SELLERS: Julie Hermelin and Mitchell Frank
BUYERS: Martin and Elizabeth (Morehead) Hilton
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
SIZE: 3,805 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Bear with us celebrity real estate aficionados while we veer a wee bit off the “celebrity” real estate monotrack today. Rather than (diss and) discuss the high-wattage real estate antics of, say, a superstar Hollywood high roller like Jennifer Aniston who reportedly upgraded the existing chicken coop on her completely overhauled $21 million dollar estate in Bel Air, Your Mama decided to have a look-see at a well-maintained gated micro-compound in Los Angeles’s Los Feliz area recently sold by a couple of card carrying members of L.A.’s arty-farty east side cultural demimonde—that would be Julie Hermelin and Frank Mitchell—and purchased by Martin Hilton—an executive producer of several seriously successful reality television programs—and his occasional actress wife, Elizabeth Morehead.
Among other endeavors Miz Hermelin currently bills herself as the founder of The Friendex and a co-creator of the web-based mommy experience forum/series Jen&BarbMomLife as well as an investor/advisor for The Mother Company, another online portal for mommies to revel and wallow with other mommies in the trials and tribulations of Mommydom. During the first decade of the Aughts Miz Hermelin produced eight episodes of the z-list celebrity reality program The Surreal Life and wrote, directed and produced a short film called Final Sale. She probably did other stuff in the early 2000s too but that’s what we got. Anyways, Miz Hermelin’s urban hipster bona fides actually date back to the mid 1980s through about the late 1990s when she was a busy director of music videos for a platinum-plated list of underworld/alternative oriented musicians and bands such as Moby, Machines of Loving Grace, Luscious Jackson, Ben Folds Five, The Golden Palominos* and the ever so naughty early 90s club world cult favorite Ethyl Meatplow.
Mister Frank’s name may mean nothing to a Platinum Triangle prince or princess who seldom ventures east of West Hollywood but, make no mistake, children, in rapidly gentrifying communities of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Echo Park and Eagle Rock (and beyond) he is a curtsy-worthy elder statesman of L.A.’s ever more mainstream east side music scene. In 1995 Mister Frank opened the venerable and venerated Spaceland nightclub music venue on on Silver Lake Boulevard where the opening night acts included The Foo Fighters and Beck. Closed in late 2010 the space continues as an indie music venue called The Satellite. Ten or so years ago Mister Frank (and a business partner) opened the now also venerable and venerated Echo and Echoplex live music venues in Silver Lake’s grittier next door neighbor Echo Park. In more recent years Mister Frank opened the boutique-sized late-70s Fern Bar-ish El Prado beer and wine bar on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park as well as the always crowded Mexican eatery Malo in Silver Lake and its recently opened 1980s-chic sister establishment, Más Malo, in the heart of downtown L.A.’s rapidly emerging restaurant scene.
Mister Hilton—no relation to Rick and Paris that we know of—helped to pioneer the heart breakingly Hallmark-ian love and dating genre of the reality television craze when, in 2003, he signed on to (executive) produce The Bachelor. Additional reality t.v. credits include a number of other mostly dating oriented reality programs such as The Cougar, Leave It to Lamas, High School Reunion, and Bachelor Pad. He currently serves as an executive producer for The Bachelorette. Missus Hilton (née Morehead) never quite got a solid toe hold on Tinseltown fame but she has had minor roles in a slew of programs that include Seinfeld, ER, The Practice, NCIS, and Judging Amy. Last year she popped up in the little seen or heard of feature-length film Lionhead.
Okay, now that we know who the players are, let’s (finally) get to the house in question, a fully renovated and modern minded 1922 Mediterranean that the Hermelin-Franks sold in late May (2013) to the Morehead-Hiltons for $2,750,000. Online resources show the house was in mid-April (2013) for $2,585,000 and within two weeks the property was put into escrow. The $2,750,000 sale price indicates there was stiff competition for the property that drove the Hilton’s final sale price to a gob smacking $165,000 over ask.
Property records show Mister Frank and Miz Hermelin purchased the .34 acre property in October 2004 for $1,832,000 and digital listing details from the time of the most recent sale show there are four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms in 3,805 square feet of extensively renovated interior space. An additional 750-some square feet of living space is contained in a detached structure at the rear of the property—originally a two-car garage—with a game room/art studio/office space/whatever and an adjoining but separate guest suite that overlooks the three shaded lagoon-style swimming pool and spa.**
The front door, set into a shallow archway in the front facade, opens into a roomy center hall foyer with lustrous oak floors, a touch of rich wood paneling, and a powder pooper for guests semi-privately stashed under a right-angle staircase that’s softly sun splashed by a vintage stained glass sky light. French doors on the left connect through to a library or possible formal dining room and, on the right, a triple wide door way leads into the unexpectedly open—if somewhat low-ceilinged—open concept living space that wraps tightly in a U-shape around the backside of the foyer and staircase.
The living room, with two separate seating groups and a fireplace, makes a clean sweep from a row of French doors at the front of the house to a trio of pivoting glass doors at the rear. The adjoining “formal” dining area, plenty large enough to comfortably seat 8 or 10 people for casual and/or formal meals, has one entire wall of maritime-y, floor-to-ceiling glass fronted china and curio storage cabinets and a parallel wall of solid glass. Or maybe there are Fleetwood-type sliding glass panels that disappear into the wall? We can’t tell. Can you?
There’s no barrier between the “formal” dining room and the organically contemporary, state-of-the-art interpretation of a farmhouse-style kitchen that’s outfitted with quirky robin’s egg blue flat-fronted cabinetry and a chunky, slab marble-topped walnut (or teak or something) center island. The top-quality stainless steel appliances include a built-in espresso machine and a $16,000 fridge/freezer that Your Mama covets in a Biblically forbidden fashion. A built-in dining banquette and vitrine-like ceiling-mounted glass cabinet breezily divide the kitchen from a compact family room/t.v. lounge floridly dressed with serpentine floral wallpaper. The more spatially minded children may have already noted that the family room connects through to the aforementioned library (or possible formal dining room), a fortuitous linkage that allows for a circular, Feng Shui friendly traffic pattern of the lower level living spaces.
All the bedrooms ring the dramatically sky-lit and hardwood floored upper hall. In the master bedroom the the ceiling is vaulted, French doors provide easy, step out access to a pair of tiled terraces with views over the tree-ringed backyard, and the bedroom-sized walk-in closet has a small sky light and a large central dresser peninsula. The adjoining private master bathroom is decked out with streamlined cabinetry hand-crafted of walnut or teak or some other quasi exotic wood and over-scaled white subway tile laid on the floor and up the parts of the walls that are mirrored or hidden by cabinetry. Next to that large, oval soaking tub there’s a separate, glassed-in bench- and steam-equipped shower that’s plenty large enough for two or—in a sexy squeeze—three. At least two of the other bathrooms are updated and upgraded in a similar if more colorful, clean-lined manner.
The “formal” living and dining areas as well as the kitchen open to a tiled wrought iron railed dining and lounging terrace that steps down to a patch of grass that slopes gently down to a multi-level free-form flagstone terrace that amorphously girdles an amoebic, lagoon-style swimming pool and spa. The back of the property, a densely foliaged up up slope, backs up to the historic and gated Laughlin Park enclave where some of the high profile home owners include Kristen Stewart, Natalie Portman, Natasha Bedingfield, Ellen Pompeo, will.i.am, David Fincher, Casey Affleck and Summer Phoenix, and Jenna and Bodhi Elfman.
We’re not sure to where Mister Frank and Miz Hermelin have decamped but a quick search of property records reveals Mister and Missus Hilton still own a much more modest, 1922 traditional residence in the historic but little lauded Wilshire Park area of Los Angeles—about 4 miles directly south from their new house—that they picked up in October 1999 for $330,000.
*Unfortunately Your Mama could not locate the official, Julie Hermelin directed video for Little Suicides so instead we linked to a December 2012 live performance of the ditty by The Golden Palominos featuring singer-songwriter Lori Carson.
**It is not clear to Your Mama if the detached structure by the pool has a bathroom but it would sure be luxuriously convenient if it did because it just seems rude to ask an over nighting house guest to hike back up to the main house in the middle of the night to use the crapper or have a glass of water, no?
listing photos: Sotheby’s International Realty