What to buy in California for $ 4.3 million

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Much of Orinda, a small town about 15 minutes from Oakland, was developed in the 1920s by Edward Ignacio de Laveaga, whose family hired Italian artisans to build this house in the late 1930s. The house has been remodeled by the current owner, who has worked with conservation and materials experts to maintain its historic character.

Orinda was a sleepy place until the opening of the Caldecott Tunnel Highway in 1937, which made travel to and from other parts of the East Bay much easier. Today it has a population of around 20,000 and is close to popular hiking areas and the University of California, Berkeley.

Size: 3,795 square feet

Price per square meter: $ 1,120

Inside: Behind a guarded street entrance there is a driveway that leads to a stone slab terrace in front of the main house. The front door opens into a robin blue painted foyer with hardwood floors that continue into a living room with high ceilings, lead-glass windows and a fireplace, and a built-in marble-framed bar.

Off the living room is a dining room with coffered ceilings, covered gold walls and a glass door that gives access to a terrace. Another open door leads to a blue and white kitchen, the centerpiece of which is a blue and gold La Cornue series with a matching hood and a back wall made of Delft tiles. To the left is a butler’s pantry with an original built-in china cabinet and half a bathroom with a marble-topped sink. Across the kitchen is a room currently used as a den with French doors to the front terrace.

From the living room a white wooden staircase leads to the upper level, where there are three bedrooms and a bathroom. Turn right at the top of the stairs, leading to the largest bedroom with a vaulted ceiling and skylight. Next door is a bathroom with paneling and a marble bathtub. On the other side of the bathroom is a cozy guest room with space for a large bed. Across the hall, a second guest bedroom, currently used as an office, has access to a private balcony with a hand-carved wooden railing.

Another staircase in the kitchen area leads to the lower level, where there is another bedroom with a walk-in closet and a spacious bathroom with a metal bathtub. Opposite the hall is a second cave with access to the back yard. Also on this level there is another full bathroom and laundry.

A stone path leads from the cave on the lower level to a guest house – a miniature version of the main house with a full kitchen and stone fireplace.

Outside space: The entertaining rooms all have access to a wide terrace with uninterrupted views of the hills. One side of the deck is set up as an outdoor kitchen, with a built-in grill, sink, and refrigerator, and there is space for a dining table under a wooden canopy. There is also an outdoor seating area with a water feature. The detached garage has space for two cars.

Steer: $ 55,248 (estimated)

Contact: Ann Newton Cane, Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty, 415-999-0253; sothebysrealty.com

This home is four blocks from downtown the small town, populated by galleries, restaurants, and the wine tasting rooms of some of the area’s many vineyards. The neighborhood is well located for families; Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School and Saint Helena Elementary School are just blocks from this home.

The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, one of two California branches of the school in Hyde Park, NY, is five minutes away. The largest lake in Napa County, Lake Berryessa, is about 45 minutes’ drive away; Geyserville, a parish on the Russian River, is roughly equidistant.

Size: 3,193 square meters

Price per square meter: $ 1,331

Inside: High hedges separate this property from the sidewalk and an iron gate opens onto a stone path that leads to the covered porch.

The house was rebuilt in 2007, with the focus on modernizing the electrical and HVAC systems and maintaining the historical character of elements such as the decorative strip in the room to the right of the front door. The fireplace there is also original and the floors are made of oak.

Through the living room is a large formal dining room; Beyond that is an open family room set up for seating and casual dining in front of glass doors overlooking the swimming pool.

A modernized kitchen, accessible via the family room or the foyer, has stainless steel appliances from Wolf and Miele, a center island and a built-in shelf above the refrigerator for cookbooks. A renovated half bathroom is also on this side of the house.

The staircase in the foyer is made of wood painted white, the wall that lines it is decorated with restored paneling. At the top of the stairs is a bedroom facing the street with an alcove with a window, the ideal size for a desk. This bedroom has the use of a full bathroom across the hall. On the other side of the floor is a guest room with a sloping ceiling and an en-suite bathroom.

Across the back yard is an early 2000s guest house with two large en-suite bedrooms; each bedroom has its own entrance. There is also an original coach house on the first floor that has been converted into a laundry room and dog washing station; the upper level could be used as an art studio or a craft room.

Outside space: There is a swimming pool between the outbuilding and the main house. A covered veranda connected to the main house offers plenty of space for comfortable chairs.

Steer: $ 56,532 (estimated)

Contact: Erin Lail and KC Garrett, Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley, 707-333-5596; cbnapavalley.com


The owners of this home have spent the last few years renovating it, drawing inspiration from their favorite resorts and restaurants. One of the standout features is an outdoor kitchen – with three TVs, a 175-bottle wine fridge, and an Instagram-friendly juicy wall – that could pass as one of the many rooftop bars in nearby San Diego.

The house is located in a residential complex near a large park with a dog run, playground and skateboard area. Swami’s Beach in Encinitas, popular with surfers and spectators, is a 20-minute walk or a 10-minute drive away. Also nearby is the San Diego Botanical Gardens, around 10 minutes’ drive away.

Size: 2,991 square feet

Price per square meter: $ 1,436

Inside: Tall palm trees run parallel to the driveway that leads to the house entrance. Behind a wooden door there is a bright entrance with space for a bench and on the right side a glass door that leads into the living room.

The living area has wide parquet floors; Glass doors that open onto a balcony; and a television and fireplace built into a wall. Behind the sitting area is an open dining area with a bar and wine refrigerator. Additional glass doors that reach almost to the ceiling can be opened for indoor and outdoor entertainment. Another glass door can be opened to connect the indoor kitchen with its outdoor counterpart.

The interior kitchen has a large center island with dining space and custom-made cabinets with gold-colored fittings. The units are made of stainless steel and some walls have open shelves.

A hallway extends from the left side of the kitchen connecting the two bedrooms on this level. At the other end of the hall is a bedroom large enough for a queen bed with an en suite bathroom. Closer to the kitchen is a bedroom that is wallpapered with a lighthouse print.

An open staircase leads from the center of the house to the second floor, with a large window on the first landing overlooking the entrance and the palm tree tops. At the top of the stairs is the master suite with a balcony overlooking the Pacific on a clear day. It also features a stone-framed fireplace, wet bar, and en-suite bathroom with a deep soaking tub and separate glass-walled shower.

At the other end of the hall there are two more bedrooms that are about the same size. One has a mirror cabinet; the other has gold palm-leaf wallpaper and an en suite bathroom. A bathroom with a double vanity and a bath and shower combination is also at this end of the hallway.

Outside space: The outdoor kitchen adjacent to the main living area is almost as large as the indoor kitchen, with stainless steel appliances and white marble counters. Recessed lights are built into the wooden canopy that covers this kitchen and seating area; a separate dining area is on the other side. More of the outdoor lounge area is centered around the swimming pool, which has an attached spa and slide. A thatched-roof playhouse hugs the palm trees and succulents behind the pool. The attached garage has space for two cars.

Steer: $ 45,096 (estimated) plus a monthly community fee of $ 33

Contact: Seth O’Byrne, Compass, 858-869-3940; kompass.com

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