond. We have also added notable landscaping on the approach to the property so that the entrance and first impressions are a fitting welcome and inspire the importance of the place along with cohesion of design. In the same way, we have created grassy spaces near the pool and extended the gardens to complete the well-maintained, though natural feel that ties the property to the stunning surroundings and maximizes the views. All in all, what is most impressive about the design to me is this feeling of balance and cohesion that allows it to feel like a traditional and historical farm house, but at the same time a luxurious home with all modern comforts–all the while tying into the magical, imposing beauty of the surrounding landscape.

La Maroma is the name for the tallest peak in the wide region at over 2000m and looms above The Olive Grove, dominating the landscape to the east. The peak is snowy every winter while views of the African mountains across the Mediterranean are visible from the property more often. The nature reserve that contains this peak begins about 1km from the property with its pine forests and imposing rocky faces rising up majestically. The park is home to native eagles, falcons and other rare birds, mountain goats and Iberian lynx.

The Details
Sleeps eight, with possibility of two extra. Four bedrooms. Rent it at uniquehomestays.com.

Stay: Casa dos Chicos

Sayulita, Mexico
11.16.2011 | by: Meghan

Last winter, we traveled to Sayulita to stay in designer Patrizio Fradiani’s latest vacation home stunner–a run-down house and garage he and his partner bought on a vacation-high whim and spent eight months rehabbing (he spent a week every month there, working around the clock). I couldn’t post extensively about it here, because I was on assignment, writing about it for CS Interiors. By the time it came out in print, the weather was spring-like, so I decided to wait until a Mexican getaway felt more relevant. I recently spoke with Patrizio, who said reservations are filling up quickly for the winter months, so if you’re at all interested–it’s perfect; do you hear me, perfect?–I highly recommend making some early travel arrangements. You do not want to miss this.

High in the outdoor living room of the bright orange villa–three floors above ground and 100 above sea level–there’s a soaring view of the Pacific Ocean and verdant mountainous skyline. The tops of houses, palm trees and climbing fuchsia bougainvillea give the distinct feeling of sitting in some sort of luxe tree house. Inside the two structures–which Fradiani connected with a walking bridge–four simple, luminous-white bedrooms are decorated with furniture and textiles from local markets. They are the only rooms with real walls. The rest of the 2,700-square-foot spread is dedicated to the fresh, open air. The kitchen, dining room and living room all sit on the third floor, under a thatched roof, and there’s a small soaking tub up there and a set of hammocks with pinch-yourself vistas of jungle, garden, rooftops, ocean.

At almost any time, day or night, the sounds of the surroundings drift through with the breeze–a drum band, a cacophony of roosters, a truck peddling gas with music and loud-speaker announcements, kids playing soccer nearby. The pool on the ground level, surrounded by one of the most vibrant gardens I’ve ever seen, feels intimate and private, and if you get bored with the endless pleasure cycle of lazing about–nap, pool, eat, hammock, repeat–the town, which is a short walk down the hill, has a laid-back surf vibe and authentic culture that sets this fishing village apart from busier, tonier resort towns. Take a hike through the jungle to reach one of several off-the-beaten-path beaches (the main public beach is pretty busy); the payoff is remote, sprawling and unfathomably gorgeous.

The Details
Four bedrooms with queen beds and in-suite bathrooms. Prices range from $1,850 to $2,950 a week, depending on season. Rent it at casadoschicos.com.

[Photos: All photographs by Bob Coscarelli]

Stay: Asheville Studio and East Fork Farm

Asheville, North Carolina
11.10.2011 | by: Kelly

In high school, I traveled to France with the sole purpose of visiting the Henri Matisse museum in Nice (his hometown!). As my mom and I approached the red museum doors, we we were devastated to find it closed for renovation–and we still talk about it to this day. Imagine my surprise when the farmer hosting us in the foothills of the western North Carolina mountains told me that the artist Alex Matisse, the great grandson of Henri, lives down the road, where he makes beautiful, functional pots in a wood-burning kiln. We took a self-guided tour of Alex’s outdoor studio, nestled in a clearing, surrounded by trees and wildflowers. He left some pots on his front porch for us to view and maybe buy. Walking in the huge kiln, smelling the wood ready to fire up pots not yet molded, seeing the cream hues of clay pots waiting to be glazed, and knowing that all the materials, tradition and craft in his art were rooted in North Carolina brought me so much joy. It was so inspiring to witness the preservation and exploration of traditional American craft.

Before traveling to the East Fork Farm, we stayed in a sweet, light-filled studio in downtown Asheville with 15-foot tin ceilings, a grand piano, a wall of mirrors, dozens of beautiful green plants and the best sunlight. The studio is one of many on an old market alley that used to be full of merchants, farmers, butchers, crafters and wholesalers. Today, the street is occupied by artists, dance studios and galleries. We ate several meals at the Early Girl Eatery, a from-scratch restaurant that gives children a bucket of toys upon arrival (genius!). Around the corner from our studio, a mural depicts a family of honeybee and poultry farmers, and a Parsons-dropout opened a cool shop called Royal Peasantry, which sells handmade clothing, jewelry and accessories made from feathers, leather and beads.

On the way home, we drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway and stopped in Virginia to admire the New River and eat at the Palisade Restaurant, a local food eatery housed in a former general store with all the dark wood shelving, tin ceiling and exposed brick intact.

The Details
East Fork Farm is located 25 miles northwest of Asheville. Two cottages (sleeping 2-4, $125/nt or 2-6, $150/nt). Cottages feature handmade stoneware, outdoor cedar soaking tubs, views of sheep grazing on rolling hills, a dozen farm fresh eggs, and a taste of mountain farm life.

Place I Wish You Could Sleep

Paris, France
10.20.2011 | by: Meghan


I’m going to be in Paris over the weekend and I’ve yet to find a place I’d rather stay. Sure, this historic apartment that looks like it was decorated by some fanciful eccentric with a magic paintbrush isn’t exactly a vacation rental, but it wouldn’t take much–a mattress on the floor? Right under the ceiling with painted rays streaming from the intricate cross-shaped medallion. Situated between Place Vendome and Place du Marché Saint-Honoré (and dangerously close to Colette), it’s one of the most unconventionally inspiring spaces I’ve ever seen. And even if you can’t sleep there, you can rent it for parties, photo shoots and other creative endeavors at Loft Connexion. I’ll be back next week!

A Closer Look: Podere Palazzo

10.18.2011 | by: Meghan


When I spent a week at Podere Palazzo almost four years ago with my family, all the fresh plantings on the grounds were teeny-tiny nubs, and a few of the spindly cypress trees had wooden tree crutches to help hold them up. We didn’t mind; the surrounding views are breathtakingly beautiful in every direction. But the owner (and my dear friend) Patrizio, who is relentlessly passionate about his native landscape, had always dreamed of having a formal Italian garden like the historical villas of Italy. “At some pont I started fantasizing of a hybrid garden that was at once formal yet more rustic than most formal gardens,” says Patrizio. “I wanted to create a viewing axis from the south side of the house towards the valley that would become an experience of its own. Most successful Italian formal gardens create not just a special oasis, curated to the max, but also an amazing dialogue with the landscape around. And that became my main goal: getting the beauty of the landscape around the house to ‘speak’ to the home with an intermediate element that was both architectural and natural.”

The formal garden project started hand-in-hand with a more naturalistic garden project for the remaining four acres. “Despite my enthusiasm and desire to get it all done fast, it has become the most fun work-in-progress of my life. Gardening requires a lot of patience and the game is in the waiting. Every year I say, ‘The garden this year looks great, but next year will be better.’ And that’s because you learn how to trim a rose bush better, learn which plants do better with the dry summers and wet winters, which are more subject to pests…” He also wanted to create a modern farm, where the grounds are not just beautiful but also edible. In the more naturalistic part of the land, where there were already Oak trees, Elm trees, and wild pear and plum bushes,  he planted 106 olive trees on one side of a hill and 50 fruit trees on the side, plus every herb you can think of.

“The formal garden is more extravagant in the plantings and aside from classic staples like Lavenders, Santolina, Viburnums, Cotoneaster, Artichoke plants, we infused it with edible herbs, hundreds of flowering bushes and roses and an organic vegetable garden that in each season grows and produces a bounty of goodies,” says Patrizio, who has grown into a self-professed countryside and garden addict. The knowledge and skill he’s garnered is so inspiring. But most of all, I love how he rhapsodizes about every single individual plant (way too many to include here). “The creeping Rosemary is a beautiful plant that requires lots of patience but is extremely rewarding (that is the creeper you see falling down on the pool rock wall). It is so elegant and slow in the way it grows down on a wall, and it blooms all year round. It also provides the only flowers in the months of January and February–how precious is that? And we use it to cook and roast in the fireplace.”

Stay: Marais House

Paris, France
10.14.2011 | by: Meghan

The Marais House is as quintessentially Parisian and eclectic as they get. Situated on one of the oldest street in the Marais, the 16th-century, five-story b&b also doubles as a highly coveted location for film productions and photo shoots (including a glamorous spread with Laura Dern in W magazine a few years ago). The owner completely transformed the upscale city chateau, formerly a gold-leaf workshop where artisans crafted traditional lettered facades for storefronts, bringing in the requisite elements–a wrought-iron staircase, Venetian painted doors, and count them, eight 17th century stone fireplaces–to make it feel like it’s been like this forever. If you’re so inclined, you can even rent the whole rambling place–cellars, drawing room, planted terrace with a view of the rooftops and all.