Altos del Maria

Photos Courtesy of Lil Miller

Panama: it’s routinely touted as one of the best places on earth for American retirement, with its stable government, spectacular climate, welcoming attitude, and low cost of living. Lil and Robert Miller moved to Panama from New Jersey eight years ago when they took early retirement. They’ve loved every minute of their adventure in a luxurious, gated community of mainly American, Canadian, and European expats in a rain forest mountain setting. Family matters now call them back to the States, and having met many Texas expats in Panama, the Millers contacted SecondShelters.com to spread the word they’re selling their home by owner.

Make the jump to learn more about the appeal of Panama and get a look at their Panamanian paradise: (more…)

The Alice in Wonderland-themed bunkroom of the 2016 Hamptons Designer Showhouse in Sag Harbor, New York. Photos courtesy of Julie Dodson Interiors.

Dodson’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’-themed bunk room in the 2016 Hampton Designer Showhouse. Photos courtesy of Julie Dodson Interiors.

If you’re in the habit of summering in the Hamptons, it’s probably already on your calendar: the Hampton Designer Showhouse, open now through Sept. 5 in Sag Harbor, New York. Houston’s own Julie Dodson was selected to join the fleet of elite designers that make the event one of the premier showhouse events in the country each year. Now in its 14th year, the house at 1597 Noyac Path benefits the Southampton Hospital and is presented by Traditional Homes. 

The daughter of renowned interior designer Tricia Dodson, Julie grew up steeped in taste and style. Under her own banner, Julie Dodson Interiors,  the Ole Miss grad has won such accolades as “Star on the Rise” from the Houston Design District in 2012, and one of “20 Young Designers to Watch” by Traditional Home Magazine in 2010.  The “Alice in Wonderland” theme she chose for her contribution in the show house illustrates her trademark combination of Hollywood glam and refined traditional — old and new, elegant and rustic — with a playful wink of whimsy.  (more…)

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It’s no surprise that Hawaii captures the imagination of people dreaming of a getaway. Tropical breezes, the deep blue Pacific, technicolor sunsets, and lush greenery set the stage for a dream vacation or the ultimate home away from home.

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Luxury Portfolio International have announced the winners of the HGTV Ultimate House Hunt, a month-long online contest held on HGTV.com each year.

The contest highlights exceptional homes from across the globe in eight exciting categories: Waterfront Homes, Master Retreats, International Homes, Living Large in Small Spaces, Bringing The Outside In, Kids’ Spaces, Classic Living and Making an Entrance. All featured homes are represented by members of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Luxury Portfolio International. Consumers vote for their favorite, and a winner is chosen at the end.

This year, Hawaii cleaned up, winning honors in three categories as well as the overall winner. Massachusetts homes won in two categories, as did Florida homes and the International award winner is located in Lugano, Switzerland.

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St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans. Photo by Takahiro Kyono https://www.flickr.com/photos/75972766@N02/7479400566/

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans. Photo by Takahiro Kyono

New Orleans, dripping with charm and history, a tourism mecca known for jazz music, boisterous fun and a world-class culinary scene.  In high times (such as Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, and bowl games) lodging rates skyrocket to the advantage of second home owners who wish to vacate and lease out their properties. And for those who don’t, attending those events is all the sweeter when they can crash in their own crib at night in the Big Easy.

Yesterday, Jon showcased some properties outside of the French Quarter, noting that he prefers quieter environs to raucous tourist areas.  But for party-hearty types who want a spot near the action, the logical place  to start shopping is the 300-year-old “Vieux Carré,” home to often rowdy (actually pretty much all the time rowdy) Bourbon Street and some of the city’s most famous bars and restaurants.  

A car is useless here. It’s faster on foot to ford through crowds of folks adhering to the local creed, laissez les bon temps rouler. Being in the center of the merriment doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing taste. Just one block off Bourbon is 906 Royal Street, where condominium units B and F are up for sale as a duo.  The two units are set in a trio of picturesque, interconnecting townhomes built by one of NOLA’s most interesting families.

All photos courtesy of Latter & Blum Realtors

All photos courtesy of Latter & Blum Realtors

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Katrina reminded us that New Orleans is a city built in a bowl, and that when conditions are right, water will fill the bowl. Jiminy Crickets, the city’s drink is a Hurricane. For me, that means looking for a second home on the rim of the bowl.  Fortunately, my natural inclination is to live off the ground. Unfortunately, New Orleans isn’t a city awash in high-rises.

Many of you may be thinking I’ve missed the point of being in New Orleans and that I need to focus on the classically historic structures that line the city.  Nope. While my recent trip reintroduced me to a city I’d not visited in over a decade, some things are best experienced more from afar than continually up-close. The French Quarter retains its beer-sopped streets along with the skeevy tourist and local clientele of memory. And that kind of unpredictable raucousness has never been me. It’s OK to visit, as one would a foreign land, but stepping over blacked-out barflies 24/7 isn’t how I want to live.

Sign of things to come in airport taxi

Sign of things to come in airport taxi

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Michael Gooden

Rendering of the MC13 House by M Gooden Design

The craze for shipping container homes shows no signs of slowing down, as consumers seek out the eco-friendly, unusual abodes.

One Texas design firm is following up their acclaimed shipping container home in East Dallas with another industrial chic home near Waco, Texas.

M Gooden Design, a residential design studio based in Dallas, is in the design and documentation phase of the MC13 house near Waco. The home will be constructed from 13 locally sourced shipping containers, with around 3,500 square feet on two stories, says founder Michael Gooden.

“It will sit on the top of a hill in the middle of 300 acres, and the aesthetic is a blend of industrial feel with some Midcentury modern undertones in there,” he said. “The clients currently live in a 1950s Midcentury Modern house and we wanted as a design team to remember to that era.”

Gooden and associate Kevan Russell are creating an open concept house. This is possible when using shipping containers because of a secondary steel superstructure within the house that carries the weight and the distributed loads of the containers as they are stacked on top of each other.

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Bermuda: Endless Views of Pastel Houses and Endless Water

Bermuda: Endless views of pastel houses and endless water.

Bermuda is a cluster of 130 picturesque islands you think is located in the Caribbean, but it’s actually in the North Atlantic Ocean about 650 miles east of North Carolina and 950 miles north of the Bahamas. Bermuda is known as much for its beauty as it is as a tax haven for multinational businesses.

Driving around Hamilton, you’d think the world consisted of bars, restaurants, insurance companies, and banks surrounded by ocean. That’s because while 400,000 tourists visit the island annually, 60 percent of the island’s GDP is derived from financial services.

As much as I detest corporate tax avoidance, I understand that without it, this island would be a lot poorer than it is. Certainly Bermuda has fallen into a sleepiness since its heyday in the 1960s as a jet set destination. While meticulously maintained, large hotels tend to be of that era. Tourists tend to be visiting executives eager for sun, sand, and high finance as well as east coasters wanting something more tranquil than some of the other more touristy islands of the Caribbean.

Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory so driving is on the left, but oddly the Bermudian Dollar is pegged to the US dollar (1-to-1) which makes currency conversion as easy as it gets. The local population of about 67,000 consists of those who trace their lineage to the UK and Africa (a legacy of the slave trade). Like many conquests, the original populace were wiped out by smallpox and STDs brought over by the original Europeans (how cheerful).

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The valet parking line stretched down the block for Honolulu-based lux furniture store C.S. Wo’s annual “Home for the Holidays” bash for its top-tier customers and designers. This year’s event marked the 16th anniversary partnership between C.S. Wo and Neiman Marcus.

The event, in conjunction with Neiman’s HeART corporate charitable giving program, featured some 60 exclusive holiday items from the Love to Give Collection. Ten percent of proceeds will be donated to the Honolulu Museum of the Arts.

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On the surface, this was an event like many others … until you noticed cross-cultural Pacific catering snapped up by attendees that included a pair of roast suckling pigs served Chinese style, a poke (po-kay) bowl of seasoned fresh ahi with kizami and tobico served on warm sushi rice or the pork and vegetable encrusted shrimp served with chili sauce. Rounding out the menu was a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing, perhaps a nod to Neiman’s Texas roots?

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