YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Since the early 1990s and until 2004 or 2005 actor Ed O’Neill (Modern Family, Married With Children) owned a house on the canals in Venice, CA. At that point he and the family swapped the gritty urban density of Venice for peaceful Sullivan Canyon, a decidedly rustic but none-the-less uppity area of Los Angeles nestled on the border between Brentwood and Pacific Palisades.
Records indicate that Mister O’Neill, a black belt in Brazilian Ju–Jitsu who will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this year, acquired his Sullivan Canyon crib in February 2004 for $2,600,000. The Los Angeles County Tax Man shows the privately situated residence measures 3,165 square feet and includes 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a swimming pool.
Recently Mister O’Neill and Catherine Rusoff, his lady-wife of 25-ish years with whom he has two youngish daughters, snatched up a second house in Sullivan Canyon. The new house, a modestly scaled but architecturally significant house on a thickly treed lot, is separated from the O’Neill’s current crib by two driveways to two other homes.
According to the property records Mister O’Neill paid $3,050,000 for a 2 bedroom and 2 bathroom modern ranch house originally designed and built in 1953 by much-coveted and ballyhooed California architect Cliff May as his personal residence. Mister May, for all those who live under an architectural rock, is the man responsible for the classic California contemporary ranch house that are typically designed to engage in a taut but intimate dialog with the surrounding landscape that results in a barefooted and seamless integration of indoor and outdoor living.
The house, which the Los Angeles County Tax Man says measures 1,944 square feet, sits on a lush .26 acre. Busted-looking brick pillars mark the entrance to a tree-shaded gravel driveway that rises gently to a large gravel motor court where the low profile, single story wood, stone and glass residence extends discretely into the natural landscape.
Say what you will about Los Angeles and its overly cliché and over-played plasticity, but real estate-wise there aren’t a lot of other major urban centers in the world where a person can live in the middle of the city in serene circumstances that feel downright rural.
The understated board and batten exterior disguises airy and–dare we say–dramatic interior spaces that–bless the hearts of every previous owner of this home–still retain original architectural features that include a magnificent 23-foot long sky light that runs along the peak of the beamed and vaulted ceiling. Smooth grey terrazzo floors run throughout the entire house that was recently refreshed by west coast starchitecture firm Marmol–Radziner. The pre-fab promoting architects remained rightfully respectful of Mister May’s original design-spirit of the house while they re-worked, updated and upgraded the kitchen and bathrooms and installed miles of lustrous, meticulously custom-crafted and utterly delicious walnut cabinetry.
A stone wall with extra-wide fire box gives necessary anchor and spatial order to the living room area of the vast open room that opens itself wide to the outdoors via a full wall of sliding glass doors. At the other end of the room the open, center-island kitchen not only has clean-lined walnut cabinetry but chunky solid walnut cabinetry so delectable Your Mama just wants to get up on counter and roll around nekkid. The kitchen, warmed by all the wood, is also a multi-tasking and hard-working state of the art kitchen with breakfast counter, top-end commercial grade appliances, two sinks and a glimmering stainless steel tile back splash. We love love love the sharp glint of the stainless steel tile back splash against all the walnut wood but, in all honesty, Your Mama could have done with something else, something still brilliantly luminous but in a more organic color range.
Irresistibly caressable walnut paneling and banks of walnut-faced closets envelop both of the bedrooms. The smaller bedroom has a built in desk and the much larger master suite has a built-in entertainment center, glass doors that slide open to a private terrace perfect for a post-coital smoke, a dressing room lined with walnut cabinets and built in dresser, and a surprisingly well-scaled bathroom with double vanity, soaking tub for two, a separate marble-lined and glass-enclosed shower and, yes, even more walnut cabinetry.
Every room in the house opens through over-sized sliding glass doors to a variety of terraces and patios that surround the house. In addition to the aforementioned post-coital smoking terrace off the master bedroom that’s shaded by mature trees and surrounded by ferns and other shade loving foliage, there’s an an intimate courtyard-like area off the living room bordered by a towering wall of bamboo and at the front of the house large concrete pavers define an outdoor dining terrace that looks over the sloping and untamed front yard. A sliver of a patio–a path really–runs alongside the secondary bedroom and a concrete pad on the hillside high above the house takes advantage of a sunny clearing in the trees.
While we can appreciate and even swoon over a worked over garden, we rather love how the simple mass of the house works in both opposition and harmony with the rugged and mostly undomesticated landscaping. If this were Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter’s house we’d probably consider the installation of a simple swimming pool but otherwise we admit to a rare ache of real estate envy.
Since we don’t really know a Easter egg from a Girl Scout cookie, we can only speculate why Mister and Missus O’Neill purchased a house very close to but not contiguous with their current residence. Perhaps it will be utilized as a guest house or maybe as office space for their personal staff. We like Mister O’Neill. Well, we like the characters he plays on the tee-vee. We do not, of course, know him personally. Therefore we have to hope and pray to to all the real estate and decorating gods out there that Mister O’Neill is not the sort of fella who will use this sensitively updated mid-century jewel box as a–gulp–man cave. Oh lowerd, somebody get Your Mama a nerve pill. It gives Your Mama the honest-to-goodness heebie–jeebies just to think about the word man-cave and we fall immediately into a catatonic state iffin we ever run across a description or picture of one of those places. That, hunnies, is a freaky modern-day decorative theme that Your Mama feels we are better off pretending just doesn’t even exist. In fact, Rule No. 47 of Your Mama’s Big Book of Decorating Dos and Don’ts declares that theme decorating of any kind–even in children’s rooms–must be approached with extreme caution. These so-called man caves are all too often a perfect example of why themed decorating can be dangerous and disturbing in the wrong hands.
The O’Neill’s nearby neighbors in Sullivan Canyon include Emmy-nominated actress Barbara Bosson who was married for nearly 30 years to prolific and successful writer/producer Steven Bochco and who records show paid $6,250,000 in September 2009 for her bucolic 8.5 acre spread. Next door to Miz Bosson is the the late Bea Arthur’s Cliff May-designed house, currently available for lease at $32,500 per month.