In my ongoing series of Random Valley Front Yards, I’ve been trying to express to everyone who reads LA Metblogs the joy I find in looking at all the different houses in suburbia. While to many cruising the streets of the Sam Fernando Valley looking at house after house seems like one of the levels of Hell, I confess I am absolutely fascinated by the way in which tract homes, initially indistinguishable from one another, transform over time as homeowner after homeowner places their personal touch on their own little postage stamp of Los Angeles.
Because the age of the house plays a large role in how differentiated from its neighbors it becomes, I usually find the older sets of tract homes, many built between 1940 and 1960, to display the greatest variety. But sometimes the very design of the home — from “birth” — makes it unique.
On and around Hollywood Way in Burbank, a set of early tract homes built with rustic brick fireplaces and unusually slanted front windows has been partially erased by later developments. The exposed brick of the fireplaces serves a greater-than-utilitarian role in giving the house the appearance of a Hobbit-ish residence, and on almost all the homes an angled front window slants skyward slightly, creating what I’m sure is a nightmare for anyone trying to hang curtains on the inside…
This particular home is off the main drag of Hollywood Way, and was the first I discovered not actually ON that main street. Unlike the homes on Hollywood Way (which are just north of the 134 fwy, if you want to find them), which appear smaller & more tightly spaced, this is a sprawling lot with a more generously-sized home. This makes me wonder if the original tract included smaller, more affordable homes along H’wood Way and larger, more-established family homes deeper into the residential streets. Or it’s possible this house was built much later, in a style that incorporated the most significant design elements of the original tract, but blew it up to a more accommodating size.
My favorite parts are the circular driveway which thematically mirrors the rounded arch of the carport, the round chimney and the rounded edges of the window panes in that front, sloping window. The dual little dormers are utterly charming, and I love the rounded shingles on the upper section of the house, which make me vividly remember building my little Victorian dollhouse when I was 12 or so (I never finished the thing, but I bought rounded shingles for it). Brick & brick-red tiles are used as trim, on the peaks of the roof, the dormers, and around the uppermost half-moon window. You can barely glimpse the rear chimney, which is made of river rock, rounded stones that don’t show up on the front of the house at all. Was it a later addition? Does the house really have TWO fireplaces?! It is a decent-sized house but doesn’t seem big enough to warrant two fireplaces. Though I certainly would never mind extra fireplaces. If I even had one to begin with.
But I digress. My favorite details here are the sweet alyssum growing wild on the grassy sidewalk, the birdhouse, the tiny shelf under the three venting holes on the top of each dormer, giving that too the appearance of a birdhouse; and the birdbath in front of that odd front window. Maybe these folks enjoy the local birds. The house is in a nice, shady neighborhood with old oaks that line the street, creating a sylvan atmosphere that makes the house’s charming little “Seven Dwarves”-ish details even more congruent with the neighborhood.
More photos are here in my RVFYOTD Flickr set.