Thursday, July 22, 2010

Screenwriter Nicholas Meyer Lists Cliff May Ranch

SELLER: Nicholas Meyer
LOCATION: Pacific Palisades, CA
PRICE: $7,300,000
SIZE: 6,976 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 8.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Screenwriter, novelist, and director Nicholas Meyer is that rare breed of Tinseltown cat that stays put in a house for more than just a few years. However, after fifteen years in his Pacific Palisades, CA pad, he's recently hoisted it on the market with an asking price of $7,300,000.

Mister Meyer, for those who don't know or are too damn lazy to Google his ass, is an Emmy and Oscar nominated novelist, screenwriter, and director. His first foray into the entertainment business, according to the Internet Movie Data Base, was with the screenplay for the 1973 sci-fi bomb The Invasion of the Bee Girls in which an insane ladee scientist creates a cabal of women who seduce men to death. He went on to write the screenplay for The Seven-Per-Cent-Solution based his Sherlock Holmes novel of the same name that earned an Oscar nod. More recently he's had his pen laying ink on films like Sommersby with Jodie Foster and Richard Gere, The Human Stain–adapted from the great Philip Roth's novel of the same name, and he's currently teamed up with Marty Scorsese on the not yet released Leo Dicaprio vehicle The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. He is, however, perhaps best known for his extensive involvement as a writer and director of a number of the more successful Star Trek films in the 1980s and early 90s.

Property records show that Mister Meyer purchased his walled and gated mini-estate in the Palisades Riviera area for $1,841,000 in April of 1995. The two-story ranch-style house–we know, we know, ranch style houses are generally 1 story affairs–was built in 1938, according to the tax man, and designed by the much lauded and applauded architect Cliff May who many consider to be the father of the classic California ranch house. Property records indicate the main house measures 6,976 square feet and as best as Your Mama can surmise from listing information there are a total of 6 bedrooms and 8 full and 2 half poopers, some of which are situated in outbuildings such as the guest house that has its own kitchen and terliting facilities.

A gated walk leads to a narrow but very long front porch with chunky worn brick pillars that support the wide roof overhang that spans much of the width of the front of the house. The front door opens into a large entrance hall that acts as a traffic hub for the sprawling house as it wraps around a courtyard that reminds Your Mama of a plaza one might find in the center of a small village in Mexico.

To one side of the entry is the formal dining room outfitted with a big ol' wall of casement windows that look out over the front yard, and on the other side a not very formal formal living room with hardwood floors, a pitched and exposed beam wood ceiling, a large window seat in the corner, and one of the home's three wood burning fireplaces. Beyond the living room a small library has a painted brick fireplace, hardwood floors, and green built-in bookshelves that overflow with books and other tchotchke. There are, it seems, books, books, and more books everywhere in Mister Meyer's Pacific Palisades pad.

Clearly Mister Meyer did not hire a nice, gay decorator or any other kind of decorator to work over the interiors of his Cliff May manse. While in many ways, decoratively speaking, it looks dusty and hodge-podgey and slapped together by someone who spends a lot of time purchasing knick-knacks and paddywhacks in a willy-nilly fashion at flea markets and antique stores, there is a none the less a pleasant vibe of a disheveled intellectual who discusses books and art and not the weekend box office receipts, although we're sure Mister Meyer is at least somewhat concerned with those too.

Listen children, we'll take a funky, off-kilter and not quite right house stuffed with books and imbued with soul over some sexy and super sleek contemporary thing that may look 12 kinds of striking but often leave us feeling a little cold. Here in this house, Your Mama can imagine curling up in the library on a cozy couch in front of the lit fireplace with our long bodied bitches, a tall pitcher of gin & tonics, a stack of the latest gossip glossies, Richard Russo's latest novel, and the New York Times crossword puzzle because that, children, is how Your Mama rolls.

Anyhoo, our goodwill towards the eclectic, rumpled professor style of day-core comes to a screeching halt with the family room where we find an unholy collection of unhappily mismatched upholstered furniture, a oval shaped coffee table of dizzying and distressing multi-colored swirls, and a built in entertainment center stained a seriously unfortunate shade of azure where a massive boob toob is flanked by both open and closed shelving.

The commodious and updated eat in kitchen has tumbled stone tile flooring, a wall of windows and French doors that open out into the pleasantly rough around the edges gardens, a window lined breakfast area, and a full complement of Viking brand appliances. We are somewhat perplexed by that pot rack sort of rail thingamabob that runs around the exhaust hood. As if overhead pot racks weren't bad enough, then we get this thing that puts the pots and pans right and eyeball level and closer to the range top where they can better catch and collect the grease and splatter off what's cooking on the range top. Your Mama knows from personal experience how filthy an exhaust hood can be and how much time our tough talking house gurl Svetlana spends scrubbing the thing down so we can only imagine that every single one of those pots and pans hanging over Mister Meyer's stove is plain ol' filthy and need to be scrubbed down before using.

The backyard consists of a series of outdoor rooms and spaces that include a covered porch that runs along the backside of the house, a covered dining terrace that divides the huge flagstone paved courtyard with gurgling fountain from the 45-foot long solar heated swimming pool, spa, and cabana with cooking area and two changing rooms. The grounds, which stretch across a flat, .82 acre lot that's approximately twice the size of most of the surrounding parcels, also includes a raised bed vegetable garden and green house for the green thumbs, a children's play are, volleyball area, flat lawns, and large mature shade trees.

It's not known what Mister Meyer's future real estate plans are but Your Mama hopes that someone like Diane Keaton, someone with a genu-wine appreciation of historic California style architecture will be the new owner otherwise we may get one of those over-wrought and architecturally specious monster mansions that seem to pop up whenever a pretty, older house gets knocked down.

listing photos: Engel & Volkers


Anonymous said...

I would love the kitchen even more with black & white checkerboard floor tiles instead of the tumbled stone.

Agreed about the pot rack though. Even if these were used every day and not subject to filth build-up, they're definitely at a head banging level.

I can see Ms. Keaton going for this place for the fountain alone. Wasn't it she that placed a bunch of sleeping sombrero topped figures around the circular fountain at another property you featured? I hope she's over that particular decorating fetish

lil' gay boy said...

"...whenever a pretty, older house gets knocked down."

Amen, Mama; this one seems to have escaped much of the latter bastardization many May designs have been subject to, especially given its early construction date. If I'm not mistaken, more than one of his own homes, which he liked to use as living laboratories for himself (as well as his long-suffering wife & kids), are still extant nearby.

All-in-all a lovely example of May's "rancho" style that was a defining moment in Californian, and American, architecture.

The listings photos do it justice without resorting to too much deception, as well. As Mama put it, "...a funky, off-kilter and not quite right house stuffed with books and imbued with soul..."

I think we chillrun should all join together & form a P.R.I.C. ––– the Pot Rack Interdiction Committee...

'Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this house!!! looks very comfy...except for the pots over the stove.....NOT that

angie said...

I'm loving the 'pleasant vibe of a disheveled intellectual' of this compound home. I can excuse the flawed family room daycore because at least this is a true home, a place someone actually lives in verses a show place with an owner just itching to show it off lurking behind the front doors. And oh, how I've missed witnessing Mama dole out an arse-whoopin' for a misguided pot rack decision. Delish!

Mars said...

Me wants, me wants. That kitchen alone is screaming for my immediate presence! God, I love the Palisades. Sure, okay, I've only enjoyed it as a housesitter, but a girl can dream.

All I need to do is close up that hideous pool and return it back to nature with some trees, grass, flowers, etc. That and find $7.3 mil.

Anonymous said...

my sister bought a cliff may house in a very low key horse community adjacent to chula vista (just south of downtown san diego) in the early '80's. i believe it was built in the late 1920's or early 30's. she moved on after a divorce, but it was just exquisite and thankfully had almost no "updates". It sits up on a hill above a valley looking south towards mexico, all rooms arranged around the central court, the same floor to ceiling casement windows as here in the living and dining rooms that looked out into the tree tops (the land on that side dropped quickly away in a series of terraces down the hillside).

unfortunately, i recently bird's eyed the house on bing and it looks like it has been horrendously "renovated" with all the expected socal awfulness. btw her house was not wood, it was stucco, so it seemed more spanish than some of his other work that has a more woody ranch feel.

the house cliff may lived in for many years was a huge property right off sunset, old ranch road, i believe. i remember tracking it down about twenty years ago. of course, got out and stuck my nose through a gate or something. the house was set way back in. i think someone happened to be coming out at that point, but they were very nice and understanding. i don't live in la, but i suspect that property was subdivided when they sold. i'm sure someone else on this site knows the actual answer.

Anonymous said...

California "folksy". While it may appeal to some I find it tired and out of date and humdrum. Rather like some Frank LLoyd Wright houses that are admired because "the great man" designed them in spite of being dark, lugubrious and unattractive. And May isn't even up there with Wright. His pedestal is lower.

Anonymous said...

So... how long does a pitcher of gin and tonics stay good? Hour, two? Filling out my request for personal time off now, you really shouldn't tease us like that on a Friday.

B to the...

lil' gay boy said...

Anon 8:05, how lucky for you to have had a family member to dwell (however briefly) in a Cliff May home...from the location & construction date, it sounds like your sister's house was one of what May called "haciendas and rancherias" from the early '30s at the start of his career.

And a good memory, too. According to Cliff May and The Modern Ranch House, his fifth home, which he dubbed Mandalay, (not to be confused with Manderley from Rebecca), was completed in 1956 on a (now much reduced) fifty-five acre site a mile up Sullivan Canyon from his third home.

Anon 8:42 does make a good point, however, vis-a-vis FLLW & May, et al; not every design was a home run, but I'd still have to take exception as far as this one is concerned; given its state of preservation and overall design, it's one of May's better successes for me.

But despite the real estate mantra of "location, location, location", I think $7.3MM is a little too steep for this gem.

Anonymous said...

thanks lil' for the additional info (anon. 8:05). as it happens, after posting my previous comment, i did some rummaging online and came across mama's previous postings related to may; specifically, when robert wagner and his wife listed their house several years ago. apparently may lived in that house before building the mandalay complex farther up the canyon. i believe the wagner house is in the riviera ranch development of houses, some sixteen-odd of which were designed by him.

also, bennifer, bought the grazer's house on san remo, which, as mama notes in an item at the time, had been much worked over by the grazer's. i guess may could still be credited with the siting, , , may originally worked in san diego, and i would think that my sister's old place was one of those early projects before he moved to la. later on, he designed some places in la jolla and rancho santa fe that are contemporaneous with his more well known work in the palisades/brentwood, etc.
i will track down a copy of the monograph on his work.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. So California casual, I wanna just die.

But has it had a second story added on? It's the hallmark of the ranch style to be one-story only.

Madam Pince said...

I love the gel mats in front of the sink and island -- signs of a true working kitchen. And like you, Mama, I prefer the funky, off-kilter decor to a sterile pad (yes, I'm looking at you, Gwyneth). Wish Mr. Meyer luck for a quick sale and the best for wherever he may next land.