Romance, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. What makes a home romantic to one might not appeal to someone else. With this in mind, TopTenRealEstateDeals.com scoured luxury listings to make a list of homes with romantic attributes that could appeal to varying tastes.
Three of these extraordinary properties were the homes of celebrities who have had legendary love affairs. Others have histories of love that sometimes traveled to other continents, and/or were made with materials sourced from the old country. Others simply look like they are the setting for an epic love story. You’ll see details such as stone walls, vines, and Spanish moss — all of which are regarded as romantic characteristics to many — on the grounds of estates from San Francisco Bay to the Mediterranean Sea.
Perhaps you are a generous husband or wife with $2.3 million to $50 million set aside to spend on your beloved this Valentine’s Day. If so, consider this a gift catalog, with 10 estates from which to choose. (You’re welcome!) If you have less than $2.3 million to spend, feel free to click through these choices anyway to indulge in the fantasy.
By Colleen KanePosted 6 February 2012
Location: Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France
Price: Around $50.7 million
Square Footage: 10,000+
Behold the home of the woman whose name graces Chanel No. 5 and who invented the little black dress. Anyone familiar with the story of the couture icon Coco Chanel knows about her home in the South of France, Villa La Pausa. (In fact, La Pausa has its own Chanel fragrance named for it.)
Chanel herself supervised the building of this property, which overlooks the Mediterranean. Her hand can be seen in the simple yet chic interiors, which were among the first to use a neutral palette. The stone staircase in the grand hall was modeled after the one in the Cistercian convent orphanage where she grew up.
The roster of guests reads like a who’s who of culture in the first half of the 20th century: Igor Stravinsky, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Bonnard, Luchino Visconti, and W. Somerset Maugham. Later, when it was owned by literary agent Emery Reves, visitors included Sir Winston Churchill, the Duke of Windsor, Noel Coward, Aristotle Onassis, Greta Garbo, Rose Kennedy, as well as Graham Sutherland, Prince Rainier, and Princess Grace. As estate back-stories go, they don’t come much more impressive than this one.
Location: Fenwick, Old Saybrook, Connecticut
Price: $28 million
Square Footage: N/A
Whip-smart, independent, and possessed of a devil-may-care sense of fun, Katherine Hepburn was unconventional for her era and remains a model for many sassy heroines today. She co-starred with Spencer Tracey in romantic comedies such as “Desk Set,” “Adam’s Rib,” and “Pat and Mike,” and carried on a longtime love affair with him off-screen.
So for those who like their ladies fiery and with upper-class enunciation — or for those who aspire to be that way — here’s the dream estate on Long Island Sound that was in the Hepburn family since 1913. Young Kate used to summer there, then lived in the mansion full time for the last seven years of her life. The original house was destroyed by a hurricane in 1938, but this rebuilt version has undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation that raised the house from flood dangers, enlarged many rooms, and brought in much more natural light.
Location: Montecito, California
Price: $5.4 million
Square Footage: N/A
The traditional Provencal farmhouse was typically self-sufficient, with the capability to produce its own food and textiles — a romantic and old-fashioned notion for anyone who wants to sneak away with a lover for extended stays.
“Barrel-tiled roof,” “vine-covered walls,” and “handmade terra cotta floor tiles”: For those with a rural Francophile design sensibility, these phrases are the height of romance. If this describes your bride or groom, maybe it’s time to scrape together $5-plus-million for this little slice o’ French countryside. Then, mon frère, prepare to enjoy yourself with some decorative urns filled with greenery and an eyeful of ducks on the property’s pond.
Location: Vicksburg, Mississippi
Price: $2.9 million
Square Footage: 49,780
This mansion is the site of one of those love stories that would fall in the category of forbidden love in modern times. John Alexander Klein fell for Elizabeth Bartley Day when he was 28 and she was just 14. Being a gentleman, he waited two years to marry her, all the while building Cedar Grove. They took a year-long honeymoon touring Europe, where they collected many furnishings that remain in Cedar Grove today. It took 10 years for construction on the 30-bedroom beast of a home to be complete in 1852.
Further unbelievably romantic details: During the Civil War, General William Tecumseh Sherman (a relative of Elizabeth’s), commandeered Cedar Grove as a Union hospital. For her connection, Elizabeth was snubbed by society after the war. The family fortune was reportedly stashed away in a sideboard in the dining room and thus, preserved throughout the occupation. Finally, a cannonball is said to still be embedded in a parlor wall. The property, now an inn and restaurant, is also said to be haunted.
Location: Sonoma, California
Price: Nearly $4 million
Square Footage: 6,300
Why would someone give up Maison de Pierre? You guessed it: For love. The story goes that the owner of this 4.5 acre retreat and vineyard on Morningside Mountain fell for an Italian woman and decided to move to the East Coast to cut down the travel time to visit her. This Romeo of real estate had already gone through considerable trouble to create the property: Obtaining French stone masons, using hardware and fixtures from French antique shops and reclaimed wood from a French cheese shop, and having tiles custom made from patterns at Versailles.
Also on the premises is an imported British dining conservatory and the Golden Heart Vineyard, which grows Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdeux, and Cabernet Franc grapes. The climate-controlled wine cellar, with tasting rooms, can hold more than 2,300 bottles.
Location: Aspen, Colorado
Price: $48.5 million
Square Footage: 23,649
To a certain type of romantic, nothing is better than getting snowed in and having a roaring fire. To that subset of the folks who love being cozy and snowbound, nothing is better than being snowed in at an absolute behemoth of a ski lodge. If you’re there with a big group and want some privacy, there’s always the private log cabin on the property as an escape, along with a private island on the creek for warmer-weather enjoyment. The 80-acre property offers year-round activities, such as horseback riding, hiking, and fishing.
Location: Belvedere Island, California
Price: $45 million
Square Footage: 15,500
There is no touching back story on this property. It’s brand new. However, it is located on a private island with unobstructed views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Sausalito, and the Bay Bridge. If the prospect of a dinner al fresco with those views on one of the 6,000 square feet of terraces doesn’t ignite a romantic mood, the property has plenty of other diversions: A 50-foot Bisazza tile lap pool and spa, terraced gardens and separate pool house, private health club with sauna, steam room and gym, gourmet kitchen with butler and food pantry, and a temperature-controlled wine cellar.
Location: New York City
Price: $28 million
Square Footage: 10,911
At nearly 11,000 square feet, this contemporary five-story penthouse structure is officially a mansion, situated on top of a building in the Tribeca section of Manhattan. That kind of space in a private home in New York City is as rare and special as the purest true love heralded in the movie “The Princess Bride.”
This is one of the less-ornamented homes on the list — the romance is all around in the glimmering city view. Some jaded daters might complain that a good man is hard to find in New York. In answer to that, the master bath has a larger-than-life rendering of David by the Jacuzzi.
Location: Key Largo, Florida
Price: $20 million
Square Footage: 6,127
Living on a private island is a fantasy for many a landlubber. Arthur Vining Davis, chairman of Alcoa and owner of Arvida Corp. (and generally one of the wealthiest men in the world) was able to make that a reality. He set up his tropical retreat on the 63-acre Broad Key, the highest point in upper Key Largo, which can only be accessed by boat or helicopter. For the next owner to come along, it promises to be just like the film “Blue Lagoon,” only with a main house, guest house, caretaker’s cottage, solar generator power system, satellite dish communication, and video security equipment.
For those times the new islanders might feel social or need to run errands, the Ocean Reef Club community is nearby, with a fully staffed medical center, gourmet grocery store, veterinary care, and The Academy, an independent K-8th grade “school within a school.”
Location: Lakeland, Florida
Price: $2.3 million
Square Footage: 4,412
Not all classic country songs are about heartbreak, violence, poverty, drug or alcohol abuse, or a combination of the above. Many are downright romantic. Husband and wife performers George Jones and Tammy Wynette cranked out a few such love songs in their day, including “Near You,” “We’re Not the Jet Set,” and “Take Me.” Wynette always wanted to live in an Antebellum-style home like Tara in “Gone With the Wind.” Not long after the pair married in 1969, her dream came true. She told The Tampa Tribune in 1971, “This is the home for us. … It’s the only place we want to be.”
The house was built in 1902, and it is said that Thomas Edison and Teddy Roosevelt were among those entertained there. Once Wynette and Jones moved in, they called it Old Plantation Music Park, and luminaries such as Johnny Cash and Charlie Pride partied here. The couple had a guitar-shaped swimming pool installed and were in the process of putting in a studio, but the neighbors were not keen on it. The pair wrote the songs “Two Story House” and “The Grand Tour” about the house before moving out in 1972. In keeping with the drama-filled country song lifestyle, the marriage ended in d-i-v-o-r-c-e in 1975.