$550,000 Homes in California

A studio apartment in the 1898 Castle Green in Pasadena, a modernist retreat at Sea Ranch and a bungalow with a guesthouse in the Bay Area.

What You Get for $550,000 in California

$550,000 Homes in California

Kevin Edge Photography

This unit is in Castle Green, a seven-story building in Old Town Pasadena, half a block north of Central Park. Castle Green was built as a hotel annex, with lavish public rooms in Moorish, Spanish and Victorian styles, to which residents have access. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been featured in movies and television series, including “Wild at Heart,” “The Grifters” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Peter Tolan, a writer and producer, formerly used the apartment as his writing studio.

Size: 572 square feet

Price per square foot: $918

Indoors: A wrought-iron elevator with a 24-hour operator takes you to the fourth- floor unit. It is centrally located, at the front of the building, with views northwest to Pasadena City Hall and the San Gabriel Mountains.

The studio has high ceilings, hardwood floors, crown moldings and floor-to-ceiling windows with motorized curtains. It has been thoroughly renovated in the last five years, with extensive shelves and cabinets lining the walls and an updated galley kitchen with stone countertops, a harlequin-patterned tile backsplash and Viking and Fisher & Paykel appliances.

The bathroom has stone surfaces and a combined shower and claw-foot tub. There is also a walk-in closet with built-ins.

Outdoor space: The gated property is famously lush, with plantings and a koi pond. Covered off-street parking is available for a fee.

Taxes: $6,563 (estimated, based on list price, with deductions available because of the building’s historic status), plus a $422 monthly homeowner’s fee

Contact: Colette Dornblum, Compass, 626-818-3534;

$550,000 Homes in California

Credit…Cyndy Solomon and David Mayer

Don Jacobs, the architect of more than 100 houses in this 10-mile-long oceanfront community, won an American Institute of Architects design award for this wood-sided building, which he punningly described as a “ranch house.” It is on a forested ridge about a 10-minute drive from the ocean and two minutes from the Sea Ranch Airstrip.

Size: 774 square feet

Price per square foot: $665

Indoors: Vertical-grain Douglas fir, natural and whitewashed, covers the walls and pitched ceilings. In the living room, the flooring is bamboo, picture windows look out to the woods and a Morso wood-burning stove sits on an elevated section, its tubular black chimney rising to the roof.

The U-shaped kitchen, with tile flooring and wood cabinets, is sectioned off from the dining area by a partial wall. The bedroom has a wide closet and the use of a new bathroom with a skylight and a large shower.

Outdoor space: The house is surrounded by redwoods and ferns and has two large decks and a hot tub. Hiking trails take you in minutes to the Gualala River and a sunny picnic area known as the Hot Spot.

Taxes: $6,438 (estimated, based on list price), plus a $232 monthly homeowner’s fee that allows the use of three recreation centers with swimming pools and tennis courts, in addition to the usual stuff

Contact: Kristine or Richard Thomure, Kennedy & Associates, 707-884-9109;

The house is in the Richmond Annex neighborhood, between the center of Richmond (about three miles north) and North Berkeley (about four miles southeast). It is characteristic of the many small cottages in the area that were built in the mid-20th century to house dock and refinery workers, offering views of the Golden Gate or San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridges (or both, as in this case). The El Cerrito del Norte BART train station is about a mile north, and the freeway entrance is two blocks west.

Size: 765 square feet

Price per square foot: $718

Indoors: The rectangular living room has wood floors and an angular wood-slat ceiling. It flows into a windowed dining room. The kitchen beyond has white cabinetry, stone countertops and walls punctuated with decorative tiles.

Off the living room are two bedrooms. The first has a blue-washed wood ceiling and two exposures; the second has a corner window. The rooms share a bathroom with a long wood vanity top and a combined tub and shower.

A spiral staircase in the kitchen descends to the basement, which has a bonus room and a laundry room. Plumbing hookups on this level would make it easy to install a toilet.

Outdoor space: A wisteria vine wraps around the backyard deck, with its bridge views. The low-maintenance grounds include a self-sustaining lemon tree and persimmon tree. The original one-car garage was converted into an office with French doors and a beamed ceiling. Parking for two cars is available in the driveway.

Taxes: $6,863 (estimated, based on list price)

Contact: Terry Tilley, Compass, 510-409-9118;

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