SELLER: Jonathan Murray
LOCATION: Santa Monica, CA
SIZE: 4,235 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms
YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: Having several years ago purchased a larger and far more expensive home less than a mile away — a wee bit more on that in a minute — pioneering reality television super-producer Jonathan Murray, one half of the powerhouse Bunim/Murray production company, listed a beachy, farmhouse-style cottage in a low-key but highly desirable neighborhood of Santa Monica, CA, with a $5,250,000 price tag. The multiple Emmy winning producer, co-creator of MTV’s “Real World,” a longtime executive producer for “Project Runway” and, for better or worse depending on one’s point of view, one of the people responsible for putting “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and other brainlessly fluffy but enormously popular reality TV fare on the boob tube, purchased the property in April 2012 for $3.95 million.
Aptly described in marketing materials as “casual & comfortable, yet sophisticated,” the residence was designed and custom built in 2002 by high-end architect Steve Giannetti as his personal residence to combine a light-filled, modern-day open-plan layout with meticulously executed traditional detailing such as tongue and groove paneled walls and ceilings, rustic wide plank pine floorboards and numerous window seats. There are four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms plus an en suite staff bedroom in 4,235-square-feet.
Two towering palms alluringly frame the front of house where there’s a small but inviting porch. There are formal living and dining rooms, both with fireplaces and French doors that extend from floor to ceiling, as well as a library/office with slender wood beams across the ceiling and built-in bookshelves where Mister Murray displays a trio of Emmy statuettes. The entrance hall extends clear through to the rear of the residence where a cozily proportioned “great room” incorporates a family room with built-in entertainment unit and a farmhouse-style open-plan kitchen that features a shimmering tin ceiling, butcher block topped center work island with integrated snack counter and the customary collection of top-end appliances to be expected in a home in this price range. The family room and kitchen open to a brick floored and window lined sun porch that overlooks the backyard and contains an informal dining space and a baby grand piano. Plenty big enough to accommodate a sunny seating area with a leafy view into the treetops, the upstairs master suite includes a fireplace, a vaulted ceiling, French doors to a small balcony and a bathroom designed with twin pedestal sinks on either end of a claw-footed soaking tub set at a 45-degree angle in a windowed corner.
The backyard is not, by most standards, particularly spacious but is picturesquely shaded by an extraordinary 100-year-old Italian stone pine tree and manages to squeeze in a wee patch of lawn bordered by a built-in bench, a stone terrace with freestanding outdoor fireplace and a plunge-sized swimming pool.
Mister Murray and his longtime life partner Harvey Reese significantly upgraded their residential circumstances in early 2015 with the $11,673,500 purchase of a decidedly traditional home of nearly 6,000-square-feet along the prestigious Amalfi Rim in Santa Monica where it benefits from an open view over the manicured greens and fairways of the ritzy Riviera Country Club. Both the house and the property have since undergone an extensive renovation that, according to online resources, is valued at more than $650,000. The couple previously owned a couple of secluded estates in the Topanga area high in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu, one of which they sold in 2007 for $4.25 million to software heiress turned mega movie producer Megan Ellison and the other was sold in 2013 for $2.65 million to billionaire Hyatt Hotel heir Anthony Pritzker, and since 2010 the Murray-Reeses have kept an oceanfront three-bedroom and three-bathroom condo in a nondescript building on a prime Malibu street for which they shelled out $4.6 million.
Listing photos: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices