Reviving Mediterraneans: It Can Be Done

By Dave Fratello | February 23rd, 2017

A newly remodeled home at 3408 Poinsettia hit the market Thursday, and got us thinking again about an issue facing buyers and sellers in MB.

3408 N Poinsettia Avenue Manhattan Beach CAThe last major building cycles in Manhattan Beach (1990s and especially 2000s) left us with a series of Mediterranean style homes all over town.

Problem: They way they were built then is not the style of today.

So if you've got one, what are you going to do? If you're selling one, that question is especially pertinent.

Remodeled versions of Mediterraneans like 3408 Poinsettia are emerging all over MB, some with homeowners doing the work for themselves, and others prepping for market.

The basic goal behind an overhaul is to brighten the home up, pulling away from features that now date the homes and have fallen out of favor, such as:

• Dark wood cabinetry (or sometimes yellowish wood)

• "Heavy" feeling colors of granite & marble counters and shower/tub tile

• Flooring in travertine or other stone, or wood with reddish or dark stain

• Frilly/formal fixtures and details like stair rails

• Exterior yellows and beiges

The first solution to many of these issues is often white paint by the bucketful.

Paint a dated Mediterranean white on the outside and inside, paint the cabinets... do you now have a modern Spanish? Or, as some are trying to say, a "Montecito" style home?

It's not so easy to pull off convincingly. The best conversions require more design work and more intense reconstruction.

Here are a few photos of "before and after" from 3408 Poinsettia, which is quite thorough. It sold in March 2015, got updated across the board recently, and is offered now for $2.750M. Here's the old listing and the new listing, so you can do your own comparisons. (Tip: Use "Show All Photos" to see all the pics at once.)



What a difference a couple of years makes, right?

(The superior quality of the newer listing's photos, and lack of clutter, help a lot too.)

1701 8th Street Manhattan Beach CAAnother recently refashioned Mediterranean on the market was 1701 8th in East MB. It's in escrow now.

The home was listed in June 2016 with language proudly proclaiming it a "gorgeous Tuscan."

But when it didn't sell quickly, they held it off the market for part of the Fall and went through with white paint, eliminating just about all accent colors. Then they restaged the house with almost a Hollywood-cool vibe.

Fortunately for all, the kitchen had been redone by a prior owner with white, bright cabinetry and white marble counters... a reno before its time. So the reboot could be accomplished fairly quickly and inexpensively.

The refreshed home was labeled a "renovated Santa Barbara style" and they found a buyer early this year. (Last at $2.599M.)

Also in East Manhattan, there was a Mediterranean at 1447 19th that didn't sell when displaying a peachy-colored custom stucco color, which did sell after they painted it white. No other interior remodeling. Coincidence? We think not.

Meantime, some of Dave's clients bought a Hill Section "Mediterranean" early last year at 923 8th. The home was only 10 years old, but the style through-and-through seemed much older.

With a designer's help, the buyers have convincingly converted the home to a modern Spanish style. We'll have more to say and show on this one in Spring this year.

Here's a glimpse of the exterior changes before all was complete. The contrast with the old look is drastic, in a good way.

The rub is that if you've got an older Mediterranean in MB, don't fret. The floorplan is probably favorable with today's buyer preferences, so the question is how seriously to undertake an updating project for yourself or for the market.

And buyers are wise to consider what can be done with a little creativity and elbow grease (plus white paint!), not to write off a home because it's not today's flavor.

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