Random Valley Front Yard of the Day

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. rvfyotd022709

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 rvfyotd022709detailcharming, 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.

9 Replies to “Random Valley Front Yard of the Day”

  1. I love that. I think that is right out of the “story book architecture” trend out of the late 50’s and very early 60’s.

  2. Very similar, LM, but larger in scale, to the quaint block of so-called Snow White cottages that line one side of Hollywood Way in Burbank just before you get to the Warner Bros. lot if traveling southbound on Hollywood Way. I miss the odd, eclectic residential architecture of L.A. Here in Vegas it’s all tract homes and the overwhelming style is American Southwest, very boring after seeing the 10,000th exterior.

  3. The storybook architecture style began in the early 40s, Fraz, and extended into the 50s, if my history is correct, spurred by the initial 1937 release of Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, which was a pop culture phenomenon at the time.

  4. Yeah, I guess that’s the tract I was referring to, Rodger. As the crow flies, this home is approx. 1/4 mile from them (with a fair bit of residential in between), and it has a few neighbors that also are built in this style or close to it, suggesting that even if they weren’t all built at the same time, they were all built to have this particular storybook appearance.

  5. Sounds like the area the realtors like to call “Toluca Lake adjacent.” It’s a very nice community and neighborhood.

  6. Thanks Roger, don’t doubt your dates though there were several houses in the story book style dating to the 60’s in Canoga Park area when I lived that way eons ago so either they were an attemped revival or totally random.

    Its still nice to see the anti-hoa kinda home.

  7. Ah, the famed Sam Fernando Valley.

    Yeah great post, always appreciate the random of which you choose. I also like the brick work, that with the Buck Rogers-esque front window. Style.

  8. I live very near those houses and love them! I’d love to go inside. Being short, I bet they are just the right size and I’d probably be able to get into the cabinets without a step stool!

  9. LM, I just love your writing.

    I wonder if the original fireplace was blocked off, and rather than renovate they built a new one? Or perhaps they just wanted one in the master bedroom as well.

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