Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Psycho Lady's Bev Hill House Goes on the Market

SELLER: Estate(s) of Janet Leigh and Robert Brandt
LOCATION: Beverly Hills, CA
PRICE: $3,395,000
SIZE: 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Okay puppies, Your Mama is well aware that actress Janet Leigh has been dead for nearly 6 years and that her 4th and last huzband Robert Brandt passed on to the great director in the sky in September of 2009. However, Miz Leigh and Mister Brandt lived in this home for for 30+ years, according to all the obits both died in this house and according to property records it is still owned by Mister Brandt, or at least the estate of Mister Brandt.

Starting back in the mid 1940s, Miz Leigh–the very famous mother of Lady Haden-Guest otherwise known as Jamie Lee Curtis–starred in more than 60 films including Little Women with Dame Elizabeth Taylor and the adult diaper pusher June Allyson, Orson Welle's gorgeous film noir Touch of Evil, The Manchurian Candidate and Bye Bye Birdie. Her most enduring role, the one that solidified her place among the lexicon of Tinseltown's most iconic actresses and earned her both Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations, was as Marion Crane, the embezzling secretary in Psycho who gets brutally offed in the shower by a creepy, dagger wielding Norman Bates.

Miz Leigh and her last huzband, stockbroker Robert Brandt, were married in 1962 and remained married until Miz Leigh died in 2004. According to property records, the couple purchased this woodsy contemporary crib in the Beverly Hills Post Office in October of 1976 for $357,500. Records on file with the Beverly Hills tax man indicate the house measures 4,432 square feet and includes 4 bedrooms and 5 poopers. Listing information, on the other hand, does not state a size and shows there are 4 bedrooms and just 4 poopers.

The half-acre plus sized and triangular shaped property, protected by electronic drive gates and ringed by mature landscaping and shade trees, sits high above Beverly Hills just south of Beverly Park, the illustrious gated community of steroidal mega-mansions. The approach to the front door is, we're sorry to say, lackluster, pedestrian and certainly not celebrity style due in large part to the front facing two-car garage and prison like chain link fencing that surrounds the tennis court and looms awkwardly over the mini motor court.

The house, built in 1976 according to listing information, has interior spaces that scream 1976. There are wood lined walls and wood lined vaulted ceilings, a lot of oatmeal colored wall to wall carpeting, and poopers with patterned tiles in every shade of earth tone. Large windows and oodles of sliding glass doors look out and open to tree top views that almost seem alpine, more South Lake Tahoe than Beverly Hills Post Office. The living room has a built in bar, natch, and a massive brick fireplace. Both are double sided situations that pass through to the library, a cozy if dated room lined with 1970s era book shelves and plantation shutters on the windows and sliding glass doors.

The kitchen, with its rust colored tile floor, nutmeg colored cabinetry, combination of butcher block and russet colored tile counter tops, butter yellow porcelain sink, and mixy-matchy melange of middle-brow appliances looks to Your Mama like someone dipped the damn room in formaldehyde back in 1984. It's not a bad kitchen in that it's decently sized, has large windows above the sink and counter top and opens to the small breakfast area and family room, but it's certainly a room that needs to be gutted, updated, upgraded and hauled into the 21st century. It also needs to have that dangerous pot rack removed before someone gets brained by a rogue copper frying pan that could come loose with even the most gentle earthquake.

A bridge over the main living spaces on the ground floor connects the upstairs bedroom wings that include a master suite with vaulted ceilings, tree top and city views through a wall of windows, a fireplace, sitting area, dressing room and dual poopers, one for Miz Leigh and the other for Mister Brandt. While Your Mama sees dual poopers as just another brawl with our imperious house gurl Svetlana who comes unglued at the mere mention of dual master poopers–it's a selfish conceit in her mind and just another unnecessary terlit to clean–many claim separate terliting and primping facilities are the very key to a happy relationship. Could be. After all Miz Leigh and Mister Brandt were married for an ice age.

Although the lot is well under an acre, Miz Leigh and Mister Brandt managed to squeeze in the aforementioned mini-motor court at the front, multi-level terracing at the back of the house, a large swimming pool surrounding by brick terracing, and an almost north/south aligned lighted tennis court that, according to listing photographs, has been immaculately maintained.

It's really not necessary for Your Mama to dig into the day-core because Miz Leigh and Mister Brandt's personal belongings have obviously been removed and replaced by Staging Lady in a Pink Toyota with a incongruous collection of white sofas, glammy mirrored tables and dressers, a truckload of bulbous pottery, and more fake orchid plants that Your Mama can be bothered to count.

We have a sneaking suspicion Miz Leigh and Mister Brandt's long time residence will be purchased and razed to make way for some sort of over-sized mock Mediterranean affair filled with elaborately carved corbels, fussy fireplace surrounds and acres of beige travertine and marble flooring. Perhaps we're having a weak architectural moment or an aneurysm but iffin we're being honest, and we always are, Your Mama would much rather have someone cotton to the particular beauties and wonders of this house–such as those soaring, wood lined ceilings–and figure out a way to transform this 1970s time capsule into something more current while retaining the spirit of the original house even if it isn't architecturally significant, you know? They can't all be Neutras, Woolfs, Robertsons or Boons, right? We reserve the right to change our mind on this depending on who buys the house and what architect they choose to build their own version of Barbie's Dream House.

17 comments:

ms_wonderland said...

I agree, Mama, this house has excellent bones, and just needs a sympathetic update. It's a little different to the usual Californian mishmash of styles, and it's not even showing its' age. I hope it goes to someone who appreciates it.

The Preppy Pauper said...

With all due respect to the memory of Miss Janet Leigh, a Hollywood icon for sure, I just can't get past the exterior of this home, it is SO dated. I think you are right Mama, because of the location and value of the property, the house will be razed and some God-awful pile will be take it's place.

MarkyMark said...

It just needs a couple of cutting-edge queens who are willing to stretch the concept of "mid-century modern" a bit, and it could be fabulous. Also the dishwasher needs to have matching wood panels applied. And that painting over the fireplace has GOT to go!

Jeannified said...

I really like this house. It reminds me of the one my parents had in Atlanta. It does have that 70's feel, but I actually like that! Are you sure that floring in the kitchen and dining area isn't lamenant? The tile looks "too perfect." This house has a cozy feeling to me.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree with ms_wonderland. It is a very common Californian style house from the mid-70s. I do agree it should go to someone who will appreciate it instead of being replaced by an over-sized mcmansion. If it were mine, the tennis court would be gone.

kathkin68 said...

I agree -- there's life in this old girl yet. Out with the carpet, and do something like grey slate or polished concrete (underfloor heating of course) just to mix it up a bit and get the woodsy-ness out of there. Scrap that kitchen and go for modern minimalist. Same with the baths, obviously. In fact, the whole thing needs a bit of modern minimalist Asian twist. Wall colour is going to be the tough part. A barely cool shade of neutral, with some big-ass artwork to jazz it up and might be the thing. I'd re-clad that godforsaken exterior, too...a cheeky touch of Corten Steel wouldn't go amiss.

Anonymous said...

I like the interior spaces of this home in that I can imagine possibilities and see potential, but agree the exterior facade could well spell it's doom - definately something only a hard core 70's affectionado could love. The kitchen/family room floor does look a bit too perfect to the 21st century eye, right down to it's smooth 70's satin sheen.

Anonymous said...

One word: TEARDOWN !!

The Psycho house has more style than this mess.

luke220 said...

This home is a goner.

Mrs. Kravitz said...

that outside could be covered with stucco and painted a clean neutral color, that might help as that woodsy crap is so 70's. And enlarge and modernize that lonely little window.But that is not going to help the awful garage and driveway that battle with the front door for dominance. And yes, lose that tennis court because no property in this price range should have chain link fencing!!!! Ever!!! The house sits on the lot all wrong. Migraine......

lil' gay boy said...

It seems that the '70s are rapidly becoming the "new black" ––– dated as it is, this house embodies what little there is arguably good about that era's residential design.

Mama, pray tell, how is Staging Lady? She's been MIA for a long, long time...

...I was worried her Prius may have accidentally accelerated her into the Great Beyond...

Anonymous said...

The proportions are right. It's a modest, elegant home that looks well loved and lived in. I think Miss Leigh must have been very comfortable in her own skin. Hope it gets updated, not demolished.

StPaulSnowman said...

Chain link fencing is both functional and attractive.......particularly with those vinyl basket weave green and white inserts. A ham radio tower would add a nice vertical element to this property.

Carmella Mozzarella said...

the damn brady bunch wouldn't live here! FUGLY....

Carla Ridge said...

The best thing about 70s architecture...is the 80s. They were SO much worse.

Scrufff said...

Didn't the esteemed Jane Jacobs write something to the effect that architecture that we currently don't appreciate or think ugly are significant because they capture the aesthetic and history of the moment in which the building was made (excuse my really rough paraphrase.) I think this house is one that should be redone, modernized but keep its 70's vibe intact.

I remember as a teen in the 1970's visiting my mom's retired friend's a mid-century modern home in the Mount Olympus area. I found all those glass walls and white floors terrazzo floors hideous. Boy have my tastes changed.

Given enough time, a lot of what we currently deem ugly, will come back into fashion but tweaked into a more contemporary version of itself.

Anonymous said...

"Given enough time, a lot of what we currently deem ugly, will come back into fashion but tweaked into a more contemporary version of itself. "

Amen. Growing up in the 70s, Victorian architecture and furnishing were relentlessly mocked as ugly and old-fashioned, but today? I'd give my eyeteeth for a beautiful mansard-roofed mansion.