What $3.5 Million Buys You in California



This house, a few blocks south of Mulholland Drive in Laurel Canyon, was designed by Paul R. Williams, the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects. Mr. Williams designed residences in Los Angeles for Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and other celebrities, as well as one of the first federally funded public housing complexes, in Washington, D.C.

Studio City is about 10 minutes away by car; the Sunset Strip is about the same distance.

Size: 3,741 square feet

Price per square foot: $934

Indoors: Brick steps lead from the street to the front door, which opens into a foyer connecting the living spaces on the main level. To the right is a formal living room with a large window facing Laurel Canyon and French doors out to a patio. To the left is a formal dining room with original leaded-glass windows. A swinging door connects this space to a kitchen with butter-yellow cabinets and a white enamel range.

From the kitchen, a staircase leads to an upstairs guest suite with arched ceilings and original crystal doorknobs. The bathroom, which has a combination tub and shower, is finished with yellow paint and white tile, plus a chandelier.

The main staircase, in the foyer, leads up to three bedrooms. At the top of the stairs is the primary bedroom, which is large enough to hold a king-size bed and has a seating area and a private balcony; the en suite bathroom has an original built-in vanity. Next door is a guest room with an en suite bathroom. Down a short set of stairs is a smaller guest room with an attached bathroom that has an aqua tub and coordinating tile.

The staircase in the foyer winds down to a lower-level family room with double doors that open to the main patio and pool area. Tucked into one corner is an original wood-paneled bar. A smaller room on this level, which could be used as a home office, has access to a half bathroom.

Outdoor space: Like many canyon homes, this house has a split-level layout and several tiers of outdoor space. Off the formal living room is a patio overlooking the pool, with space for outdoor furniture. Steps lead from this area to a pool deck with a built-in outdoor kitchen and a small lawn. The property line continues up the hillside, with a short trail leading to the top. The detached garage holds two cars.

Taxes: $44,388 (estimated)

Contact: Marcy Roth, Douglass Elliman, Eklund Gomes Team, 310-595-3888; elliman.com

Known as the Gala House, this home has been in the same family since it was built. The sellers renovated several years ago, preserving the midcentury-modernist lines but adding Hollywood Regency-inspired décor, including marble floors and brightly colored accent walls.

The house is in the Historic Tennis Club section of Palm Springs, named after the 1930s activity center and home to many of the area’s upscale hotels. Indian Canyon Drive, with its restaurants and midcentury-focused stores, is a few blocks away.

Size: 4,825 square feet

Price per square foot: $724

Indoors: A white privacy wall topped with hedges separates this house from the street, and bright orange doors swing open to reveal a swimming pool in the front courtyard.

Across the courtyard, a second set of vibrantly colored doors — these in blue — open into the foyer. To the right of the foyer is a living room with tile floors, an original stone fireplace, a wood-paneled wall and floor-to-ceiling windows facing the pool. The tile floors continue into a dining room with more pool-facing windows and a mirrored wall.

The living and dining rooms are open to the kitchen, which has a Bertazzoni range, glossy orange-and-white cabinets and an island with room for seating. A short hallway connects this part of the house to a guest room and a full bathroom, as well as a pantry and a laundry room.

To the left of the foyer is a long hallway that leads to a media room and four bedrooms. The media room, like the living and dining rooms, is designed around floor-to-ceiling windows, and has space for a sectional sofa. At the far end of the hall is the primary suite, which has an elevated sitting area and one wall papered in a dark damask print. The primary bathroom has high-gloss gray-tile floors and walls, a glass-walled shower and a basin-style soaking tub.

Two guest rooms, each large enough to hold a queen-size bed, share a bathroom with a blue vanity and a walk-in shower; a fourth guest room has an en suite bathroom.

Outdoor space: The pool in the front courtyard is round and framed in concrete. A fire table is built into a low wall along one side, and there is plenty of space in the surrounding area for relaxing in the shade or the sun. The attached garage has space for two cars.

Taxes: $44,736 (estimated)

Contact: John Nelson and Cat Moe, Nelson-Moe Group, Compass, 760-774-8587; compass.com


San Clemente, an Orange County city of about 65,000, was known in the 1970s as the home of La Casa Pacifica, an estate where the Nixon family vacationed so often it was referred to as the Western White House. This property is about 10 minutes north of La Casa Pacifica, nestled in the hills, with views of the Pacific Ocean from its expansive deck. During a major renovation two years ago, the sellers added an entry terrace and new windows throughout the house.

San Clemente Pier and the beach are about five minutes away by car; Los Angeles and San Diego are an hour’s drive.

Size: 4,945 square feet

Price per square foot: $707

Indoors: From the entry-level deck, a frosted-glass door opens to a foyer with a staircase up to the second level. The living room is beyond the staircase, with hardwood floors and double-height, floor-to-ceiling windows that offer views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding hills. Sliding-glass doors open to a deck, and a double-sided fireplace is built into one wall. To the right of the living room are a den and a half bathroom.

The hardwood floors continue into an opening dining area illuminated by a custom-made glass light fixture. A marble-topped breakfast bar divides the dining space from a kitchen with stainless steel appliances and a white subway-tile backsplash. The kitchen has an eating area and a butler’s pantry with laundry facilities. Connected to the pantry and the kitchen is a home office with access to the front deck.

At the top of the stairs is an open space used by the sellers as a gym; it connects to a hallway open to the lower level. At the end of the hall is the primary suite, which has a private balcony and a fireplace. The en suite bathroom is connected to a large walk-in closet and has marble floors and a black soaking tub.

Another staircase, just off the dining area, leads to the lowest level of the house, which has three guest rooms and a family room with a fireplace and a custom-built walnut bar. A guest room on one side of the family room has an en suite bathroom; on the other side of the family room is a hallway that connects two additional guest rooms and a bathroom with a combination tub and shower.

Outdoor space: The house was designed to draw attention to its decks and balconies facing the hills and the ocean. Off the living room is outdoor space with room for a dining table; off the upper-level gym is a smaller space with room for seating. Off the lower-level family room is another outdoor space, with steps leading down to a private bocce court. The attached garage holds three cars.

Taxes: $41,592 (estimated)

Contact: Christian Wach, Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty, 949-370-3917; sothebysrealty.com

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