SELLERS: Brooke Smith and Steven Lubensky
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
SIZE: 2,878 square feet, 4-5 bedrooms, 2.75 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: The other day, as we aimlessly sifted though some of the newer listings in Los Angeles, Your Mama ran across a (somewhat) modestly scaled and urbanely-dressed two story traditional listed with a $1,649,000 asking price that set off all our celebrity real estate bells. A cursory tuck into the property records left us stymied but our freakishly well-informed friend and informant Lucy Spillerguts told Your Mama—and we later managed to confirm with a more careful if roundabout perusal of the property records—that the house in question is owned by television and movie actress Brooke Smith and her arty-farty Russian-born cinematographer husband Steven Lubensky.
Miz Smith might not be a household name like Blackman Cruz shopping romcom/sitcom star Jenny Aniston or pop music matron X-Tina Aguilera but, children, she has a downright proper Tinseltown pedigree. Her mother, Lois Smith, was a beloved, quietly powerful—and retired—Old-School publicist to the stars who—may she rest in peace—very recently died in a freak accident whilst staying in a bed and breakfast in Maine. Her long roster of superstar clients included—as per her recent obits in The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Times—Marylin Monroe, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Martin Scorcese, Liza Minelli, Whitney Houston, Rosie O’Donnell and Warren Beatty. This lady was serious Hollywood business, we tell y’all.
The younger Miz Smith, Brooke, grew up in and around New York City and—so the story goes—was once roommates with indie-cult favorite musician Jeff Buckley who drown in a Memphis (TN) river in 1997 at just 29 years old. Daughter Smith—that’s Brooke—started up her ladder of Showbiz fame in the late 80s and in 1991 she landed a plum role as the young woman at the bottom of the well in The Silence of the Lambs with that skin-suit sewing and organ eating Hannibal Lector played by a pitch-perfect Anthony Hopkins. Remember that? A few years later she appeared in the splendidly bleak 1994 Louis Malle film Vanya on 42nd Street, which happens to be the very first film Your Mama ever saw in a movie theater in New York City. More recently Miz Smith has had recurring and/or prominent roles on a slew of television programs (Six Feet Under, Law & Order, Crossing Jordon, Weeds and Grey’s Anatomy) and will soon be seen in the upcoming silver screen drama Labor Day with Kate Winslet and James Van Der Beek.
Anyhoodles poodles, property records reveal Miz Smith and her Russian hubby paid $1,643,000 in August 2008 for their margarine-colored residence located on a leafy, tree lined street in the Hollywood- and West Hollywood-adjacent Sunset Square neighborhood of Los Angeles. We happen to love this particular neck of L.A. quasi-urban fabric but we’ve heard more than a few high-nosed real estate snobs we know over-dramatically poo-poo the ‘hood as being too, well, ‘hoodish. We just roll our boozy eyes at them because—pleeze—this taint the ‘hood, children. It’s not East Gate Bel Air, but it’s hardly Compton, okay?
Current listing information shows the completely updated and upgraded abode sits tightly on a compact, .16 acre lot, was originally built in 1921 and measures a roomy but far from large 2,878 square feet with 4-5 bedrooms and 2.75 bathrooms.
An intimate foyer and stair hall joins the deeply inset front porch to the sparely furnished and internationally flavored “formal” living room that’s nicely outfitted with wide-plank peg and groove hardwood floors, a bookcase flanked fireplace and two sets of magnificent floor-to-ceiling French door style windows that—when the curtains are pulled open—expose the room to just about anyone who might be stroll or roll past on the street or sidewalk.
Your Mama is pleased to report that someone had the smarts and took the time and effort to design—or re-design—the main floor living spaces to connect through perfectly aligned double-wide doorways between the living and dining room—where there are more floor-to-ceiling French door style windows—and between the dining room and kitchen. The enfilade-style alignment injects an elegant architectural formality to the decidedly casual and lightly funky but very purposefully curated and decorated main floor living spaces.
The chestnut-colored wood floors in the living and dining room switch to a bright, blood red stain or paint in the galley-style eat-in kitchen. While this isn’t exactly our “style” it’s none-the-less, by our utterly meaningless estimation, a well-conceived and nicely executed kitchen with beamed and vaulted ceilings, snow white Shaker style cabinets topped with swanky Carrara marble, top-grade commercial style stainless steel appliances and a built-in corner breakfast banquette nicely juiced up with a Eero Saarinen designed Tulip table…or maybe it’s the not half bad and considerably less expensive Ikea knock off. Whatever the case…
There’s a second built-in banquette in the adjoining, main floor den/library/family room where Miz Smith and Mister Lubensky—and/or their lady or nice-gay decorator—installed a dark patterned wallpaper, played an abstract painting off a simple still life and filled the floor-to-ceiling book shelves with actual books.
A main floor bedroom with direct access to the backyard and easy access to a three-quarter bathroom makes a private guest or domestic space and the four other potential bedrooms upstairs spoke off around a spacious central landing. Two bedrooms—plus a third currently used as an office—share a vintage-style bathroom with black and white diamond-checked tile floor, a single pedestal sink and a white-tiled tub/shower combination.
The Master bedroom itself isn’t particularly large but it does have a closet lined and privacy promoting entry vestibule, lots of windows including a Juliet balcony, a bedroom-sized walk-in closet/dressing room and an attached bathroom with marble topped double sink vanity, separate glass-enclosed stall shower and a jetted tub for two set into a window- and sky-blue tile-lined niche with palm tree views.
Several main floor rooms, including the kitchen, open to a T-shaped and bougainvillea draped covered porch that really couldn’t be more charming if vine-draped covered porches float your real estate boat. A tree shaded grass patch over looked by a tree house separates the back of the house from a trellis shaded outdoor dining area at rear of the property with built-in brick barbecue station.
The slim, gated concrete driveway that runs up along side the house stops short of the detached two-car garage at the back corner of the property that may or may not currently be used for parking cars.
Where the Smith-Lubenskys plan to decamp—they have two small children—isn’t known. Until the lat few years they maintained East Coast outposts but, as far as Your Mama can tell they don’t currently own any property in New York and it. In May 2008, right about the time they bought the house in Los Angeles they now have for sale, the couple sold a small property in High Falls, NY to actor Willem Dafoe for $393,000 and in December 2010 they sold a renovated and updated two bedroom and two bathroom co-operative apartment in a dignified pre-war building on Riverside Drive for $1,250,000.
listing photos: Sotheby’s International Realty