Old's Cool

By Dave Fratello | November 14th, 2007
It's all too typical around MB – folks assume that a home built decades ago is just a musty old teardown that's in the way of progress.

But there's one 80-year-old on the block that's cooler and more distinctive than most of the fresh hot stuff in town.

It's 3116 Alma (4br/2ba, 2500 sq. ft., $2.275m), a genuine Spanish-style home that instantly conjures old-time California. (Click address for photos & details.)

Think of the original homes in places like Pasadena, Miracle Mile, old Long Beach. Strutting through Alma, you're somewhere else.

Pleasant surprises:

  • A more-than-adequate kitchen, with plenty of workspace and modern appliances mixed in tastefully with original cabinetry.
  • A spacious family room opening to a decently sized side yard/patio.
  • Big, grand ocean views from the oversized master upstairs.
Also, you simply cannot miss the spectacular, imported, in-your-face tile work in the master bath (see the pics). It's the complete workup, no mere accent – kind of psychedelic. And speaking of tile work, the living space in the master features a fireplace with custom tiling with darling old-time renderings of all the islands off California. Gotta love 'em.

Obviously, MBC loves the uniqueness of this home, but let's not skip over the issues.

Some caveats:
  • One "bedroom" was once a one-car garage and is now an office with a Murphy bed; it's a bit sketchy. The other two downstairs bedrooms aren't bad. (One features a second Murphy bed.)
  • In the 1920s, no one thought it strange to have one bathroom per level, which in this case means all guests and downstairs bedrooms share one bath, so you'll have to roll with that.
  • The stucco seems to be of 1960s/70s vintage and probably needs an update. Some of the exterior wood, too, needs rehabbing or replacement.
Home shoppers in MB aren't accustomed to the kinds of compromises, or charms, of older homes. So we here at MBC have no idea whether Alma will go quickly (just 14 DOM at this writing) or whether it will sit for months for lack of interest in this sort of thing.

If it lingers, MBC has a few suggestions: Freshen up the exterior paint, stage the home without the foosball table in the front living room, and... hmmm... there was something else...

Oh, yeah, stop smoking in the house while it's for sale!

Your humble, naive correspondent had kind of forgotten that people in the world do, in fact, smoke cigarettes. What's that smell?, we wondered. Hmmph. This does not leave potential buyers feeling all that good about the home.

Once the title transfer happens, we're terribly intrigued. Will the new buyer leave things as they are, or spend $100k-$400k to take the whole home up a notch with revived stucco, wood, baths, landscaping, etc.? This one's in the historical register, but surface improvements shouldn't be a problem. How much will the next owner love 3116 Alma?

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