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Selling a $4 Million NYC Townhouse? Try a Teepee

By Amy Zimmer | August 11, 2017 7:29am | Updated on August 11, 2017 7:02pm
 Studio DB custom designed this townhouse at 15 Willow St. in Brooklyn Heights, listed for $11.5 million.
Studio DB custom designed this townhouse at 15 Willow St. in Brooklyn Heights, listed for $11.5 million.
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Corcoran Group

MANHATTAN — Beyond bespoke kitchens and marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, there’s another common thread linking many luxury homes currently on the market in Brooklyn and Manhattan: teepees.

Several listings for high-end homes, upward of $4 million, feature images of kids’ bedrooms or play spaces staged with teepees. Designers say they are selling the idea of whimsy, creativity and a bit of nature to parents, whose kids might not get a lot of outdoor playtime.

Of course the teepees also show off spaces that are big enough to house such structures.

“If you can fit a children’s tent in your apartment, in any capacity, you know you have arrived,” said Taylor Spellman, interior designer, staging expert and star of Bravo's “Yours, Mine or Ours.”

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This home at 100 Barclay sold for $3.95 million. (Image courtesy of Corcoran Group. Photo credit: Rich Caplan.)

Spellman started incorporating what she calls tents — “I’m obviously aware of the fact this can be seen as cultural appropriation and in knowing that it can be a hot point, we call it a tent” — about two years ago, and has made them part of a signature look when staging apartments in TriBeCa’s 100 Barclay and 87 Leonard.

“I like to take a more aggressive standpoint with designing kids rooms and make them over the top,” Spellman said. “I view it as a space that can allow for family bonding away from a TV … anything that would promote playtime. Parents are just looking for that extra space for creative fun.”

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Spellman staged this penthouse at 87 Leonard, where another penthouse was recently listed at $9.95 million. (Photo credit: Rich Caplan.)

When she grew up in Connecticut, her mom would make "tents" for her to play with in the backyard, but Spellman knows that some moms don't have the time for that, and their kids don’t have the outdoor space allowing for hours of uninterrupted play time, so she’s been seeing an uptick in families wanting the teepees she uses in her staged apartments.

“They want it to be spoon-fed,” Spellman said.

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This townhouse at 138 N. First St. in Williamsburg is listed for $7.495 million. (Photo courtesy of the Corcoran Group)

Once upon a time, parents in the city’s upper echelon were more interested in “status-driven” toys for their kids, like mini-motorized cars, but now there’s more of a focus on “experiences,” said Britt Zunino, of the Midtown-based architecture and interior design firm Studio DB.

But that’s not the case anymore.

“Our clients are less inclined to buy kids crazy toys, but more willing to spend money on rock climbing structures, places to blow off steam,” she said, noting her firm has built slides and zip lines in apartments, too.

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This townhouse at 181 President St. in Carroll Gardens recently hit the market for $9.95 million. (Photo courtesy of Halstead Property Development Marketing)

With companies like Land of Nod selling an array of teepees, they’ve become more common nowadays, added Zunino, who recalled how her aunt — a collector of Navajo art and world traveler — gave her one more than 30 years ago when she was growing up in Michigan and they were rarer.

She has long incorporated them into her own children’s spaces and the ones she designs for other families.

“Kids love to feel sheltered. It makes sense they want this cozy little space,” said Zunino. “It’s very whimsical, which I feel like parents are very into now. They want their children to have these magical, whimsical experiences. They’re sort of trying to re-create these places because [their children] are not playing in the woods. It’s like a little tree house inside.”

Below, a three-bedroom unit at 34 W. 17th St., listed for $4.475 million. (Photo courtesy of Douglas Elliman.)

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