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Buying and selling | Manolo for the Home
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Buy It: Steven Cojocaru’s MCM

Have $3.95 million just sitting around burning a hole in your pocket? Love that classic old school modern look? Then have I got just the property for you. Fashion critic Steven Cojocaru’s mid-century modern home is apparently up for sale, though you can lease it at a mere $20k per month.

What does that buy you? 3,850 square feet, first of all, under high pitched-roof ceilings with sweet exposed wood. There’s plenty of glass to let the outside in, and gorgeous exposed brick in the living room. Then there are all the “little” details like an orb fireplace, amazing bath tubs, and the neutral decor that might surprise some at its understated tastefulness.

And how about that infinity edge pool, mmm. Those are so awesome when done right. I tell you truly that while I usually go in for a bit more color and a lot more black, I wouldn’t kick this particular real estate out of bed. How about you? Like it? Love it? Hate it? Why?

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Super Cozy? Or Super Crazy?

Living small. Small space living. Whatever you want to call it, there are people doing it all over the world. Some get into small space living out of necessity — usually because either the money or the space simply isn’t there. Others do it because they want to see how low they can go when it comes to their ecological footprint. And I suppose there are those who think that 175 sq. ft. is plenty, thankyouverymuch.

Zaarath and Christopher Prokop appear to be just that, according to the NY Post. They work a lot, they don’t eat in, and they don’t host guests, which is why they had no qualms about buying a microstudio — possibly Manhattan’s smallest — for $150,000.

microstudio in new york city

The kitchen is used to store the few articles of clothing they keep in the microstudio, with most of their clothes living at various dry cleaners. Oh, and the couple’s two cats eat on the counter. There’s naught in the fridge other than espresso and champagne. A queen bed takes up a third of the microstudio, and the bathroom is the size of a small closet. At a mere 14.9 feet long and 10 feet wide, you can bet it feels a little claustrophobic.


“I’m amazed we can fit two people and two cats in there,” Zaarath said. “But it’s harmonious at this point. I have friends who say they could never live with their husbands in a place this small. It’s a good thing we like each other enough to live there.”

The only other resident of the microstudio is the couple’s Roomba, which must scare the bejeezus out of those poor cats every time it’s turned on. On one hand, I applaud Zaarath and Christopher Prokop for making the most of the space they can afford — they’ll apparently be able to pay off the $150,000 in a mere two years. On the other hand, they seem a little self-congratulatory about their knack for small space living.

Is Your House Making You Fat?

Studies show that while homeowners aren’t any more or less happy than renters, they experience more negative feelings related to their domiciles. And if that wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that female homeowners weigh more than female renters.

Researchers discovered homeowners, on average, outweighed renters by 12 pounds. In addition to excess weight, female homeowners were also carrying around more aggravation, making less time for leisure, and were less likely to spend time with friends.

Apparently the researchers controlled for age, as it would seem logical to assume that homeowners are on average older than renters and people tend to put on weight as they ride the chronology train into the future.

fat house
Fat House by Erwin Wurm (2003)

Alas, age has nothing to do with it. Researchers speculate that homeowners spend less time doing things like socializing with friends, walking, and playing sports because they are too busy fixing roofs, installing new wainscoting, and walking the aisles of Home Depot looking for deals on pedestal sinks for that half-bath they plan to install one of these days.

The findings present a chicken-or-the-egg question for social scientists, who are unsure if home ownership causes these patterns or if people prone to less sociability, less interest in leisure activities and higher stress are simply more attracted to owning homes.

Full disclosure: I am a female homeowner. I may be carrying around an extra pound or two, but not necessarily twelve. That said, I walk every day. And I wasn’t all that social to begin with. But this smacks to me of one of those “correlation does not imply causation” situations.

pirates are cool

The Pig Who Sleeps and More

I only stumbled upon Auto NYC (a mini department store in the city’s meatpacking district) recently, and then only by accident. It’s amazing how things change when you haven’t been seriously back to a certain locale in years. Luckily, getting a wee bit lost was fortuitous, as resting one’s weary legs among jewelry, bedding, furniture, books, art, and other lovely things is no hardship at all.

Auto home accents

Three objects I found myself drawn to were a solar system mobile completely hand crocheted from alpaca yarn; a sleeping pig (complete with pillow) embellished with a colonial scene with the French, British and American flags; and custom Russian Matrioska nesting dolls made to look like your family by illustrator Trisha Krauss. While Auto NYC does sell slightly more… practical items for the home, I’m more apt to buy practical things at, say, Target and fun things at the wonderful little shops I happen upon in my adventures.

The $243.40 Toaster

A wonderful post over at Carpe Diem illustrates just how far we’ve progressed when it comes to the price of consumer goods. Of course, when I say progressed, I only mean that we can get just about any tool or accessory for the home (be it curtains, couches, or the old fashioned toaster) for much less than our grandparents would have paid. Relatively, that is. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is for the economists to decide. Being that one can buy a toaster for a mere $12, I’m just fascinated by the overall difference in price.

Toaster

Observe… The cost of Sears Toaster in 1949 was $16.95, which doesn’t sound like much but adds up to a whopping 13.5 hours of work at the average hourly manufacturing wage of $1.26. Whereas the cost of a Sears toaster in 2009 is $19.99, or 1.1 hours of work at the average hourly manufacturing wage of $18.03. That explains a lot about why my grandfather will repair a toaster that’s on the fritz while my father will just toss the old one and go and buy a new one at Wal*Mart. Me? I don’t have a toaster; I just use the oven.

What? No One Told Me I’d Have to Read!

While actually buying a home is exciting, the whole looking-researching-looking-financing-looking-offering cycle can be a real drag. Add to that the document gathering and the meetings with people like mortgage financiers, and there’s nothing LESS exciting than buying a home. I can’t say that reading up to acquaint yourself with the ins and outs of the home buying process will make it less of a drag, but does make the whole to-do a lot less stressful! Here are the five books The Beard and I found truly helpful:

Home Buying For Dummies

I used to hate the ‘Dummies’ book because of the implication, but Home Buying For Dummies turned out to be really useful. The fact is that the world of real estate can be overwhelming, and this book breaks it all down into easy-to-swallow chunks.

Home Buyer's Checklist

The Beard preferred the Home Buyer’s Checklist, which was fine by me. One of us had to have a list of questions to ask sellers and their reps, after all, and I was more concerned with the financial end of things.

100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyers Should Ask

Ditto on 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask. There’s also a corresponding book for sellers by the same author…tricky!

10 Steps to Home Ownership

At my very core, I’m lazy, which is why I love any complicated how-to manual that comes with simple fill-in-the-blanks worksheets. 10 Steps to Home Ownership is more of a pre-buying book, but knowing if you’re ready to buy is an important part of buying.

The  106 Common Mistakes Homebuyers Make

I didn’t agree with everything in The 106 Common Mistakes Homebuyers Make, but I liked the commonsense, easy-to-understand way the author describes what worked for him. Fair warning: He’s a house flipper, so his advice doesn’t always apply to people who are buying a home in which to live.

If you bought or built a house and had a favorite book you relied on for guidance, tell us about it in the comments!

When chic can be shipped

The problem with so many of the lovely antique and vintage things I see each day is that while they look as close as can be on my laptop’s screen, they’re actually thousands of miles away in cute little shops located all over the country.

I find, for example, the most darling little hand shaped teapot, only to discover that the Arizonian potter who creates them doesn’t do distance sales but would be happy to meet me at my convenience. That’s just one hypothetical example, of course.

Thank you, Coleen!

Everything in the pic above can be found at Coleen & Company, in lovely Newport Beach, CA. Designer Coleen Rider finds lots of sweet pieces who knows where, stocking her shop with all things beautiful. She even deigns to put some of it up on the Internet so that those of us who secretly dream of things like leather-topped Italian writing desks, vintage porcelain birds, and colorful Chinoiserie panels can drool.

That problem I mentioned in the very start of this post? It’s no problem at all — order what you like on the web site (if, unlike me, you have the money), and Rider will have it lovingly packed and carefully shipped right to your doorstep. Happy shopping!

What will $1 million bucks buy these days?

When I was younger, I’d hear things like “a quarter of a million dollars” and marvel at how much money that must be. Oh, how times have changed! Most of the real estate in my own neighborhood goes for at least twice that, and plenty of the houses just blocks away from my own last sold for far more than a million!

If I had a million bucks, I’d invest the crap out of it in low-risk investments that would sit untouched until it came time for me to retire. I do plan to save up a cool mil, but writing isn’t exactly a profession that nets you sick windfalls unless you’re a J.K. Rowling or a Stephen King. I’m working on it, all right?

San Fran

So what does one million dollars buy you these days? Forbes had a great slideshow on its web site illustrating what you can get for that sum around the U.S. The pic above is what you can buy in San Fransisco: a 3-bedroom pad with views of the Bay.

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