Open House Report, Pasadena Edition: After & Before

Two houses— one c.1923 cottage gets an addition in 2010 to make it modern family house, while the other has been in the same family for over a hundred years and is ready for some serious restoration, but comes with its own archive.

541 Avon Avenue, Pasadena, $795K
You have a cute but too-small Norman-style cottage on a corner lot. How do you make it work for a family? The owners of this previously unremarkable house hired OKB Architects in 2010 and the result was a bright green cube attached with a low stucco hallway to a new kitchen, all of which shelters a new deck from the road. The cube contains the master bedroom and bath and also has a stair on one side up to a roof deck.

Aside from the big kitchen— which acts like a hinge between the two wings— this is a modest renovation, leaving the balance of the house basically unchanged. No luxury materials or extravagant gestures, but that chromatic addition probably still slows down traffic. We'd replace the vegetable garden with a lap pool. Be sure to check out the agent's dedicated site for more images. From the listing, it looks like all the systems have been upgraded, there's air conditioning, and the 3-bed, 2.5-bath house came on the market yesterday. Open Sunday June 24 from 2 to 4 p.m.

619 South Grand Street, Pasadena, $998K


It's hard to know how much to undo here– although the kitchen's got to go— but this 1907 house in one of Pasadena's lovely old neighborhoods presents a huge opportunity to make a quirky Arts & Crafts house your own. Designed by Timothy Walsh (a Boston-based architect who specialized in churches) as his own house, and who was only able to occupy it before having to move back East. Since then, it's been in the same family until coming on the market a few weeks ago, and while priced at under a million dollars, it's a house for someone with a bigger budget and no need to move for at least 18 months.

There's a fascinating historical dossier online as well as more current images at the realtor's dedicated site. Currently, the 4-bed, 2-bath house is looking very sad— especially on the lower floor. A few hundred thousand dollars could disappear easily into this restoration project, but it does qualify for Mills Act property tax deductions, which would come to about $140K over ten years. And the realtor says there's room for a pool. Open Sunday June 24 2 to 4 p.m.

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