06/29/15 4:03pm
All photos: Leah Shafer

Cedar shake shingles for siding is a classic look for cottages all over Cape Cod. They are left unpainted and turn from light tan to a weathered gray over time. Clapboard siding is also commonly seen on Cape Cod cottages. All photos: Leah Shafer

Cape Cod has historic roots in American history, one of the earliest places the Pilgrims settled, later becoming a thriving fishing, whaling, and trading area.

But the romantic mythos of the Cape took off during John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign, much of which was based out of the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port. JFK gave his acceptance speech there after winning the 1960 election, and returned frequently during his presidency. The Kennedy’s Camelot and Cape Cod are inextricably linked in the American imagination.

Today, the year-round population of 220,000 swells during summer months, when many thousands flock to Cape Cod for relaxation and resorts. It stretches from Provincetown in the northeast to Woods Hole in the southwest, and each of the 15 towns has its own individual character and hallmarks.

The sunset at low tide from our vacation house near Oster in Cape Cod.

The sunset at low tide from our vacation house near Orleans in Cape Cod. Stunning.

Cape Cod still maintains a charming, maritime feel, with almost 560 miles of wide, sandy coastline (including the gorgeous Cape Cod National Seashore), and house after house with weathered cedar shake shingle siding and colorful flowers that thrive in the temperate summer climate.

I just returned from a week’s vacation in Cape Cod, where we stayed in a classic shingle-style Cape beach house near Orleans on the inner bay. My fiancé’s family has vacationed there since the 1970s, and I joined them last year for the first time. As someone who spent her childhood summers in Galveston, Cape Cod was an enchanting experience, from windy afternoons walking by the seagrass along the shoreline to driving along winding roads with lush vegetation. The whole week we were there, the temperature never rose above 71 degrees.

Candy just wrote about the Cape for Grand Vie Magazine (read it here), and we both are delighted with the region and intrigued by the real estate market there. As Realtor Paul Grover of Robert Paul Properties in Osterville told her, 68 percent of his buyers were from Boston and its suburbs in 2013, and lots are empty-nesters.

But contrary to popular belief, Cape Cod is not just a haven for the rich and famous. As I discovered, there’s a range of housing available, with many beauties available for under $400,000 (I photographed 14 houses I’d consider classic Cape Cod cottage style that you can see throughout this post).

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06/26/15 8:53am

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In the middle of this Texas Summer heat, who wouldn’t want to be out on a lake? At the 505 Ranch on Cedar Creek Lake, the water levels are up and it’s time for activities out on the water!

If you love lake living that’s close to Dallas, perhaps it’s time to consider a home at 505 Ranch? Jump to find out why it’s a great location for a quick getaway.

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06/22/15 4:15pm
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Promontory Nicklaus Hillside Village’s Klee Model features floor-to-ceiling windows to capitalize on the unobstructed views.

Need a new getaway with exceptional views and access to one of the best golf courses in the nation? Promontory — the exclusive Park City, Utah club — has debuted a collection of 26 luxury homesites with the highest elevations and panoramic views of the community. Dubbed “The Top of The Summit,” this area is sure to draw buyers who want distinctive homes and all the amenities of an established club, as well as unparalleled vistas.

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06/11/15 6:28pm

504 Spiller Front

If we were to stare into Maleficent’s mirror and ask it to tell us “What home in Austin is the coolest of all?” it would make up some weird rhyme to tell us all about this absolutely rad structure in Westlake Hills. Designed by architect John Watson, a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright, the “Grotto Dome” house might be the coolest house in all of Central Texas. And you can quote me on that.

504 Spiller Pond

504 Spiller Deck

It’s an escape in the city, a home tucked into a ravine with a narrow little creek that runs beneath it. Jump to see more photos of what could be either an amazing second home, a vacation home, or a primary residence that’s cool enough to feel like a vacation. We don’t care what you call it, really, as long as you invite us over to sip cocktails and play pool by the pool in the grotto.

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05/28/15 3:24pm
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Figure 1: Recently Approved Phase 2 of Hughes’ Kaka’ako Plans

The market for Honolulu condos makes Dallas look like Sleepy Hollow.  Even the ultra-tony Bleu Ciel with its recent price hikes is only pricing its smallest unit at a meager $640 a square foot.  Compare that with still-being-built Honolulu high-rises Anaha and Waiea where a 435-square-foot studio on a no-view floor will run ya nearly double that.

And while sales in Dallas for these costly homes chugs along, Bleu Ciel, Museum Tower and its kin must dream of Hawai’ian voraciousness with 2016’s Anaha already 80 percent-plus sold.  After a recession hiatus, Honolulu is again seeing buyers (likely their staff) camping out on sidewalks when new blocks of units are released for sale.

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05/26/15 8:45pm

It is important to maintain a sense of humor.
Photo by Catherine Hinojosa via Facebook

Okay, Texas. Enough. Just stop it. The horse-owning population of this state is #OverIt. Ours is not an indoor sport, and this is becoming a touch ridiculous. When your covered arena has more in common with an indoor pool than a sandbox, it’s time to wave the white flag. Thank you, Ma Nature, for removing us from the drought, but in your usual sick, twisted fashion, we’ve gotten the last five years worth of rain over the last five weeks.

I ask you, horse-owning universe, what did we do before Dubarry and Dublin boots? Wet feet, that’s what. Even the best rubber Wellies eventually had a crack, and your boot would gradually fill with urine and poo tinged water as you slogged around the barn. Remember hanging your dripping socks over the side of the bathtub? Yeah, me too.

Water, you go outside.
Photo Courtesy of Kelly James via Facebook

Beautiful pastures, fenced and cross-fenced!
Photo courtesy of Kendall Christine via Facebook

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05/26/15 1:41pm
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Greenbrier Sporting Club: 7000 sft, 5 bedrooms, wine cellar, billiards room, pool, hot tub, grill, bocce ball court, apartment: $5.995.

It was about this time last year that Kyle Crews, Juli Harrison, and Doris Jacobs all of Allie Beth Allman, and I hopped a plane to Charlestown, West Virginia to visit the one of the most beautiful, breath-taking and affordable vacation home spots in the nation: the Greenbrier Sporting Club.

Why I am telling you this story now? First of all, it’s the beginning of the vacation home season, and we should all be there, dry and happy and out of the rain. We are going back in a few weeks.

Secondly, I am sick of the rain. I know we need it, but this is getting ridiculous. Does Mother Nature know nothing but feast or famine? The only good news is that we may be able to sell some of this water to parched places in West Texas.

Then, the owner of the Greenbrier, Jim Justice, is running for governor of West Virginia in a self-funded campaign. The self-made billionaire was in Dallas last fall at an event benefiting Arlington Hall at Lee Park, visiting with some local owners – – there are a handful of folks in Dallas who own vacation homes at the Greenbrier, and more are interested. The Sporting Club will get even more interesting if Justice wins the governors race —

Greenbrier in Dallas Jim Justice and ABA

Jim Justice with Allie Beth & Pierce Allman, Judy Pittman, Dave Perry-Miller

Justice’s wealth easily trumps Rockefeller’s. The 64-year-old built a $1.7 billion fortune in coal and agriculture, and has painted himself a job creator who bought and restored The Greenbrier historic resort.

The values are unprecedented. When you see the resort, one of the oldest and largest in the country, and experience the magnificent homes and mountain home-sites that surround it, you will fall in love and seriously consider making your second home at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Mountain mama, take me home.

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I come ready to hike!

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05/26/15 1:34pm

Greenbrier $950 635657440772825000_HC8_ext_1600x1200_NP

While flipping the filets yesterday, while it was pouring rain, I was aghast that I had left you with the impression that only a gadzillionaire could afford a vacation home at The Greenbrier. In fact, the Greenbrier Sporting Club is one of the best values in vacation home properties. I showed you a $5 million house, how about one for UNDER a million?

Lookie here: while the Sporting Club LOTS start at about $150,000, here is a 3-bedroom retreat, within close proximity to the resort, for less than a million. $989,900 to be exact. Reduced even.

And at this point I could at least grill on a LOT without rain seasoning the food! (more…)