Saturday, April 9, 2011

Snooping in Houses

One of the best things about apartment- and house-hunting is that you get to snoop in people's houses. You have a totally legitimate reason to poke around and see how other folks live, how they decorate their space, what they deem important.

We are still trying to find a place for Lovely Daughters #1 and #2 to live. And so I am able to continue with my love of looking at other people's places.

But there are rules, of course; I don't open medicine chests or bureau drawers! That sort of behavior is frowned on.

In looking for a home for the Daughters, we passed by this delightful paint job:

The house wasn't on the list of places we were looking at, so we pushed on. I loved this staircase:

But the apartment attached to it wasn't on the "look-at" list, either.

This gorgeous little grey gem was one we looked at:

Built in the early 1900s, it had an amazing array of cabinets and cubbies. And check out that authentic black-and-white linoleum kitchen floor:

It had tons of lovely, old details, like this brass doorknob and escutcheon:

It had a beautiful sleeping porch, which sported the original windows (and an unfortunate coat of sloppily applied red paint):

The view out the windows was fantastic. We could see the Hollywood Sign from here.

But the little grey house was on a very busy boulevard and had absolutely no yard or garden, so we pushed on.

We visited a row house designed and built by the famous Los Angeles-area architect Rudolf Schindler. It was quite arresting, but best of all (for me, anyhow) was the way the current resident had decorated the place. She placed a bowl of clementines in front of a propped-up oil painting:

And this was her child's room. Love that painting above the bed, and the old, distressed headboard and footboard:

The little girl must've been a great kid, because she clearly had good taste in stuffed toys:

Unfortunately, as cool as it would be to live in a Schindler place, the kitchen was the size of a postage stamp. No good for Lovely Daughter #1, who requires ample space to cook and create.

So the search continued. The next house was a visual treat. Unlike many properties we saw, which required a dose of vision and imagination to make them habitable, this hillside property was turn-key ready. It had a landscaped front and side yard:

It had a terrific deck with a view toward the mountains (check out those persimmon-orange doors):

Inside, the current residents used a beautifully restrained palette of white and several shades of grey, enlivened with pops of color. I've never been brave enough to do this, but look how they shelved the books by color:

And they turned a non-functional fireplace into a cozy little reading nook:

Their subtle mixing of white/grey/charcoal popped up again in the office:

...and in a child's bedroom, where it was enlivened with tiny chairs in orange, lime, and sky blue, and a sky-blue, full-length sofa:

(That's a stick-on, peel-off decal of an emu on the far wall, above.)

The kitchen was small but shipshape:

Again, pops of color enlivened the neutral space:

Even the stovetop was stylish, with its bright-red kettle, salt cellar shaped like a ship's smoke funnel, and tall, aqua pepper grinder:

In the monochromatic dining room, the inside of the glassed-in cabinets was painted glossy white and filled with white china. In contrast, the wood cabinetry was stripped bare of paint and left in its natural, slightly rough state. The contrast of smooth and rough was fantastic.

But the move-in condition of this place placed it out of our price range. And it lacked a third bedroom (the Lovelies want to have a roommate).

This next house is called a "staircase house" and was accessible only by a steep set of concrete stairs. It was in a hilly neighborhood built during the heyday of Los Angeles's trolley cars. Back then, people walked up or down these staircases to reach the main streets, where the trolleys--and later the buses--ran.

So these houses have no garage, can't be accessed by the street, and are therefore very quiet and secluded. Here was the view from where I parked, looking up toward the top, where the house was:

Halfway up the stairs I passed by an old lady pruning her bushes. She had the most amazing full set of long, grey chin whiskers I've ever seen on a woman. I couldn't take a close-up view, as it would have been quite rude. (It also might possibly have haunted your dreams.) So I settled on this fairly benign view of her from afar:

The staircase house had a wonderful, old letter-drop slot fastened on the front gate:

At the end of a long, overgrown garden path shaded by towering old trees, stood this gingerbread-y house with an unusual color scheme:

The front door opened into what used to be the sleeping porch, with a beautiful view of the garden to the right:

...and to the left, a well-designed coat closet with frosted-glass doors:

The house was partially furnished. Here's the living room. I loved the grey walls/white trim. That pop-out window was just begging to be fitted with a built-in window seat.

This view of the kitchen reminded me of Mr. Dunphe, my high-school art teacher. He was the first one to teach me that a small spot of bright color can balance out a large, dull-colored field:

All this wonderful little corner needed is to remove the iron bars on the windows and set out more attractive containers for the soap, brush, and paper towels:

The dining room had this surprising green-glass chandelier. I'm sorry it's not in focus. It sure was cute.

Because the property is on a slope, it boasted two stories of decks, which wrapped around the house.

Inside, another surprise: a spiral staircase!

Unfortunately, whoever wrote up the description for this house took great liberties. It was advertised as a 3 bedroom/2 bath. Instead, it was 1 bedroom/1.5 baths. Too much house for not enough bedrooms.

And so our search continues. Meanwhile, I'm having fun being a snoop.


  1. Loved the tour! Many gems, but not the "just right" one yet -- I'm sure its just around the corner! xoxo



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