08 December 2009

California Dreaming of the Lotto

 

It gets really boring searching Houston Real  Estate listings.  I mean – Houston, come on people!  We must have the ugliest houses in the world.  Seriously.   I can search for hours and find only two or three really cute houses to “ooh and aah” at, which then forces me to go search other cities and states.  California has great real estate surfing.  You could finds hundreds of worthy houses up and down the state; houses that you would move into tomorrow - fully furnished.  If you had the money that is.   Real estate in California is so insanely expensive I don’t know how anyone besides Madonna and Oprah can afford to live there. 

I was once told by a psychiatrist that a good way to beat the blues is to imagine you just won the lottery.  OK – let’s beat the blues!      Below are a few houses for sale in California that look good -  inside and out.    I chose them at all different price ranges.     The only criterion for picking the houses was I pulled from the section of Los Angeles to Santa Barbara – and the house had to be furnished in a way that one could move into it tomorrow - without having to change much.  Play along and pick your favorite or you might not like any of them!

 

 House #1

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From the front side, the first house doesn’t look worth the huge price list.  But just wait.  Overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Montecito valley, the view is gorgeous.    The estate was built in the 1920s and is on seven acres;  recently remodeled it has seven bedrooms.  The brochure calls this estate “manageable” whatever that means.  I suppose if you have a staff of only 2 – it is manageable.  

 

 

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Here’s the view of the Montecito Valley and the Pacific Ocean from the back side of the house. 

 

 

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Looking up at the house from the pool.  A charming vine covered pergola is on the left.  On the right is a another pergola placed for symmetry. 

 

 

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There is an adorable ivy covered “guest” house.    I’d move my blogging headquarters there immediately. 

 

 

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A closer view of the back of the house with the arched covered terrace.      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

imageThe double door certainly looks original to the property, as do the floors.  

 

 

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The main living room was a surprise.   It actually looks like it was decorated by someone young for someone young.    Most houses in this price range are furnished rather theme-like and matronly, either heavily Tuscan-inspired with lots of chenille or sappy French with frothy silks and brocades.   This house looks like it was designed by someone who might occasionally look at a trendy magazine or two.   And it looks extremely livable, warm and inviting.   Though very large – I can imagine watching TV in here after dinner with Mr. Slipper Socks Man.  This room is not dressy, it is relaxed and comfortable – perfect for a young family with lots of children.  Do you have any idea what a house like this might cost?

 

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The arched balcony off the living room with wicker and stone furniture instead of fancy iron furniture purchased in a set.  I love the portieres that soften the arches.   Did you come up with a price yet?

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imageThe dining room.  The nice thing about houses of this caliber is all the fireplaces.  I love dining rooms with a fireplace – they are so romantic.   I don’t really care for this decor – the curtain and chair fabric, the chandelier, the demilunes – but I do love the table, the room just needs a little fine tuning, IMHO.   Out the door is the gallery pictured below:

 

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The gallery with groined ceiling, stucco walls and French doors.    These chairs look like they were borrowed from the living room for this photoshoot. 

 

 

 

imageThe kitchen is charming with its bank of windows overlooking the Pacific Ocean.   Totally remodeled, I like the built in banquette in the breakfast area.  

 

 

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The study – what a great space with the built in wood shelves and French doors leading to the outside arched covered patio.    I don’t care for the sofa’s fabric at all and would have preferred a white slipped one, but my favorite thing in the room?  The andirons!   They are so beautiful!  The mirror is pretty great too.

 

 

 

 

imageUpstairs, the master bedroom has a view of the ocean through the wonderful steel casement windows.    Windows are so important to a house, it’s a shame everyone can’t afford beauties like these!  I would love to get rid of my windows and replace them with steel ones.  But, that will never happen!  Notice how the doors are all stained a dark brown throughout the house.   Again, there is another wonderful fireplace in the room.  

 

 

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A guest room off the fabulous upper floor balcony.   How charming!   I wonder where the window above the night stand leads to?  The bathroom?   

 

 

 

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Guest bedroom – bathroom:   Beautiful blue and white tiles with ikat shower curtain.  I like the way the bathroom was sensitively updated instead of just turning it into a white marble room with frameless glass and polished nickel faucets.

 

 

 

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Can you imagine eating breakfast out here every morning?   Must be magical!

 

 

 image A private walled garden and fountain.  I wonder if this fountain is original to the house?

 

 

 

image On the property is a Japanese Tea House and garden.   Wouldn’t this be a great place to have a wedding or a party?   OK, ready?  $29,000,000.  Yes.  You read that right!

 

 

House #2

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This house is listed at $22,000,000 less than the first house!  Amazing.   But of course, it doesn’t have the view or the acreage or the age or the quality.   But, at close to $7 million it is not cheap either.   I love the French inspired exterior with its gravel driveway.   The surprise is a front loading garage on a house of this caliber.   Amazing – you would think the garage would be placed somewhere else in a house with this price tag!    But – there are other upgrades – tiled roof, stucco and charming shutters.  The house is in Montecito with five bedrooms and baths.    No information on square footage or what year it was built, but it looks relatively new. 

 

 

 

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The backyard with its beautiful pool and poolhouse.   I could be very happy here – if I could only afford it!   In Houston, a house like this might be around $1.5 or 2 million – not $7 million unless it was on some extra special lot which would might make it around $1million more perhaps, still far cheaper than this house in  California. 

 

 

 

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Cute dogs!    I love the pool pavilion with the portieres and a fireplace.   The property certainly looks very secluded and large which probably accounts for the expensive price of the house. 

 

 

 

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The floors are typical of many Californian houses – dark, dark hardwoods.  Seagrass covers the stair steps with the understated iron railings.  In so many of the houses I saw in the Californian real estate sites, the iron work is so extreme – very ostentatious.   The more scrolled and busy the ironwork, the more Californians seem to like it.    These simple rails show here are an exception to the rule. 

 

 

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The family room overlooks the back yard.   Nicely furnished with simple linen curtains and white linen slipcovers.   I love the painting of the St. Bernard.   Seagrass and white slips – my favorite!

 

 

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My favorite room in the house is the dining room.  After seeing the Portrait House and now this, I am loving rattan and wicker chairs in the dining room.  This room seems so Belgium inspired!  Love the cabinet with the brass chicken wire and what a charming view out the window of the gravel drive.   Dutch door to the kitchen adds more charm.   If you like this look – it would be very reasonable to emulate it for a bargain price.   Chairs like this are cheaper than traditional dining chairs.

 

 

image The living room/library.  More seagrass, more white linen.  The walls in this room are painted darker for contrast.  I love these kinds of doors – with the glass only on the top.    A nice change from the usual French doors with panes top to bottom. 

 

 

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The kitchen is really charming with wooden ceiling, white marble,  and open shelving.   Instead of an island there is a great concrete table and the same dining room chairs.   Hmmmm.    ?????   More French doors lead out to the back yard. 

 

 image The master bedroom over looks the pool with an iron balcony.  Simple linen curtains that are found throughout look very much like the ones from Restoration Hardware.   Do you use curtains from RH in a house that cost 7 million?    Actually, I think that is why I am attracted to this house – it’s so casual and totally unpretentious!

 

 

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A pretty guest bedroom with wallpaper and matching curtains.   I love the fabric!

 

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 LOVE THIS!!!!!   I don’t recognize this paper – does anyone?   I love the bed, the desk, the rug – just everything.  What a great bedroom for a young girl.

 

 

HOUSE #3

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This house is located in Los Angeles, with a view of the ocean and the city.   Recently added to and renovated throughout, the house has a different kind of decor than the others – it is English inspired.  I chose it to address critics who say I only like white slips and seagrass!   Its lot is extremely large which probably accounts for the price tag of $5 million.   Again, a highly, highly inflated price due to the view.

 

 

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Looking back at the front gate.  The trees form a canopy with lanterns and lights hanging.  I love the urns too!

 

 

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So charming, so East Coast!  The front porch is a focal point, and obviously is a later addition.

 

 

 

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Dramatic night lighting.

 

 

 

 

image The living room looks like it is in England, not California.  Slipcovers made of faded English linens.  Oil paintings line the walls and add to the purposefully cluttered feel of the house.  The furniture throughout is of a much higher quality than the other two houses.  All the pieces appear to be pricey antiques from England, of course!

 

 

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The other side of the living room.  Notice the seagrass – correctly custom cut.   The pool area is seen outside the French doors.  This house is so warm and cozy, it makes you want to grab a book and a throw and cuddle up in front of a roaring fire.

 

 

imageThis looks like another part of the living room – it must be a large room or this might be a music room!  Love this!

 

 

imageThe dining room is totally traditional with a marble fireplace and table with a mix of chair styles.  Love the bookcases – books + dining rooms + fireplaces = wonderful! 

 

 

imageThis kind of paneling always reminds me of Rose Tarlow – she loves it and uses it a lot.   This is another beautiful room with a canopy bed and patterned fabrics mixed with white slipcovers.   Two toned patterned carpets are my top choice in bedrooms – after seagrass.   Patterned carpets are a great alternative to plain weaves and the two tones are preferable to tone on tone, IMHO. 

 

 

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Another view of the beautiful master bedroom – notice the wonderful antique chair with five legs.   This house reminds me of Michael Smith’s L.A. house – does it you?   Just beautiful!!

 

 

Exquisite traditional with sweeping view

The bathroom was updated but it still matches the feel of the house.   Again, it’s not an all white marble room – this one fits in with the decor much better. 

 

 

 imageThe guest room, with its four poster bed and pin striped fabrics.   Notice the closet doors with glass and curtains.   What a wonderful way to turn an average closet door into something special.   

 

 

Exquisite traditional with sweeping view

The kitchen, also updated, is great.  I love the silver collection in the bay window.  This room looks like an authentically old kitchen you might find in a English mansion – the kind where the servants are the only ones that enter it!! 

 

 

Exquisite traditional with sweeping view

The media room – more stripes, patterned carpets and black walls.   The bar area is hidden behind the plaid curtains.  I wonder if the owner is an interior designer?  This room is very nicely done, as is the entire house.

 

 

 

Exquisite traditional with sweeping view

The balcony with charming railings.   Love this – I wish I had a balcony like this – who wouldn’t?? 

 

 

Exquisite traditional with sweeping view

The view looking over the valley and the main reason for the price tag.  Views like this don’t come cheap.  More checks – the chairs surround a firepit. 

 

 

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And more romance at night.  I’m not sure if this is an outdoors room or not.   I’m thinking it might be indoors.   I wish the pictures revealed more of the house than these do.   It’s hard to get a feel for how the backyard looks or what the layout of the house is!

 

 

HOUSE #4:

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

The cheapest house at $3,250,000.   Pacific Palisades, 5 bedroom, 5 bath, 4ooo sq. ft.   Front loading garage, again – a surprise for a house at this price.  But, this price doesn’t seem high for this area of California.  What would a house like this cost in your town, your neighborhood?   The roof is just a regular composite, the house is shingled.    In my neighborhood, I would think this house would go for about $800 or 900,000.  In a suburban neighborhood a little further out – it would probably be $500,000.  Certainly there is no place in Houston, except maybe on a large acre lot in Memorial, where this house would cost anywhere near this price!

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

It is very cute – I love the romantic Cape Cod look of it with its bright white trim and brown shingles.    The walkway is nice too.  

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

Inside the house is all bright white walls and dark hardwoods – as typical for most houses in California.    The centrally located staircase is the focal point of the house and is quite pretty.  I like all the dark wood furniture – a nice change from gray, gray, gray.  

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

Another surprise for a house of this price is the shared fireplace!  But notice how charmingly the house is decorated for a young family.  I really like the red and white mixed with the blue and white striped curtains and bamboo blinds.  It’s all very warm and cozy, though a rug would be a good addition.   The chandelier is the perfect touch.  I just love this room!

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

In the dining room- the blues are continued in here as are the same window treatments.  The chandelier is a nice foil to all the brown wood.

 

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

The kitchen does seem in keeping with the price – nice appliances, white and black marble and granite.  Very attractive, bright and light.

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

The family room is furnished for children – with blue jean denim slipcovers and leather chairs.  Functional for a young family who will probably dress it up a little more once their children are somewhat older.   The built in desk looks a little out of place to me and something you would find in a tract home rather than one this price.   But again, the real estate values in California are totally of out reality.  I think the only thing Ben and I could afford in L.A. would be a two bedroom condo!  Maybe!

 

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

Large master bedroom, nicely furnished, but again – I would have put down a rug – it would greatly improve the look of the room.   I do like how she handled the window with the obligatory faux  palladium – ignore it!  Wouldn’t the large ceiling expanse look so much nicer if it were planked in white wood  or bead board?

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

Here is an appropriate white marble bathroom for the house’s style.  The bathroom is lovely with the white subway and white carrara marble.   Exactly what you would expect in a Cape Cod ala California!

 

 

Exquistely Designed Cape Cod

The powder room is another youthful room – with bead board and a new overscaled paisley paper.

 

Exquistely Designed Cape CodThe back of the house – rather small,  with a pergola and a balcony that leads off the master bedroom.  The pool is childproofed.     

 

 

House #5

 

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This cute beach house is right on the sand, of course!   A shack really, but you are again paying for the land, which is awfully expensive.  Can you guess what price this might be?  It’s located in Santa Barbara – to the right is a creek which means no neighbors.  Plans call for a huge exclusive home to be built here if you wish.  The home has never been sold in its 100 years and the grandson of the original owner is selling it now.  Lucky man.   Currently it rents for $500. a night/3 bedrooms.  

 

 

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The creek with the tiny beach house with its red chimney is on the far right.

 

 

image The owners have done much with the 100 year old shack.  The ceiling has been raised to the rafters.  The fireplace retiled.  The furniture is all smartly slipped for ease of care.  To the right is an alcove which closes off with a curtain.

 

 

imageThe closed off area – this must be considered one of the three bedrooms.

 

 

imageThe kitchen could use a little updating – new appliances at least, but it does have a charm with the beadboard cabinets. 

 

 

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The second bedroom has three beds stuffed into it.  But still – with a small amount of money, this could be so darling.

 

 

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The huge master bedroom!    I think i would paint all the floors to match the walls.  I would love to update this house just a little bit. 

 

 

 

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The front deck overlooking the beach.   Somehow, despite its tiny size and need of some updating, I could be very happy here in the summer, that is if I could afford it!

 

imageThe side deck – not quite sure what this is – it almost looks like an outside bathtub in the corner???? 

 

  So, you’ve just won the lottery.  Here’s you chance to buy your dream house.    Of course – we would all give away money to charity, family, friends, etc.  But imagine you still have $30 million left over to play with:

 

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Do you buy the historic 90 year old mansion in Montecito for $29 million and pocket the one million left over?

 

 

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Or do you go for the $7 million house down the road without the views or the acreage or the age?

 

 

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Do you buy the renovated $5 million  house in Los Angeles, with sweeping views of the ocean and the valley and the wonderful English decor?

 

 

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For just $3 million, this house in Pacific Palisades is new, with a small yard and no views at all.  You’d have more than enough change to buy another house WITH a view!!!  Or better to give the rest to your family so everyone could buy their own dream house.

 

 

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OR, do you buy the small, 100 year old beach cabin, for $7 MILLION!  Live there for awhile while your leftover 23 million gains interest,  then rebuild your dream house here.

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Or, do you do what we all probably would do – fix up our own  homes, give the rest to our children and family to do the same, and start some wonderful charity, like a free spay-neuter clinic in a poor neighborhood?