Pick a Posh Pied-a-Terre

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- A second home? Plenty of people have second homes. Not everyone has a pied-a-terre, though -- that's for the rich.

What's the difference? Well, nothing, really. Deep-pocketed people might occupy their pied-a-terre or part-time residence for part of the week, part of the month or just for part of the year, but so might people who consider themselves firmly middle-class.

Atop Seattle's Mosler Lofts building is a one bedroom/two-and-a-quarter-bath duplex with dramatic double-height ceilings offering taggering views of the city and Puget Sound -- perfect for a pied-a-terre.

If there's a difference (beyond the fact one sounds fancier) it's in the details. Some people find it worth it to buy an exceedingly luxurious and comfortable apartment in a world-class city, and it's properties such as this that somehow say "pied-a-terre," not "second home" -- and properties such as this we look at today:

New York City
The sky's the limit when it comes to real estate in prime Manhattan neighborhoods. In the formerly boho but now fully gentrified West Village lies a one bedroom/one bath penthouse in a full-service prewar building listed at the heart-stopping price of $5.5 million.

The small entry -- less than 1,000 square feet -- does double duty as the dining room. The generously scaled step-down living room, meanwhile, has 12-feet high ceilings and a wood-burning fireplace.

The kitchen, a closet-sized space off the entry and dining room, has a window providing a spectacular view of the bustling city.

The lone bedroom boasts floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a surprisingly large walk-in closet. The attached bath isn't large but does have a window -- somewhat rare in even the largest and most expensive New York City apartments.

Casement-style French doors open from the living room to a 6-footwide planted terrace. The terrace itself runs the full width of the penthouse and offers panoramic views that include the Empire State Building.

For information, call Chris Kann (212-893-1426) or Robert Browne (212-893-1728) at Corcoran in New York City.

Los Angeles
On the Left Coast, at the tippy-top of a star-studded white-glove building in West Hollywood, a 2,400-square-foot one bedroom/two bathroom penthouse apartment listed at $2.5 million was meticulously and lavishly decorated in the style of a sophisticated Parisian apartment.

The entry features hand-painted murals, while the main salon and formal dining room boast glittery city views. An adjoining media room provides cozier moments, while the black-and-white checkered marble floors adds a dollop of Hollywood glam to the well-equipped kitchen.

The master (and only) bedroom, wrapped in artisan-crafted maple paneling, has a large, paneled office area attached. The uber-deluxe private bathroom also works the '30s Hollywood vibe with narrow-striped wallpaper and classic black marble countertops.

In addition to the balcony and two-car private parking, the complex offers 24-hour security, valet parking, a sun deck and rooftop swimming pool -- all with views to the Pacific Ocean.

For information, call Timothy Enright (310-652-6600) at The Enright Company in Los Angeles.

At the posh (but not complete) Ritz-Carlton Residences on Chicago's Magnificent Mile, a 31st-floor one bedroom/two-and-a-half bath apartment is being offered for $2.2 million.

The 1,900-square-foot condo has a living room of more than 400 square feet, a formal dining room, a small study (or office) and an eat-in kitchen with all the culinary bells and whistles to be expected from a multimillion-dollar apartment.

The spacious master bedroom has a bathroom with a spa tub and glass enclosed shower that, for obvious reasons, wouldn't look out of place in a four-star hotel. The building also offers world-class hotel services as well a residents-only private club with a screening room, wine cellar, fitness and spa facilities. The unit has parking for one car; valet parking runs another hundred grand.

For information, call Jane Shawkey (312-368-5329) or Rachel Bailey (312-264-5331) at Prudential/Rubloff Properties in Chicago.

High atop the LEED-certified Mosler Lofts building sits a one bedroom/two-and-a-quarter-bath duplex penthouse. Inside you'll find a dramatic double height ceiling in the living/dining room, concrete floors and walls of glass that slide open to narrow terraces and staggering views of the city and Puget Sound.

The sleek galley-style kitchen opens to floor-to-ceiling windows at one end and a full-height wine refrigerator on the other. The fridge stands next to a dining nook with a built-in micro-suede-covered bench.

The sliding, floor-to-ceiling glass panels in the master bedroom open up to a small terrace with multimillion-dollar views of Seattle's famous Space Needle.

The sybaritic master bath has sleek finishes, dual vanities, a free-standing soaking tub for two and a shower area separated from the rest of the room by a single sheet of glass.

The wraparound terrace is just wide enough for gathering a group of comfy chairs to watch the sun set over Puget Sound.

For information, call Sean Neilsen (206-909-0622) at Windermere Real Estate/Capitol Hill in Seattle.

San Francisco
High atop San Francisco's Russian Hill, in the postmodern Royal Towers building, a one bedroom/one-and-a-half bathroom co-op apartment features an unusual onyx foyer with marble inlaid parquet floors and a $2.9 million price tag.

The corner living room, wrapped on two sides with floor-to-ceiling glass panels, offers direct views of Alcatraz, Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge and the downtown skyline. The living room is separated from the dining room by a series of intricate, hand-carved Jaipur arches.

The gourmet galley kitchen was recently upgraded with hardwood floors, Shaker-style cabinetry, granite countertops and de rigueur stainless steel appliances.

The master bedroom has a floor-to-ceiling glass wall, a built-in Indian-style lounger and a to-die-for dressing room with hardwood floors, custom clothing cabinets, a massive built-in dresser and a full wall of floor-to-ceiling glass panels with jaw-dropping views of the bay. It's not a bad place to get dressed in the morning, if you can afford it.

For information, call Steven Mavromihalis (415-345-3030) at Pacific Union in San Francisco.

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