Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jeff Lewis Strikes Again

SELLER: Jeff Lewis
LOCATION: N. Commonwealth Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
PRICE: $1,795,000
SIZE: 1,938 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Incredible design, perfectly private. Down a long private drive sits this stunning modern, recently renovated with a Palm Springs influence. Loft-life space with courtyard entry, high ceilings, exposed ducting, and gorgeous walnut flooring throughout. Streamlined high-end kitchen and baths, and new pool-spa. Three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, including master suite with outdoor access. Outdoor space includes a large deck, patios, and two flat yard areas.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Put down your doobies and put on your thinking caps children because Your Mama wants you to remember all the way back to late July and early August when every real estate freako and house loving homosexual was glued to boob tube while we peered into the wacky world of quirky and balloon lipped house flipper Jeff Lewis and his coterie of actor assistants, pet psychics, the gay daddy ex-boyfriend and a sassy and lovable Nicaraguan housekeeper named Zoila.

Towards the end of the series that aired on The Bravo, Mister Lewis negotiated to purchase a ugly broken down mess of a property on N. Commonwealth Avenue in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. Property records reveal that the professional speculator paid just $800,000 for the 1,938 square foot pile of crap. Ever since, Your Mama has been on pins and needles waiting to see what sort of speculation magic the complicated perfectionist would work.

This time around, according to the listing, Mister Lewis chose a "Palm Springs influence." But children, Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter have spent many a wonderful weekend at The Parker Hotel in Palm Springs, and we don't see it. This place looks nothing like all the low slung Alexanders that litter the desert landscape out there or the fabulous Freys or the wonderful Wexlers, and this certainly has little if anything in connection with a Neutra.

Yes, it does have a courtyard (behind the garage) with a contempo stone fountain (not pictured), and there's a liberal use of frosted glass and lots of high ceilings, which is all vaguely Palm Springs (and Miami and the Hollywood Hills frankly), but Your Mama thinks Mister Lewis, all due respect, is pushing the laws interior decorating decency to throw a few pieces of reproduction mid-century modern staging furniture in a house, paint the exterior door frames a bright (and lovely) shade of orange and call it Palms Springs.

None the less and despite the faux "Palm Springs influence," over all Your Mama is impressed with what Mister Lewis, his big lips and his exceedingly well groomed ex-boyfriend/business partner Ryan have done with this former rat shack that includes 3 bedroom and 2.5 bathrooms. The potty mouthed children can say whatever mean and snarky things they want about Mister Lewis' off-kilter personality and constant state of financial freaking out, and we're certain you will. But be honest. The man flips properties better than 90% of the other professional flippers out there who max their credit cards out buying truckloads of appalling and cheaply made crap at The Home Despot.

The expensive walnut floors were an expected but still delicious choice and a welcomed veer from all that engineered wood crap most house flippers put down. Your Mama always welcomes a shiny suite of high priced kitchen appliances and we are particularly fond of the baby Viking and that gorgeous glass fronted SubZero has us quivering with delight. We know this kitchen isn't blazing any new trails of haute culinary design and it's not going to inspire anyone to be the next Top Chef, but it's a perfectly appropriate and functional kitchen that won't look out of date in six months or even six years. And in a flip property, like it or not kids, that's a prime objective.

They can not be seen in the photo above, but the vaulted ceiling living room has sizable sliders that open to both the entrance courtyard and the swimming pool deck at the side of the house. These sliders allow for turning the room into a big covered porch like area. Nice. However, the prison grey paint isn't working for us, and we're disappointed not to find a fireplace to anchor the room and give it a focus. Of course, seldom is it cool enough for Angelenos to actually need a fireplace to heat the tootsies, but for this price, Your Mama wants the option to dabble in that flaming luxury.

Upstairs we find the sleeping quarters and two of the bathrooms. We do so love a master bedroom that opens to the back yard the way this one does because it's perfect for letting our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly out in the middle of the night when they're unable to hold their bowels. But Your Mama has some serious issues with the bathroom. We can get behind the essentially masculine taupe and blue color scheme, but we do not care for trough sinks, they look like urinals in sleazy gay bars to us. We know that rain style shower heads are all the rage in bathroom renovations, but have y'all ever used one? They're nice for just standing there letting the water fall on you, but try bathing under one of those nightmares. Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter installed one in our outdoor shower at our newly shingled and modest beach house, and don't you know we ripped that thing out before the summer was over. We can not tolerate those things unless they are paired with a more traditional wall mounted shower head. And lastly, we would have really liked to have seen a tiled bench in this big shower, because Your Mama often needs to sit down and catch our breath after a vigorous body scrubbing.

Mister Lewis and his team have managed to squeeze in an attractive and petite plunge pool and spa into the side yard, and they've terrace a good portion of the back yard creating a fair amount of usable space on the difficult hillside parcel. Yes children, it does all look magnificently manicured with the unnaturally green grass and the dark decking, but Your Mama is concerned that the landscaper will put his back out or suffer a hernia hauling the big Toro mower up and down the stairs to the sod covered terraces. And don't even get us started on the drama, hysterics and shirtless manpower required to mow up that steep hillside.

Although Your Mama would never buy this house–too many stairs in the back yard and we're convinced we'd take out the landscaping and scrape the sides of our big BMW trying to back down that narrow driveway–we sincerely hope that Mister Lewis and his carefully coiffed ex boyfriend/business partner Ryan have better luck unloading this property than they have with their flip on Ben Lomond Place. Poor dears have reduced the asking price of that house from $1,525,000 to $1,349,000 and still no one wants to buy it.

But before y'all weep yer crocodile tears for these pretty boys, lets keep in mind that according to property records the flipping duo recently sold the house on Nottingham Avenue (the big unfinished house on the program that Ryan moved in to) for a whopping $4,350,000. The Nottingham house was purchased in June 2006 for $2,260,000 and it appears they took another $1,050,000 in loans, which means by Your Mama's fuzzy math the sale of the property dumped about a million clams into their well pressed khakis. So it seems they can keep all their employees employed for at least a while longer.

31 comments:

Ellen said...

Sorry, I love Jeff Lewis. While I don't agree with all his choices (it's quite stark and cold), he's a total inspiration.

And, congrats Momma on the TV show. A new Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (and you are far better than that silly Robin Leach).

Can't wait to watch it and am sure I'll love it as much as your awesome blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Mama, there's not much of a "Palm Springs" influence. I would have to call it a "Hollywood Hills Contemporary". Not a bad thing. I don't care for the kitchen cabinets. They look ok but every single flip in town has them. They are going to be as dated as the ones we ripped out of our HH house that were so hot when it was built in 1990.

Zoila said...

I've had enough,It's time for lunch.I can't do anything else.

Anonymous said...

Love the walnut floors. The rest looks as inviting and warm as Jeff's personality. Make of that what you will.

caveman said...

i like the floors & i liked that show, jeff & his cast of misfits are a riot.

sugarhoneyicetea said...

This house is just plain ugly on the outside. But then again I hate just about all big white houses. They look cold and plain. The floors are beautiful, but everything else is just ok. And Mr. Lewis stop with the dark cabinets and light countertops.

Anonymous said...

Ben Lomond Place take 2 I'd say. Exterior appeal will get you further than beautiful flooring when you're asking Million$ Jeff.

pch said...

The Ben Lomond house is more appealing because this Lewis person played to its strengths.

The Commonwealth make-over defied its strengths, and is incredibly problematic as a result. You can't just strip a house of all its trim, slap on a coat of white paint and assume you'll wind up with mid-century design. In this case, all it did was highlight unremarkable -- even indifferent -- architecture. Window placement looks random and odd in a vast expanse of featureless stucco. If I wanted to flip this place -- with only superficial changes -- I'd have gone with the architectural grain, not against, in the cozy-cottage direction: clapboard, shutters, creeping vines, rose bushes -- and those wood floors, which are very nice.

caveman said...

i think pch's grasp of this makeover makes sense

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm a rube, I admit it. I only recently heard the term 'engineered wood floor' and was wondering if someone could explain to me why this is considered to be inferior (or crap as Mama says) to a standard wood floor.

Thank you,

Betty
Kansas City Riviera

Fredericka said...

I love Jeff Lewis. There -- I said it.

Flipper said...

You people have got to understand the basics of flipping. If you start moving windows and adding additions and all that nonsense that can help turn an architectural mess into a beaut, you can't flip for a substantial profit.

The idea is in fact to paint, polish, pare down and replace the kitchens and bathrooms with nice but somewhat generic new ones.

Few flippers, with the exception of people like Xorin Balbes, spend the money to turn shit into shinola. It's just not how the game is played

So while this house lacks a certain street appeal and it's not going to win any design prizes, from a flip stand point it succeeds at transforming a derelict property into a sellable, updated and contemporary house.

And remember, this is what Jeff does...this sort of non threatening quasi contemporary thing. There are certainly other people who would be more inclined to go with the rose covered cottage thing, but not Jeff.

Ben Lomond works "better" because architecturally the house is nicer than this commonwealth place, but the inside, the stuff Jeff redid, is just like this...nice but benignly contemporary.

That's the thing with flipping, you eliminate a huge group of potential buyers if you make all too "unique."

That said, I think the price for this is too high. It's an awkward site with a slightly strange layout downstairs. $1.5M max.

pch said...

Hey Flipper:

I don't disagree with anything you said. I just think -- given the material Lewis had to work with -- that he'd be more likely to get his price if he had spent his exterior flip budget on a charm offensive. (I'm not taking issue with the interior, which is bland but logical.) He's forcing an aesthetic template that works for wide, low houses on a narrow, vertical structure with gables galore and window placement that emphasizes the disconnect between the "contemporary" exterior and a 1920s floor plan. It looks weird, even to an untrained eye.

There's a difference, I think, between creating a canvas blank enough that most people can see themselves living there, and so nondescript that it's just sort of there. I can't fathom anyone walking up to this house and saying, "It's perfect."

Whereas if you went in a more cottage-like direction, which would suit both the house and the property, I could see an enthusiastic response, even to the long, narrow driveway which would seem appropriate for a hidden cottage tucked at the back of the property. I wasn't suggesting any sort of remodel, just a different choice of exterior finish and landscaping. I'm not a pro, but that would be my gut for netting top dollar on this property.

Hippie Canyon said...

Greetings & hallucinations to all my lovelies. You know, I thought Janice Dickinson was Jeff Lewis in drag... same lips, same homo-cidal persona. But I'll be damned if it is two separate people! Hmm. One never knows, do one. As for this home, I think it is precisely what I find driving around,say, Woodrow Wilson or one of the lesser streets over near Doheny. Its nice. I like it. But its no show stopper. Kind of like Jeff, really. Restored, updated, but no big deal.

Anonymous said...

I don't like either of Jeff Lewis' houses that are currently on the market. I just don't like his aesthetic...its less Palm Springs and more the wrong side of Beverly Hills. Not my thing. Sorry Jeff!

Anonymous said...

He really doesn't have that much interior design imagination. All his places look the same, and he doesn't seem to care about keeping the original integrity of the home design. That said, the pool area is quite nice here. The kitchen appliances are nice, but the layout is really quite like many much lower-priced and less-designed places.

I hope he's broken his collagen, though.

Anonymous said...

"I hope he's broken his collagen, though."

His collagen habit, that is. Gack!

Anonymous said...

I think Sir Jeff knows he has a disaster on his hands here. The asking price for this house is already reduced $100 - from $1.795Million to $1.695 Million [look here: http://silverlakedave.com/frames.asp?URL=http%3A//idx.themls.com/davidrobles/one-click/results/results.cfm?oneclick=B].

In my humble opinion as a near-neighbor of this property, Mr. Lewis will be lucky to clear it at $1Million. This house has no view whatsoever and Commonwealth is not that good a Los Feliz address. For example, why pay $1.695 Million for this mess when for $1.299Million you could have the same size house (with 1/2 more baths), in just as good condition, with a killer view, on Glendower Ave (a premier Los Feliz address)? Don't take my word for it, look here:

http://silverlakedave.com/frames.asp?URL=http%3A//idx.themls.com/davidrobles/one-click/results/results.cfm?oneclick=B

and here:

http://idx.themls.com/davidrobles/one-click/photos/photos_addl.cfm?mls=07-238173&p_type=0&addr=2575 GLENDOWER AVE

No pool, tho.

Anonymous said...

I think Jeff is dreamy!

Layler said...

You're right, mama, he does a better job than 90% of flippers out there.

sugarhoneyicetea said...

I agree with PCH. What makes this house offensive to me is that Mr. Lewis tried to make it something it is not and essentially turned it into a big white monstrosity. This house is NOT a contemporary. Does cozy cottage not sell in LA? I would think so if done properly. I like a lot of things Mr. Lewis does in flipping, but this was just a mistake to attempt to make this home into a contemporary or mid-century design.

The Hollywood Mayor said...

Agree this house is not contemporary and I was shocked to see it was made into that.

The home is crammed, and I mean CRAMMED into it's lot in between 2 other homes. The backyard is a steep uphill incline that looks like it's going to come down in a mudslide.

I'm not impressed by the choosing of this house to flip...

luke220 said...

This is an ugly overpriced house. And not even a garage. And very bad Feng Shui.

Anonymous said...

I think you're being way too kind, Mama. Is this what 1.7 million gets you in LA? Generic modern in a bad neighborhood? The energy of the place is really bad. The furniture - I realize it's just staging - is soooo cheezy. Vessel sinks? Wenge-ish cabinetry? Mr. Lewis needs to get out more.

Anonymous said...

"Vessel sinks? Wenge-ish cabinetry? Mr. Lewis needs to get out more."

Absolutely right! And the awful design missteps that pervade this house illustrate yet another serious miscalculation: The dated design cliches (like the vessel sinks and Wenge-ish cabinetry) obscure the already failed Palm Springs Wannabee look.

Or is that deliberate? Could Mr. Lewis be attempting some complex, esoteric and ironic evocation of a 1930's cottage redone in the '60's into a rotten Rat Pack house that was then mauled by a bad 1994 renovation? - a residential analogue of what happens to a lot of screenplays once the studios buy them? How Hi Concept and visionary can Jeff get!? Los Feliz has lots of strike-embittered screenwriters. Is that the market he's playing to here?

SigourneyBeaver said...

Really, it was just a lousy choice of property to begin with. Fugly lines, dodgy location, too much expensive work to be profitable flip.

Speed and cost are of the essence in a flip because you don't want to be the bagholder when the market turns. Get in, get out.

Jeff does some beautiful stuff, but those pig troughs in the bathroom are not one of them.

Anonymous said...

Really ugly house. White everything. Stark. Boring.

tony bruno said...

Has anyone ever turned this fag into the contractors board for contracting without a license?

Anonymous said...

yeah i just started watching flipping out and im impressed with jeff lewis...

Anonymous said...

I love Jeff Lewis. I am impressed with his style, while agreeing that the stark prison gray does turn me off. I love the dark cabinets and the white counters and all of Jeff's flips do look the same. And how long will that fad last ? It seems to be lasting long enough to get the flips sold, isn't that the point ?

Anonymous said...

He hires contractors, doesn't he ? Isn't he " the designer" Do you need a license to be a designer ?