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This Brokerage Firm Only Lists Castles and Historic Buildings

Deciding you want to buy a castle is easy. The hard part is knowing where to look for one. That’s where VIP Castle comes in: this specialty brokerage firm focuses exclusively on selling castles and other historic buildings. 

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Natalia Makovik founded the firm in 2007 after making the move from Belarus to the Czech Republic eight years prior. Unable to afford one of the country's more than 2000 castles and chateaux, Makovik decided to turn her passion for historical architecture into a career. "I believe it lies in that magic childhood dream of wanting to become the princess of a castle," Makovik tells mental_floss of her inspiration behind the move. More than five years passed before Makovik sold her first property, but today she’s closing up to three deals a month, with some buildings selling for nearly $4.5 million.

Not every castle she sells is limited to the mega-rich; people browsing properties on VIPCastle.com can narrow their search to "affordable castles." While that may sound like an oxymoron, the prices are often comparable to much humbler homes here in the states. The Kolovratsky Castle, for example—which Makovik's website describes as an "historical monument of the Czech Republic"—is currently listed at an asking price of 19,000 € or around $21,000. To put that into perspective, the median price of a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan is $710,000, according to The New York Times. The trade-off is restoration expenses, which can sometimes end up costing castle owners 10 times the purchase price.

Compared to other parts of Europe, a dilapidated castle bought in the Czech Republic is still a great bargain. "The Czech historical properties market is considered one of the most attractive areas for investment," says Makovik. VIP Castle specifies that non-residents are also allowed to buy historical properties in the country, so anyone is free to search through the company's online listings (there are currently 35 of them). "Anyone can buy an expensive car," says Makovik. "Owning a castle is rare."

[h/t Bloomberg Businessweek]

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Design
Watch an Artist Build a Secret Studio Beneath an Overpass
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Lebrel

Artists can be very particular about the spaces where they choose to do their work. Furniture designer Fernando Abellanas’s desk may not boast the quietest or most convenient location on Earth, but it definitely wins points for seclusion. According to Co.Design, the artist covertly constructed his studio beneath a bridge in Valencia, Spain.

To make his vision a reality, Abellanas had to build a metal and plywood apparatus and attach it to the top of an underpass. After climbing inside, he uses a crank to wheel the box to the top of the opposite wall. There, the contents of his studio, including his desk, chair, and wall art, are waiting for him.

The art nook was installed without permission from the city, so Abellanas admits that it’s only a matter of time before the authorities dismantle it or it's raided by someone else. While this space may not be permanent, he plans to build others like it around the city in secret. You can get a look at his construction process in the video below.

[h/t Co.Design]

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architecture
One of Frank Lloyd Wright's Final Residential Designs Goes on Sale in Ohio
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In case you’ve missed the many recent sales of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed real estate, you have yet another chance to secure yourself a historical starchitect home. The Louis Penfield House is being sold by its original owners, and it could be yours for a cool $1.3 million. The restored Usonian home in Willoughby Hills, Ohio has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2003.

The house is currently a vacation rental and, depending on the preference of the new owner, it could continue to operate as a tourist destination. Or you could take it over as your private residence, which sounds pretty luxurious. It still has a floor-to-ceiling glass-walled living room that looks out on the Chagrin River, and comes with all the original furniture Wright designed. Like Wright’s other Usonian homes, it has a radiant-floor heating system that draws on a natural gas well onsite.

A retro-looking living room features floor-to-ceiling windows.
A bedroom is filled with vintage wooden furniture.

Around the same time as the original commission, Louis and Pauline Penfield also asked Wright to create another house on an adjacent property, and that home would prove to be the architect’s final residential design. It was still on the drawing board when he died unexpectedly in 1959. The sale of the Penfield House includes the original plans for the second house, called Riverrock, so you’d be getting more like 1.5 Frank Lloyd Wright houses. Seems like a pretty good deal to us.

All images via Estately

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