House of the Week: Neil Bieff Residence, Rye Estate Up for Auction, Philip Johnson Glass House Tour, Grow Beautiful Orchids



1. House of the Week: Neil Bieff Residence
$925,000
Annual property taxes: $14,679
2 Munson Pond Ln, Pleasantville


As if being a beautifully renovated, circa-1938 Colonial wasn’t enough, this fascinating property also has the distinction of being, since 1997, home to famed fashion designer Neil Bieff. (His sensuous evening gowns have been the choice of red-carpet notables from Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Ross to Marion Cotillard and Nadja Auermann, and his haute couture line is carried by Mary Jane Denzer in White Plains.)
“The house is unusual,” says Dana Bieff, who owns the property with her husband and also happens to be its listing agent. “It’s an antique Colonial, yet it’s very modern. When we moved from our very modern, SoHo loft with glass walls and sliding doors, I was looking for a warm, family home in the suburbs. We found this house, and my husband loved the pure architecture, but changes were necessary to make it work for him.” The Bieffs asked Manhattan-based, modernist architect (and Mount Kisco native) Henry Smith-Miller to recreate some of the modern elements he had fashioned in their Manhattan loft. “For example, we replaced the wood banister with a silvery steel banister, updated the master bedroom suite—blending glass, stainless steel, tile, marble, and mirrors—and took down a corner wall in the kitchen and replaced it with glass,” Bieff explains. “Yet, we still managed to retain the architecture of a vintage house.”
Set on more than one-and-a-half private, pastoral acres, the property also features spectacular perennial gardens, thanks to what Bieff calls her husband’s “painterly touch.” “He designed an incredible garden with the most spectacular, exotic-looking plants,” she says. Other highlights: a stainless steel eat-in kitchen with a Thermodor gas cooktop and wood-beamed ceiling, glass walls to savor pond views, a new roof, copper gutters, and an in-ground swimming pool.
For more information, contact Houlihan Lawrence listing agent Dana Bieff at (914) 912-6004 or visit www.danabieff.houlihanlawrence.com.   

2. Get Ready, Get Set, Bid! Rye Estate Up for Auction
Minimum bid: $1.8 million
Annual property taxes: $42,127
81 Polly Park Rd, Rye


Mark your calendars for a chance to make the three-story, 7,500 square-foot Brookside estate your home at the Paramount Realty auction scheduled for Sunday, March 4, at The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester in White Plains. A minimum bid of $1.8 million has been set for the Rye property, including over an acre of landscaped lawns, which was previously listed for $2.95 million. Among the many features of the luxurious property (that borders Westchester Country Club and 45 acres of private, wooded land): cathedral ceilings; six bedrooms, five full baths, and two powder rooms; a gourmet kitchen; a full-sized finished basement with a state-of-the-art home theater; a large, custom-fabricated wine cellar; a three-car garage with room for a limousine; a fitness room; and staff quarters with a separate entrance.
Not in the market for an entire estate? Among other items available are: furniture, paintings, and other works of art the owner acquired from the Sotheby’s auction of the Gianni Versace estate; a Bluthner grand piano (valued at $170,000) used during Michael Jackson and Madonna concerts; a Cadillac limousine; and a Jeep Liberty.
For more information and to make an appointment to tour the estate, contact Paramount Realty USA at (212) 867-3333 or visit www.prusa.com.  

3. Philip Johnson Glass House Tour

Photo by Stacy Bass

Experience life in a glass house—or at least the idea of it—when the Philip Johnson Glass House opens its doors for a sixth year of public tours. Built in 1949 by the influential architect, and now a National Historic Landmark, the famous residence where Johnson lived for decades with his long-time partner, art critic and curator David Whitney, is considered a masterpiece for its use of glass and a study in minimalist design. The rambling, 47-acre estate at 199 Elm Street in New Canaan, Connecticut, includes 14 modern buildings and signature landscaping that Whitney helped design. Tickets for this year’s tour season (May 2 through November 30) go on sale beginning at 9 am today (February 14).
In addition to the usual tour highlights, this year, guests also have the opportunity to take in a new, seasonal Landscape/Gardens Tour on specific dates, which coincide, respectively, with the peak of David Whitney’s peony garden and the height of fall foliage at the Glass House site. Tour options range from a one-hour walk through the iconic Glass House ($30 per person) to a private, two-and-a-half-hour customized tour of the entire 14-structure site ($250 per person). or a $450-per-person private tour followed by dinner at the Johnson-designed Four Seasons Restaurant in Manhattan. (Two hundred dollars of the cost of a private tour is tax-deductible, in support of ongoing preservation and education causes.)
For more information about the available tours and to purchase tickets, call (866) 811-4111 or visit www.philipjohnsonglasshouse.org. 

4. You, Too, Can Grow Beautiful Orchids
If successfully growing orchids in your home is a continual challenge, join Carri Raven, aka “The Orchidphile,” who will share the secrets to success in a February 23 workshop, from 9:30 am to 11:30 am at the Garden Education Center of Greenwich (130 Bible St, Cos Cob, CT). In addition to running through the basics of watering and feeding and troubleshooting your specific orchid issues, Raven will personally evaluate any “problem orchids” you bring with you. Sign up for the workshop to get the first crack at purchasing special orchids from Raven’s collection at a trunk show following the program. The workshop fee is $20 for GEC members and $25 for non-members; the trunk show, at 11:30 am, is free.
For more information or to register, call (203) 869-9242, e-mail gec@gecgreenwich.org, or visit www.gecgreenwich.org.

5. Quote of the Week
“I thought listing my own house might be challenging, but, in truth, there is no one who appreciates the home more than I do. I know all of its many virtues and can point them out to prospective buyers with firsthand knowledge. I also know its history and have documented its metamorphosis. The right buyer will appreciate this, but I also understand that it's not a home for everyone, and that's okay. It's very special.” Dana Bieff, Houlihan Lawrence

We welcome information about fascinating homes on the market or real estate/home-related news and events—send to Karen Odom at kodom@westchestermagazine.com

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About This Blog

White Plains resident and writer Karen Odom has a passion for interesting architecture, especially when architecture and history collide. Her extensive experience as a real estate feature writer has led her in an around Westchester's distinctive homes uncovering the fascinating stories behind the houses, their owners, architects, and designers with awe, admiration, and more than just a little amazing curiosity.

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