YOUR MAMAS NOTES: On last night’s season finale of Flipping Out, reality television’s most anal retentive and deliciously mean-humored real estate entrepreneur Jeff Lewis bought himself a new house in Los Angeles. He plans, as per the show, not to flip the property for a profit but rather to shack up on a permanent basis with his much younger and excedingly well-groomed man-mate/business affairs task master Gage Edward. The persnickety pair will share the house with live-in reality tee-vee superstar/housekeeper Zoila Chavez and their extensive menagerie that includes some of the cutest canines Your Mama has ever seen.
As was made hay of on the boob-toob last night, this is not the first time leviathan-lipped Mister Lewis has owned this particular property. Way back in March 2004 Mister Lewis paid $1,265,000 for the quirky hillside house that sits right on the border of but not technically in the Oaks neighborhood in Los Feliz. The house, built in 1937, carries with it a bit of architectural provenance as it was originally designed by much-coveted SoCal architect Wallace Neff.
Back in the mid-Noughts Mister Lewis was still in the then-lucrative business of flipping houses with his one-time b.f. and former b.f.f., nice, gay decorator Ryan Brown. He/they gave the house an extensive renovation that included knocking down a wall or two, working over the kitchen and bathrooms, and installing a small swimming pool and spa impressively engineered into the steep slope that rises from the rear of the residence.
The erstwhile house flippers first listed the re-worked home in November 2005 and public records show it was acquired in June 2006 for $2,795,000 by a pair of gentleman with professional ties to the entertainment industry. The two men hung on to the house until the fall of 2010 when, for reasons we know not a thing about, they let it slip into the gaping maw of foreclosure.
The bank first put the foreclosed home back on the market in early 2011 with an asking price of $1,849,000. On the show the house was priced at $1,799,000. And, for a short time, it was listed at that number. However, according to Redfin the asking price eventually dropped to $1,725,000 before Mister Lewis swooped in and closed on the property in late July (2011) for $1,625,000.
Listing information indicates the mustard-colored clapboard-side traditional–which from a certain angle looks to Your Mama like it’s grinning like a Cheshire cat–sits on a steeply sloped .36-acre parcel, measures in at 3,730 square feet, and contains three bedrooms and 3 bathrooms plus a possibly un-permitted half bath on the lower level.
This house, children, is not for the weak hearted or glutially undeveloped. No siree, Bob. Not only is the front door located on the second level of the home, getting to the damn front door requires a time-consuming and physically torturous slog up a snake-like brick stairway that meanders up the hillside, across the yard and around the front of the house. We can only imagine how Zoila might feel about Mister Lewis making her haul groceries and schlep garbage up and down the slope that climbs steeply from the street to the house but we do know deep in our dark heart that the mere mention of living in a home with so many stairs would cause our exercise averse house gurl Svetlana to spend the next few days plotting her stair-hating vengeance on Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter.
Misters Lewis and Edward yakked a lot on the most recent season of Flipping Out about having babies, otherwise known as “gaybies” in high-Homospeak. Mister Lewis stated he wants Zoila to transition from being their house maid to being their live-in nanny. Forgive Your Mama for putting our nose up in Mister Lewis’ domestic affairs but if Zoila is to be the nanny he’ll surely need to hire the agéd but newly face-lifted lady a strapping young assistant to heave and hoe the baby buggy up and down all those stairs. He’s a giddy sort of sadist to be sure but he does not really expect Zoila to carry a baby and a Bugaboo up and down the side of the goddam Matterhorn every day, does he?
Anyhoo, as best as we can tell from our online research, the house has a somewhat unusual floor plan with the primary living spaces divided up between the two floors. The second level center entrance hall leads into an impressively long formal living room that stretches the full depth of the house from front to back and features hardwood floors, a heavy wood-beamed ceiling, leaded glass windows, and a wood-burning fireplace with wonderfully over-sized firebox and monumentally-scaled Art Deco mantel.
In order for guests and residents to get from the second floor formal living room to the formal dining room they must descend to the lower level where the dining room occupies an elegant semi-circular room with a perfect pair of leaded glass French doors that open to a narrow, boxwood-lined terrace with tree top and and city views. Although many of the home original architectural details remain, such as the heavenly diamond patterned leaded glass windows and French doors throughout the house, it appears to Your Mama’s that Mister Lewis’ 2004-2005 renovation of the house included opening up the lower level kitchen to an adjoining room in order to create a larger more modern open plan eat-in kitchen/family room.
The new and improved center-island kitchen has gleaming white Shaker-style cabinets, marble counter tops, grey-toned tile back splash, and a full complement of high-grade commercial-style stainless steel appliances that include a glass-fronted fridge, 36-inch Viking brand range and a built-in coffee/espresso maker by Miele. Leaded glass French doors open the room to an outdoor dining deck shrouded in shrubbery and shaded by mature trees and a vine-draped pergola that stylistically ties in the the previously-mentioned vine-draped pergola that shades a portion of the brick patio on top of the detached two-car garage.
Back up on the second floor the master suite features a bay window with built-in bench perfect for book reading and star gazing. A fireplace with contemporary tile hearth is surrounded by glass-fronted cabinets that we assume are original to the residence. The basket weave black and white marble tile floor and the pedestal sink in the master bathroom speaks back to the home’s 1930s roots but was thoroughly updated with a exhibitionist-friendly, party-sized shower that includes multiple shower heads. Misters Lewis and Edward talked at length about how a second bedroom adjacent to the master bedroom would make a perfect nursery. Could there already be a baby on the way for these two gay gents? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?
An intimately-scaled den on the second floor has a curving kiva-like corner fireplace with brick hearth, built-in book shelves, and leaded glass French doors that open to the the brick patio the runs along the back of the house between the elevated plunge-sized swimming pool and inset spa. Additional terraces that form deep steps in the hillside provide additional outdoor space for sunbathing beds, market umbrellas and potted plants, all of which will need to be tended to and dusted daily by Mister Lewis’ tattooed houseman Jett.
As we mentioned before, Mister Lewis claims he’d like to settle down in this house for the long family-raising haul. However, Mister Lewis is the poster child for what Your Mama likes to call The (Celebrity) Real Estate Fickle and no matter what he says we fully expect he’ll get ants in his real estate pants within two years. That’s just the way he is. It’s a disease only cured by a lack of funds and with his business booming and the endorsements rolling in it looks like it’ll be quite some time before Mister Lewis lacks the paper to buy and sell multimillion dollar homes on a whim or suggestion.
Since sometime last year Mister Lewis and his entourage have lived and worked in a rented residence in West Hollywood, CA, just a few short blocks from the Beverly Center mall and the Pacific Design Center. Although very centrally located, the hedged and gated mock-Med was an odd choice given that it’s situated in a neighborhood where single family homes and apartment buildings are slammed mercilessly up against each other.
Your Mama managed to dig up an old listing for the 3 bedroom and 3 bathroom house that shows at the time Mister Lewis leased it the landscaping was lackluster at best and inside there was a whole mess of very ordinary beige tile, beige granite and beige cabinetry that all looks like the sort of thing a builder buys on sale at Home Depot. The house was listed for lease at $5,500 per month but we really have no idea what amount Mister Lewis coughed up for the privilege of occupancy. From the looks of things on his tee-vee program, Mister Lewis had both the front and back yards re-landscaped and threw some paint and wallpaper around in crucial areas in a valiant effort to keep if from looking too much like the suburban tract house set down in the mixed-use heart of West Hollywood that it is.
SPECIAL NOTE FROM YOUR MAMA: We would like to take a moment to offer Mister Lewis a heartfelt and sincere thank you. We recently had lunch with our friend and informant Babbling Babette who told us about a brief questionnaire printed in the September 2011 issue of Angeleno magazine in which Mister Lewis–whom we have never met nor communicated with–named our little online endeavor as his “Must-Visit Blog.” Why, thank you baby. That was nice of you to give Your Mama a kindly shout out.
True story…Interestingly and ironically, rail thin actress Christina Ricci appears on the cover of the magazine. Once upon a time Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter lived in a large duplex apartment in New York City once occupied by Miss Ricci. Technically the apartment belonged to her mother but on occasion we would open our miniscule mailbox to find expensive looking invitations to posh events and swanky store openings addressed to the accomplished actress.