$4.5 Million Homes in California

A hillside house in the San Francisco Bay Area, a solar-powered artist's retreat near Joshua Tree and a modern home in Venice.

What You Get for $4.5 Million in California

$4.5 Million Homes in California


The sellers, who are the original owners, built this stucco-and-glass house in the early 1970s as a place to raise their four children. When it was completed, it had five bedrooms, but about a decade ago, they redesigned it with a focus on entertaining. They turned the upper level into a large living-and-dining area with an attached caterer’s kitchen, keeping only two bedrooms, on the lower level.

Los Altos Hills is an affluent town where San Franciscans built summer estates in the mid-20th century. This property is about four and a half miles southwest of Los Altos, eight miles southwest of Google’s headquarters in Mountain View and 27 miles southeast of San Francisco International Airport.

Size: 3,480 square feet

Price per square foot: $1,293

Indoors: The house is built on a hillside, with its gridded-glass front door opening to the top level.

To the left of the large foyer is a fully glassed-in interior patio with terra-cotta floors. This room leads to a kitchen with three walls of stone-topped white cabinets, a center island with a second sink and aqua-glass wall tile that rises to the ceiling.

To the right of the foyer is a half-bathroom and an elevator. Running along the entire back width of the building is a great room with oak-strip floors and glass walls. The room is divided into separate seating sections, including a lounge area with a wet bar, a living room and a dining area.

The two lower-level bedrooms include a master suite with a walk-in closet that has elaborately fitted storage (roughly the same size as the upstairs sunroom) and an en suite bathroom with interior and exterior glass walls. (The large lot and abundant trees remove any concern about privacy.) The master bath has hardwood floors, stone trimming, a bidet alongside the toilet and a tiled shower that is really a room (with a glass wall).

The second bedroom, which is staged as a study, has use of a hallway bathroom with a walk-in glass shower and pink stone and ceramic-tile finishes.

At the end of the hallway is another kitchen, with stainless steel appliances, a central seating island and desk space. Finally, there is a laundry room on this level.

The guesthouse is connected to the main quarters by a breezeway and includes a living and dining room with a lofted bedroom area and a separate kitchen and bathroom with an open shower.

Outdoor space: The house is surrounded on both levels by terra-cotta decks with metal railing and verdant views. The decks can be reached in multiple places, from the great room, master suite and second bedroom. Parking is in a two-car garage that is part of the guesthouse.

Taxes: $56,250 (estimated)

Contact: Mark Martinho, Vabrato Real Estate Services, 650-346-1595;

$4.5 Million Homes in California

Credit…Daniel Lee

Eric Mueller, an artist and furniture designer, hand-built this solar-powered desert house 20 years ago, inspired by Moroccan, Indian and Tibetan craft. Known as Le Haut Desert Aerie, it sits on a hilltop near an unincorporated community that evolved from a 1940s movie set; the house is approached by a private two-mile drive originally constructed as a road for filming stagecoaches.

It is about 16 miles west of Joshua Tree, 42 miles north of Palm Springs International Airport and 13 miles east (as the car drives) of Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, a barbecue and live-music venue. Recently the property has been used as a guesthouse and a location for weddings and commercial photo shoots; Rihanna has been there with a camel, staging her Fenty Beauty cosmetics line.

Size: 3,360 square feet

Price per square foot: $1,324

Indoors: Covering the building, inside and out, are deliberately rough-looking coats of plaster mixed with dried leaves, sticks and gravel — debris that Mr. Mueller gathered from under the scrub oaks on his property. The antique-looking millwork is a combination of reclaimed wood and new construction produced at his furniture factory. He also executed the painted murals and mosaics throughout the home and carved the columns supporting the front porch, imitating folk carvings from Central Europe. The front door is repurposed antique wood from India.

The living room floor is terra cotta tile mixed with Moroccan zellige tile, a recessed, hand-painted ceiling, a built-in wood library niche and a fireplace mantel constructed with fragments of stained glass and painted ceramics. In the dining room, the ceiling is vaulted and made of timber, and the flooring includes large squares of terra cotta. Mr. Mueller and his son stamped the wet concrete walls with a batik printing block to produce the textured surface. The ceiling light was made from conventional fixtures supported by welded brackets and refinished with gilding and found quartz crystals.

The kitchen has rustic wood cabinetry, but is thoroughly modern and includes a four-burner cooktop set into an island.

A carved portal in the dining room takes you to the master suite, with its gridded, decorative wood ceiling and built-in carved-wood cabinetry. The bedroom connects to a windowed sunroom looking out to mountains and canyons. The master bathroom includes a circular sunken tub in a windowed niche below a suspended Moroccan lamp. Two guest rooms have private terraces.

Outdoor space: The house is surrounded by hundreds of acres of wilderness and has views extending from San Gorgonio Mountain to the eastern Mojave Desert. An intricately carved gazebo on the lower plaza was custom made in India. A large landscaped patio with a pizza oven steps down to a dipping pool. The property also includes an artist’s studio, a swimming lake ringed by boulders, two bathhouses, two Airstream trailers for guests and a stone meditation space at the highest point. Parking is in an attached garage.

Taxes: $55,625 (estimated)

Contact: Paul Goff, Pioneertown Properties, 310-980-7612

After buying this house in 2016 from Jennifer Nicholson, the actress-daughter of Jack Nicholson, the owner worked with Tracy Hutson, a style consultant on the ABC series “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” on a thorough remodel; all of the furnishings and artworks are available to buy. The house is a block from Abbot Kinney Boulevard, sometimes described as the Rodeo Drive of Venice, and a brisk five-minute walk from the Venice Beach Boardwalk.

Size: 3,457 square feet

Price per square foot: $1,302

Indoors: A sidewalk wall made of glass and wood-formed concrete planks contains a door that opens to a private front yard and a landscaped path leading to the main entrance. Inside is a two-story living room with a giant brass chandelier dripping with tubular glass bulbs and a fireplace embedded in a ceiling-high walnut wall.

Behind the wall are the dining room and an open kitchen that has custom walnut cabinetry and glass globe lights suspended from the second floor. The powder room is covered in wallpaper designed by the British artist Damien Hirst, with a pattern of pills and pill bottles.

A glass-sided staircase with wood treads leads upstairs, where there are three bedrooms. The master has a vaulted ceiling with a glass skylight with operable panes and shades, and a separate dressing room. Two doors lead to a private outdoor deck. The en suite bathroom includes a wall of Damien Hirst paper patterned with rosettes composed of butterflies; it also has a wide walnut vanity with double vessel sinks, a walnut-sided bathtub and a tiled walk-in shower.

The two guest bedrooms share a hallway bathroom with green ceramic-wall tile and floral paper by Mr. Hirst, as well as a frosted-glass wall.

Outdoor space: A roof deck with a stainless steel square firepit offers 360-degree views that are particularly impressive at sunset. Parking is in an attached two-car garage and one additional secure space. There is also an outdoor shower.

Taxes: $56,250 (estimated)

Contact: Mark Kitching, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 310-902-0221, or Tiffany Rochelle, Compass, 310-210-2213;

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