SELLER: Gretchen Mol and Kip Williams
LOCATION: Venice, CA
SIZE: 1,585 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: It wasn’t so long ago that Venice, CA was a gritty sea side community best known—especially by Platinum Triangle real estate snobs—for its gang graffiti, rampant homeless population, and ratty beach boardwalk where for decades tourists from around the world have flocked to see a fabulous freak show of muscle heads, mimes, Hare Krishna acolytes, chainsaw jugglers, and roller skating jesters.
For better and worse, all that kooky craziness and icky underbelly of urban life is still to be found in Venice but over the last ten years the arty-farty beach community has become tremendously popular with hybrid driving hipsters who come in droves from all over L.A. to hang out on the rapidly gentrifying community’s main drag, Abbot Kinney, where they swill single origin coffee at Intelligentsia, chow down at at the ever-popular Gjelina, snap up late-model sneakers at Waraku, and lay down their gold cards—and black Amexes—for designer duds at high-priced boutiques like Jack Spade the impossibly chic Mona Moore.
Even when it was on the seedy side, Venice has always attracted artists and celebs. Showbizzers Angelica Huston, Dennis Hopper, and Julia Roberts owned homes in Venice back when helmet-haired socialites would never have dreamt of driving through the area during the daytime let along after dark. Anna Paquin and Steven Moyer own a contemporary house a few blocks from the beach and quirky musician Fiona Apple owns a bungalow just off Venice Boulevard. Matthew Modine and Olivia Wilde recently sold multi-million dollar homes in Venice and Elijah Wood still owns a fairly nondescript cottage just off Abbott Kinney that he bought in 2004 and that happens to be just a few doors down from a residence owned by actress Gretchen Mol.
In 2004 Miz Mol married filmmaker Tod “Kip” Williams,* the well-educated son of world-class architect Tod Williams, and in September 2005 property records show the New York City-based couple, now the parents of two young children, paid $1,505,000 for a 1914 Arts and Crafts style cottage that they listed last month with an asking price of $1,699,000.
Miz Mol has an Old Hollywood-type story: As a young and struggling model/actress in New York City in the mid-1990s she was, so the stories go, plucked from the coat check room of a New York restaurant by a talent agent.* Commercials, bit parts and stage productions followed and in September 1998 Miz Mol was launched into a kind of international semi-stardom when she and—let’s be honest, children—her pert nipples popped up on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine with the subhead “Is She Hollywood’s Next ‘It’ Girl?” Salacious rumors abound in the tabs and on the internet as to how that plum piece of publicity all came about but we’re not touching them with a ten foot pole.
Sadly for Miz Mol, it was ten years and a long string of box office flops (Rounders, Godzilla, The Thirteenth Floor, The Notorious Betty Page) before she finally found a proper toe hold in Tinseltown on the short-lived series Life on Mars with Harvey Keitel and Michael Imperioli. That led to Miz Mol’s to-date seminal role as Gillian Darmody, a cunning and sultry former showgirl on the award-winning cable series Boardwalk Empire.
Current listing details show the two bedroom and two bathroom bungalow, shielded from the street by a thicket of foliage and already in escrow, has 1,585 square feet plus a (legal) detached guest house with another bedroom and bathroom.
The front door, painted a vibrant and inviting kelly green opens into a small entry vestibule that connects to the living room where the original brick fireplace is flanked by built in book shelves. Dark, narrow gauge wood floors are off-set by stark white walls, impressive moldings, and white lacquered ceiling. The adjoining dining room has a charming built-in in buffet that we l.o.v.e. and have to presume is original to the house as well as a bank of French doors that open to an itty-bitty terrace wrapped in vine-laced lattice.
The kitchen appears to have been fairly recently remodeled with snow white Shaker-style cabinetry, gray-veined Carrara marble counter tops, high quality appliances and large center island. The kitchen opens to a sunny breakfast area with windows on three sides and built-in banquette seating.
One of the two bedrooms in the main house (as well as the kitchen area) opens through French doors to a small deck that overlooks the petite, tree-shaded backyard. The shingle-sided guest house—it was probably a garage in its first life—has a roomy bedroom with wood floors, French doors, and pitched ceiling. Listing photos also show a laundry room and an over-sized bathroom with a claw-footed tub.
*Miz Mol told Town and Country magazine last year (2012) that she “‘never checked a hat in my damn life'” but a representative from Michael’s in New York subsequently told the New York Post that Miz Mol did work in the cloak room. Plus, once upon a time, before she became famous or “famous,” whichever you prefer, Your Mama and Miz Mol had a friend in common and we met her on several occasions and recall—albeit through the haze of a whole lotta liquor—that she worked as a hat check gal in a Midtown restaurant. Make of all that nonsense a fuzzy memory what you will…
*Mister Williams was previously married to Dutch model turned actress Famke Janssen who, coincidentally, co-starred with Miz Mol in the 1998 movie Rounders.
listing photos: Teles Properties