Subscribe to our Shop TEOT newsletter
Subscribe to receive TEOT blog posts via email
Email Address

House Hunting

House Hunting: Peeved in the Palisades


Dear God, will we ever find our home? I’m a little frustrated with this one y’all.

It hit the market out of nowhere (inventory is still super slim) and we were stoked to have such a classic specimen of Midcentury Modern architecture perched atop Temescal Canyon. You might recall my earlier fascination with this neighborhood. It’s got that magic feeling that makes us want to live there.

Excitedly, I went to the agent’s open house on Tuesday. Upon initial visit, I wasn’t so sure it would work for us. It represented some of the same challenges as Silver Spring – with only 3 bedrooms and no den. But I talked with the dude about it over the next two days and realized in talking with him, that what we had on our hands with this home and it’s price point (freaking $550K less than Silver Spring), is the opportunity to renovate and one day even expand! This home scored a 48 on the spreadsheet of dreams (our scoring system), but with said expansion, it came in at a whopping 96… That my friends, is an A.

The opportunity to update a Midcentury gets me really excited! It took me a minute to come around, but then I was sold and this was our home. I started shopping for our new Viking Gas Range on Pinterest, picking out exterior paint colors, and flipping through my desktop rolodex for my old friend Barbara Bestor‘s celly.

I emailed the agent to let her know we need another looksee with Señor Heffe in tow.

While I awaited her response, I paired a rustic greyish brown exterior with navy and robin’s egg turquoise accents. I wondered if Barbara Bestor would be available soon after her Lautner project wraps up, and I thought about our expansion along the back wing for an additional bedroom or three. I decided we could reclaim the studio converted garage up top and use the current master as the new den space. I picked out patterned tile for the current baths, and I started an inspiration board for the perfect execution of my Bohemian flavor in this Midcentury Mod decor.

All of this… only to find out that there was an offer deadline, and we were too late.

This wasn’t advertised information, and so I was a little disappointed that this detail wasn’t on our radar. I knew these midcentury homes move fast, but I really felt like we didn’t even get a fair chance to play. But they don’t care, b/c they have 7 offers on the table and will be in escrow before I have had the chance to pick my jaw up off of the floor.

The 1966 house, built by architect Alfred T. Wilkes has three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, views of Temescal Canyon, a two-level deck, and a pretty fun yard. It lacks some much needed landscape love and the parking situation leaves a little to be desired. Thogh, there is a garage (with skylights,) but that’s been turned int a studio.  We will never get to see this funny looking honey remodeled into our own. I couldn’t wait to rework the face of that garage. It was starting to shape up real nice in fantasy land.


House Hunting: A New Traditional Near Palisades Village

off market listing

The home on Hampden falls right into The Estate of Things’ wheelhouse, right!?. It’s recent renovation opened up the floor plan and played well to traditional leanings with admirable millwork throughout.

During my tour, I instagrammed a snap of the den with it’s excellent indoor/outdoor flow, and got a few questions about why we aren’t preparing our offer!

I’ll chalk it up to it being at the tippy top of our budget while missing a few crucial lifestyle needs (mostly project space via garage). I could definitely nerd out on you, and share the scoring system that Heffe and I have devised via spreadsheet — but I’ll spare you the minutia. Meanwhile, Hampden only scored a 34 out of 100. We don’t require an A+, but we are holding out for a passing grade.

The Hampden home is an off market listing. I got the feeling that the agent didn’t find the home to be very photogenic. But, I also gathered that this home is highly desirable due to its proximity to the elementary school and Palisades Village, a quaint little area walkable to shopping, coffee and cafes. This makes the home a great score for a family with some younguns. This might mean a big marketing push isn’t necessary.

See the images I snapped with my cellphone below.



House Hunting: Silver Spring

I can’t get this home out of my head. The moment that I stumbled upon it, I gasped and frantically copy/pasted the link over to Sarah as soon as possible and then the dude. I’m sure he’d appreciate that I toss links over to my homegirl before him, right? What dude buying a house wouldn’t?

At any rate, I needed her help, because this home needed a game plan. It was a total tease in its description which wielded but 2 bedrooms, an obvious write-off for the dudliest of dudes. He’s pretty set on 4 at this point and selective memory forgets that we once were perfectly content with only 3. But with this house clocking in at 2800 sq ft – well that is more than enough living space. So what gives with the 2br status? Maybe something unpermitted is going on?

Here’s the part of the description that had me trippin’.

The seductive master suite w/office, opens to the garden terrace with splashing fountains and lush greenery. A cozy guest suite on the main level and a separate guest/maid’s apartment on a lower level complete the picture perfect environment.

See, that kind of sounds like 4 bedrooms to me. Hell, it sounds like veritable inn. A bed and breakfast if you will.

His response was just as I suspected… a pretty quick write-off due to the bedrooms. Sarah and I plotted. We MUST get the dude to this house to see what is going on with those rooms, the photos just don’t tell the story. Here’s what we’re looking at! I’m so full of wanty that it’s painful. The blue windows captured my heart.



House Hunting in the Pacific Palisades


Pacific Palisades

A few amazing things have happened since I last dumped a little house hunting progress on the blog, not least of which being that the dude and I have zeroed in on the Pacific Palisades for the hunt. I no longer have to keep an eye out for every great house in Mar Vista, Venice, Santa Monica, Altadena or the town of Los Angeles in general. We are decided. Our love for the canyon supercedes. We will live in the Palisades.

Before we arrived at this conclusion though, we definitely shared some words about our disparate approach to our needs. Truth be told, I think that Heffe was gettin’ a little antsy, and he just wants to be in a new space where we can do some things… and he wants the search to be over. At this point, we’ve been actively looking for a full time home since May of 2014. We’ve been beat out on 4 offers and we’ve toured more than 15 homes.

It came to a peak when he had me reeling over some ugly behemoth cali traditional specimen in Mar Vista last week, that was built in 2001 and featured a leaded glass door that fairly represented the unappealing character of the entire home, in my humble opinion. In my haste and humor, I told some story about how much work would need to be done, and how  I couldn’t imagine we would see any point in replacing that leaded glass door, yet I’d hate it and complain about it daily, and he’d grow to hate me and our lives and love would fall apart, and it was all very melodramatic… and suffice to say he didn’t appreciate it because he just sees a door that leads into a gigantic 38000000000 sq foot home in our budget. I guess my tragic distaste for the door or my penchant for drama isn’t as endearing as I like to think.

At any rate, it led to some emotions running high over the frustrations of our endless fruitless searching. But while I was away on a quick biz trip to San Fran, he and the kids took the scenic route home, which means a jaunt through Topanga Canyon from the Valley to our home in Santa Monica… and for him it cemented his desire to live in that part of town, beside those hills, by that ocean, near enough to the life we’ve made here in Santa Monica. And this just made my heart sing, b/c I don’t want what Mar Vista’s got.

Pacific Palisades it is. We will not settle.

Eventually, we are gonna live in that photo somewhere on that oceanside hill. I’ve toured 4 homes in the Palisades since we made this decision and it’s getting real. We haven’t found our home yet, but as one realtor put it, the Universe is opening itself up to us! Any day now. It only takes one.

Here is a quick look at the living rooms of three homes we toured this weekend! For more house hunting stuff, follow my instagramZ.

living room silver spring

Sarah and I started to refer to this home as “Silver Spring” since it’s on the same street where Stevie Nicks holds residence, and because you know… ♫ blue-grrrrreen… colors flashing…. ♫

This was a flip complete with fantastic finishes chosen by a PacPal designer, Noelle Schoop.

This was a flip complete with fantastic finishes chosen by a PacPal designer, Noelle Schoop. I loved her choices, all of them.



Now, this is my own cell phone photo, but they really left out the most charming angle of the living room in the real estate listing. However, that round beam was a weirdy.

Hopefully I’ll get to report someday soon, that we found our new home!


House Hunting – What a Million Bucks’ll Get You

The holidays put a big dent in my house hunting obsession, but the market is waking back up and we’re starting to see some interesting options creeping back into our Trulia search results.

Here’s a little bit of recap of some things that happened last year, that may bring us up to now.

I whipped up a map for Sarah. She is a doll for offering me her expertise in all things real estate and/or renovation. We really want to find an old dog of a house (in one of these mapped out areas) with enough room in the budget to call up Barbara Bestor‘s firm for a hand. Think that’ll happen!?

I like to be near where the map imagery goes green! My Western North Carolina blood courses strong, and it’s hard to feel right when you are stuck out here in this arid sub-tropical mediterranean climate and aren’t near some trees and hills. The red handwritten hoods represent the areas where we would consider residence. We’re looking at the next ten years here, so we have to think long term about lifestyle! That means a ballsy move clear across town might be in the cards, depending on what is out there. Personally, I’m zeroing in on Pacific Palisades.

Househunting in Los Angeles MAP two copyIt is tricky to find a home with trees and that rustic feeling that we crave, one that is also close to the freeway for Jeff’s daily downtown commute. Please note that my map here is super simplified, and I’ve only hit the highlights as they relate to my particular search. If you are a total map nerd, you can really drill into LA’s ubiquitous hoods here.

So, here we go. Here’s what a million bucks will get you.

A WESTSIDE MODERN  I  3BR 2BA  1600 sq ft
What do you think of this modern? The kids came with us to view this one, and they loved it. It had a radical rooftop deck with a view to make up for the smallllll yard, but the monster stairwell smack in the middle of the living space was the deal breaker for me. We toured this home back in August, and it just recently sold for a little over a million. It was fun to imagine our family in the modern setting, I think we’d be happy with the style – but this particular layout wasn’t for us.

This lovely is in Highland Park (up-and-coming type area, right by Eagle Rock that Curbed LA named the top most gentrified hood of 2014.) The home is priced at $1,099 with LOTS of room including a fantastic yard to play in, plus a nice view. Sarah will like it because it is a Craftsman that was built in 1910 and of its 3 owners, no one has been too precious about painting over the oak trim throughout. Lots of fantastic detailing if you are into that sort of thing. One thing that it is missing is a porch that clear curb appeal portrait shot. The perks are in the large yard and the detached garage. You can get SO MUCH MORE for the money on the other side of town. 332 N Avenue 66 Los Angeles,CA90042 (Highland Park)

This makes you wonder what you’d rather have – beach breezes, or almost 1000 sq feet more of living space and a donkey yard?

Here is another one in Highland Park and it’s a biggie. It’s already been updated, so let me take this opportunity to say that when I see a really great home updated in an area where you can just as easily spot a homes with good bones for a fraction of the price, I definitely start fantasizing about flipping. That being said – the dude and I don’t even bother going to look at these homes. Even if the flippers made fun choices (like these guys have), I’d just rather make those choices myself. But dude, check out that bathroom. I mean, dayum. Also making his particular home special is that it is a donkey with 6 bedrooms and 3600 sq feet. We’d have room to add a whole gaggle of kids to our current not-so-nuclear family. 5655 Range View Ave (Highland Park)

So, We never really looked at this sweet little cottage together here on Teot, but back in September the dude and I actually put in an offer at just a hair over a million. Hard to imagine going back to looking at neighborhoods like this one now after all we have seen – but who knows where we will end up. We had decided that we could deal with the small yard b/c of the detached garage. We envisioned opening it up with some sliding doors and making a project space out of the yard. I didn’t love the lack of trees back there, but I did really dig the wall of ivy. It was also a fun project to think about b/c the bathrooms & kitchen needed an update bad and so you can imagine how I started planning that out while we awaited news on our offer. Also, there was this sweet little unfinished area in the attic that was sure to become some strange Betsy hideout where I would sit for hours and real old journals from 1999 and play dress-up. Ultimately, this place was a major compromise on hood though, as it is located pretty close to the freeways and just outside of Santa Monica proper. If we want to live Westside for a million though, we’re going to have to live like this, and compromise big on space. (Walkability and remaining near our westside friends can make up for that though.)

A few other million dollar options in Altadena really got our wheels spinning. You can get a lot of house for that price. See those two stories here and here.

We’ve looked at a bunch of homes over the course of this Los Angeles House Hunting process, but I wanted to document these on the blog for posterity. These have all been an important part of the thinking process that has led us from the north, to the west to the east and now back to the west.

See more here, and follow along until we eventually find the right place to call home!




House Hunting: Pacific Palisades MidCentury in the Park

The dude and I went to visit this home for its open house on Sunday. In my mind, we were just going to scope it out, not so seriously, but as we rounded every built-in planter, metallic wallpaper clad bathroom, or wood-paneled built in bar – well, I fell deeper and deeper in love.  Now I’m all wanty.

One of the coolest offerings, this midcentury ranch style home backs right up to a trailhead that leads through the Santa Monica Mountains and right up into Topanga State Park. I can really get down with the idea of hitting the side yard for a 6 mile hike. Its packing a ton of atomic quirk that I’m super into, but I think Heffe gives it the side-eye as he counts up the renovation dollars. He is always so stoic and he is almost always so right.  As much as I think I’d like to live with grasscloth wallpaper that is still in tact from 1956, truth of the matter – I really want to update. I immediately start making exceptions in my mind when I see something that I like, and since this home is at the tippy top (actually it’s over) a newly established budget amount, I’m trying to pretend like it’s move-in ready and we don’t have to replace the museum worthy pink oven and stove, like immediately.

But, the great thing about viewing this home is the new hope that I feel – that the giant sleepy market may slowly be awaking from it’s long holiday nap, and soon there will be interesting homes available for us to consider. We have a new budget amount and a new resolve to stick it out Westside. Now that I’m growing more and more familiar with the Palisades, I’m finding that it has every bit to offer us that Altadena appeared to have (albeit at twice the price.)

If we can find something similar to this classic midcentury at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains, something that is either a little lower on the budget spectrum, or a little higher on the actual move-in ready-o-meter…. well, maybe we’ll finally have found our dream after all.