Less Is Moore

  • “It’s gluttonous, but it’s charming,” the broker Stephen McRae said on the Sunday morning of Aug. 9, strolling around in the cavernous master bathroom of Julianne Moore’s West 11th Street townhouse, where the massive marble tub in the middle of the room looks just like the marble fireplace on the bathroom’s west wall, next to the bidet.

    “I’m thinking this has a practicality. And a glamour,” said his colleague Debbie Korb, who was downstairs in the two-room, two-fireplace parlor.

    Most brokers fling around good adjectives loosely, but the Sotheby’s agents were right. During a weekend tour, when the duo allowed an Observer writer and photographer inside, the 21-foot-wide place seemed so snug and intelligent and plush but unpretentious that it was hard to mind that in 2003 Ms. Moore spent only $3.5 million on the townhouse, which went on the market last week for $11,995,000. - Max Abelson

    All photos by Shravan Vidyarthi.

  • Because of a year and a half renovation, their house drips with cozy, old Manhattan, wood-stained charm. Even the transom over a basement door is heartbreakingly perfect. “You know that it’s an old house, but there’s nothing creepy about it. She got rid of the creepy and kept everything else,” Ms. Korb said. “She’s one of those anal-compulsive types, so it’s always pristine.”

  • “She put about the same into it that she bought it for,” said Ms. Korb. “It looked so bad at first. … She wasn’t jumping up and down, and her husband”—the filmmaker Bart Freundlich—certainly wasn’t.”

  • A neighbor's giant weeping willow wants to be near the house, bending over from the next-door garden to stare into back windows. Ms. Moore’s own backyard isn’t bad, either: A porch leads down to the 49-foot-long garden, anchored by a cosmic, nest-shaped tree house that’s included in the deal.

  • Ms. Moore’s family, meanwhile, is searching for a place across town so the kids can walk to school. “We’re looking in the East Village, we’re looking in Gramercy, we’re looking in the Lower East Side, even,” Ms. Korb offered. She lowered her voice. “Although it’s really hard to find something nice down there. I just can’t come up with it—anything that’s not a shlep.”

    mabelson@observer.com

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