It’s Free to Look: 81 Barrow Street

No one, after spending $16.95 million, likes to compromise. And at this house no one will have to. Traditional? Modern? Can't decide? Just take both!

The townhouse, built in 1852, has one foot in the past and one in what can only be called the future. The bottom floors, according to the Douglas Elliman listing, are "painstakingly restored" in a "traditional style," while the top floors are "dramatic, yet Zen." Amenities in the townhouse's upper reaches include an "oversized suspended aquarium," which is aesthetically jarring enough to reassure inhabitants that when it comes to design, they indeed have it both ways.

One detail is telling: The house is currently occupied by two families. But the listing says it is "easily used as a single family home," as long as that family can handle "two distinct lifestyles in one townhouse residence." Really it's for people who can't make up their minds. If you don't want to cook inside, use the outdoor kitchen. If you don't like soaking in the first Jacuzzi, try the second, or, for a real change of pace, the suspended aquarium. — William Alden

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No one, after spending $16.95 million, likes to compromise. And at this house no one will have to. Traditional? Modern? Can’t decide? Just take both!

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