‘The ultimate in wow factor’
by Connie Adair
The owners, who also built their previous home, spent years designing this custom residence “from a very passionate heart” and ideas gathered during their travels around the world, says listing agent Dawna Borg of Re/Max Premier Inc.
Built in 2002, the approximately 10,000-square-foot home is a “European designer/hotel-inspired masterpiece that is perfect for lavish entertaining yet comfortable for daily living,” she says.
“It offers the ultimate in wow factor — stunning architecture, a natural stone exterior, a circular driveway with cobblestone imported from England, and incredible attention to detail.”
The living and dining rooms overlook the French-inspired great room, which has a precast stone wall, built-in bookcases, a two-way gas fireplace and wrought iron accents. “The formal living room was just renovated by HGTV and [the show] will be aired next spring,” Ms. Borg says.
The owners spent years designing this custom residence “from a very passionate heart” and ideas gathered during their travels around the world, says the listing agent.
Vaulted ceilings in the breakfast area, a soundproofed theatre room above the garage and a six-piece ensuite bathroom in the master suite are other highlights of the four-bedroom, nine-bathroom home. The octagonal sunroom/music room enjoys custom windows, a gas fireplace, a domed ceiling and a view of the grounds.
The walk-up lower level has coffered ceilings, limestone floors, etched glass doors, a cedar sauna, a steam shower and a whirlpool.
A pool, a freestanding whirlpool, a cabana, a bar, an outdoor kitchen and four oversized garages are features of the one-acre manicured property in National Estates. The grounds also feature perennial gardens, mature trees, an outdoor shower and 4,000 square feet of interlocking stone patios.
“Location is prime because [National Estates] homes are on full service [water and sewers]. Many of the other estate homes in Vaughan are on septic and well. It is also close to the National Golf Club,” Ms. Borg says.
The location has easy access to highways and the airport and the area has a strong sense of community, she says. National Estates is “where many businesspeople aspire to live. It has excellent public and private schools and amenities, and is a great sports and dance community for children.”
Panama City’s charm lies beyond the canal in Casco Viejo neighbourhood
With dilapidated buildings and whimsical art along the streets, Panama City’s Casco Viejo neighbourhood is fascinating to explore.
By Carolyn Ali
Juan Carlos is giving us the hard sell. As our boat approaches the first lock of the Panama Canal, he stands at the bow with his camera in the area roped off for crew members only. Excited passengers press against the barrier, as if a rumour just broke that George Clooney had stepped onto the red carpet. But the attraction isn’t Juan Carlos, or JC, as the tour guide calls himself. It’s our first glimpse of the man-made marvel that is Panama’s star attraction.
“Now is your chance!” JC booms into his microphone. “I will take your photograph in front of the Panama Canal! For only $10, I will give you a photo and a certificate that proves you were really here!” One by one, he leads takers under the white rope to grin for his camera, which he deftly operates with one hand while clutching the microphone in the other. “Remember,” he repeats, “this is your only chance to certify that you visited the canal!”
While I declined certification, it turned out that there were plenty of excellent opportunities for free photos to come. My five-hour boat ride, which transited part of the Panama Canal, provided an unforgettable look at the 20th-century engineering feat. And since I experienced the canal on a day trip from Panama City, rather than as part of a long journey on a traditional cruise ship, I could flee the boat in the afternoon and spend the rest of my vacation on dry land.
The gentrification has a long way to go, however. Walking around Casco Viejo is like walking around a partially completed Hollywood movie set. On one corner, there’s a magnificently restored Spanish mansion with freshly painted walls, brilliant bougainvillea, and exquisite wraparound wrought-iron balconies. On another, there’s a shell of a colonial building with punched-out windows and palm fronds busting through. Next to that is a boarded-up, graffiti-covered residence, and further on, an apartment building with a treacherous wood-plank staircase open to the street and barbed-wire railings on the balcony. It looks like it should be condemned, but children’s voices come ringing from inside, along with the clank of pots and pans.
to be continued
Far North Dallas home layered with personality, warmth
By JAMIE KNODEL
A room doesn’t have to have much color to be warm, thoughtful and charming. In fact, it doesn’t have to have any. Paula Young has taken her passion for all things white and created a cozy and collected atmosphere. While you will find loads of texture and sentimental pieces in her North Dallas house, you won’t find anything but shades of white, from chalk and cream to almond and linen.
The sofas and chairs are white, and so are the antique secretary and buffet. Dressers, cabinets and side tables all wear the color. Windows and beds are dressed in it, too. Even her autumn pumpkins are white.
“Everything looks good on white,” says Young, who has added wood tones to the mix to keep her rooms from being too stark. “And white makes everything look bigger.”
Young layers her white rooms with vintage photographs and frames, antique silver and glassware, dried flowers, and glass cloches and wire domes that highlight special pieces.
The walls are filled with architectural salvage, worn and chipped shutters, aged windows and even pieces of furniture that have seen better days. One weathered drop-leaf table was dismantled, and individual parts were affixed to walls for decorative effect.
Young’s isn’t a look that comes together overnight; she’s been collecting furniture and accessories for years. The collector of cast-offs is a regular at flea markets, antiques stores and thrift shops. She also often takes home items from the curb and gathers branches and natural elements from neighbors’ yards.
“I’ll always stop and pick up finds,” says Young, 59, who shares her all-white house with her husband, Bob. She says he is crazy for the look, too, and has even dragged home a few pieces on his own.
One thing the New Orleans native and mother of two grown children can never pass up is wrought iron. “I never go home and come back without some new iron piece,” she says. And if it’s chipped and rusted, that’s even better.
The worn, aged look that Young has made her signature means that everything in her house has a story. The chair with the ripped upholstery in the master bathroom came from a beloved grandmother. A screen door hung in a rear foyer was picked up in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina cleanup. The silver platters scattered throughout the rooms were used at the rehearsal dinner before her son’s wedding. “I can’t get rid of anything,” she says. “But living with the stuff that I like just makes me happy.”
After decades of helping friends and families style their homes, Young has left her job as an assistant at a school and is launching a business to help others showcase the things they love. Paula’s House takes the furnishings and pieces that a client already owns and enhances them through editing, styling and new placement.
“I’m using your things, but giving you a new look,” Young says. People mostly use their furniture only for its intended purpose, she says, and wind up with rooms that look like they are reproductions of store displays. Young finds ways to add personality and interest by highlighting collections that may have been tucked away, adjusting furniture layout and creating interesting vignettes for tabletops and bookcases.
“I just want people to love their things and love their rooms.” Young says. The initial consultation, which includes one hour of service, is $175; additional help is $75 an hour.
Paula’s House isn’t just for people who want the all-white look, says Young, who also works at the popular LaurieAnna’s Vintage Home in Canton on First Monday days. She’s comfortable with all styles — from cozy cottage to sleek and contemporary. “No matter the style, we’re finding ways for people to be happier in their homes.”
Dancing with the Stars alum Corky Ballas opens dance studio in Northwest San Antonio
by Leslie Mouton
Wrought iron railings line the balconies of colorful apartments. There are upscale shops, cafe dining and even a rail line that runs through the city.
But within this city is another city, and it’s dedicated to dance. iDanceCity is the first of its kind, high-tech dance studio, run by world champion dancer and instructor on Dancing With The Stars, Corky Ballas.
This unique dance studio has a giant and elegant, wooden ballroom floor. On each side of the ballroom, are several flat screen monitors hanging from the ceiling.
The screens are programmed with all levels of learning, so students can perfect their Paso Doble at their own pace.
“Whatever level you feel comfortable at, you get in front of those monitors, and live teachers walk up and down and dance with you to make sure you are progressing,” Ballas said.
Corky says what’s unique and wonderful about iDanceCity, is it works for dancers of all levels.
You can watch the monitors and mimic the moves until you master them. You can also practice with the instructors or even the other students.
“I also teach ballet body workouts and do personal training,” said Lauren Quiroz, one of the hired instructors. There is also a dance instructor for young kids.
Rather than pay for lessons to learn an individual dance, this place is set up like a gym membership.
Students pay a monthly fee of $50 and get unlimited access to all lessons. “If you want to take every class, it would come out to about 80 cents a class. That’s less than a cup of coffee” Corky said.
Ballas decided to open the studio in San Antonio because he says he sees the potential for huge success in this city.
A dancing craze has swept the country, and he hopes iDanceCity will get more people off the couch and ready to Rumba!
Melbourne is known for its laneways.
Venture up some grubby stairs away from the bustling office workers on Melbourne’s Bourke Street and you arrive at a garden scene of pink walls, synthetic turf and white wrought iron furniture. Hipster waiting staff in retro outfits, who look as if they have just stepped off the croquet lawn, are serving pink cupcakes and bubbles to an assorted crowd relaxing in the spring sunshine.
This is Madame Brussels, one of Melbourne’s many roof-top bars, which serves everything from high tea in the day to late-night drinks.
“I call it Wisteria Lane meets Alice in Wonderland meets Peggy Guggenheim in her palazzo in Venice” announces the husky-voiced Miss Pearls, who is a co-owner of the bar she presides over.
There is something deeply politically incorrect about Miss Pearls, a former actor who sees the world as her stage. The Melbourne eccentric is fond of throwing fur parties in her back room – decorated as a gentleman’s club – and on the day I meet her is proud of several pairs of white ’70s tennis shorts she has bought and is determined to squeeze her young male staff into.
Miss Pearls is no stranger to taking a fashion risk herself. She has commissioned a young taxidermist to create her race-day hat and shows off a beautifully crafted headpiece made out of rather a lot of a dead magpie.
Welcome to Australia’s quirkiest city, where many of the best destinations for those visiting during the spring racing carnival are not at eye level.
“What I find about Melbourne is the hidden aspect, whether it’s dining, shopping or cocktails, has become really important to the city’s identity,” says shopping blogger Lady Melbourne (it seems honorifics are very de rigueur in this city).
“Melbourne makes you work for its shopping but if you are prepared to do the work you will be very well rewarded,” says the Lady, otherwise known as Phoebe Montague.
Dressed in a long cardigan and sporting glittering blue nails, Lady Melbourne takes us to the GPO for a spot of designer shopping, then we wind through beautiful arcades, up stairs and down alleys to discover out of the way shops such as Alice Euphemia, which stocks only Australian and New Zealand-designed fashion and jewellery, European designer store Marais and the Scandinavian store Somewhere.
For male punters, Henry Bucks in Collins Street and City Hatters at Flinders Street station are good destinations to pick up a hat.
For well-heeled women seeking race-day accessories, the perfect stop is Christine’s at 181 Flinders Lane. Down some steps and with a red tartan hallway entrance, the uninitiated could mistake this treasure trove – which is fit to make Carrie Bradshaw swoon – for a cheap vintage clothes shop.
This is the passion of professional bowerbird Christine Barro, who spent a quarter of a century buying glittering things for the former Melbourne destination store Georges, before opening her own store.
There is a bouquet of Philip Treacy hats, including his signature gondola hat, and the pillbox hat of the style worn by Victoria Beckham to the 2011 royal wedding. A $6950 pillbox studded with hand-sewn Swarovski crystals is the most outrageous of the collection. There are also Lanvin and Celine bags and shoes, and Adrian Lewis jewellery made from horn and quartz.
Melbourne’s changeable weather may be the butt of many interstate jokes, but Barro, who grew up in Sydney, insists that “the weather in Melbourne allows people to be more stylish because you can layer up”. She says that “it allows Melburnians to be more creative, because you are not outdoors as much, you are indoors doing something”.
to be continued