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February 5, 2009

Big Ugly Houses, Chapters 4 and 5: Just $28,509 or $52,795 per month gets you one of these monstrosities

Chapter 4: A Walnut Creek tipster directed me to real estate listings for this "beauty" that sits in her neighborhood, prominently on display and on a hill near the city’s Sugar Loaf Open Space Recreation Area.

It’s a 8,300-square-foot faux Mediterranean villa with five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a wine cellar, tasting room, game room, theater room, and exercise room.
Plus two master suites. Phew! I’m getting exhausted by all this excessive extravagance. And it has an elevator, room for a pool (what, no pool already?) and views from Mount Diablo to Lafayette!

And, it’s all yours for $5.4 million—or $28,509 per month.

In my demented way of thinking, I can see how the audacious hideousness of this house actually sounds perfect for some Merrill Lynch refugee who fled that firm just in time to, of course, cash in on his/her generous John Thain-approved accelerated bonus, which was paid for by the $15 billion in bailout money that Merrill Lynch and Bank of America received from U.S. taxpapers.

With our nation in a recession, or GD2 (Great Depression 2), as my pessimistic friends like to call it, and our world in GEC (Global Economic Crisis), I think that the only person who would be able to afford this sprawling mega house would be a recipient of some generous executive payout.
And, by the way, it appears that this home has been on the market for 65 days. Gee, why?

Big Ugly Houses, Chapter 5: In checking out this Sugar Loaf area home, I found that it was represented by a certain realtor who has a knack for representing some really prime examples of Big Ugly Househood.

Here’s this realtor's other prize property: a 16,000-square-foot, two-story, seven-bedroom monster of “luxury” on just one acre in Pleasanton's exclusive Ruby Hills neighborhood. It's available for $10 million, or $52,795 per month. And, it's been on the market for 86 days. (Again, I wonder why?)

“This estate has an amazing view,” this realtor’s ad reads.

It’s also got a six-car garage! A stunning iron- and bronze-cap floating staircase (whatever the hell that means)! Six fireplaces! An amazing kitchen with two large islands and granite counters! A game room!
A “teen room” (Wonder if this "teen room" would be useful for the after-school sex, pot, and meth parties that I often hear about occurring amongst ennui-afflicted teens in our affluent suburbs).
And a “banquet-size formal dining room" with an adjacent “incredible temperature-controlled wine cave.” Gosh, I get all tingly and pea-green with envy reading about all this superb luxury.
As for those seven bedrooms? All large and “en suite.” And the master suite has a separate exercise room, so that you, master and mistress of the manor, don’t have to mingle with all the riff-raff of the rest of your family. Or the housekeeper, gardener and nanny (who are perhaps in the country illegally and whom you pay under the table.)
Besides the wine cellar, another common feature of monster homes like this one seems to be a home theater, which this Ruby Hills estate has with a vengeance. Not only does it have seating for 20 guests, it also has “its own ticket taker booth!” Oh, goody!
Outside, there are "cascading waterfalls" to a pool, spa, and bridge over a 7,000-gallon koi pond, lush lawns, beautifully landscaped firepit and loggia with flat-screen TV.
Yeah, what F. Scott Fitzgerald said: "The rich are different from you and me." Or, I suspect, in the case of buyers of homes like these, out here in the East Bay suburbs, we're mostly dealing with the wanne-be rich, the ones who, Gatsby-like, are desperate for some fleeting idea of American respect and status. So desperate, that they choose to assuage this desperation by buying the garish and cheesy displays of supposed wealth and status that these homes offer.
Cascading waterfalls! Wine cellars! Home theaters!
Then again, if you consider one of these monstrosities a dream home for you and your family--well, good luck in life. You're gonna need it.
Yeah, sorry to all those who think these houses are the epitome of good taste and inevitable rewards to people who work hard and smart for such privileges. To me, these homes absolutely reek of desperation, of a sad, sick longing to be respected, envied, and admired.
P.S. I e-mailed the realtor a copy of this post. Let's see if she chooses to respond.

8 comments:

Mom's exhausted said...

Wow! You are brave. E-mailing the realtor, huh? Granite throughout...

Question about the granite. Did you ever read Mister Writer's post about radioactive countertops? I couldn't find it on his blog - this is from the NYTimes.

What’s Lurking in Your Countertop? - NYTimes.com
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/garden/24granite.html?pagewanted=all

No Thank you! I will live my less than fabulous life without granite throughout.

Anonymous said...

between your post about the wine and this one you are starting to sound jealous and spiteful. Do you realize that many sports stars buy in Ruby Hill.. they have money to burn.. but is that really the issue?

Soccer Mom said...

Jealous, spiteful?

Guilty as charged.

And for the record, I live in a little, kind-of ugly house, which I'd like to make less ugly, but with our rising health care costs, worries about our job futures, and my son's orthodonture bills, the kitchen fix-up will have to wait.

Still, I stand by what I said. These houses are excessive, ostentatious, and exude a kind of weird desperation.

Actually, in the last week or so, I had to opportunity to tour what I'd call a big, BEAUTIFUL house, worth about the same as the Sugar Loaf house. But probably half the size. And the owner/builder is a creative, innovative guy with a strong sense of aesthetics and respect for his community. He worked hard to make it fit in, design-wise, with his neighboring homes. It also doesn't hurt that this is a super green house.

While touring this house, I felt envy, but a good kind of envy. Admiration and respect for someone who used his hard-earned money to build him and his family a home that is a true design showcase--beautiful, tasteful, livable, and, certainly filled with high-quality materials. But despite location and value, there was nothing overly showy about it. Rather, it was restrained in its aesthetics.

Anonymous said...

to each his own soccer mom, to one its ugly to another its their dream home. Most homes of this price tag are not spec homes or tract homes, they are custom built for SOMEONE so it incorporated all their dreams, all THEIR plans, all THEIR design ideals - whether you like it or not, its what THEY wanted. I guess you're real tolerant of others huh? Its only beautiful if you deem it so huh?

Ada said...

So soccer mom might go overboard, but she's saying what a lot of people think. A lot of these big McMansions are ugly, and that's a pretty common opinion. Are your feelings hurt cause you live in one?
I used to live in a little ugly tract house and we got done making it bigger and a little prettier. A lot of people in our neighborhood (near downtown Lafayette) have done nice remodels, trying to respect the character of the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:56: Why don't you start your own blog where you talk about how wonderful and dreamy these eyesores are?

Mom's exhausted said...

Anon above - that is true. Anyone can start their own blog. Quit reading, or not bother commenting!

Good post Soccer Mom! Keep it up. Keep inspired.

Anonymous said...

I also live in the neighborhood of that house near Sugar Loaf. It's so depressing to go walking in that beautiful open space and come across this house. Its ugly and pitiful.