Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kristan Cunningham Does It On A Dime

SELLER: Kristan Cunningham and Scott Jarrell
LOCATION: Glen Holly Drive, Pasadena, CA
PRICE: $1,250,000
SIZE: 1,483 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: ...The kitchen and dining area flow directly into the two-story living room, which opens to a wide sheltered patio and grounds with garden pathways and spa. The original footprint has been creatively updated to incorporate an upstairs master suite, guest bedroom and bath, lower level media room with adjacent bath, and home office with a separate entrance.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Earlier this morning we discussed the brutally bastardized Buff & Hensman designed house purchased by bad boy actor Ryan Phillippe. Your Mama thought we'd continue in that same architectural vein and utilize our afternoon to discuss glue gun goddess Kristan Cunningham's Buff & Hensman designed digs in Pasadena that she and her huzband Scott Jarrell recently put on the market for $1,250,000.

Surely all the children remember Miss Cunningham as the preternaturally perky and fresh faced hostess and design dee-vah on her former HGTV program Design On A Dime, on which appeared from 2002-2006. Along with her crafty carpenter cohorts Spencer and that sorta hunky dark haired guy whose name we don't recall, she taught aesthetically challenged and penniless people how to perform do-it-yourself decorative feats of ingenuity like how to tie a few sticks together to make a coffee table, turn an ordinary sheet into a patio cabana and stick some tea-stained flip flops on the wall for an inexpensive artistic statement. For those of you who don't already know, let Your Mama inform you that the do it yourself decorator has now moved from HGTV to working with effervescent daytime television phenom and rising domestic arts godess Rachel Ray.

Anyhoo, property records show that Miss Cunningham and her huzband scooped up the 1,483 square foot house in August of 2003 for $729,000. Records show they purchased the 2 bedroom and 3 bathroom home from the Widow Buff herself. That's right children, this multi-floor and heavily massed residence was designed and built by Mister Conrad Buff as his last personal residence, which gives it a little extra humph in the architectural pedigree department.

Not long after buying, Miss Cunningham–no couch potato in the self promotion game–and her huzband embarked on a two year renovation scheme that was documented in a five part series featured in Better Homes and Garden's Do It Yourself magazine. Since Your Mama and he Dr. Cooter don't do it ourselves and we have never had the pleasure to peruse the above mentioned publication, Your Mama can only presume that the vintage meets modern concoction we see in the listing photos is the result of the couple's thorough redo of the residence that was completed sometime in 2006.

While there are any number of spray painted and hot glued objects in the house, it does not appear to Your Mama that Miss DIY did it all herself. Even little good with a jigsaw Spencer can't turn scrap cardboard and half a sheet of plywood into that kitchen with its high-brow appliances and costly custom fitted cabinetry. However, Miss Cunningham, clearly a hardcore Bargain Betty, mixed in her more noticeably designer pieces (i.e. the Panton dining room chairs), with thrift store and flea market finds and, of course, DIY projects such as those troubling trash can lids that have been spray painted white and hung on the living room wall and that Empire style sofa, which we'd bet Sister Woman's children that Miss Cunningham picked up at a yard sale and spent the better part of a weekend painting white and recovering the fabric elements with luscious grey (or is it chocolate brown?) velvet.

Your Mama's DIY rule number 37: When in doubt, strip it down and/or spray paint it white. Black works too.

Ordinarily we prefer wood floors have a matte finish (the toenails of our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly do less visible damage to a matte finish), but we freely confess that the shine and sheen on Miss Cunningham's floors is impressive and enviable indeed. We also appreciate that clever Miss Cunningham suspended identical 1970s era chandeliers over both the dining and living room spaces creating a lovely cohesive element in juicy juxtaposition to the different ceiling heights. For better or worse, Your Mama is often comforted by these little bits and pieces of uniformity in day-core and design. But that should not surprise the children given that Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter have the exact same silverware and glassware in each of our houses in order to provide a sense of continuity as we move from place to place.

We can imagine it might have been a cost saving measure, but Your Mama actually likes that the simple veneered cabinetry in the kitchen and the pictured bathroom are so similar as to be identical and we like it even better that they mirror the storage wall in the bedroom, a feature we would guess is original to the house. However we are concerned about the green and blue glass collection in the bedroom. Yes, it's one way to use an otherwise useless shelf area, but Your Mama sincerely hopes Miss Cunningham and her husband had the foresight to utilize some of the that excellent museum paste to make sure that in the event of an earthquake those fragile vases don't go projectile and tumble down to disfigure the face of whomever may be sleeping in that bed.

Miss Cunningham recently gave a brief tour of her Pasadena crib on Rachel Ray's hugely popular talk show. She did not mention that the place was for sale, but she does show viewers a lovely stained glass window and take viewers onto the sparsely done patio, her office/studio space and into the "man room" where dee-lishusly glam panels of black tufted leather line the walls. Miss Cunningham also points out a few more of her junk into diamonds DIY projects such as a dirt cheap Ikea cabinet she dressed up with brass accents. Listen puppies, those little brass doo-hickeys may in fact help that cabinet look a little something like a pricey campaign desk, but let's be honest, it's still an Ikea cabinet that could fall apart if you breathe on it or walk too closely to it.

We hear Miss Cunningham and her man-friend are leaving the west coast for the east where Rachel Ray films her screamingly successful program. But children, that's just a rumor from someone who claims to know them and, at this point, Your Mama can't verify that bit of gossip. So please remember that when you repeat it, make sure to say it's just idle gossip.

Between the few fleas left in New York City and the amazing dumpster diving along the better streets and avenues of the Upper East Side, Your Mama is quite certain that Miss Cunningham will find plenty of mis-matched chairs to paint white and box after box of broken dishes with which she can use to whip up a one of a kind floor lamp. For obvious reasons, we don't recommend that everyone DIY and we tease Miss Cunningham mercilessly, but we really do think she knows what she's doing...except with those garbage cans, that was a may-jah mistake hunny...and Your Mama wishes her all the best in her new television endeavors in whatever city she chooses to settle.


StPaulSnowman said...

"Kitchen and dining areas flow into. the living space"............this is a euphemism for the space being too small to divide into reasonably sized rooms dedicated to the specific functions these names imply. But if you are asking 1.4 million for fourteen hundred square feet of living space, I guess you have to tart up the descriptions................just call a usonian home a usonian home.

Alessandra said...

I believe it's "Glen Holly Dr", Mama, but I'm sure Ms. Design on a Dime prefers your way. I'm also not overly fond of the lower San Rafael Hills area in Pasadena. The streets are far too narrow and windy for comfort or safety (yes, tell me all about the Hollywood Hills...gives me the same reaction).

The exterior is quite interesting, and the interior floors are lovely.

It's a smallish home and while the Conrad Buff pedigree does count for quite a bit, my guess is that it is a wee bit over-priced for the area.

Your Mama said...

Oh my dear Allesandra, you are correct. We've corrected our typo of Glen Holy to its appropriate Glen Holly.

Parts of Pasadena may be pretty, but it's far from divine isn't it?

Thank you darlin'

Anonymous said...


In these parts, Buff & Hensman have their own name recognition without borrowing from Wright. The Rising Glen house has been muddled beyond recognition but this one is a pretty clean B&H in a very nice part of town. It was supposed to be open last Sunday and we drove over to check it out only to find the open house had been cancelled. My only observation from the outside is the stucco is a very rough texture. The house would look much nicer with a smooth finish.

PS. It is 1.25m for just under 1500s.f.

pch said...

I like small houses, open public spaces and Buff & Hensman. I'm not lusting after this one, exactly, but I get the feeling I'd probably like it.

StPaulSnowman said...

anonymous 4:33. I stand corrected.......$843 versus $944 per square foot. It still seems like a lot of money for this house........even in your sunny parts. I guess the Buff and Hensman tag means more when you are familiar with their local cache........ok so I can't put in accents either!

Anonymous said...

I had no idea it was (sort of) celebrity owned when I tried to go to the open house. I have admired a number of Buff & Hensman houses over the years and coincidentally had discovered this neighborhood while looking for a shortcut a couple of years ago. If I could handle the extra 30-45 minute added to my commute, I would jump on the opportunity to own this one.

Due to different partnerships, the firm has been called "Buff, Straub, & Hensman", "Buff & Hensman, then "Buff, Smith, & Hensman". I believe Dennis Smith is still alive and running the firm.

A little more Buff family trivia for you, Conrad Buff III's father (Conrad Buff II) was a noted painter. His mother wrote children's books (illustrated by her husband). Conrad III's son (Conrad Buff IV) is a special effects editor who won an Oscar for his work on "Titanic". Lots of creativity in that family.

Anonymous said...

I drove out to the open house as well, only to find an OPEN HOUSE CANCELED sign. Called the agent and he said the house had received an accepted offer the day after the broker's caravan last Thursday. I asked what it sold for and got the usual cagey agent speak, but when pressed he did cop that the house went very close to, but not at the full asking price. Big number for the neighborhood, but I do remember that the Buff's last house they lived in before building Glen Holly which was called RAPOR sold for about $2.1 million and was only 1,800 square feet or so with a bunch of workshop space that was not permitted. Very small, yet very special. I wanted that one.

Anonymous said...

Can't say I could pick her out of a crowd of two. Try as I might, haven't seen one Design on a Dime that didn't have an amaturish, unprofessionally garish result. Add to that the main guy, Lee, who to me(ow) is like fingernails on a chalkboard. Can't watch it. (I'm in a snarky mood, can you tell?)

Would like to have seen this house before the renovation.

Mike Cook said...

The exterior is just not my style.

And the interior... Is it just trying too hard to be something super edgy/minimalist/comfy/chic yet toned down, or am I just in a pissy mood?

It kind of bugs me.

Anonymous said...

Much of the decor doesn't fit the house. Too Kelly Wearstler for me. But I love the house.

If it really did sell that fast, then it goes to show (I'll get bashed by "you know who" for this) that if you have a good property, it will still command a good price, even if it is not in Malibu/Beverly Hills/Bird Streets/Sunset Plaza.

Anonymous said...

i'm inspired:

i think i'll buy one of the eichler-built mid-century moderns in the valley (http://www.balboahighlands.com/ for those of you who are interested) and have Buff&Hensman redo it so i can hold onto it and flip it in a while to someone with mediocre taste who has a penchant for architectural fads...

Anonymous said...

addendum to the above comment^

i know buff is dead, i'll just find someone at the firm to do it so i can slap a name on it

kind of like my friend who buys old jeans, sews an armani label on them and sells them on ebay as "pre-distressed"