YOUR MAMAS NOTES: We recognize we are far from the first gossip to arrive at this particular celebrity real estate soirée but we feel like discussing the matter anyway….
In her tee-vee life 20-something year old model/actress/singer Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl) convincingly portrays Blair Waldorf, a deeply vain, status obsessed and designer duds wearing teenage socialite whose social and real estate milieu are the tony streets and posh apartments of the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
In real life, model-thin Miss Meester comes from less than ideal circumstances: She was born while her mother was in prison on a dope smuggling conviction; Her older brother had and–uhm–ugly issue with a female; Her younger brother has unspecified but apparently significant medical needs; And she’s currently engaged in an ugly legal wrangle with her mother who claims Miss Meester agreed to provide her $10,000 a month income for the rest of her life.
The young actress, who admirably owns and takes an impressively sanguine approach to her rather complicated familial circumstances, also differs considerably from her character in her choice of living situations. If snooty-tooty Blair Waldorf were to buy a house in Los Angeles, CA Your Mama imagines she might go for a fancy mansion in the flats of Beverly Hills or a sexy bachelorette pad that cleaves to a steep slope just above the Sunset Strip. When Miss Meester when hunting for a house in Los Angeles, on the other hand, she settled on a well-maintained but architecturally prosaic ranch-style residence in Encino. That’ right, puppies, Encino, the spiritual if not exactly geographic heart of the San Fernando Valley.
Property records and previous reports show Miss Meester paid $1,470,000 for the updated and upgraded but mostly very ordinary house in the upscale Royal Woods neighborhood back in June 2011. Originally built in 1948, the single-story house, situated on a knoll above the street and well-shielded by a thick cluster of foliage, measures 2,847 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms according to listing information we coaxed out of the interweb.
The interiors of Miss Meester’s new west coast abode are typical of rambling suburban ranch homes in southern California, meaning there are too many too-low ceilings. To the right of the narrow entrance hall there’s a living/dining room with honey-colored hardwood floors, plantation shutters over the wide bank of windows, and a wood-burning fireplace. It goes without saying, we hope, that Miss Meester has the good decorative sense to hire a nice, gay decorator to do something–anything–with that disturbing, fleshy-pink wall color in the living/dining room.
The hardwood floors continue into an adjoining, almost identically sized family room at the back of the house that lacks a fireplace but does have two sets of French doors that give way to a sizable, awning-shaded outdoor living/dining area. A wide opening with glass-topped snack bar separates the family room from the galley-style eat-in kitchen that has room for a breakfast table and is outfitted with perfectly ordinary (but probably custom and very expensive) white raised-panel cabinetry, dark taupe granite counter tops and back splashes, and high-grade stainless steel appliances. For some inexplicable reason the short back splash behind the range top was done with ebony river rock instead of the matching granite as was done on the opposite wall. Just. Say. No.
The home’s four bedrooms divide up into a guest/staff suite, two generously sized secondary bedrooms–one with private entrance–and a decent-sized if not huge master suite that includes a small sitting area, fireplace with glass tile surround, walk-in closet, and an attached bathroom with double-sink vanity, soaking tub, and separate glass-enclosed steam shower.
The flagstone-floored outdoor living/dining area off the family room opens to the lushly-landscaped back yard and includes a wet bar for the boozers, a water feature we find unnecessary, and electric heaters that allow the terrace to be used year round. Brick-lined flagstone walkways wind around the back of the house where there’s an amorphous grass patch, a beautiful Japanese maple tree, and an ivy-covered hillside, and a built-in barbecue center.
A stone stairway ascends the hillside behind the house to a broad flagstone terrace that surrounds a rectangular, black-bottom swimming pool. An adjacent cabana has a kitchenette area with dishwasher and fridge, dual changing rooms, and a convenient 3/4 bathroom that means no one must navigate their way down the hillside staircase, across the back yard and into the house when they feel the need to purge their bodily fluids.
Miss Meester’s current boob-toob gig films in New York City so–we presume–that’s where she lives most of the time. There are various older reports floating around online that mention Miss Meester’s Big Apple apartment. One report from 2009 makes special note of the custom closets she had installed and another, also from 2009, says Miss Meester went all diva-like with her New York City neighbors and asked all the other residents on her floor to not smoke cigars and cigarettes in their apartments because she “‘develops a sore throat if she’s exposed”‘ to smoke. Your Mama freely admits that we do not know where Miss Meester resides in New York City and haven’t an iota if she still lives in the same building where she (allegedly) banned neighbors from smoking or the same apartment where she had custom closets installed.
Although she only became a household name and much-yakked about style icon since joining the cast of Gossip Girl in 2007, the Teen Choice Award-winner has been in the Business of Show since since she was just a wee lassie who trod the boards of the local playhouse in Marco Island, FL. At the age of 11 she and her mother moved to New York City where she modeled and made a number of commercials. At 14 she and her mother moved to Los Angeles where she went to school and quickly landed a long list of small parts in various movies and television series. She appeared in Law and Order, Hangman’s Curse, Boston Public, Tarzan, 7th Heaven, 24, Surface, Shark, Numb3rs, and Entourage. Since Gossip Girl she’s frequently found her way to the silver screen in (mostly not very good movies like) Date Night, Country Strong and Monte Carlo.
listing photos: Prudential John Aaroe