The famed Los Angeles boathouses don’t look like much from the street. But once you step into one of the seven wood-frame homes that float over a canyon in the Hollywood Hills, you begin to understand why they’re in high demand.
Need further proof of their desirability? The most recent transaction involved a boathouse that listed for $920,000 and sailed into contract in less than t10 days.
If you watch “The Kominsky Method” on Netflix, you’ll recognize a boathouse as the home of the drama coach Sandy Kominsky, played by Michael Douglas. And that starring role isn’t the only claim to fame for these homes, built in 1958.
“The boathouses were built by Harry Gesner, known to many as the ‘most interesting architect in the world,’ because he only took interest in projects that were one of a kind,” explains the co-listing agent, Jessica Koltsov of The Agency.
“Gesner was approached by a man who had bought several of these hillside lots in the late 1950s. He was asked if he could make anything of them, because everyone had said these lots were ‘unbuildable.'”
Not one to shy away from a challenge, Gesner came up with a winning concept.
As Koltsov told us, “He flew out a team of Norwegian shipbuilders to help construct the uniquely shaped boathouses, with an aim to maximize the lot size they were on and create a unique design. Today, the row of boathouses are recognizable as an architectural landmark in Los Angeles.”
Gesner’s design genius isn’t limited to these seven distinctive dwellings. It’s also on display in the internationally famous Malibu Wave House, which may have inspired the design for the famed Sydney Opera House.
But hiring the Norwegian shipbuilders to realize his nautical design concept was a true stroke of genius.
In addition to their shipbuilding skills, the artisans had expertise in building what are known as stave churches—wooden structures that employ timber framing. The wood framing and shiplap are among the homes’ most prominent features.
None of the boathouses are large— they all have one or two bedrooms and a single bath. And because of the unusual size of the lots they sit upon, there isn’t much room for any additions.
The boathouse that recently went under contract has two bedrooms and measures in at a petite 1,136 square feet.
Before listing the home, the owner, Emmy award-winning stylist Oakley Stevenson, took the time to update it. She paid $735,000 for the boathouse when she bought it, back in 2015.
It now features new bamboo floors throughout, new drywall and structural beams, a reconstructed deck, and a new roof. She also decked out the bonus studio space.
Perhaps another reason it went under contract so quickly was the sub-million-dollar list price. The price was still steep, but any time a home in this trendy Los Angeles neighborhood goes on the market for under $1 million, buyers are eager to climb aboard. This boathouse was listed by Koltsov and her colleague at The Agency, Jonathan Ruiz.
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