A minimalist home in the Hudson Valley designed by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, an 1883 Tudor in Evanston and a medieval-style castle in Kansas City.
What You Get for $5.5 Million
Michael Bowman Photography
Ancram, N.Y. | $5.25 Million
An artist-designed house with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a two-bedroom guesthouse and a swimming pool
The only private residence in the United States designed by Ai Weiwei, this home was commissioned in 2006 by Christopher Tsai, a financier and major collector of work by the Chinese artist. Mr. Ai collaborated with HHF Architects in Switzerland to develop the two-building complex: a blocky main house with a corrugated metal skin and a weathered Corten-steel guesthouse shaped like the letter Y. The property encompasses 37.5 acres in the Hudson Valley, about two hours north of New York City. Hudson, N.Y., with its high-end restaurants, design boutiques and train service, is 13 miles northwest.
Size: 3,509 square feet
Price per square foot: $1,496
Indoors: The minimal interior begins with a short, double-height hallway hung with a Frank Gehry-designed Cloud pendant lamp. The hallway is bounded on one side by the main staircase, and leads into a great room trimmed in gypsum wood. The central feature of this soaring space is a floor-to-ceiling gray-brick chimney.
On the other side of the staircase, flowing into the great room, is a Boffi kitchen that includes a central island embedded with a cooktop. (All of the appliances are from Gaggenau.) The full bathroom on this level, with its sleek white surfaces and rectangular tub, could be used as a powder room or by occupants of a main-floor guest bedroom that has built-in cabinetry and a windowed wall looking out on the landscape.
The two upstairs bedrooms have fixed picture windows and shuttered corrugated metal screens that let in air. The master suite includes a dressing room and a bathroom with floating sinks, a tub and a walk-in glass shower. A double-faced fireplace opens to the bathroom and bedroom.
A back staircase leads to a lofted study overlooking the great room. The study is lined with built-in desks, bookcases and cabinets. A fireplace punched out of the chimney is also in this room. The lower level includes a home theater, with surround sound, and a laundry room.
The guesthouse, a later addition, was originally conceived as a wood-lined gallery with a circular skylight. Living and sleeping spaces occupy the ends of two of the building’s arms, on either side of the central gallery. With the approval of HHF Architects, the current owners converted the below-grade, one-car garage into an apartment with a kitchenette and bathroom.
Outdoor space: The brick chimney protrudes beyond the building wall, with a fireplace opening to a large porch off the living room. The porch has western views of the Catskill Mountains. The current owners renovated the lap pool.
Contact: Graham Klemm, Klemm Real Estate, 860-488-6635; klemmrealestate.com
Evanston, Ill. | $5.2 Million
An 1883 Tudor with six bedrooms, six bathrooms, five half bathrooms and lake views
This late 19th-century house near Lake Michigan was built in the Queen Anne Victorian style popular at the time. In 1910, Mayo & Mayo, a local architectural firm, reconceived it as a Tudor. It is among a stretch of large historic houses along Sheridan Road, a picturesque thoroughfare leading into Chicago. (The Loop is about a half-hour south, depending on traffic.) Downtown Evanston, with its large concentration of shops and services, and the Northwestern University campus are within walking distance. A waterfront park is just across the road.
Size: 12,429 square feet
Price per square foot: $418
Indoors: In 2015, the property underwent a yearlong renovation and opened in 2016 as an ADA-compliant bed-and-breakfast with an elevator servicing all four floors and geothermal heating throughout the entire building. The kitchen and all 11 bathrooms were gutted and replaced, and each of the six bedrooms is now part of a suite. Original details were restored or replaced with period-appropriate materials and fixtures, like push-button brass light switches. All nine fireplaces have been made operable and have gas starters.
The front entrance takes you into a foyer with textured wall covering and parquet flooring. Passing the staircase and turning left, you find a large living room with pilasters, corbels and a decorative plaster ceiling. Every window in the house — including a series in a curtained bay overlooking the lake — was removed, restored and replaced. Doors on either end of the room lead to a wraparound stone terrace, and one door in the corner near the fireplace opens to a sunroom with hardwood floors.
To the right of the front door, past the rear staircase, is the dining room; it has coffered wood walls surmounted by an original plaster frieze. Separate doors lead to the new chef’s kitchen with white custom cabinets and dark soapstone counters, and an adjacent breakfast room, which is lined with French doors and has a fireplace.
An office with a beamed ceiling and limestone fireplace lies straight ahead of the entrance, and a large library with bookshelves, window seats and a stone fireplace is a flight up the staircase, on the mezzanine level.
A coffee bar with a double beverage cooler and icemaker is built into a wall of the second-floor hallway. The master suite has a fireplace, an attached sunroom and a subway-tile bathroom with a walk-in shower and a slipper tub with lake views. One of the other four bedrooms on this floor has access to a private outdoor porch with a hipped roof.
The third floor was renovated as the innkeeper’s suite, with a bedroom, kitchen, dining room, family room and one and a half bathrooms. The suite offers access to a large outdoor terrace. The lower level includes a billiard room with a built-in bar area, a gym, a massage room, a media room that walks out to gardens, a large laundry room and two half bathrooms.
Outdoor space: The house sits on 0.51 acres with gardens in front and along the sides. In back is a heated six-car garage with two plug-ins for electric cars. The second floor contains a new apartment with two bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms.
Taxes: $36,236 (2017)
Contact: Brandy Isaac, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, KoenigRubloff Realty Group, 847-510-5062; koenigrubloff.com
Kansas City, Mo. | $5.5 Million
A medieval-style castle built in 1993, with five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, three half bathrooms and 350 feet of lake frontage
The 800-year-old Ashford Castle in County Mayo, Ireland, inspired this house, named Camelot. Commissioned by a lawyer and his wife, it was built over a period of more than two years. The process involved laying 91 truckloads of Missouri limestone that had been hammered into squares and rectangles to fit the exterior’s English Ashlar pattern. The house sits on a 198-acre lake about 20 minutes northwest of downtown and about 15 minutes south of Kansas City International Airport.
Size: 15,060 square feet
Price per square foot: $365
Indoors: The rooms are decorated with custom murals, stained glass and ironwork, all produced by local artisans. One portal in the stone-faced circular entry hall leads to a 28-by-34-foot living room with an 18-foot coffered ceiling, hand-scraped oak floors and a built-in bar. Another opens to a round dining room with a floor-to-ceiling Arthurian mural and a 200-year-old hand-carved fireplace mantel supported by knights in the round and decorated with dragons in relief.
The kitchen is clad in grainy, textured wood with iron hardware and slabs of granite, and includes a Wolf range and a commercial-grade refrigerator. The adjacent library is lined in bookshelves and decorated with stained glass. A secret passage in a tower leads to a sunroom with stone floors, arched Gothic-style windows and a mural-covered ceiling.
The master bedroom includes a built-in carved canopy bed with spiral posts, two room-size closets and a bathroom with heated stone floors and separate sides for each member of a couple. The soaking tub is embedded in a block of granite near an arched stained-glass window. Another bedroom suite has its own kitchenette. A third, above the dining room, is circular, with fabric-covered walls and a high, tented ceiling.
The lower level includes a game room with an elaborate wet bar, rusticated stone fireplace and bow window overlooking the lake. There is also an exercise room with a sauna, a 5,000-bottle wine cellar, a full kitchen and a large, stone-floored potting shed. The house has an elevator.
Outdoor space: The gated 1.03-acre lot includes lawns and gardens studded with sculpture. An upper patio planted with topiary has large seating areas with lake views. A lower covered patio can be reached directly from the second kitchen for entertaining. A private dock protrudes into a lake stocked with trout, crappie, bass and walleye. The house has an attached four-car garage.
Contact: Tina Welch, ReeceNichols Real Estate, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, 816-741-2510; reecenichols.com
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